Garrard County Distilling Co - The New $250 Million Distillery is Now Operational

Garrard County Distilling Co. in Lancaster, Kentucky has announced its startup $250 million distillery is now operational. The new distillery in Garrard County, which up until last November was in a dry county, will be making up to 150,000 barrels of Kentucky bourbon and rye whiskey a year.

It’s still hard to believe in Kentucky but Garrard County has been dry since the 1800s. Ironically, the distillery owners purchased, relocated and completely rebuilt the childhood home of Carry A. Nation. Ms. Nation is best known for her role in the temperance movement where beginning in 1899 she was known to travel from saloon to saloon smashing furniture, mirrors and bottles with her hatchet. The lovely Ms. Nation was known as, “A six foot tall stevedore with the face of a prison warden and the persistence of a tooth ache”. She spent many a day in jail for her efforts to bring sobriety to the world. You can learn more about Carrie A. Nation here.

The distillery and future Kentucky Bourbon Trail destination was built by Atlanta-based premium spirits company Staghorn. The new 50,000 square foot distillery sits on 210 acres about 30 minutes south of Lexington, Kentucky. The distillery features an identical pair of 45-feet tall by 36-inch Vendome Copper and Brass Works column stills and has the capacity to distill 8.5 million proof gallons per year.

“Staghorn’s vision for Garrard County Distilling Co. is to craft the finest whiskeys and spirits in the world at scale to make an immediate impact in the market,” said Staghorn Founder and President Ray Franklin, a near 25-year industry veteran.

“To support this goal, we will be hiring nothing but the best in the business, respecting long-honored traditions and craftmanship to assure our products are nothing short of remarkable.”

The grounds also feature two 20,000 square foot rickhouses with plans for a total of 24 aging warehouses by 2030, each holding nearly 25,000 barrels. The new rickhouses are already aging about 17,000 barrels of sourced whiskey on site that are sold under the ‘All Nations Welcome Except Carry Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey’ brand.

A visitor center with tasting room and restaurant is scheduled to open by the end of this year. Visitors to the distillery will also be able to visit Carry’s Garrard County birthplace home while on site.

“Garrard County Distilling Co. is Staghorn’s first distillery and the dedication and size at which they are entering the category is a true testament to the worldwide appeal of bourbon from our great commonwealth,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

“Staghorn’s investment is a welcome addition to the Lancaster and Garrard County communities, as well as to Kentucky tourism. I want to thank the company’s leadership for their vision to grow in the commonwealth, contributing to Kentucky’s position as the bourbon capital of the world.”

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Garrard County was previously home to about ten small distilleries in the 1800s when it was an important railroad hub for hemp, flour and whiskey. The distillery property was formerly owned by Revolutionary War hero James Speed who according to The Filson Historical Society in 1864 was was appointed U.S. Attorney General in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet.

Onsite production will utilize limestone-rich water from the Lancaster Public Spring aquifer, first tapped by settlers in 1776. Whiskey will be crafted using proprietary yeast and grain sourced locally from within 50 miles of the distillery. Barrel resources will be provided by Independent Stave Company and ZAK Cooperage. The company will officially announce its new head distiller in the coming weeks.

“When selecting the site for Garrard County Distilling Co. it was critically important to me that our location choice would have a significant impact on the local economy,” continued Franklin. “The folks of Garrard County and Lancaster have been a real pleasure to work with and we can’t wait to welcome visitors to this peaceful corner of the Commonwealth.”

“Communities across Kentucky have benefited greatly from the recent bourbon boom and now I am pleased to say Garrard County will as well,” said Garrard County Judge/Executive Chris Elleman. “Working in close cooperation with Staghorn we will be bringing more than 60 jobs to the local economy, as well as increased commerce for vendors supporting the facility and tourism dollars. It is a great win for the County.”

“As recently as three months ago, Garrard County was dry, but we were already working cooperatively with the team at Staghorn on this project because we clearly understood the benefits this distillery would bring to Lancaster and the surrounding area,” said Lancaster Mayor Michael Gaffney. “We see Garrard County Distilling Co. as a real opportunity to not only grow our economy, but to share our central Kentucky heritage with folks from around the world… over a glass of whiskey, of course.”

Design of the distillery was led by Morris Workshop Architects of Lexington, Kentucky. The construction was managed by Doss and Horky Construction of Danville, Kentucky. Garrard County Distilling Co. is a member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. The project was supported by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

Staghorn is a premium spirits company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded by industry veteran Ray Franklin in 2018, Staghorn owns Garrard County Distilling Co., the largest all-new independent distillery in Kentucky, producing premium whiskeys and spirits. Currently, Staghorn’s brand portfolio includes All Nations Whiskey. The company’s name is born from the engaging Staghorn Sumac, a native shrub with an unexpected appearance, particularly at full bloom, that echoes the curiosity inherent to making great spirits.

Carry A. Nation

Carrie Ameilia Moore was born November 1846. In 1903 she legally changed her name to Carry A. Nation in support of her belief that God had chosen her to ‘carry the nation for Prohibition!”

Carry A. Nation Historic Plaque - Garrard County, Kentucky
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Carry A. Nation Birthplace Site.


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