Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wild Turkey Unveils New Distillery.

Although the new Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, has been up and running, and giving tours, for about a month, today was its official unveiling. Executives from Campari, the parent company, were there. So were Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Lawrenceburg Mayor Edwinna Baker.

The capacity of the new distillery, 11 million gallons a year, is more than twice the old one. This expansion was actually planned several years ago but delayed about two years due to the ownership change. The new beer still and doubler are the exact same capacity as the old ones. The increase in overall capacity comes from more and bigger mash cookers and fermenters. The stills may be the same size but they're going to be a lot busier.

The price tag for the expansion is $50 million.

The capacity expansion on Wild Turkey Hill is a good thing, as is the new Wild Turkey 81 (81 proof, that is, parallel to the 101 proof flagship). I've always disdained the 80 proof, brown label expression. This one is a lot better. Unofficial distillery sources report it's the same whiskey as 101, just diluted, whereas the old 80 proof was a much younger whiskey.

Especially if you like the milder proof, 81 is a fine addition to the line.

Less edifying is a new TV commercial they've just released, which encourages people to use a well known rude hand gesture to order 'the bird.' After this triggers a few bar brawls they may reconsider.

The commercial also features a model whose hairstyle is right out of the 70s. What's that about? You can see it for yourself on Facebook.

The picture at top shows Master Distiller Jimmy Russell (left) and Associate Distiller Eddie Russell (Jimmy's son) christening an oversized bourbon barrel at today's official ceremony. The picture below shows a tour group from Cincinnati visiting the new facility.


snakeman said...

The wife and I did the Bourbon Trail tour last fall. The Wild Turkey tour was the downside of the 6 distilleries we visited. They were in the construction stages of the new facility, and it was off limits for the tours. Instead, we got to tour the old still house and the other empty equipment rooms. Everything was empty, and the old column still had openings cut into it. The contractors were cannibalizing the spirit safes and stainless steel fittings for the new stills. The tour guide told us the new building was going in where the old bottling hall was. As all bottling was now being done if Ft. Smith AK. I asked what was to be done with all the old buildings after the new distillery was up and running. He said no decision was made about it yet, but the employees were hoping it would be torn down and a new bottling hall would be erected in its place. I took many pictures of what we could see, and they are posted online in my Picasa page.
The Wild Turkey pictures start with # 220 and run through 257

Can't wait to go back down and see the new operation.


AaronWF said...

Apparently, there are over 5 million barrels of whiskey currently aging in Kentucky. 4.7 million of those are bourbon. 4.3 million people live in Kentucky, which of course makes only 1.09 barrels of bourbon per resident. I think we need more whiskey!

hubbit said...

I can only hope that the whiskey doesn't suffer. It's all too common that when a distillery is moved, even across the street, the new distillate doesn't quite measure up to the old. But, we won't know for another six to eight years, will we?

Did they keep any of the old cypress fermenters, or was everything replaced by stainless steel?

Chuck Cowdery said...

I'm pretty sure they had already worn out and been replaced.