Back in the 1800s commercial distilleries were often located next to railroad tracks. Trains were used to hall large amounts of grain, coal, construction materials, people and of course barrels of whiskey. That’s why Log Still Distillery, built on the historic grounds of the former J.W. Dant distillery in Gethsemane, Kentucky sits directly on a railroad track and former train depot. Those tracks have not seen any regular train activity for many, many years – until now.
J.W. ‘Wally’ Dant III and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Arrive to Log Still Distillery by Rail
The distillery celebrated a new milestone this week with a ribbon cutting for their new 4,000 square foot tasting room. As a crowd of 100 or so people prepared for the ribbon cutting the common question was, “Where’s Wally?”.
That question was answered in true 1800s style first audibly with the sound of a train whistle off in the distance then visually as a train carrying Log Still Distillery Founder J.W. ‘Wally’ Dant III, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and several other dignitaries came rolling around the bend. Yes, folks, the ribbon cutting ceremony for this latest phase of this $36 million distillery project was kicked off with the sound of a train horn, smoke billowing from its stack and the arrival of the Log Still Express to Dant Crossing.
It was on National Bourbon Day on June 14, 2019 when J.W. ‘Wally’ Dant III, the great-great-great grandson of Joseph Washington ‘J.W.’ Dant, stepped up to the podium to announce he had purchased the long defunct Dant & Head Distillery. A distillery that had changed hands and names many times since Prohibition that has not made a drop of bourbon since 1961. Seven generations later this Dant ancestral property and distillery is coming back to life and officially started fermenting, distilling and barreling their own bourbon this past week.
A $36 Million Distillery and Destination
The original announcement in 2019 included a $12 million investment in the project. As time went on the project plans grew and so did the budget. Last month the distillery and the state announced a new $24 million Phase II bringing the entire investment up to $36 million and 146 full-time jobs.
The overall project includes The Homestead B&B, the Tasting Room, an open air amphitheater for outdoor entertainment, a full-service restaurant, a 350 seat entertainment complex and a full size distillery. The distillery and destination sits on 315 acres with a 12 acre spring fed lake. The Homestead B&B, a totally renovated five bedroom Victorian home opened to the public in February with several other openings scheduled for the remainder of this year and in 2022.
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Log Still Distillery Tasting Room Ribbon Cutting
“This is a historic day for our family. It’s great to have so many friends, neighbors and dignitaries here. And thank you all for coming,” exclaimed J.W. ‘Wally’ Dant III. “It’s our goal to make this an important day not only for us but for Nelson County, the whole state of Kentucky and for the bourbon industry that we are so honored to join today. Today we are opening the doors of Log Still Distillery and welcoming everyone to our new hospitality destination that we’re calling Dant Crossing.
“What we’ve tried to do with our campus here is we tried to take the old ruins of the old distillery and incorporate them in our new buildings. This is going to be the first of many to come for you to be able to see.
“One of the things that Lynne (Dant), Charles (Dant) and I along with a lot of our families have been talking about and dreaming about for quite some time is this place and being back in the distilling business. And it’s very humbling to be here and be standing before you and being able to say ‘The Dant’s are back in the bourbon business again’.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants with the opening of Log Still. Seven generations of Dant’s have played a role in this industry so outside of the Beam family that has eight or nine of them, and good for them, we are happy to say we have seven generations of Dant’s that have been involved in this business. This is a big day for us and we can’t begin to thank you enough.
“This is very hallowed ground for us. This used to be distillery grounds from the late 1800s through the 1960s. My family has been distilling bourbon on this place, this DSP-KY-47, Distilled Spirits Plant 47 for a long time. And for us to be able to sit up here and to talk about, we have our old number back, DSP-47 is something special and unique not only to this part Nelson County but to our family and we are very proud to represent DSP-47.
“We are really trying to make this a destination place for everyone to enjoy in Kentucky and the other surrounding states and internationally to come visit our place.”
“What an incredible afternoon. Wally, Lynne, Charles, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I want to welcome the Dant family back to the bourbon industry,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
“I am so happy to be here today to help break ground on this exciting project that will help to expand Kentucky’s signature spirits industry. What and exciting time this is.
“Wally mentioned it. He is the great-great-great grandson of Joseph Washington Dant. A legend in the bourbon industry. And this project is reviving a historic site here in southern Nelson County and creating a family friendly destination. And if I’ve been waiting for anything, it’s a family friendly destination that I can also enjoy bourbon during.”
Built by Buzick Construction, the tasting room’s primary focal point is a Vendome Copper & Brass Works 50 gallon hybrid mini-still. It also features an overhead bi-fold door that opens as weather allows so visitors can enjoy outside tastings with a view of the Kentucky countryside including the ruins of the Dant distillery and a future amphitheater and train depot.
The tasting room opens to the public May 18 and will premiere Log Still’s initial spirits. Debut products include Monk’s Road Dry Gin, Monk’s Road Barrel Finished Gin and Monk’s Road Fifth District Series Bourbon: Cold Spring Distillery, the first in a rotating series of bourbons named for historic pre-Prohibition distillers in the region. Company leaders plan additional products, including bourbon and rye whiskey under the Monk’s Road name and Tennessee whiskeys under the Rattle and Snap label.
“The cabinet is honored to join Log Still Distillery in celebrating this exciting tourism and economic development project that will bring jobs and travel revenue to Kentucky,” Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry said. “
The Beshear administration understands the value of investing in Kentucky business and the role this attraction will have in fostering economic recovery throughout the commonwealth.”
“Log Still’s project further enhances the rich history of making bourbon in Nelson County,” said Nelson County Judge/Executive Dean Watts.
“The tasting room at Log Still Distillery is at the heart of this beautiful 300-plus-acre distillery campus and is designed to make a unique experience out of the tasting of its crafted products,” President of Nelson County Economic Development Agency Kim Huston.
Upon the recommendation of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Log Still Distillery received approval from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority for incentives through the Tourism Development Act. Eligible businesses receive an annual reimbursement for taxes paid on qualifying tourism development projects admission tickets, food and gift sales and lodging costs. Log Still Distillery will receive a tax incentive totaling $6 million for its Phase 2 tourism expansion.
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in May 2019 preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $500,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s Phase 1 investment of $12 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 20 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $26 including benefits across those jobs.
KEDFA in May 2019 approved Log Still for up to $100,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA) based on the company’s Phase 1 investment of $12 million. In March 2021, KEDFA approved the company for up to $500,000 in tax incentives through KEIA based on the company’s Phase 2 investment of $24 million. KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
Log Still also can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.
New jobs created across both phases of the project include distillery and bottling operations, hospitality, event operations and restaurant positions.
The Log Still Distillery Tasting Room officially opens to the public on May 18, 2021.
Log Still Distillery Celebrates its 1st Ribbon Cutting with Opening of ‘The Homestead’ B&B at Dant Crossing
The J.W. Dant Legacy Rebirth is Well Underway as Log Still Distillery Officially Breaks Ground [Renderings]
J.W. Dant Investing $12 Million to Restart Historic Distillery in the Bourbon Capital of the World