Alltech whipping up new drinks

LOUISVILLE — Medal winners at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010 can celebrate their success with a new Lexington-made malt whiskey if Alltech's latest project stays on schedule.

To be called Lyons Reserve after the company's founder, Pearse Lyons, the new whiskey will be made at a distillery being added to Alltech's Lexington Brewing Co. at 401 Cross Street.

Production is expected to begin in about six weeks and yield the first whiskey in time for the Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2010, Lyons said Monday after a speech to the Kentucky Chamber's Economic Summit and Annual Meeting at Louisville's downtown Marriott.

Bourbon, Kentucky's most famous distillery product, requires years of aging. But malt whiskey — “a cousin of beer,” Lyons said — can be aged quickly in small containers and be ready in two years.

Alltech, a Nicholasville biotechnology company that is paying $10 million to be the Games' title sponsor, is also developing a bourbon drink similar to Irish coffee that doesn't yet have a name, Lyons told chamber members.

Alltech does not plan to make the bourbon, he said. It will come from other Kentucky distillers.

Lyons said Alltech expects to receive the final federal approval this week for the Lexington distillery, which, he added, would create the only distillery-brewery combination in the country.

Alltech currently produces Kentucky Ale and other beverages at the brewery on the west end of downtown.

In other comments to Kentucky Chamber members, ­Lyons said Alltech has bought a 1,200-acre site near Springfield for a proposed bio­refinery that would produce ethanol to be blended with gasoline.

The project has been approved for $38 million in government grants, but Alltech is awaiting permission from the U.S. Department of Energy to begin construction, he said.

Another government-funded project involving the production of freshwater salmon at Alltech's Nicholasville base is expected to start in early 2009.

Alltech is a privately owned company with about $500 million in annual sales worldwide. Lyons said the company's annual growth rate is 32 percent.

Lyons' main topic was the role of biotechnology in meeting the nation's energy crisis and solving environmental problems.

Lyons urged his audience to consider the nation's energy problems as a challenge that can be met and that will yield huge scientific advances along the way.