18,000 barrels of Bourbon at risk after rest of warehouse collapses

A Bourbon warehouse owned by Kentucky distiller Barton 1792 containing around 18,000 barrels has completely collapsed, almost two weeks after half of the building came crashing down.

The untimely incident occurred yesterday on 4 July at around 2:20pm local time during American Independence Day, with the barrels once housed in the seven story warehouse now heaped in a massive pile. Local Louisville news station WLKY posted overhead footage of the site from its helicopter.

Half of the warehouse, which was built in the 1940s, collapsed on 22 June with an estimated 9,000 barrels affected. Despite efforts taken to contain the spill, alcohol flowed from the site for around 3 hours, with Bourbon making its way into the local waterways and contributing to the death of around 800 fish.

In a statement released yesterday, Amy Preske, a spokesperson for parent company Sazerac said that following the first spill, the distillery was prepared with equipment should the rest of the structure become unstable.

“As a result of the Barton 1792 Distillery team’s preparation and quick action, no runoff from today’s collapse entered any waterways,” she added.

Due to worker safety concerns the remaining half of the warehouse was unable to be secured. Officials believe it will be weeks before a cause is determined and at present, the distillery does not know how many barrels can be salvaged.

According to Preske, plans are underway to construct a new warehouse to house the salvaged barrels.

She continued: “The remaining barrel warehouses at Barton 1792 Distillery have been inspected since 22 June by third party experts and are deemed safe. Barrel warehouses at the other two Sazerac owned distilleries in Kentucky have also been inspected and deemed safe”.

Following the first incident, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet was planning to cite Sazerac for “failing to report the incident in a timely manner” and “polluting the waterways of the commonwealth”.

According to its website, Barton 1792, which was founded in 1879, has 29 storage warehouses and 22 other buildings as part of its complex.

Other brands within the Sazerac Company portfolio include Buffalo Trace, Southern Comfort and Van Winkle.

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