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Luxco CEO on his long-term plan for Bourbon

Kentucky producer Lux Row Distillers is continuing to build its maturation capacity just one year after opening, according to the CEO of parent company Luxco.

Donn Lux, left, with his wife Michele, the creative director at Lux Row Distillers, and son Philip, the distillery’s global brand ambassador

Based in Bardstown, Kentucky, and owned by US drinks firm Luxco, Lux Row Distillers opened at the start of 2018 following a US$35 million investment.

The build of the site marked Luxco’s move into distilling after years of bottling third-party-made liquid. The group also owns a Tequila distillery in the Jalisco highlands, called DGL Destiladores.

“We started buying brands back in the 1980s and what you’ve seen over the past five years is Luxco get more into distilling as opposed to just buying product from third-party producers,” said Donn Lux, chairman and CEO of family-owned Luxco.

“Now, people want more of an authentic story. Lux Row has been an enormous investment for us; it’s a much longer build than just putting something in a bottle, writing a marketing plan and hoping it sells.”

He continued: “We already had the brands, we already had demand for about 400,000 cases of Bourbon. It just made common sense for us to do it.”

Lux Row Distillers has become the home of Luxco’s Bourbon business, which includes the Rebel Yell, Ezra Brooks, Blood Oath and David Nicholson brands. According to Lux, production of the brands will eventually be brought completely in-house once the Lux Row whiskeys are old enough.

“We are making whiskey today that we are going to use in 2030, 2031, 2032,” Lux added. “If we’re going to have 12-year-old whiskey for then, we need to make it today. The third-party whiskey will still be there for a while, but the large quantities in two-and-a-half years will be Lux Row. It’s just math.”

The site currently houses three warehouses, but plans are in progress for the number to reach six. Construction of the fourth warehouse will start in the middle of next year. Lux Row is on track to fill 22,000 barrels this year.

In 2020, Luxco will revive two whiskey brands that it has owned for many years, according to Lux, and will also unveil a new look for Rebel Yell.

In September, Lux Row Distillers hosted its inaugural Bourbon Battle cocktail competition, crowning London-based bartender Mike Pendergast the winner.

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