‘Legendary’ US distillery gets $2m revamp

Diageo has announced plans to invest $2 million in transforming the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Kentucky into a Bourbon-based visitor attraction.

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The drinks giant plans to build a visitor centre at the “legendary distillery” in Louisville, which first opened in 1935 and over four decades built a reputation for producing some of the “finest bourbon in the world.”

The distillery was sold in 1972 and is now owned by Diageo, following a series of ownership changes, but has not been used as a functioning distillery since 1992.

Diageo plans to renovate the original administrative building to create a visitor centre using artefacts to bring to life the history of the distillery and pay homage to the people, land and water of Kentucky and celebrate its heritage.

The centre will also boast a whiskey education section and showcase Diageo’s collection of American whiskey including its established Bulleit brand and newly launched Orphan Barrel whiskeys, Barterhouse and Old Blowhard.

Governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, said: “Another of our state’s storied distilleries will get new life thanks to Diageo’s investment, which will attract even more bourbon fans to Kentucky.”

“We’re excited about this project and for the continued growth of Kentucky’s bourbon businesses.”

The project will begin immediately with plans to finish the first phase in May, and to complete the new visitor centre this summer.

Larry Schwartz, president of Diageo North America, said: “Stitzel-Weller is one of the most significant and historic parts of Kentucky’s bourbon heritage and we are honored to be restoring it to share it with Louisville residents and visitors.”

“We are pleased to be investing in the community and this important site. This is another step in our support of and leadership within the American craft whiskey movement and we hope that the Stitzel-Weller Visitor Center will soon be included on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.”

Last week, Diageo launched its Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company, a project to rescue barrels of rare and delicious whiskey and share them with discerning adult fans.

The first two variants include the 20-year-old Barterhouse Whiskey and the 26-year-aged Old Blowhard Whiskey.

Both brands are expected to appearing on select shelves throughout the US in March 2014.

Its other brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Windsor, Buchanan’s and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, Guinness, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards Wines.

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