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When Diageo announced its intention to open a full scale, large operation distillery in Shelby County we were both pleased and a bit surprised.
While officials had commented that large distilleries were looking at the area, we were starting to think that it might never happen.
Like the ever-present rumors of Chick-fil-A, Qdoba and Target, we had almost resigned ourselves to the fact that the mythical distillery would float from one edge of the county to the other but never land on the ground. Not to mention our officials’ reluctance to lead the county to a wet/moist/dry vote, instead insisting that it is a citizen/business-led movement.
But here we are, primed to see major tax benefits from a distillery with the capability of producing 750,000 9-liter cases.
Our county officials worked diligently to put a plan in place that would attract a large distillery, one that could become a cornerstone in the market for Shelby County.
Now, if we could just get that same effort to focus on making the county wet, we would be able to take full advantage of the benefits a distillery like this can offer.
There will be questions and concerns, but based on the fact that Diageo has purchased 300 acres – three times the minimum requirement for a distillery located in an agriculturally zoned area in the county – and the company’s commitment to zero waste to landfill commitments at its other locations, we’ve allowed ourselves to drop much of our skepticism that we would normally reserve.
There is no word yet what will be made here, the list of Diageo distilled sprits is both long and impressive. And the whiskey list is impressive as well but is focused more on Scotch and Scotch malt whiskies.
The only bourbon Diageo makes now is its Bulliet Bourbon, which also produces a rye and a 10-year bourbon and it has no permanent distillery.
The company, in February, also announced a $2 million restoration of the famous Stitzel-Weller distillery in Louisville.
But that’s a small commitment compared to the one made here. The $115 million commitment in Shelby County is designed to be the flagship of Diageo’s bourbon brands, and we’re happy to march into the bourbon world with them. Add to that our newest craft distillery, Rut N Strut, which is planning to open within the City of Shelbyville and immediately make itself part of the Craft Bourbon Trail, and Shelby County and Shelbyville will soon be an integral part of the state’s bourbon scene.