(The Center Square) – Sazerac plans to make what Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has called the largest distilled spirits-related investment in the state’s history.
The company, whose brands include Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon and Southern Comfort Whisky, said it intends to spend $600 million to expand its cask-making capacity and build 20 warehouses in London, a city 70 miles south of Lexington.
To accommodate the expansion, Sazerac will acquire the nearly 200-hectare Rowland Acres Industrial Park from the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority. Terms of sale were not included in the Beshear administration’s release, but the Economic Development Agency’s website listed an asking price of nearly $2.9 million for the site.
The company is also planning a 72,000-square-foot expansion of the Robinson Stave and Cumberland Cooperage in East Bernstadt, which it purchased eight years ago, to bolster cask production for its aged whiskeys. According to the economic development agency, the plant currently employs 320 people.
The expansion should create up to 50 new jobs. The start of construction is planned for the near future, the first seven warehouses should be ready by spring 2025.
“We invested in London-Laurel County because we know the residents are hardworking Kentuckians who take pride in their craft,” said Mark Brown, President and CEO of Sazerac. “Our construction of new cask warehouses and expansion of our cask cooperage operations will enable the continued growth of Kentucky’s distinctive bourbon industry.”
While Sazerac is a New Orleans-based company, its headquarters are in Louisville and it operates several distilleries across the state, including the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort and the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown.
The company has invested approximately $1.2 billion in its Kentucky facilities, according to a Beshear administration release.
Bourbon is considered one of Kentucky’s most important industries, generating $9 billion in economic impact annually. Not only do the distilleries employ more than 22,500 workers with a more than $1.2 billion patrol, but they are also major tourist attractions that draw people to the Bluegrass State from around the world.
“This is a significant investment by Sazerac in Kentucky as our signature bourbon industry continues to grow at an incredible rate,” said Beshear. “I am very excited about the job creation in Southeast Kentucky and the growth of a company that has invested so much in the Commonwealth over the past 25 years.”
Last month, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority granted provisional approval for up to $2 million in tax incentives over 15 years. The incentives are contingent on Sazerac hiring 50 state residents for the jobs and paying an average hourly wage of $28.27.
KEDFA also approved an additional $1 million in incentives that allow the company to recoup sales and use taxes on items such as construction costs and building materials.