The project will include the construction of a new distillery operation, barrel storage warehouses and a water storage area for fire prevention. The new 70,000-square-foot facility will be located on 150 acres at 1170 Mackville Road in Springfield. Construction of the project is expected to begin in January 2023.
“We are grateful for each person that picks up a bottle of our family’s whiskey,” said Willett Distillery President and Chief Whiskey Officer Britt Kulsveen. “It is both humbling and the greatest honor to be included in any celebration. Our intention is always to make a personal connection with our customers and fill their glass with cheer.”
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“The Springfield community has graciously welcomed us with the same warmth and attentiveness that we try to show our guests every day,” added Master Distiller and Director of Operations Drew Kulsveen. “We are grateful for the kindness and support we have received from the Springfield community and for the continued support of our Bardstown home.”
Founded in 1936, Willett Distillery is a family owned and operated distillery located in Nelson County, Kentucky. Over the last 86 years, Willett has grown gradually, methodically, and responsibly, incorporating the family values of southern hospitality, craftsmanship and compassion in their products and services through the years.
Over the last five years, the Willett employee base has nearly doubled. Today, the company employs 67 people that host more than 80,000 guests annually and distill, barrel and bottle 11 brands that are distributed in 40 states.
“Kentucky’s bourbon industry is experiencing incredible momentum throughout the entire state,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “The demand for our bourbon is stronger than ever, and that’s a testament to the companies and distillers we have in the commonwealth who produce high-quality, world-class bourbon. Willett Distillery, which has been a staple of Kentucky bourbon for over eight decades, is bringing quality jobs to Washington County. I want to thank their leadership for continuing to support the commonwealth and look forward to many more years of their success.”
Willett Distillery’s investment adds to the commonwealth’s booming bourbon sector, which 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 roughly $2.5 billion in new investment, creating more than 1,300 full-time jobs for Kentuckians.
Washington County Judge/Executive Timothy Graves is thankful for Willett’s expansion and the economic boost the company will provide to the region.
“This is an exciting announcement,” said Judge Graves. “We are located in the heart of the bourbon trail, and this project will add good-paying jobs and investment to our county. We want to welcome and thank Willett Distillery for selecting Washington County for their continued growth!”
Springfield Mayor Debbie Wakefield noted the company’s rich history in the bourbon industry and welcomed its leaders to the community.
“This is outstanding for our community from a jobs and investment standpoint, but also because Willett has such a rich history in the distilling industry, and an outstanding reputation for quality and community,” said Mayor Wakefield. “We are thrilled that they have chosen Springfield for this project!”
Daniel Carney, executive director of the Springfield-Washington County Economic Development Authority, mentioned the quality of the company’s brand as an ideal fit for the strong bourbon presence in Central Kentucky.
“The world’s finest spirits are made and aged right here in Central Kentucky, and Willett has established themselves as an iconic brand, known for their commitment to quality,” said Carney. “This is a perfect fit, as they continue the growth of their family owned distillery in Springfield and Washington County.”
Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority Providing $800k in Tax Incentives
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) on Thursday preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $800,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $92.8 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 35 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $34.96 including benefits across those jobs, and an average base pay of $24 not including benefits.
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, Willett Distillery 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.