They say good things come in threes. I think that holds true for the craft distillers at Wilderness Trail Distillery since this is their third expansion since the distillery started in 2012.
Founders of Wilderness Trail Distillery Shane Baker and Dr. Patrick Heist have been involved in the distilled spirits world since founding Ferm Solutions over 10 years ago. Ferm Solutions offers product research and development, engineering and technical services plus antimicrobials and yeasts to startup craft distillers all the way up to the world’s largest spirits companies for many years. Being around the distilled spirits business, they’ve learned a few things over the years that they are now applying to their own distillery.
Nearly $10 Million Investment and 10 New Jobs
The newly announced $9.91 million investment will be used to expand distillery production from its current 6,000 barrels of craft spirits bourbon, rye whiskey, vodka and rum a year to 36,000 barrels a year. Wilderness Trail produces spirits under its own brand as well as via contract for other distillers. The expansion will include new equipment to meet the demand as well as the addition of 10 new jobs once the build out is complete.
“We are a family owned and operated distillery and this milestone helps us secure the ability to continue to grow now and in the future here in the commonwealth. We are excited to bring more job opportunities to our neighbors and more for visitors to experience in our beautiful historical community and great state of Kentucky,” said Co-Founder and Master Distiller Shane Baker. “Kentucky bourbon production has been in my family since 1940 and we are very proud to continue that tradition and to be a part of Kentucky’s signature brand recognized all over the world.”
The company relocated its small start-up distillery operation in 2014 from downtown Danville, Ky to the historic Willis Grimes farm. As a member of the states Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, Wilderness Trail’s new farm distillery attracted 20,000 visitors last year. One of the trivia facts you’ll learn on a tour of the distillery is that the Happy Birthday song was written by the great nieces of Willis Grimes, who built the house where the distillery’s visitor’s center is located. Perhaps it was first sung within these walls!
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.
Craft Distilleries Working with State and Local Governments
“With 95 percent of the world’s bourbon made in Kentucky, our spirits industry is a large and rapidly growing contributor to our economy each year. We are grateful for this investment by Wilderness Trail, and look forward to their continued success,” said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.
Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney said Wilderness Trail fits perfectly within the county’s mission. “Our community recently identified its true place brand to be ‘Historically Bold,’ and Wilderness Trail Distillery is fulfilling that high standard with its rapid pace of business growth and community impact. I commend Boyle County’s first distillery for not only making local history, but also once again creating jobs and reinvesting in the future of the Birthplace of Kentucky (Danville).”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in May preliminarily approved Wilderness Trail for tax incentives up to $200,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Wilderness Trail 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.
Wilderness Trail also can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.