Trigger pulled: Bulleit's home to be new Shelby distillery - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Trigger pulled: Bulleit's home to be new Shelby distillery

The sign for Bulleit Distilling Co. (Source: Doug Druschke, WAVE 3 News) The sign for Bulleit Distilling Co. (Source: Doug Druschke, WAVE 3 News)
A model of the Bulleit Distilling Company facility. (Source: Doug Druschke, WAVE 3 News) A model of the Bulleit Distilling Company facility. (Source: Doug Druschke, WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Doug Druschke, WAVE 3 News) (Source: Doug Druschke, WAVE 3 News)

NEAR BAGHDAD, KY (WAVE) - Bulleit Bourbon is a little more than two years away from a new permanent distillery home, however you won't be able to sample it there unless the law changes. But change is afoot and it already has come in way that will encourage more whiskey makers to grow their operations or to call Kentucky home.

"We're gonna make whiskey here," said Guy Smith, executive vice president of Diageo Brands to a cheering crowd on the 300 acre site.

Christening it the Bulleit Distilling Company defines its signature brand. And if the diorama leaves any doubt as to its scope, Governor Steve Beshear would make it clear.

"Folks, this is a big deal," he said.

A $115 million distilling operation that includes a dozen barrel-houses spread across 300 acres. Able to produce and age almost 1.8 million gallons, three quarters of a million cases of spirits, every year.

"We also will be making stuff that nobody's ever heard of," Smith said. "Maybe we haven't even thought of it yet."

"You were a place that was welcoming," Beshear told those assembled. "And you were the place that had the kind of workforce that's gonna make them a success."

The distillery will create 30 permanent jobs. But the greater impact may be off-site.

"On the Ag community here," State Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) explained. "Whether it be the grains that are used by Diageo in their distilling process, but also the by-products, the dried distiller's grain and the feed.

Lawmakers claim that economic boost could be four –to-seven times larger. And the Kentucky Distillers Association is toasting the General Assembly.

"Especially for their bipartisan support this last session," KDA President Eric Gregory said. "In passage of our Bourbon Barrel tax credit that makes a whole lot of difference."

The credit offsets the tax that Kentucky levies on every barrel of aging bourbon every year. It could save distillers $13 to $15 million a year if they reinvest in expanding their distilling or storage capability, Gregory explained.

"We will be the best neighbors you ever had," brand founder Tom Bulleit vowed. "We have the most amazing scientists, the most amazing engineers."

Bulleit Distilling Company will be LEED-certified, for energy efficiency and in protecting the environment.

But on this day well-wishers had to toast congratulations with another Kentucky drink - Winchester's own soft drink, Ale 8-1. Shelby County voters would have to change liquor laws to allow for tasting or serving tourists.

"It's not a deal-breaker," said Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger. "I think they're gonna sell whether they have it or not. But we really want it, they want it because we want to be able to showcase not only Diageo, but we also want to showcase our fine community that we have."

A petition drive is underway that could put the question to voters as early as December, Rothenburger said.

Construction could take two to three years. Diageo has not revealed when the first site-produced Bulleit bourbon would be bottled or sold.

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