Woodford Reserve to add tasting room, expand catering

jpatton1@herald-leader.comOctober 24, 2013 

An artist's rendering shows planned renovations to the Woodford Reserve Distillery visitors center. Plans call for the addition of a tasting room where visitors will be able to sample the distillery's bourbon products.

COURTESY OF BROWN-FOREMAN

Brown-Forman on Thursday announced plans to add a dedicated tasting room to its Woodford Reserve Distillery outside Versailles.

The expansion is part of a $1.63 million renovation of the facility, opened in 1996 and last expanded in 2003. The distillery will remodel its current 7,500-square-foot visitors center, expand catering and update its retail shop, displays and furniture, and add restrooms, among other things. Visitors will be able to sample the distillery's premium bourbon products in the tasting room.

Brown-Forman will invest $1.5 million, and the distillery will be eligible for $407,000 in tax incentives over 10 years through the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet's Tourism Development Act, according to the state.

Woodford Reserve is one of seven distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which attracts thousands of visitors to the state annually. About 135,000 visitors came to Woodford Reserve in the past year, according to Brown-Forman. More than 18,000 people visited all seven distilleries last year, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

"Since the Woodford Reserve Distillery opened as a tourism destination in 1996, we have seen tremendous growth in the bourbon industry which has led to significant increases in visitors to the distillery," said Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve master distiller. "We believe the interest in bourbon tourism will continue, and we're enhancing our home place to continue providing an engaging visitor experience."

Renovations to the distillery, which is off McCracken Pike in Woodford County, are expected to begin in November.

According to the tourism cabinet, a report on the distillery's application found that it met the requirements necessary to receive a rebate on sales tax generated by the tourism attraction: including an expenditure of more than $1 million, being open more than 100 days a year, attracting at least 25 percent of visitors from outside the state by its fourth year of operation and having a positive net economic impact on the Kentucky economy.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl

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