Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky will soon bring on a second 84 inch by 40 feet tall column still. Once that still is fully operational Buffalo Trace will have the capacity to produce more than 2,200 barrels of bourbon per day. All that whiskey requires a lot of whiskey barrels, and all those barrels must mature in a warehouse for four to 20+ years. We now know many of those barrels will be headed about 100 miles south to London, Laurel County, Kentucky.
Sazerac, Parent Company to Buffalo Trace Distillery, to Build 20 New Rickhouses
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Sazerac has announced it will invest $600 million in Laurel County. The London, Kentucky investment includes the acquisition of the 198-acre Rowland Acres Industrial Park from the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority. The land will be used to construct nearly 20 new barrel storage warehouses each with a capacity of 58,800 barrels.
This $600 million investment by Sazerac Company is in addition to the often mentioned $1.2 billion investment under the Buffalo Trace Distillery brand.
The project also includes a 72,000-square-foot expansion of Robinson Stave and Cumberland Cooperage, which Sazerac acquired in 2014, to increase production capacity for barrels used to store the company’s aging whiskies.
“We are delighted to expand further in Laurel County and appreciate the warm welcome given to us by the local government and the economic development authority,” Mark Brown, Sazerac president and CEO, said. “We’ve invested in London-Laurel County because we know the residents are hardworking Kentuckians who take pride in their craft. Our construction of new barrel storage warehouses and expansion of our barrel cooperage operations will allow for the continued growth of Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry.”
Work on the project is expected to begin in the coming weeks, with the first seven-barrel warehouses expected to be completed in the spring of 2025.
“This is a significant investment in Kentucky by Sazerac as our signature bourbon industry continues to grow at an incredible rate,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said. “I am so glad to see this job creation in Southeastern Kentucky, as well as the growth of a company that has invested so much in the commonwealth over the past 25 years. Thank you to the leaders at Sazerac for further deepening their roots in the Bluegrass State.”
To date, Sazerac’s investment in Kentucky has included approximately $1.2 billion invested at Buffalo Trace Distillery, the company’s primary distillery, located in Frankfort. The company’s Kentucky presence also includes Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, The Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro and its headquarters in Jefferson County.
Sazerac is an American, family-owned, leading producer and marketer of distilled spirits headquartered in Louisville. Founded in 1850, Sazerac maintains eight major facilities in the United States and currently employs around 4,700 people across all U.S. operations. The new facility is expected to create up to 50 new full-time jobs.
Bourbon Has Been Very, Very Good to the Kentucky Economy
The commonwealth’s bourbon sector is a nearly $9 billion signature industry in Kentucky, generating more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll exceeding $1.23 billion. Since the start of the Beshear administration, more than 60 spirits-related announcements have generated over $1.4 billion in new investment, creating more than 1,100 full-time jobs for Kentuckians.
Laurel County Judge/Executive David Westerfield noted the long-term impact the project will have in the region.
“This multimillion-dollar expansion is monumental for Laurel County,” Judge Westerfield said. “Sazerac’s Cumberland Cooperage in East Bernstadt offers some of the best jobs in our county and we are thrilled they are expanding their presence in our community.”
London Mayor Troy Rudder highlighted the importance of existing business growth.
“It’s always exciting when one of our existing businesses expands and invests further in our community,” Mayor Rudder said. “Sazerac’s Cumberland Cooperage offers some of the best paying jobs and benefits in the area and we are fortunate to have them continue to grow here.”
Paula Thompson, executive director of the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority, welcomed the company’s significant commitment in the community.
“What an exciting time for London,” Thompson said. “Sazerac already provides quality jobs with great benefits, and we are happy they chose Laurel County for their operation expansion and this record-breaking investment in our community.”
Carol Wright, President, and CEO of Jackson Energy Cooperative, is ready to work more closely with company leaders as Sazerac grows its presence in Laurel County.
“Jackson Energy looks forward to supporting and serving the needs of Sazerac-Buffalo Trace in Rowland Acres Industrial Park,” Wright said. “As a local business partner with the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority, Jackson Energy recognizes the potential economic growth and job opportunities this industry will bring to our region.”
Sazerac’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in October preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $2 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 50 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $28.27, including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved the company for up to $1 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.
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, Sazerac 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.
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Birth of a Legend
Kentucky’s Most Famous Citizen
Col. Harland Sanders
Corbin, Laurel County is home to one of Kentucky’s most famous citizens. That famous citizen is none other than Col. Harland Sanders, inventor of those 11 secret herbs and spices that make up what we know today as Kentucky Fried Chicken. There is a historical marker in North Corbin that commemorates the Colonel’s achievement.
Kentucky’s Most Famous Citizen – Colonel Harland Sanders began the part of his life that brought him fame in a small gasoline service station on the opposite side of this highway. Born on September 9, 1890, near Henryville, Indiana he left school at twelve to support his family. He held a wide variety of jobs as farmhand, soldier, railroader, secretary, insurance salesman and ferryboat operator until 1930 when he came to Corbin, moved his family in quarters behind the station and started pumping gasoline. This was then a main route to Florida from the north. Traffic slowed during the Great Depression so Sanders, who enjoyed cooking, augmented his meager income by selling meals to tourists. His food was liked. His reputation grew and his career as a restauranteur began.
Birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken – In 1932 Colonel Harland Sanders bought the small restaurant near this site. Here he combined good cooking, hard work, and showmanship to build regional fame for his fine food. His restaurant and motel, now gone, flourished. To serve his patrons better Sanders constantly experimented with new recipes and cooking methods. Here he created, developed, and perfected his world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe. In 1956 plans were announced for a Federal highway to by-pass Corbin. Threatened with the traffic loss, then 66 and undaunted, sold the restaurant and started traveling America and selling seasoning, and his recipe for fried chicken to other restaurants. His success in this effort began the world’s largest commercial food service system and made Kentucky a household word around the world.
Photo Credit: Craig Swain.