Back in 2011, Joseph Magliocco and Michter’s Distillery purchased the historic Fort Nelson building on historic Whiskey Row in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s an ideal tourist experience location that sits across the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum and on the same block as the Frazier History Museum which is now the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Michter’s announced the purchase of the building and future distillery location back in 2011 to much fanfare. The announcement included the state’s Governor and many local dignitaries. At the time, the plan was to have the project complete with a functioning distillery and to be open to the public in 2013. The problem was the more they peeled back the onion on their 129 year old building the more they discovered they had a lot more work to do before the building would be safe.
The Fort Nelson building itself is simply put – Gorgeous. I can see why the folks at Michter’s fell in love with this building despite its condition at the time. The Fort Nelson Building first built in 1890 is an impressive example of cast iron and stone construction with Romanesque windows and a striking corner turret rising above its neighbors. The building was in such disrepair when purchased it had a partially collapsed staircase and no floors. If you’ve ever watched one of those fixer upper shows this is one of those buildings that most people would run away from screaming but, Michter’s had a vision, a vision that has now become reality.
“It’s only fitting that a once abandoned, great American brand found its home in a once abandoned, great American building. The Fort Nelson Building is an architectural gem, and our team is so fortunate to have had the opportunity to bring it back to life and make it a special place for everyone to visit,” said Michter’s President Joseph J. Magliocco. Saving the historic building required extensive work including the installation of 400,000 pounds of structural steel.
In a conversation with Magliocco at last year’s rain soaked Bourbon & Beyond Festival, I asked him about the downtown distillery. He shared the story about the extensive amount of steel that was used to secure the building. I believe his words were, “If there is ever an earthquake in Louisville I want to be inside Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, the amount of steel installed in that building will make it the safest place in town.”
Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery – Distillation Will Happen on Historic Michter’s Stills
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Whiskey production there will be conducted on the legendary Vendome Copper & Brass Works pot still and cypress wood fermenter system from Michter’s Pennsylvania Distillery, which traces its history back to 1753. Michter’s Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann commented, “These stills will once again produce some incredibly special whiskey.” Michter’s Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson said, “Our Distiller Dan McKee, Distillery Manager Matt Bell and our team have done a spectacular job of getting this fantastic equipment working again.”
Time lapse Renovation of the Fort Nelson Building Exterior
This time lapse video is provided by the projects architectural firm Joseph & Joseph Architects, Kentucky’s oldest continually operating architectural firm.
Grand Opening to the Public February 2, 2019
Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery will open to the public on Saturday February 2, 2019 for tours and tastings. Once opened, Michter’s will have three locations. In addition to the Fort Nelson Distillery that is open to the public they have the workhorse Michter’s Distillery a few miles away in Shively that is not open to the public as well as its 145-acre farm purchased in 2018 that will be used for operations and barrel warehousing in Springfield, Kentucky.
Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery on Historic Whiskey Row
Click any image to enlarge.