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Woodford Reserve announces $35m distillery expansion

Brown-Forman has announced it is investing US$35 million in expanding its Woodford Reserve Distillery to meet growing global demand for Bourbon.

Woodford-Reserve Distillery
Woodford Reserve Distillery is increasing capacity to ensure it can meet rising demand for its Bourbon in the future

The Kentucky distillery, which produced almost 250,000 nine-litre cases in fiscal 2013, expects demand for its super-premium Bourbon to soar in the coming years, off the back of 28% global growth in net sales.

The hefty investment will see the addition of three new maturation warehouses large enough to store 165,000 barrels of Bourbon; three new copper pot stills “to be built as need dictates” and stored in the existing distillation building; expansion of the existing bottling line; and general improvements to “increase general efficiency and productivity”

“The world’s growing taste for premium North American whiskey is driving record exports of these US spirits,” said Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris. “We believe strong consumer interest in bourbon will continue and we’re expanding our production capacity in an effort to meet this demand.”

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the volume of Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey grew 5.2% in 2012 to 16.9 million cases, with the majority of growth driven by super premium brands (12.4%).  American whiskies now account for 68% of US spirit exports, with the majority going to Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany, France and Japan.

The unforeseen, almost immediate rise in Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey demand across the globe has prompted all the major producers to invest heavily in increasing capacity.

However some distilleries have spotted the trend too late, with both Buffalo Trace and Maker’s Mark distilleries admitting shortages of their brands will be seen for the next few years.

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