Brown-Forman considers $96m distillery expansion

3rd November, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

US drinks firm Brown-Forman is contemplating a US$96 million expansion of its Louisville distillery to meet forecasted demand for Bourbon.

The Old Forester distillery in Louisville, Kentucky

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman received preliminary approval for US$5m in tax incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) for the proposed project.

A statement from Brown-Forman said: “The preliminary approval for tax incentives is another step in our process as we evaluate options related to growing and modernising our Louisville-based distillery. We have no announced project at this time.”

Brown-Forman said it had applied for permits in December last year as a “preliminary step in a production expansion review”. The project is currently in the evaluation phase.

According to a document released by the KEDFA, the distillery equipment currently used by Brown-Forman is from an expansion that took place more than five decades ago.

The document read: “The facility and equipment, while operational, are being operated long past their useful lives and a reinvestment is necessary to sustain long-term operations. Brown-Forman is operating at maximum capacity and will require an expansion in order to meet forecasted demand of Kentucky Bourbon.”

The proposed project would create 35 jobs with an average hourly wage of US$35.83. If approved, the company expects the project to be completed by the end of 2023, the document said.

Brown-Forman produces Bourbon brands Old Forester and Woodford Reserve, which surpassed the one million nine-litre-case mark earlier this year.

In 2013, the Woodford Reserve distillery embarked on a US$35m expansion and “continues to invest a lot of capital”, according to master distiller Chris Morris.

In June 2018, Old Forester opened its distillery in Louisville, almost two years later than initially planned.

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