Bourbon Industry

$150 million bourbon park plan will be architectural ‘masterpiece,’ owners say

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The new bourbon park coming to Bardstown for Kentucky Owl is taking shape.

Stoli Group announced on Thursday that world-renowned firm Shigeru Ban Architects will be designing the distillery and tourism experience.

The company last year unveiled plans for a $150 million lakeside bourbon complex in a former quarry. Stoli bought the Kentucky Owl brand in January 2017 after it was revived by Dixon Dedman of the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg.

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Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban is known for his unconventional uses of materials such as wood, paper and shipping containers. His designs include the Centre Pompidou-Metz in Lorraine, France; Aspen Art Museum; La Seine Musicale in outside Paris; and the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, as well as emergency facilities for earthquake victims.

The 420-acre site at Cedar Creek Quarry in Bardstown will include rickhouses for aging, a bottling center, a state-of-the-art distillery and offices for the American Whiskey Division of Stoli Group. Construction is scheduled to start in early 2020 with whiskey production beginning in 2022, according to the company.

There also are plans for a vintage dinner train to stop at the property, which will connect to other distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and other tourist destinations.

Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort unearthed remnants of the O.F.C. Distillery dating to 1873 while renovating a building along the Kentucky River. The site will become an archaeological exhibit for select visitors at the historic distillery.

According to Stoli, the design for the new Kentucky Owl Park “will be a collection of one-of-a-kind buildings that are rooted in industrial vernacular design, each of which will be carefully sited within the natural rustic landscape. Shigeru Ban’s vision for the site harkens back to the 19th century with long span steel structures that have been reinterpreted with the use of mass timber.”

The rendering released by Kentucky Owl shows three pyramids, apparently made of wood, with light-filled windows featuring signature basket-weave designs inside.

“When evaluating architectural firms for Kentucky Owl Park, it was imperative that the selected group boasted a strong portfolio of work, but also that their plans for this initiative truly pushed the boundaries within the design world and along the Bourbon Trail,” said Yuri Shefler, owner of Luxembourg-based SPI Group, the parent company of Stoli Group and the Kentucky Owl brand, in a news release.

“We are looking forward to Kentucky Owl Park being the next masterpiece from Shigeru Ban Architects, who bring an unparalleled background of more than 100 innovative and environmentally sustainable projects completed to-date. I am energized by Kentucky Owl’s early success in the category and am committed to building a fitting home for this brand along with expanding our presence in whiskies overall.”

Dean Maltz, managing partner of Shigeru Ban Architects, added in the release, “This is an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves like never before, as these plans serve as our first Kentucky distillery and incorporate unique highlights and nods to the industry and its history, while prioritizing light and a connection to nature, features the architectural world has come to expect from our firm.”

The project was approved for up to $3.2 million in tax incentives by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority in 2017; it’s expected to create 77 full-time jobs.

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Dedman, who re-established the Kentucky Owl brand that his family founded more than 140 years ago, will continue to manage production as master blender, and Kentucky Owl will remain a small batch offering, Kentucky Owl president and CEO Dmitry Efimov said last year.