Diageo Wants To Stay Natural With Bulleit Distillery
About a year ago, an approximately 300-acre site off Benson Park Pike in Shelby County was nothing but a corn field. About a year from now, it is expected to be a fully functioning whiskey distillery and aging operation.
Today, it\’s somewhere in between. On Tuesday morning, London-based Diageo PLC gave us an update on the progress of its Bulleit Distillery project in Shelby County. Diageo first announced this project last year. Once it\’s completed, the company will produce and age Bulliet bourbon and other whiskey products there.
Right now, it\’s an active construction site near Shelbyville, with about 150 workers in and out of there each day. The steel frame of the distillery itself has been built. The shell contrasts crisply with the rural setting around it — but that won\’t always be the case, as project planners want it to feel rural.
The campus also will have six barrel-aging warehouses, which have been strategically placed to minimize tree clearing.
\”We want (the distillery) to be a natural part of the countryside,\” said Dan Feeser, chief engineering director at Shelbyville for Diageo.
Diageo plans to draw water from nearby Guist Creek Lake and to buy corn for its liquor from Shelby County farmers, Feeser said. The water it draws from the lake will be pumped into a pond on the property first.
\”We\’ve designed the site to be not only energy-efficient but also environmentally friendly,\” he said.
The distillery is a $115 million project. The environmental considerations added $2 million to $3 million to the project, Feeser estimated.
Bourbon production is expected to start there between June 2016 and late fall, he said.
About 40,000 barrels of whiskey are being aged there already in a warehouse that\’s now finished. That warehouse should be full by November, when a second facility is expected to be finished and ready for barrels.
Bulleit expected to grow
Diageo is a major global player in the liquor industry. It owns Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Guinness, Crown Royal and other brands.
Bulleit is one of its smaller brands. It has sales of about 500,000 9-liter cases per year, according to Pauline Rooney, Diageo vice president of distillation, maturation and engineering for North America.
For now, Bulleit Bourbon is made on contract by another distiller, which she declined to identify. She said the product isn\’t expected to change after production is moved to the new facility.
She said the company expects the brand to grow in the coming years, particularly after the distillery is finished.
David A. Mann covers these beats: Restaurants, beverage industry, manufacturing, distribution/logistics, unions.