Jefferson's, Willett Announce Major Expansion Plans
December 9, 2022 –––––– Shane English
Kentucky’s whiskey boom continues, with Jefferson’s and Willett yesterday both announcing major new expansions to their distillery operations in the Blue Grass State. The Jefferson’s project will give it a new home in Marion County, Kentucky, on the South Trail of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Willett’s new facility, meanwhile, will be east of Bardstown in Washington County and will expand Willett’s distillation and aging capabilities.
Jefferson’s is backed by a $250-million investment spread over five years and includes a new visitor center and a 7.5-million proof gallon capacity carbon-neutral distillery. Construction is set to begin in January, with an eye on completing the project by 2025. "For the last 25 years we have been sourcing, contract distilling, and—through Kentucky Artisan Distillery—distilling ourselves," said Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller. "It is now time for us to take more control of our destiny.”
While Jefferson’s whiskeys cover a variety of styles—Small Batch, Reserve, and various cask finishes, to name a few—the distiller built its name on its Ocean series, a collection of whiskeys, now including a rye, that is aged on ships sailing around the world. In November, Jefferson’s put out a limited edition version of Ocean that’s non-chill filtered and proofed down with water from New York after sailing between the North Sea, the Atlantic Seaboard, and the Panama Canal before landing in Manhattan for proofing.
Willett’s expansion, also set to kick off in January, will cover 70,000 square feet on 150 acres, giving the family-owned distillery a new home in Springfield, Kentucky. While no time frame was offered for when the project would be completed, Willett announced that the total investment would be $93 million. “The Springfield community has graciously welcomed us with the same warmth and attentiveness that we try to show our guests every day,” said master distiller Drew Kulsveen. “We are grateful for the kindness and support we have received and for the continued support of our Bardstown home.”
The new Willett distillery will help support the family’s collection of whiskeys—including the popular Willett Pot Still Reserve and harder-to-find Willett Family Estate rye as well as easier-to-find releases like Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, and Jonny Drum. While the new distillery is focused more on production than welcoming visitors, the additional space certainly will help the family to share its whiskeys with more fans.