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Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Gov. Steve Beshear has announced that the Maker’s Mark Distillery plans to expand its operations at its National Historic Landmark distillery in Loretto. Maker’s Mark will create a replica of its existing stills and add new barrel warehouses and other infrastructure improvements. The nearly $70 million project will result in the hiring of 30 additional workers.
“Maker’s Mark is known and enjoyed the world over,” said Gov. Beshear. “This expansion will allow the company to meet that growing global demand while still continuing to handcraft the product in the same manner that it has for six decades. We are very excited that this iconic Kentucky brand continues to grow in popularity.”
The addition will be identical to the two existing stills that currently produce every drop of Maker’s Mark and will increase production capacity for the handcrafted bourbon by 50 percent.
“This expansion will ensure that every step in the meticulous, purposefully inefficient handcrafted bourbon making process remains exactly the same as it has for the past 60 years,” said Maker’s Mark Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels. “Anyone can build a distillery, but we are choosing to replicate every aspect of the original to preserve the integrity of our handmade bourbon and the National Historic Landmark structure.”
In 1954, at a small Victorian distillery in Loretto, Bill Samuels Sr. made the first 19 barrels of whiskey, which after they matured some years later would herald the modern era of bourbon. Using limestone water from the distillery’s spring-fed lake and a mash consisting of corn, barley and soft, red, gentle winter wheat, Mr. Samuels created a bourbon that brought “good taste” and “taste-good” together.
Today, the company continues to handcraft its bourbon exactly the same way as when it was founded, in small batches by passionate individuals who are committed to craft, heritage and tradition. In 1980, the distillery was designated a National Historic Landmark, becoming the first distillery in America to be so recognized. It is also decreed as “the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world” by the Guinness World Records Book.
To encourage the investment and job creation in Marion County, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily (KEDFA) approved the company for tax incentives up to $4.25 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
KEDFA also approved the company for tax benefits up to $750,000 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, which allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing equipment.
“The bourbon industry is booming, and Kentucky is proud to be part of it,” said Sen. Jimmy Higdon, of Lebanon. “We appreciate Maker’s Mark’s investment in our community and our people, and we look forward to their continued success in Kentucky and around the world.”
“Maker’s Mark is a valuable corporate citizen here in Marion County, and the good jobs they create for our outstanding workforce are valuable to our local economy,” said Rep. Terry Mills, of Lebanon. “I know what a popular tourist attraction they are and am excited that they are expanding. This really means a lot to our community.”
“Maker’s Mark is a significant contributor to the economic engine of Marion County and central Kentucky,” said Lebanon Mayor Gary Crenshaw. “The company provides needed jobs at its facility and spurs a multimillion dollar tourism industry in the local area. Maker’s Mark is an ideal example of what a corporate partner can and should be to a community.”
“Maker’s Mark is one of those brands that everyone knows,” said Marion County Judge-Executive John G. Mattingly. “And it draws people from around the world to Loretto to see how this terrific product is hand crafted. It truly places Loretto on the map, and it’s wonderful to see that this company will continue to grow and thrive right here in Marion County for decades to come.”