Master Distiller Jacob Call is celebrating the groundbreaking of his startup Western Kentucky Distilling Co. in Beaver Dam, Ohio County, Kentucky. Jacob Call is an 8th Generation Master Distiller and Kentuckian. Distilling has been in Calls family lineage for centuries now. His family’s distilling history stretches back to the earliest days of bourbon when his ancestor Samuel Call distilled whiskey on his Kentucky farm in the late 1700s.
Jacob learned his craft from his grandfather and father, both of whom spent many years working at Jim Beam (where his father was mentored by legendary Booker Noe) and his father went on to become Master Distiller at Florida Caribbean Distillers, where Jacob joined the team in 2007.
Jacob became part of Green River Distilling Co. (formerly O.Z. Tyler Distillery) in the fall of 2014 where he oversaw the renovations and restarting of the historic distillery. As master distiller he oversaw all aspects of whiskey production and warehousing for the facility. He also represented the distillery as a board member with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
Call announced he was leaving Green River in July of this year, just a month after the company was acquired by Bardstown Bourbon Company. At the time, he could not talk about where he was headed but now, we know.
Jacob Call to be Master Distiller at Startup Western Kentucky Distilling Co.
Jacob Call and business partner JD Edwards are celebrating the groundbreaking of their new $30 million Western Kentucky Distilling Co. on November 8, 2022. Edwards is the former controller for Green River Distilling Co.
The Western Kentucky Distilling Co. will be a state-of-the-art distillery. The 100% Kentucky-owned distillery is scheduled to open mid-2023 as the first official legal distillery in Ohio County. It will bring jobs and quality bourbon and rye whiskey to Western Kentucky.
Jacob Call who will serve as COO (among other talents, he was a former banker) and Master Distiller alongside Kentucky native and president JD Edwards. Both Call and Edwards have many years of experience in the distilling industry and will deliver whiskey made with the best ingredients and quality craftsmanship using long-standing traditional distilling techniques.
Western Kentucky Distilling Co. is located at 1880 Old Liberty Church Road in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, in the Bluegrass Crossings Business Center, on land that used to be a farm. Beaver Dam is approximately 1.5 hours Southwest from Bardstown, Kentucky. The 25,000 square foot distillery is on 81 acres and will feature 15 palletized barrel warehouses adding an additional 300,000 square feet.
The distillery will have the capacity to distill 50,000 barrels of whiskey per year and store 250,000 barrels. Within the first two years, the distillery is expected to bring approximately 35 jobs to the region.
Initial Focus Will Be on Bulk Spirits with Brands to Follow
The initial focus at the distillery will be on bulk spirits production and aging of barrels for other spirits brands. Call said that sales so far have been strong, and they have already sold the first year’s production capacity and then some. Not bad for a business whose initial pour of concrete is still green.
The Western Kentucky Distilling Co. team has deep roots in Kentucky, and is committed to bringing quality bourbon and rye whiskey to Western Kentucky, a region with deep bourbon history. At one point, the Owensboro area was second in whiskey production for the state after Louisville’s Jefferson County, Kentucky, home to brands like Brown-Forman and Heaven Hill.
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Production Includes a 36” Vendome Copper & Brass Works 38’ Tall Column Still
In addition to being 100% Kentucky owned, key team members have long-standing family history in the state. The team is proud to support the Kentucky economy by purchasing all cooking, fermenting, and distilling equipment in the state. The distillery will focus on sour mash bourbon and rye. The workhorse in the distillery will be a Vendome Copper & Brass Works 36” wide by 38’ tall all copper column still with 19 trays. Running in parallel to the column will be a 660-gallon copper doubler. Not only does Call have a long-standing relationship with Vendome but this father before him was a long-time Vendome customer as well.
The column will be fed by a collection of 15 15,000-gallon fermentation tanks built by Louisville Tank & Vessel.
The rickhouses that will store the bourbon and rye whiskey will be standard black metal clad buildings. Inside the barrels are expected to be palletized with six barrel per pallet and placed six pallets high. Call said they will be running exhaust fans throughout the day to make sure they get plenty of air circulation throughout the warehouses.
“From the best ingredients to an ideal climate for aging, Kentucky is known worldwide as the best place for making whiskey,” said Call. “As someone who’s family goes back eight generations in both Kentucky and distilling, I’m proud to be a partner and to help build the new Western Kentucky Distilling Co. At the distillery, we’re celebrating all things Kentucky from our ingredients and equipment to our 100% Kentucky ownership. We look forward to opening next year.”
The distillery will focus on contract distilling to start, with signature brands that will be announced at a later date as well as a visitor’s center down the road.
The distillery plans to use all locally grown Kentucky corn and will be experimenting with some locally grown rye. Call said they are proud to support the local community and the state of Kentucky.
Western Kentucky Distilling Co. is scheduled to begin 24×7 distilling operations by mid-2023.
Ohio County, Kentucky Points of Interest
The Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music Foundation is charged with maintaining and promoting the father of bluegrass music’s birthplace.
Kentucky’s Multi-Million Bourbon Boom Continues
Western Kentucky Distilling Co.’s planned investment builds on recent bourbon and spirits growth across Kentucky. Since 2019, the commonwealth’s spirits industry has announced roughly 60 new-location or expansion projects totaling nearly $1.4 billion in planned investments and creating more than 1,100 announced full-time jobs. Currently, bourbon and spirits facilities in Kentucky directly employ more than 5,300 people.
“The momentum we are seeing in our state’s bourbon and spirits industry is critical to Kentucky’s continued economic success,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “This investment by Western Kentucky Distilling Co. is going to strengthen our bourbon production and bring quality jobs to Ohio County and Western Kentucky. Anytime a company is committed to sourcing all its materials and production right here in the commonwealth, it is a testament to its belief in this great state. I want to thank the leaders of Western Kentucky Distilling Co., and I look forward to their future success.”
Ohio County Judge/Executive David Johnston is excited for this opportunity and the opportunities it will bring to the area.
“We are very excited about this new development in our county,” said Judge Johnston. “The Fiscal Court, including myself, has worked to secure this new industry and investment for our community.”
The Ohio County Economic Development Alliance (OCEDA) Board of Directors issued a joint statement expressing their optimism surrounding the project and growing the bourbon industry in their region.
“The OCEDA board is thrilled to see Kentucky’s booming bourbon industry grow here at home in Ohio County, and we’re proud to be able to help make this project a reality for the company, future workers, county residents and whiskey enthusiasts.”
Former Executive Director of the Ohio County Economic Development Authority Jodi Ashby thanked all involved who helped bring investment and job opportunities to the community.
“The private investment of the Western Kentucky Distilling Co. is an incredible mile marker in economic growth for Ohio County and the surrounding region,” said Ashby. “The bourbon industry is Kentucky’s bread and butter and now Ohio County is a part of that! The citizens of Ohio County will prosper in ways that have not even begun to be thought of yet due to the decision of the folks who envisioned this project and brought it to fruition here in Beaver Dam. The team of people who helped make it happen, including the OCEDA Board, the GRRIDA Board, the Ohio County Fiscal Court and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, worked with one goal in mind – to create a better quality of life for Ohio Countians by creating sustainable job opportunities in the area! I can’t thank this company enough for being willing to invest in Ohio County. I am so very pleased that they chose us to invest in! The regional park of Bluegrass Crossings is an industrial development advantage for all of us and I am grateful to have witnessed this project come together.”
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in May preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $1 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of nearly $17.7 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 35 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $31.25 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA in October approved the company for up to $125,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA) based on an additional $4 million investment. 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.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, the company can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.