Yesterday was goodie day at the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA), where several well-known small-government conservative Republican distillery owners and wanna-bees lined up with their hands out. Toyota was the greatest beneficiary of taxpayer largesse ($145 million), but several bourbon companies also got a taste.
Among them was Maker’s Mark, which got $100,000 in incentives to support its $8.2 million plan to “extract additional gallons” from its barrels by introducing “a state-of-the-art rinse process” in a new facility at the distillery, according to the Courier-Journal.
Angel’s Envy, through one of its many cross-owned affiliate companies, won approval for as much as $800,000 in incentives for up to 10 years, and also $72,000 in state sales tax rebates, according to Business First.
Previously approved incentives for Michter’s and Wild Turkey were extended.
From Maker's Mark we get squeezing but from Angel's Envy, all we get is teasing.
According to its KEDFA filing, Angel's Envy estimates that within its first three years of operation, it will make a total investment of $10 million in building materials and capital equipment. The project is expected to create 40 new jobs with an average hourly wage of $25 and a total estimated payroll of $1.5 million. The proposed distillery will include a column still, bottling line, grain-handling equipment, and barrel storage, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.
The Herald Leader spoke to Chris Poynter, spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who would not name a specific site but said that the city and the state have been talking to Angel's Envy about a project that would be part distillery and part visitors center for the Main/Market corridor in what is historically Louisville's Whiskey Row area, now under redevelopment.
Angel’s Envy has been teasing the distillery project for about three years, with company representatives typically saying they expect to make an announcement "soon" or in "30 to 60 days." They did it again a week ago and, as of today, have missed yet another of their own deadlines. A Louisville architecture firm has proclaimed itself the winner in a competition to design the new facility, but the company remains silent about its intentions.
Last week, a published rumor identified the site as the old Vermont American factory on Main Street opposite Louisville Slugger Field.
The Hendersons are well-liked and everyone is pulling for them, but fans need to curb their enthusiasm. Remember Willett/KBD? They resumed distilling about a year ago, but only after 20 years of promising it would happen "soon." No one wants Angel’s Envy to become the next "Distillery That Cried ‘Wolf.’"
In related news, Poynter also told the Herald Leader that there are more whiskey attractions on the way for Louisville. "We have most of the major distilleries looking at some sort of presence in downtown,” he said.
Maker's Mark has not given details about its 'new process,' beyond the KEDFA filing, but parent company Beam Inc. has been squeezing Jim Beam barrels for a few years now to produce its Devil's Cut bourbon.
Distillers have always rinsed barrels to get a little more whiskey out. Jack Daniel's was the first to take it further. Several years ago, they built a facility where they take freshly dumped barrels, fill them about 1/3 full with water, then store them for about two weeks before dumping them again. Beam took it a little further by heating the water and using a device like a paint mixer to shake the barrels. This probably accomplishes the same thing storing does for Daniel's, without the huge warehouse Daniel's had to build just for its 'super rinse' operation.
Obviously, the amount of additional alcohol extracted more than justifies the expense.
When asked if the Beam process makes the barrels less desirable for the scotch makers who get them next, Fred Noe replied, "I don't really give a fuck what scotch makers think."