A brand-new state-of-the-art bourbon distillery in Shelby County was the site of an Aug. 4 tour by members of the Agribusiness Industry Network.
The Bulleit Distilling Co., located just east of Shelbyville on a 300-acre site, hosted the AIN group, with Visitor Experience Manager Kevin Didio leading the guests through the facilities.
The tour included the grain receiving, sampling and storage areas, the distillery itself and a quick look at the warehouses where whiskey is already aging for future bottling and sales.
The visitors were struck by the novelty of the new distillery, in contrast with most such facilities around the state that have been in production for decades, or a century or more.
"Everything is brand new with the latest in technology," said Harold Workman. "I believe their goal is to get the majority of their corn from farmers in or near Shelby County. That will have a positive impact on the local ag economy."
Workman also noted that the Bulleit barrels are stored in the warehouses sitting vertically on pallets, a major difference with most other distilleries which place barrels horizontally on racks while the bourbon ages.
Shelby County Judge-Executive Dan Ison says the new $115 million distillery is a welcome addition to the local industrial base.
"We're all very excited to have them here, and considering the growth the Bulleit brand is experiencing, I'm sure it's only a matter of time till they take a look at further expansion," Ison said.
The distillery currently boasts a production capacity of 1.8 million proof gallons annually, the equivalent of 750,000 9-liter cases. Each warehouse on site holds 55,000 barrels. Four of the warehouses are completed and are being utilized with two more set to be opened by year's end. There's room for six more to be built as needed, Didio told the group.
Bulleit bourbon is being distilled in Shelby County. The bourbon is marketed as a high-rye bourbon, from a recipe company founder Tom Bulleit revived from his great-great-grandfather, who had produced whiskey for a brief time in the 1800's.
Like all bourbons, Bulleit's recipe, or mashbill, is made up of at least 51 percent corn. The high-rye connotation means that the remaining ingredient ratio leans more heavily toward rye, rather than wheat or other grains commonly used in whiskey production.
The bourbon distilled and aged in the new facility will be bottled in Louisville at Stitzel-Weller in Shively.
Bulleit is a part of Diageo, a London-based global beverage company.
Gary Huddleston | AIN Chairman