Pennyroyal Barrel Co. - A new bourbon destination in Adair County, Kentucky

Pennyroyal Barrel Co. has announced plans to build a bourbon incubator in Columbia, Adair County, Kentucky. The incubator will be an independent homeplace for third party brands to locate bourbon-related projects.

UPDATE: Pennyroyal Barrel Co. has changed its name to Pennyroyal Distillery as of Jan. 1, 2024.

The company is investing $8.52 million in a 40-acre campus that will help to grow independent brands. Brand partners will have facilities for warehousing, blending and bottling, meeting and public event space, as well as private event space. The campus will include a state-of-the-art blending and bottling facility, single-story rickhouses for consistent aging, a storefront to purchase each brand’s products and apparel, a tasting room in a repurposed grain silo, a single barrel selection room and a wooded amphitheater with walking paths.

“Adair County is where I grew up and getting to be a part of bringing such an exciting and unique concept to the area has me so excited,” said Pennyroyal Barrel Company Co-Founder Ross Hutchison. “I can’t wait until some of our partner incubators are calling Adair County – and particularly the Pennyroyal, home, just as I have.”

Pennyroyal Barrel Co. Renderings

In a conversation with Hutchinson he said they are finalizing their plans right now and expect to have renderings over the next few weeks. Construction is expected to begin in late summer to early fall.

Initial plans call for building a pair of one story traditional style rickhouses. Each barrel warehouse will hold 24,000 barrels in ricks. He expects all their facilities will be fully operational by Q4 2024.

“The opportunity to be a part of and contribute to something so steeped in Kentucky history, while with our own unique spin, is such an honor,” said Pennyroyal Barrel Company Co-Founder Daniel Griffith. “I am excited to be part of something I care so deeply about and to work with the community we are joining. Columbia, Kentucky, and Adair County have been so welcoming, and we are excited to see what the future holds.”

Beyond the traditional warehousing, sourcing and bottling services that have been offered by others, PBC’s model makes each independent brand partner its focal point. At the campus, each brand will have the opportunity to curate its own consumer experiences. This creates an avenue to make the brand-to-consumer interaction more attainable without the risk associated with scaling up to a brick-and-mortar location. The model also creates a central hub for collaboration between brands and opportunities for brands to coordinate their consumer experiences with one another.

What’s in the Name ‘Pennyroyal’?

In a conversion with Pennyroyal Barrel Co. Co-Founder Ross Hutchison we got some great insight into their naming convention. Pennyroyal connects with the local community in two ways.

1. Geologically, Kentucky is broken down into six different physiographic regions.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) some of the names of the regions, such as the Knobs and the Plateaus, are descriptive; other regions, such as the Bluegrass, Jackson Purchase, and Western Coal Field, are not named for their landforms but are nevertheless well-recognized geographic areas with common socioeconomic histories related to their natural resources. Each region is characterized by distinctive landscapes produced by erosion and deposition of different rock types.

Columbia, Adair County, Kentucky sits in the Mississippian or Pennyroyal (sometimes spelled Pennyrile) region. It’s the largest region in Kentucky covering some 12,000 square miles and because of its size it touches all the other regions except the Bluegrass. It is also home to Kentucky’s longest river; the Green River.

Take a look at the 1877 physiographic diagram of Kentucky below you can see all six regions. The pinkish portion represents Mississippian or Pennyroyal region. And a more modern version of the map is below that. In the second map the Pennyroyal region is in light orange.

2. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) is a flower that grows in abundance in this area. If you take a close look at the logo, you’ll see a silhouette of the flower in the center.

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“This project from Pennyroyal Barrel Co. adds even more momentum to our signature bourbon and spirits industry,” said Kentucky Gov. Beshear. “Expanding the bourbon sector into counties that have not previously seen growth in this area is a huge accomplishment for the commonwealth, and I want to thank PBC’s leaders for their commitment to Adair County. I want to congratulate the company on this great project and look forward to seeing their success here in Kentucky.”

Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet Secretary Lindy Casebier explained the tourism aspect of the project.

“Bourbon tourism is a major draw for visitors to Kentucky, and Pennyroyal Barrel Co. will serve as a wonderful new stop,” said Secretary Casebier. “In addition to a tasting room, walking paths, an amphitheater and more, Pennyroyal Barrel Co. will also provide bourbon consulting services for smaller brands, contributing to the commonwealth’s storied bourbon legacy.”

Adair County Judge/Executive Larry Russell Bryant welcomed the company to the community.

“I am so excited to hear that Pennyroyal Barrel Co. has chosen Adair County to be home. Adair County native Ross Hutchison being one of the owners makes this all the more special,” said Judge Bryant. “Adair Countians have anxiously awaited new industry and growth for several years, and I cannot think of a better scenario than to have one of our own to kick start that growth and provide an example for others to follow.” 

Columbia-Adair County Economic Development Authority Chairman Bobby Morrison spoke on the infrastructure improvements that are helping to attract the new facility.

“The EDA has been working on infrastructure improvements in the Green River Commerce Park, as well as a competitive incentive package for several years now,” said Morrison. “The vision of our EDA Board and the continued support of community leadership has made it possible for Pennyroyal Barrel Co. to locate in the commerce park, and I couldn’t be more pleased. This collaboration will help bring much-needed jobs and economic opportunities to the area.”

Adair County Executive Director for Tourism Paige Nickel mentioned the opportunities PBC will attract.

“I am so excited to see what kind of new tourism and economic impacts Pennyroyal Barrel Co. will bring to our charming small-town community,” said Nickel. “I can taste the opportunities already. Cheers!”

PBC’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth.

Pennyroyal Barrel Co. Eligible for Up to $972,500 in Tax Incentives

Job Growth Tax Incentives

To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in June preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $225,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $8.52 million and annual targets of:

  • Creation and maintenance of 10 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and
  • Paying an average hourly wage of $20.40 including benefits across those jobs.

Additionally, KEDFA approved PBC for up to $150,000 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.

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, PBC 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.

Tourism Tax Incentives

The Kentucky Tourism Development Act (TDA), the first of its kind in the nation, provides a state sales tax incentive for tourism development projects. This performance-based incentive allows developers of approved tourism projects to recover up to 25 percent of eligible project costs over a ten-year term through the state sales tax generated on the site. This program is in place to assist small tourism attractions to obtain financing necessary for their development or expansion.

This project also received preliminary approval from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority in June. The tourism components of the project include retail space, a single barrel select room, walking trails, an amphitheater, remodeling of a silo for a tasting room and a remodel of a feeding silo for an outdoor pavilion type area. The tourism development agreement can potentially provide up to $717,500 in tax incentives based on the company’s tourism-specific investment of $2.87 million and targets of:

  • Creation and maintenance of six Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs and;
  • Out-of-state visitation expectations of 25% of visitors from outside of Kentucky by the first year and 38% of visitors from outside of Kentucky by year five following completion of the project.

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