Henderson Distilling Co. - Co-Founder and President Andrew Powell and Co-Founder and Head Distiller Meredith Powell

Henderson Distilling Company has announced they are building a new distillery and tourist destination in Henderson, Kentucky. The project will create a full production distillery, retail space and a cocktail bar that will sit just a few hundred yards from the Ohio River.

“The Henderson Distilling Co. is excited to bring this project to Henderson and rekindle the robust pre-Prohibition history of such a beautiful community,” said Henderson Distilling Co. Co-Founder and President Andrew Powell.

“We are grateful for our state and local leaders that have partnered with us to bring this opportunity to fruition. Bourbon is distinctly American and fully enmeshed in Kentucky’s vibrant landscape. We are thrilled to establish our company in Henderson.”

The distillery and tourist destination will be built on a three acre campus on the former Henderson Municipal Power & Light campus in downtown Henderson. This won’t be the first time that adult beverages are made at this location. Back in the early 1900s this was the location of the Henderson Brewing Company. You can see it map below dated 1913.

The Henderson Distilling Co. will be a family run business. Powell is joined in the business by his wife, Co-Founder and Head Distiller Meredith Powell. Meredith has a background in chemistry and plans on attending distiller training classes at Moonshine University.

In addition to the distillery plans call for a cocktail bar, tasting room, and small stage for a theater.

“$5 million initial investment to get us to open,” said Powell. “We have phases planned for expansion. The good thing for us is there is no new construction. Based on our plan, we will be rehabbing these buildings. We’ll bring these buildings up to speed to create the destination we want it to be for our community.”  

Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.

Powells plans call for a craft distillery that will be making 600 to 900 barrels of spirits per year with the capacity to ramp up to 1,600 barrels per year. Initial plans call for four 3,150-gallon fermenters that will feed into a StillDragon 12” column still that will stand 27’ tall. The still will be followed by a 100-gallon doubler. In addition to the column, they plan on a 50-gallon pot still that will be used for experimentation as well as to make white spirits like a vodka or gin.

“We’ll use the 50-gallon experimental still to do some smaller batch runs to try things out. We’ll also be doing some vodkas, gins and botanicals that we can run through the small still.”

Henderson Distilling is in the planning process now. They are working with distilling industry consultant Donald Snyder of Time & Tasks to develop their startup plan and long-term business model. They take possession of the property and buildings on January 2024 so they have some time to get everything in order. Of course, many distilling vendors have long lead times so this one year period will allow the Powell’s to get everything lined up.

“On day one, we’ll have a brown spirit on the wall for sale,” added Powell. “We’ll source some barrels. We’ve got a few years before the day we fill our first barrel before our own product comes to market so we’ll do some sourcing until then.”

“If everything falls into place, we hope to be placing equipment orders in the next 60 days and expect equipment will be ready for delivery in June of next year. We hope to be making our first runs in August 2024.”

The Growth of Distilling in Kentucky

“This investment by Henderson Distilling Co. adds momentum to the commonwealth’s always growing signature bourbon industry,” said Gov. Beshear. “Henderson Distilling Co. is a welcome addition to the community and will continue to set Kentucky apart as the world’s leading producer of bourbon. I want to thank the leaders of Henderson Distilling Co. for their vision to grow in Kentucky, and I look forward to seeing their success.”

Henderson’s planned project builds on recent bourbon and spirits growth across Kentucky. Since 2019, the commonwealth’s spirits industry has seen roughly 80 new-location or expansion projects totaling over $2.9 billion in planned investments and creating more than 1,400 announced full-time jobs. Last year represented the best year on record for growth of Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry, with $2.1 billion in new investments expected to create 700 full-time jobs. 

Henderson County Judge/Executive Brad Schneider commented on the bourbon tourism aspect of the project.  

“Bourbon tourism is booming and getting Henderson on the map will introduce our county to a whole new segment of visitors,” said Judge Schneider. “We’re also very proud of the local ownership group for making this terrific investment in our community. Great things are happening in Henderson County. Cheers!”

Henderson Mayor Brad Staton spoke on the importance of the new distillery.

“A new distillery in our downtown will generate tens of thousands of new and unique visitors to our city on an annual basis. It will add jobs and additional tax revenues. And it could quite possibly be the last domino to fall when we’re talking about adding new hotels and other fantastic tourism-related ventures,” said Mayor Staton. “It literally puts us on the map, and for that reason, I couldn’t be more excited to support such an interesting and exciting project.”

Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory showed his excitement for the project.

“This is incredibly exciting. I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Gregory. “It warms my heart that my hometown is getting a distillery. Henderson has got a lot of roots in brewing and distilling. Especially to have it downtown, with the riverfront and all the visitors, we couldn’t ask for anything better. A home run!”

Henderson Economic Development Executive Director Missy Vanderpool said the new project is the key for future development in Henderson.

“The bourbon industry is booming and having a distillery in our downtown is key to future development,” Vanderpool said. “We are thankful for the local visionaries that poured into this project. We often say that economic development is a team sport. This project proves, once again, that Henderson has an amazing team.”

Henderson Tourism Commission Executive Director Abby Dixon mentioned the potential for growth.

“Visitors travel from all around the world to experience America’s native spirit in its homeplace – Kentucky,” said Dixon. “To offer a bourbon experience to visitors right here in Henderson is a catalyst for growth of our local tourism industry, and we’re eager to begin telling the story of Henderson-made bourbon to our guests.”

A History of Distilling in Henderson

If distilling and Henderson, Kentucky sound familiar that’s because this was the historical home to Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company. Beginning in 1881, Worsham Distilling Company operated in Henderson. It was acquired by Henry Kraver in 1889 and he changed the name to Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company. The distillery operated there until it was shut down in 1917 just prior to national Prohibition. Kraver’s great-grandson, Corky Taylor and his son Carson, restarted Kentucky Peerless Distilling in Louisville, Kentucky in 2015.

State of Kentucky Investment Incentives

To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) today preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $200,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $5 million and annual targets of:

  • Creation and maintenance of 12 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and 
  • Paying an average hourly wage of $22.56 including benefits across those jobs. 

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, Henderson Distilling 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.

Learn more about Henderson Distilling Company.
View all Kentucky Distilleries.
View all U.S. Distilleries.

Henderson Kentucky Circa 1960
  • Save

Please help to support Distillery Trail. Sign up for our Newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Recommended Posts