Brown-Forman Corporation will invest $95 million in an expansion of its Louisville, KY distillery to meet the growing demand for American whiskey. As part of the expansion project, Old Forester will create an oak tree nursery on the property for a long-term study of oak tree sustainability. The study is part of the company’s overall effort to ensure the future viability of this critical ingredient in bourbon making.
The expansion will double the capacity of the distillery facility while remaining on the same parcels of land. Construction is expected to take more than two years to complete. The site, located off of Dixie Highway in Shively, KY, will be fully operational throughout this period.
Brown-Forman’s premium bourbons have enjoyed exceptional growth over the last decade, with reported net sales of more than 18% in the first half of the company’s current fiscal year.
“The demand for American whiskey worldwide is a result of the craftsmanship and specialness of Kentucky’s signature spirit,” said Alex Alvarez, Chief Production and Sustainability Officer, Brown-Forman. “This expansion will allow us to increase production, improve efficiency, and enhance the workspace so we can continue bringing whiskey, made right here in Louisville, Kentucky, to the world.”
The estimated $95 million investment includes:
- Doubling the number of fermenters
- Adding column still capacity and mash cookers
- Improving the grain handling and by-products system
- Improving on-site traffic flow for safety
- Creating green space for a tree nursery
- Modernizing the workspace, including a new break room, new locker rooms, and wellness space
To encourage investment in this growing industry, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development approved Brown-Forman for tax incentives up to $5 million under the Kentucky Reinvestment Act. This 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 certain targets. An additional $500,000 was approved under the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, which allows companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on certain construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development, and electronic processing equipment.
The new Old Forester Tree Nursery, the first urban white oak seedling establishment and genetic study, will be conducted in partnership with University of Kentucky’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. It will serve as a model for other urban studies in the future with the goal of improving economic and ecological value in urban, rural, and natural forests.
Brown-Forman and partners will plant acorns in the nursery later this Spring. This program adds to the white oak sustainability work Brown-Forman supports as a founding member of the White Oak Initiative alongside DendriFund and other industry partners.
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