Stoli Group is considering building a $150 million distillery in Bardstown, possibly to make Kentucky Owl bourbon.
According to documents released Thursday by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, Strigiformes LLC, a subsidiary of SPI Group, the parent of Stolichnaya Vodka, “is considering property in Bardstown to establish a distillery, rickhouses, visitors center and other related facilities for the production of bourbon.”
In January, SPI Group bought Kentucky Owl Bourbon for an undisclosed amount, giving the company its first presence in American whiskey. Besides Stoli Vodka, SPI owns Bayou Rum, KAH tequila and Elit Vodka.
The Kentucky Owl brand was revived in 2014 by the Dedman family of Mercer County, owners of the historic Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg. Dixon Dedman’s great-great-grandfather produced the bourbon from 1879 until Prohibition. The new version, which was made from sourced whiskeys selected by Dedman, was critically acclaimed and was honored by Garden & Gun magazine with a Made in the South Award in the drinks category.
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“They are interested in potentially building a distillery,” Dedman said. “I would hope my Kentucky Owl team would be a part of it, but I haven’t been included in the discussions about that. I don’t think there’s any doubt they intend to get into distilling. For Kentucky Owl to have a home would be a dream come true. ... I remain committed to Kentucky Owl being a craft, hands-on, small premium brand.”
This year’s release of the super-premium Kentucky Owl bourbon and a rye will be available nationally, thanks to distribution from SPI.
“When we began considering American whiskeys, we were attracted to Kentucky Owl because of its complex yet very smooth taste profile,” Dmitry Efimov, CEO of SPI Group, said in a news release in January.
Efimov is the authorized representative for the newly registered Strigiformes, which is the taxonomy for owls. SPI has not released a statement about the incentives yet.
According to the KEDFA document, SPI is considering building a new distillery, with an investment of $2.75 million for land, $115.6 million for buildings and improvements, $26.4 million for equipment, and $5 million for other start-up costs.
The total investment for the project would be $149,750,000. KEDFA approved as much as $2 million in tax incentives for the project, which would create 77 new jobs with an average hourly wage of $25, including employee benefits.
According to the KEDFA report, SPI is an independent company headquartered in Luxembourg with production plants in the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Latvia and Spain. “The group’s mission is to build a portfolio of select premium drink brands by controlling and perfecting every stage of the process, from cultivation to distribution,” the report said.