The J.W. Rutledge Distillery has had a few stops and starts over the last couple of years but this latest announcement includes some big backers, a piece of land and a solid plan.
Jim Rutledge, best known as the Master Distiller at Four Roses Distillery for more than 20 years and part of the inaugural 2001 class of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, may have retired in September 2015 but it was pretty clear, pretty soon he wasn’t ready to hang up his whiskey thief any time soon.
In the Spring of 2016 Rutledge started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $2 million to start a new distillery. After only five days, he pulled the plug on that plan and decided to regroup and find more traditional investors.
J.W. Rutledge Distillery 2018 Plans
Rutledge along with a group of investors that include pod architecture + design (pod a+d) of Carrboro, North Carolina and Luckett & Farley architects and engineers of Louisville, Kentucky recently unveiled a plan to build a brand new $25 million distillery. The plan calls for a modern design, environmentally sustainable, mid-sized distillery.
The J.W. Rutledge Distillery plan calls for a 69,000 square foot facility to be built not in Bardstown’s Nelson County, but in Oldham County east of Louisville, Kentucky. The architectural concept includes two-buildings linked by physical representations of various elements of the distilling process. The design concept engages the landscape and gently steps downward toward Floyd’s Fork Creek, allowing the process of bourbon-making to flow naturally via gravity, from grain delivery all the way to barreling.
One of the things that was in Rutledge’s plan from a couple years ago was to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. This plan sticks with that theme. This latest plan calls for a design that will convert the naturally occurring stillage (the spent grains created during the bourbon making process) into energy via a biomass digester and to capture heating and cooling through a geothermal pond loop.
Pod a+d and Luckett & Farley Designed the Award-winning Rabbit Hole Distillery
The collaborative distillery design was created in partnership with Douglas Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi, pod a+d’s co-founders and Luckett & Farley’s President/CEO Aric Andrew and Vice President/Distilling Marketer Kyle Beasley. The pair worked together on the urban bourbon award-winning distillery that is now Rabbit Hole Distillery in downtown Louisville.
“This one of a kind campus will engage a breathtaking site in a manner that honors an old-fashioned tradition done well, while looking toward the future to thrive,” Pierson added.
The new J.W. Rutledge Distillery project calls for a projected budget of $20-$25 million.
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Cream of Kentucky Bourbon, High Plains Whiskey & J.W. Rutledge Whiskey
Rutledge’s sustainable distillery will produce “World Class Bourbon and Rye whiskeys,” says Jim Rutledge. “We will produce Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Straight Rye Whiskey the ‘old-fashioned way’ relative to the requisites, guidelines and standards for Straight Whiskey production that have been in place for close to two centuries.”
Rutledge also announced he’s acquired and is resurrecting an old brand, the “Cream of Kentucky.” It’s a brand that was originally introduced in 1888 by I. Trager & Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio. Cream of Kentucky is now owned by J.W. Rutledge, and he’s recently purchased a limited supply of 11.5 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey he feels is worthy of the rebirth of Cream of Kentucky Bourbon as a premium whiskey.
Plans call for the group to break ground in Spring 2019.
Legendary Master Distiller Jim Rutledge Officially Out of Retirement – Starting New Distillery
Former 4 Roses Master Distiller Starts $2 Million Crowdfunding Campaign for JW Rutledge Distillery
Jim Rutledge Distillery Pulls Plug on Crowdfunding Campaign After Just 5 Days