The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority gave preliminary approval Wednesday for tax incentives for two new bourbon tourism experiences, one in Louisville and one in Woodford County.
Beam Suntory presented plans for a $5.2 million, 4,300-square-foot Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse to go in Louisville's Fourth Street entertainment district.
The visitors center is to open in 2015 and will feature a small working distillery, a bottling line where visitors can fill their own bottle, a tasting experience and a variety of branded merchandise for sale, according to a news release. The new attraction will complement the flagship Jim Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont, where the company makes much of its bourbon.
The Louisville project will be eligible for as much as $1.3 million in incentives over 10 years if it receives final approval early next year.
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"The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse will be a must-stop destination in the heart of Louisville... ," said Kevin Smith, vice president of Kentucky Beam Bourbon Affairs. "In Louisville's most exciting downtown area, the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse will provide a unique hands-on opportunity to experience the heritage and craftsmanship of bourbon on weekdays, weekends and evenings, and we believe it will serve as a trailhead for the increasing number of visitors to Kentucky's bourbon distilleries."
The area already is home to Heaven Hill's Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which opened a year ago, and it soon will have Brown-Forman's $30 million Old Forester Distillery, as well as craft distillers Angel's Envy, Michter's and Peerless, among other bourbon-related tourism sites.
"This project is another example of the growth of bourbonism in Louisville," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. "Our city's bourbon experiences are attracting a new type of tourist, and that leads directly to economic growth and job creation. The Urban Stillhouse also expands the bourbon experience down Fourth Street, creating a density of spirits tourism locations downtown."
In Woodford County, Peristyle is working to renovate the historic site of the Old Taylor distillery and open it for tourism, events, and food and beverage services. Owners Will Arvin and Wes Murry also plan to open a craft distillery and produce bourbon, moonshine, vodka, gin, and other spirits for sale on the premises and via distribution, according to tourism cabinet spokesman Gil Lawson. They also plan to renovate existing barrel warehouse storage buildings to use for their products and those of other Central Kentucky producers, he said.
The $6.8 million project will be eligible for as much as $1.69 million in incentives over 10 years if it receives final approval next year.
Kentucky Distillers' Association president Eric Gregory said he hopes both projects will join the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
"We couldn't be more excited. Jim Beam has already invested so much in Kentucky, and now they will have this downtown to serve as both an educational center, and a way to direct tourists to the Jim Beam American Stillhouse," Gregory said. "And I really look forward to the day when Wes and Will are not only KDA members but part of the trail or craft tour. The work they have done already to save this historic distillery has been breathtaking. ... That's going to be an icon."