Stoli, the vodka maker, unveiled plans Wednesday for a new distillery and park in Bardstown, to be called Kentucky Owl Park.
The $150 million lakeside complex will include a distillery, visitors center, cooperage, rickhouses, bottling center, restaurant and convention center at Bardstown’s 420-acre Haydon Materials Quarry.
The plans will give Stoli Group, which is the distribution and marketing arm for Luxembourg-based SPI Group, its first bourbon distillery for its newly created American Whiskey Division, which includes the Kentucky Owl brand bought in January.
“Global demand for bourbon continues to bring significant economic impact to Kentucky through jobs, investment and tourism,” said Gov. Matt Bevin in a statement. “This new project by Stoli Group in the heart of bourbon country will serve to accelerate this trend. Stoli Group will offer numerous employment opportunities and support many families in and around Nelson County.”
Work on phase one of the Kentucky Owl development will begin early next year, officials said, with the distillery scheduled to open in 2020.
The project has been approved for up to $3.2 million in various tax incentives by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority; it is expected to create 77 full-time jobs.
Dixon Dedman, of the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, who re-established the Kentucky Owl brand founded by his family 140 years ago, will continue to manage production as master blender, said Dmitry Efimov, head of Stoli Group’s American Whiskey Division. The brand will remain a small-batch offering, Efimov said.
“We will make Kentucky Owl Bourbon and much more,” Efimov said in an interview. “The ‘much more’ is not 100 percent known. We’re planning to develop some brands, probably acquire a brand or two … But Kentucky Owl will be the jewel of our portfolio.”
The new distillery, which will have the capacity to produce 1 1/2 million proof-gallons annually, will only make brown spirits, Efimov said. But Kentucky Owl will not be mass-produced, he said. That will be left to other brands.
“We’ve been considering entering brown liquids for a quite awhile and believe with Kentucky Owl we have the right opportunity,” he said. “Dixon is one of us … He’s the maker of the brand and the face of the brand.”
Stoli Group plans to turn a former quarry into a freshwater lake and park, and surround it with luxury amenities such as a gourmet restaurant, hotel, and convention center. A refurbished train station will be used to run a vintage passenger train through the complex, which will also include at least 10 rickhouses and a bottling center. The company also plans to pursue tourism tax incentives.
“We worked on this plan for quite awhile … to create not just an industrial site but a true bourbon experience,” Efimov said. “This will definitely be a joint venture with the city and the county. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is visited by more than 1 million people a year, and in this area there are not so many hotels, not so many places for large gatherings so that’s how we came up with this idea. We’ll combine the bourbon experience with some other functions.”
SPI Group also has developed the Finos Tequila distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, and the Bayou Rum distillery and visitors center in Lacassine, La.