Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Wild Turkey Opens New Bottling Plant
Today marks the official opening of Wild Turkey's new packaging plant at the distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. It's a 145,000 square foot facility that cost $43 million.
Wild Turkey is owned by Campari, which also owns SKYY Vodka. Both Wild Turkey and SKYY will be bottled at the new facility.
Since Campari bought Turkey from Pernod in 2009, it has invested about $100 million in plant improvements, including a new, much larger distillery and several new maturation warehouses. A new visitors center is scheduled to open next year.
Wild Turkey bottling is returning to Lawrenceburg after what the company says was a seven-year absence. It is more like 13 years. When Pernod and Diageo carved up Seagrams in 2000, Pernod came away with a distillery and bottling plant in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Shortly thereafter it dismantled the bottling line at Wild Turkey and moved that function to Indiana. The whiskey was dumped from barrels at the distillery and shipped via tanker truck to the bottling plant 120 miles away.
The "seven years" probably refers to the sale of that facility to Angostura, after which Pernod moved Wild Turkey bottling to Fort Smith, Arkansas, about 700 miles away. The Fort Smith facility, built originally by Hiram Walker, primarily makes Hiram Walker Liqueurs. Pernod obtained it in the Allied Domecq chop-up with Beam in 2005.
Whiskey is typically bottled close to where it is matured. Sazerac, for example, has three bottling facilities in Kentucky, at each of its maturation sites (Frankfort, Bardstown, and Owensboro). Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell was never happy about the moves, saying such long drives aren't good for whiskey. He's glad the bottling is back.
So is the governor of Kentucky. “Kentucky’s Bourbon industry has been growing at a rapid pace, with production of our native spirit up more than 120 percent in the last decade and 5 million barrels currently aging in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The significant investment Gruppo Campari has made at the Wild Turkey Distillery, including the $43 million Packaging Facility, will not only help grow that number through worldwide expansion of the Bourbon category, but will also create valuable jobs for the people of our great Commonwealth.”
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the packaging facility project for tax incentives up to $2 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program and up to $350,000 in Kentucky sales tax refunds through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.