Western Kentucky Distilling Co. in Beaver Dam, Ohio County, Kentucky has made a tremendous amount of progress in less than a year. The startup distillery led by 8th Generation Master Distiller Jacob Call broke ground in November 2022 and filled their first barrel of bourbon whiskey on July 19, 2023. Now, just shy of a year later they have officially celebrated their achievements with a grand opening on October 18, 2023.
“It’s a proud moment for our team at Western Kentucky Distilling Co. as we open the doors and start making Kentucky bourbon and rye whiskey within our walls,” said Western Kentucky Distilling Co. COO and Master Distiller Jacob Call. “Kentucky whiskey has a rich history in our state, and it’s an honor for our distillery to become part of that legacy. As the first official distillery in Ohio County since Prohibition, we’re excited to be part of the community and bring jobs to the region.”
The new $30 million, state-of-the-art distillery is 100% Kentucky-owned by Jacob Call, President J.D. Edwards and their partners. Both Call and Edwards have many years of experience in the distilling industry most recently at Green River Distilling Co. where Call served as Master Distiller and Edwards served as controller.
“Kentucky’s bourbon industry continues to thrive, and we are thrilled to see Western Kentucky Distilling Co.’s new operation come to fruition,” said Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Lindy Casebier, who attended the grand opening. “This new project will expand one of Kentucky’s most sought-after industries, bringing bourbon and additional revenue to the Western Kentucky region.”
“Coming off what was a historic year for Kentucky bourbon in 2022, seeing these announced projects and investments become operational and begin production is an incredible step for the commonwealth,” added Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “The grand opening marks yet another step forward for Kentucky’s signature bourbon and spirits industry and will continue to provide incredible job opportunities for the Western Kentucky region. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of Western Kentucky Distilling and want to congratulate the company on this exciting next step.”
Deep Roots in Kentucky
The Western Kentucky Distilling Co. team has deep roots in Kentucky and is committed to bringing quality bourbon and rye whiskey to Western Kentucky. In addition to being 100% Kentucky owned, key team members have a long-standing family history in the state.
Call family distilling history stretches back to the earliest days of bourbon when his ancestor Samuel Call distilled whiskey on his Kentucky farm in the late 1700s. Jacob learned his craft from his grandfather and father, both of whom spent many years working at Jim Beam Distillery (where his father was mentored by legendary Booker Noe) and his father went on to become Master Distiller at Florida Caribbean Distillers, where Jacob joined the team in 2007. Jacob moved on to Green River in Owensboro, Kentucky in the fall of 2014 where he oversaw the renovations and restarting of historic KY-DSP-10 until he left there in early 2022.
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Contract Distillation with Brands to Follow
The 25,000 square foot new distillery operation – the first official distillery in Ohio County since Prohibition – sits on 80 acres and will feature 15 palletized barrel warehouses adding an additional 300,000 square feet. The distillery will have the capacity to distill 50,000 barrels of whiskey per year and store 250,000 barrels.
Initial plans call for the distillery to focus on contract distillation with signature brands of their own to follow down the road. The distillery has already brought 25 jobs to the region, with more expected as production continues to ramp up in the coming years.
The Western Kentucky Distilling Co. team is proud to support the Kentucky economy by purchasing all cooking, fermenting, and distilling equipment in the state. The distillery features a Vendome Copper & Brass Works 36” wide by 38’ tall all copper column still with 19 trays. Running in parallel to the column is a 660-gallon copper doubler. The column will be fed by a collection of 15 15,000-gallon fermentation tanks built by Louisville Exchanger & Vessel.
Western Kentucky Distilling Co. officially filled its first barrel of bourbon using traditional distilling techniques on July 19, 2023. A new charred 53-gallon white oak barrel was filled with a bourbon mash bill of 70% corn (all locally grown in Kentucky), 21% rye, and 9% malted barley. The sour mash bourbon was entered into the barrel at 120 proof and will age for a minimum of 4 years.
Ohio County Fiscal Court Judge/Executive David Johnston is excited to see the company operational and making an impact in the community: “We are happy to have this new industry in our county and in the Bluegrass Crossings Business Centre. This business will help to strengthen our economy and provide good-paying jobs. We are pleased to welcome them to our community.”
Beaver Dam Mayor Paul Sandefur highlighted the company’s innovation and achievements in developing the new distillery operation: “As a member of this community, I am thrilled to see the progress at Western Kentucky Distilling Co. Their achievement in developing a state-of-the-art facility at Bluegrass Crossings Business Centre demonstrates what hard work, determination and having a vision can accomplish.”
Ohio County Economic Development Alliance executive director Jason S. Chinn noted the positive economic impact this investment will have on the community: “We are excited to see Western Kentucky Distilling Co.’s success at Bluegrass Crossings Business Centre. This project creates new jobs and reinforces Ohio County’s reputation as a business-friendly community. We celebrate Western Kentucky Distilling Co. for their skill and dedication to their craft and look forward to what they accomplish in the future.”
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Kentucky State Tax Incentives
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in May 2022 preliminarily approved an incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can tax incentives based on the company’s investment and annual job and wage targets.
Additionally, in October 2022 KEDFA approved the company for further 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, Western Kentucky Distilling 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.
The distillery is not open to the public right now but opening it up to visitors is in their future plans.