30 years ago today in 1987, Tom Bulleit, a lawyer gave up his day job and decided to go into the family business, the bourbon business. Bulleit’s family is no stranger to bourbon. It all started way back in the 1830s when Augustus Bulleit started making bourbon. As Tom once told me back then bourbon wasn’t aged by the year, “It was aged by the mile,” as it traveled by boat from Kentucky down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River on its way to New Orleans. He made bourbon until is still unsolved disappearance on a trip to New Orleans in 1860.
Bulleit Distilling Co. – Family members Tucker, Betsy and Tom Bulleit.
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187 Years Later a New Distillery Bears the Bulleit Family Name
Fast forward to today and Tom Bulleit is celebrating 30 years with Bulleit Bourbon by cutting the ribbon on a brand new $115 million dollar distillery that sits on 300 acres in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Tom celebrated the opening with a ribbon cutting along with 300 of his closest friends, family and state officials.
“We’re so proud to open the Bulleit Distilling Co. here in Shelbyville,” said Tom Bulleit. “Seeing this distillery come to life has been a truly surreal experience that couldn’t have been achieved without the tireless work of so many men and women. We can’t wait to share the delicious whiskey that will be produced here for centuries to come.”
Under the supervision of Vice President of Distilling, Pauline Rooney, the distillery employs approximately 30 people for the whiskey distillation and maturation processes. While the distillery is opening at the previously announced capacity of 1.8 million proof gallons annually it was built as a modular distillery and expansion opportunities are being explored.
“Today marks a huge achievement for Tom Bulleit and everyone at Diageo, as we open an amazing facility that will further establish the legacy of Bulleit here in Kentucky,” said Deirdre Mahlan, President of Diageo North America. “We look forward to continuing to watch the brand grow as we become part of the Shelbyville community.”
The distillery, which has already begun producing Bulleit Bourbon represents the latest technology in warehousing and distillation. The 300-acre campus includes four barrel houses (each capable of holding 55,000 barrels), a 52-foot still that was crafted by Vendome Copper and Brass Works and the first industrial solar array in Shelby County, which will collect enough energy to run all on-site mobile equipment.
Bourbon – A Driver of the State’s Economy
Shelby County Judge-Executive Dan Ison says Bulleit is a valued partner. “From providing quality jobs, working with local farmers to buy corn and using byproduct for animal feed, to participating in our community, we look forward to a bright future working together.”
For now, the Bulleit Distilling Co. is up and running for distillation but it is not open to the public for tours.
Cover Image from left to right: Pietro Di Pilato, SVP Technical, DIAGEO North America, Ky. State Sen. Paul Hornback, Deidre Mahlan, President, DIAGEO North America, Ky Gov. Matt Bevin, Bulleit Distilling Co. Founder Tom Bulleit, Shelby County Judge-Executive Dan Ison, Kentucky Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Eric Gregory, President, Kentucky Distillers’ Association.