State approves incentives for Angel's Envy distillery in Louisville

A new distillery in Louisville moved a step closer to reality: Angel's Envy received preliminary approval Thursday for as much as $872,000 in economic incentives for a $10 million distillery project.

According to documents from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, the proposed Jefferson County distillery would include a column still for expanded production, a bottling line, grain-handling equipment, barrel storage and a product "finishing area." The project would employ 17 people to start and eventually 40.

Officials with the Louisville Distilling Co., producers of Angel's Envy, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Launched in 2010 by former Brown-Forman master distiller Lincoln Henderson, the original Angel's Envy is bourbon finished in a port wine cask. Angel's Envy also recently released a rye whiskey finished in rum barrels. The bourbon has been produced by an undisclosed distillery.

Louisville architects Luckett & Farley posted on the firm's website a design that it said was created on request for an Angel's Envy microdistillery. But Insider Louisville reported last week that Angel's Envy chose a competitor, Joseph & Joseph, for the distillery/entertainment complex, although Kyle Henderson would not confirm a rumored location at Main and Jackson, in what's left of the Vermont American Building.

Chris Poynter, spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, would not name a specific site but said that the city and the state have been talking to Angel's Envy about a project that would be part distillery and part visitors center for the Main/Market corridor in what is historically Louisville's Whiskey Row area, now under redevelopment.

Poynter said it's one of several new bourbon-related projects coming to downtown Louisville, including the $10 million Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, expected to open on Main Street later this year; the $7.8 million Michter's distillery, going into the historic Fort Nelson Building across the street; and the $45 million Whiskey Row project near the KFC Yum Center.

It is unlikely to be the last: "We have most of the major distilleries looking at some sort of presence in downtown," Poynter said Thursday.

But progress has been slow at the Michter's building, which was in much worse shape than anticipated. On Thursday, Michter's received a 12-month extension on its incentives.

KEDFA officials also approved $100,000 in tax incentives for a $8.23 million project at Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto.

"The project will introduce a new process that will extract additional gallons and extend the supply of Maker's Mark," according to the project description. "The company plans to build a new facility to house a state-of-the-art barrel-rinse process" and a new 50,000-barrel warehouse.

In March, Maker's Mark announced that it would reduce the proof of its popular red wax-topped bourbon to extend the supply. Fans protested, and within a week, the Beam-owned brand reversed course.

The new process and warehouse are designed to help meet consumer demand.

In Lawrenceburg, Wild Turkey's new visitors center also is running behind: The company requested a four-month extension on its incentives Thursday.