In September we shared a somewhat cryptic story of a distillery that was attempting to fly under the radar by the name of Strigiformes, LLC. Our friends at Merriam-Webster taught us that Strigiformes are “an order of birds of prey that comprises the owls and is usually divided into the families Tytonidae and Strigidae.” The company was asking the state of Kentucky for $2 million in tax incentives. Today, we get to connect the dots and can confirm that Stoli Group has officially broken ground on a $150 million distillery project.
Kentucky Owl Park
The 420 acre complex called Kentucky Owl Park will be made up of a distillery, visitors center, cooperage, rickhouses, bottling center, restaurant and other facilities at the Haydon Materials Quarry.
In January it was announced that Stoli had purchased the rights to the Kentucky Owl Bourbon from fifth generation owner Dixon Dedman. Kentucky Owl was founded in 1879 by C.M. Dedman but like many distilleries of that era, it didn’t survive prohibition and disappeared in 1916. Dixon revived the brand in 2014 as a small boutique brand with cult like following. Stoli Group purchased the rights to the brand as the bedrock for their entry into the whiskey business.
Site prep and construction for the project’s first phase — which includes the distillery — could begin early next year with an opening targeted for 2020. The park will be home to Stoli Group’s newly created American Whiskey Division, including its storied 140-year-old Kentucky Owl brand.
“Stoli Group will put great resources into these endeavors — both the distillery experience and the growth of this very important category for our company. As master blender, Dixon Dedman will continue to manage the production of Kentucky Owl — the crown jewel of the new division, which will remain a small batch offering,” said Dmitry Efimov, head of Stoli Group’s American Whiskey Division. “This site will be home to additional brands that we will create or acquire. With the continued strength and growth of American whiskies and bourbons, we are beginning to evaluate those opportunities.”
Stoli Group purchased the Haydon Materials Quarry along John Rowan Boulevard in Bardstown, to provide a unique topographical setting. In the long-term, company leaders plan to establish the park as a premier destination on the Bourbon Trail. Their plans include a freshwater lake for fishing and recreation, a gourmet restaurant, a convention center and hotel, a vintage passenger train and a refurbished train station. If the street name sounds familiar it’s because it’s just a couple of miles down the road from Lux Row Distillers that is currently under construction.
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“Global demand for bourbon continues to bring significant economic impact to Kentucky through jobs, investment and tourism,” said Gov. Bevin. “This new project by Stoli Group in the heart of bourbon country will serve to accelerate this trend. Stoli Group will offer numerous employment opportunities and support many families in and around Nelson County. I congratulate the company and look forward seeing this concept come to life over the coming years.”
Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton said, “We are extremely happy to have Stoli Group’s American Whiskey Distillery join our growing family of distilleries in Bardstown and Nelson County. Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. This new investment is a testament that there is no better place to make bourbon, educate and entertain visitors than Bardstown, Kentucky. The announcement comes as a result of much hard work by many people in the public and private sector here. The City of Bardstown is proud to be a part of this exciting project.”
Distillery Project Garners $3.2 Million in Tax Incentives
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in September preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $2 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
In October, KEDFA approved SPI Group for up to $1.2 million in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). 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.
In addition, SPI Group 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.
The distillery is expected to account for approximately 57 of the park’s anticipated 77 total full-time jobs.
The Stoli Group
Established in 2013, Stoli Group is responsible for the management, distribution and marketing operations of SPI Group’s global spirits portfolio. One of the world’s leading wine and spirits organizations, SPI Group is an independent company headquartered in Luxembourg committed to a mission of building a respected portfolio of select premium brands. Additionally, SPI Group develops large-scale real estate projects, including the Finos Tequila distillery in Jalisco, Mexico and the award-winning Bayou Rum distillery and visitors center in Lacassine, Louisiana, and farms 14,000 acres of agricultural land, including for its Stoli and elit Vodkas in Tambov, Russia.
Bardstown, “The Bourbon Capital of the World”