Shanken reported this morning that Diageo will begin construction soon on a new bottling line at Stitzel-Weller. It is expected to be operational later this year. Bottling was done at the distillery in the Louisville suburb of Shively from its founding in 1934 until shortly after it stopped distilling in 1992. As usual, Diageo is vague about the details, saying only that Stitzel-Weller will “bottle a range of American whiskies, and will have the capabilities to handle a range of new whiskey innovations in the years to come.”
Diageo performs maturation and blending at Stitzel-Weller according to John Lunn, master distiller at Diageo's George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee, who is also in charge of production at Stitzel-Weller. Diageo does not disclose what products it matures and blends at Stitzel-Weller, but it is believed that Bulleit Bourbon is matured there.
Whiskey producers typically like to bottle at the site where the whiskey ages, to avoid the cost and risk of transferring the product from barrels into totes or other containers and transporting it. Diageo does most of its bottling at a facility dedicated to that purpose in Plainfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. It installed a small hand-bottling line at George Dickel last year.
This announcement comes on top of Diageo's decision to build a new Kentucky distillery in Shelby County, due to open in 2016. For several years Diageo has been developing a visitors center at Stitzel-Weller. The first phase of that project is due to open to the public this fall.