Diageo announces $115 million investment in Shelby distillery

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Gets tax incentive package worth $4 million from the state

By The Staff

Diageo, the No. 1 spirits producer in the world, announced Thursday its intention to invest an estimated $115 million over three years to build a 1.8 million proof gallon distillery, capable of 750,000 9-liter cases, and six barrel storage warehouses in Shelby County.

The distillery is planning to purchase 300 acres of property located on Benson Pike, and once completed the facility will employ approximately 30 people.

The state Thursday morning approved up to $4 million in tax incentives linked to hourly compensation for jobs and construction materials.

According to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, the distillery would have to provide 11 jobs at $29 per hour at activation and in year one and 31 jobs in years two through 10 to earn $2.5 million in incentives. The other $1.5 million will come from estimatd $115 million investment in the facility.

County officials have said for several months that they have been working with distilleries about locating in Shelby County. However, the county remains dry and, under the current regulations, the distillery would not be able to sell its products on site or offer tastings.

In an E-mail Thursday, a spokesperson for the company noted the distillery would produce several different products.

“The proposed facility will distill a number of current and future Diageo bourbon and North American Whiskey brands,” Kristen Crofoot wrote.

Diageo (Dee-AH-Gee-O) is the world's leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit, George Dickel, Buchanan’s and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, Guinness, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards Wines.

On June 10, Diageo will hold an Open House to discuss the plans for the proposed Shelby County distillery, answer questions and hear from members of the public from 2:00 to 7:00 pm at the Shelbyville Country Club, 47 Smithfield Road, Shelbyville, Kentucky. A public hearing will be held on June 17 at 6:30 pm at the Stratton Community Center, 215 Washington Street, Shelbyville, Kentucky. Diageo hopes to receive approvals and to break ground in the coming months with the goal of having the distillery operational in late 2016.

The proposed distillery will be designed to fit in with the surrounding countryside and during construction. Diageo will take measures to conserve the natural landscape in the area. Approximately 100 acres of land around the property line will act as a natural barrier to site operations.

Diageo North America has a strong record of achieving zero waste to landfill in its operations, and the company aims to achieve the same in Kentucky. Diageo also plans to collaborate with the local community for the recycling and reuse of materials generated from the proposed facility.

Diageo announced in February that it will be opening a Visitor Center at its legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville.  Diageo hopes that the Stitzel-Weller Visitor Center will soon be included on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour. There is no mention in the release of using the Shelby County facility as a Bourbon Trail stop.