Terressentia and TerrePURE Kentucky Distillers are breaking ground on Thursday on a $25 million renovation of the Charles Medley Distillery in Owensboro.
The company bought the 130-year-old plant in 2014 and is beginning refitting to produce bourbon and other whiskeys. Gov. Steve Beshear is scheduled to reveal the distillery's new name Thursday.
"We hope to be open and producing bourbon once again in Owensboro sometime in late fall of 2016," CEO Earl Hewlette said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Charleston, S.C.-based Terressentia produces more than 150 spirit labels for retail chains including Meijer, which sells the O.Z. Tyler line of bourbon, rye, flavored whiskeys and liqueurs, Hewlette said.
The company buys bulk spirits then uses a patented process to rapid-age them. Hewlette said the Owensboro distillery would produce both conventionally aged and rapid-aged bourbon and whiskeys.
"We will elevate that (O.Z. Tyler) to a national brand, and that will be home-based in Owensboro. And I expect we will create a number of other brands, primarily whiskey. Bourbon, rye, light whiskey, corn whiskey — all the things you would expect from a traditional distillery," Hewlette said.
According to news releases, the company uses ultrasonic energy and oxygenation to enhance the quality of distilled spirits by reducing impurities.
Many bourbon traditionalists are skeptical of rapid-aging techniques. In response, Hewlette said: "We will ship more than 750,000 gallons of whiskeys this year, that we have processed using our technologies, all around the world. That doesn't happen if your process doesn't work."
The revamped distillery is expected to create 50 to 75 jobs, beginning first with warehousing and production and eventually incorporating tourism and a museum for historical artifacts.
"I anticipate at some point in the future we'll want to join the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and have a visitors experience," he said.
In February 2014, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave preliminary approval for as much as $1.3 million in tax incentives to encourage investment in the distillery, which has been mothballed since United Distillers closed it in 1992.