The historic Charles Medley distillery in Owensboro has been bought by a South Carolina company that plans to revive the 130-year-old plant with new technology.
TerrePure Kentucky Distillers Inc. plans to reopen the distillery in the next 18 months and create 70 jobs, according to Gov. Steve Beshear's office.
"This is another great day for Kentucky's iconic bourbon industry," Beshear said. "TerrePure's investment will not only restore one of the state's most historic distilleries, but it will also put more Kentuckians back to work and create a real, positive impact for the local community."
TerrePure, owned by Charleston-based Terressentia, plans to invest $23 million to buy and refurbish buildings on the 28-acre site.
In February, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave preliminary approval for as much as $1.3 million in tax incentives for the company to encourage investment in the distillery, which has been mothballed since United Distillers closed it in 1992.
"From the first time we visited Owensboro this past December, we have been impressed with the hospitality, progressive thought and passion of the community," TerrePure CEO Earl Hewlette said. "We are now delighted to play a part ... in restoring an historic distillery and look forward to the production here of ultra-premium Kentucky bourbon."
Neither Terressentia or TerrePure sells spirits under its own label, but it produces bulk spirits for a variety of retail chains.
According to the news release, TerrePure uses ultrasonic energy and oxygenation to enhance the quality of distilled spirits by reducing impurities. The company plans to age some of its bourbon naturally and use its TerrePure process on some of it.
It is unclear whether the distillery will sell bourbon under its own label or make it for others. The Medley brands were sold off to a variety of distilling companies, including Sazerac.
Charles Medley is the site of one of the oldest distilleries in Owensboro, having started operations in 1885.
Bourbon distilling contributes nearly $2 billion in gross state product each year, according to the economic development cabinet. Kentucky exported $383 million of its distilled spirits in 2013, about 21 percent of the U.S. total, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.