Fatal distillery blast caused by still pressure

A fatal explosion at a distillery that killed one and seriously injured another was caused by a manufacturing fault with a still that meant its was “not designed to hold pressure”.

Tdistilleryhe Silver Trail Distillery in Hardin, Kentucky, burned to the ground on 24 April following an explosion which seriously injured distiller Jay Rogers and killed his assistant Kyle Rogers.

The pair were believed to be entering the building to check on a batch that had been distilling for about five hours when the blast occurred.

This week the Kentucky State Fire Marshal released a report stating that a moonshine still at the distillery was not designed to hold pressure, and had not been fitted with the correct pressure relief valve, causing it to rupture.

The still was manufactured by Revenoor Company Incorporated, against whom Silver Trail Distillery’s owner Spencer Balentine and Jay Rogers have launched legal action.

Posting on its Facebook page Spencer Balentine, founder of the Silver Trail Distillery, said the marshall’s report “verifies that the tower failed due to an internal plate being only tack welded when it should have been welded fully around.”

He continued: “This caused an immediate over pressurization which ruptured the still bottom and sent it hurtling through the door. The pressure relief valve did not open due to the still builder installing a valve too large for this size pot plus being made for a water heater.

It added: “All agencies, federal, state and local have cleared Silver Trail to regain any licenses without prejudice meaning all licenses are good when we build back. Thank you everyone everywhere for your kind thoughts, words, deeds and most of all prayers. I promise you that Kyle and Jay will have justice.” 

The Silver Trail Distillery was founded by Balentine in 2011 and was made an official member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s (KDA) Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in 2012.

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