A Mega-Distillery for Bulleit and Other Whiskeys Is Coming to Kentucky
December 14, 2018 –––––– Susannah Skiver Barton
Drinks giant Diageo has announced plans to build a massive distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky, capable of churning out over 10 million proof gallons annually—equivalent to about 189,000 barrels, or 45.6 million bottles. That capacity compares closely to some of Kentucky's biggest whiskey makers, including Wild Turkey (11 million proof gallons), and well outpaces the capabilities of newly opened distilleries like Lux Row (1 million proof gallons) and Old Forester (190,202 proof gallons). The Lebanon distillery will be Diageo's second whiskey production facility in the state, joining the Bulleit Distilling Co. in Shelbyville which opened in March 2017 with a maximum capacity of just 3 million proof gallons. Diageo also operates the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at the former Stitzel-Weller distillery in Louisville, which offers tours and tastings of the historic site but does not include a production distillery.Plans for the Lebanon project include an investment of $130 million over three years, with construction slated to begin in early summer of 2019. Diageo will construct a distillery, dry house—a facility to process stillage, the thick wastewater left over after the distillation process—and warehouses on the 144-acre site. The company plans to produce several of its American whiskey brands there, including Bulleit, and may also develop new brands. The goal is for distilling to begin in 2021; of course, whiskey takes several years to age, so it will be a while before any products from the new facility are on the shelf. There are no plans to include a visitor center or other tourism element at the site.