exington’s babbling Town Branch once enticed numerous distillers to set up operations along the course of its stream downtown.
The Old Pepper Distillery was the lone survivor of Prohibition but ended distilling operations in the late ‘60s, leaving Lexington without an operational distillery for more than 40 years.
With the snip of a ribbon, however, the course of bourbon history changed this October as Alltech opened its $9.2 million distillery, the first to be built in Lexington in more than 100 years.
Located next to the company’s brewery at the corner of Maxwell and Cross Streets, it is believed to be one of only a few sites in the world with both a distillery and brewery.
Built with Kentucky limestone and featuring glass walls on three sides to showcase its centerpiece copper stills, the 20,000 square foot facility is now the production site for Alltech’s Town Branch™ Bourbon, Pearse Lyons Reserve™ malt whiskey and bourboninfused coffee drink, Bluegrass Sundown™.
Both Town Branch Bourbon and Pearse Lyons Reserve were gold medalists at this year’s World Spirit Awards.
The distillery’s namesake, Town Branch Bourbon, takes residence in new, charred white oak barrels and becomes infused with a golden amber honey color.
Its resulting aroma is pleasantly woody and oaky with caramel, toffee, brown sugar and hints of cherry.
After Town Branch is poured out, the spirit lives on because the barrels are then used to age Alltech’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.
Economic anticipation was heightened last month when the distillery became the seventh member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.
Alltech’s membership has moved the famed tourism adventure into the heart of downtown Lexington, much to the delight of city and tourism officials who are eager to welcome the nearly half-million visitors from all 50 states and more than 50 countries who took part in the tour in 2011. “Bourbon has returned to the Bluegrass,” said Jeff Conder, chairman of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Board of Directors and vice president of Americas Operations for Beam, Inc, at Alltech’s induction. “As delighted as we are that our new distillery is being added to the famed Kentucky Bourbon Trail excursion, what’s most exciting to us is what this means for Lexington.
We’ve always been proud of our downtown location, and now our position on the tour will help guide visitors directly into the heart of the city,” said Dr.
Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “Without ever leaving the TOP LEFT: Town Branch Bourbon.
TOP RIGHT: The copper pot stills from Scotland and the open-air fermenters.
BELOW: Ribbon cutting ceremony with (from left) Dr.
Pearse Lyons, Mayor Jim Gray, and Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association EQUINE INTERNATIONAL 37 In honor of the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team’s national championship win in 2012, Alltech released a special, blue-labeled limited edition of its Town Branch Bourbon, “Title Town.” UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari, partnered with Alltech this September to host a bottle signing and dinner with all the evening’s proceeds going directly to the Alltech Sustainable Haiti Project, which fully funds two primary schools and economic development projects in the earthquake-ravaged nation. vicinity of Lexington, guests can now celebrate the quintessential Kentucky weekend: basketball, bourbon and even Bourbon Barrel Ale.” Lyons continued, “Bourbon has traditionally been a rural attraction, yet many of our legendary distilleries draw upwards of 100,000 visitors a year.
That’s because bourbon is no longer just a drink – it’s an experience, a lifestyle and a part of our culture.
Just imagine the potential for Lexington now with this new, centrally located distillery.” An economic impact study released earlier this year by the University of Louisville confirmed the bourbon industry’s signature status: $2 billion in annual gross state product; 9,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $415 million; and $126 million in local and state tax revenue every year.
According to Conder, the bourbon industry is in its largest expansion phase since Prohibition.
Currently, more than 4.9 million barrels of bourbon are aging in Kentucky, the highest inventory in more than 30 years.
Given the latest Census figures, this also means there are more barrels than the 4.3 million people living in the state of Kentucky. “It’s the only state in which the Governor honors your birth by putting a bourbon barrel with your name on it into storage,” joked Dr.
Take a look…and a taste, of course: Public tours of Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery are available seven days a week.
For details, visit kentuckyale.com. …bourbon is no longer just a drink – it’s an experience, a lifestyle and a part of our culture. —T.
Pearse lyons 38 EQUINE INTERNATIONAL EQUINE INTERNATIONAL 39
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