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Diageo to open $130 million Kentucky distillery

Diageo has revealed plans to expand its footprint in American whiskey with the build of a US$130 million distillery in Kentucky, which is expected to be operational by 2022.

The new US$130m distillery in Lebanon will be Diageo’s third Kentucky site

The Lebanon distillery will be the third Kentucky site operated by Diageo. Currently, the UK-based drinks giant employs more than 100 people in the US state.

Diageo opened its US$140m distillery for Bulleit Bourbon in Shelby County in March 2017. The site includes a distillery with a three million proof-gallon capacity and six barrel warehouses. A US$10 million visitor centre at Bulleit Distilling Co is scheduled to open in summer 2019.

The firm also invested in a restoration of Stitzel-Weller distillery in Louisville in 2014, including a multi-million-dollar visitor experience, bottling line and experimental still.

Diageo’s planned distillery, which will be located in Lebanon, Kentucky, will include a dry house and warehousing. The project is expected to begin next summer and will create 30 full-time jobs.

“We thank the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA), governor Matt Bevin, the Marion County Industrial Foundation and the city of Lebanon for their continued support of Diageo as we look to further invest in Kentucky’s spirits industry,” said Barry Becton, senior director of federal affairs and whiskey at Diageo North America.

“Bourbon and American whiskey are vibrant and growing categories and we are excited to expand Diageo’s footprint in Kentucky to support our ambitions in this space.”

On Thursday (13 December), the KEDFA provisionally approved Diageo for tax incentives of up to US$2.5m to “encourage investment and job growth in the community”. This is in addition to the approval of US$1.5m in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA).

“This new distillery is an exciting opportunity for Lebanon,” said senator Jimmy Higdon. “Diageo is a leading premium beverage producer that has been proven valuable to Kentucky’s world-famous Bourbon industry.

“This could be one of the biggest developments in recent Marion County history. I am hopeful that this investment will encourage tourism and future development within our community.”

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