Several years ago, at WhiskeyFest here in Chicago, I was chatting with a Diageo executive who opined that they would eventually have to do something about creating a "home place for Bulleit." What's a "home place"? Think of it as a distillery substitute. You can't visit the Bulleit Distillery because there isn't one.
What does Bulleit have to do with Stitzel-Weller? Nothing, except Diageo owns both of them. Stitzel-Weller is the old Van Winkle family distillery. Diageo has owned it for more than 20 years. The distillery itself has been dark since 1992, but they use the warehouses to age bourbon distilled for them by others, and may be using other parts of the facility too.
Although Diageo has never confirmed this, I'm pretty sure Bulleit is aged at Stitzel-Weller.
The Stitzel-Weller Distillery is located just south of Louisville in the suburb of Shively, where there were once dozens of distilleries. It was built just after Prohibition ended and operated for 60 years. Until Maker's Mark it was the only distillery making wheated bourbon. Its brands were Old Fitzgerald, W. L. Weller, Old Rip Van Winkle, Cabin Still, and Rebel Yell, none of which Diageo still owns.
According to the announcement, Tom Bulleit and his team are very excited about this opportunity to share more about Bulleit while giving folks a close look at one of the most legendary distilleries of its time. Stitzel-Weller will also serve as Tom’s place of business when he is in Kentucky.
I haven't been inside the fence since 1996, so I'm excited too.
Pappy Van Winkle built Stitzel-Weller to be a showplace as well as a working distillery. It is great that this important landmark will be preserved and people will be able to experience it.
They haven't announced when it will be open to the public. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.