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Brown-Forman bringing Old Forester back to Louisville’s Whiskey Row with new distillery

More bourbon is coming back to Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row. Governor Steve Beshear and Mayor Greg Fischer today announced Brown-Forman Corp. plans to build an Old Forester Distillery in Jefferson County.

Brown-Forman is expected to create up to 20 new jobs and invest approximately $30 million into the project.

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“This expansion, including 20 new jobs and more than $30 million in investment, will help grow sales and exports for a Kentucky product that is increasingly in demand across the globe,” Beshear said in making the announcement.

“Bourbonism is real and just keeps growing in our city and our state,” added Fischer. “Not only is Brown-Forman growing one of its strongest brands, it also is redeveloping two key structures in a historic block of our downtown, which will encourage more investment, more stability and more growth.”

Brown-Forman will open a distillery and bourbon experience for its founding brand, Old Forester, in two historic buildings at 117 and 119 Main St. in Louisville. The combined buildings have approximately 55,000 square feet with 52 linear feet facing Main Street. The investment will include renovating the buildings and purchasing equipment. The new distillery will be able to distill 100 percent of Old Forester’s business today.

In addition to production, the distillery also would serve as a home place for the Old Forester brand. The facility would be open to tours and feature a tasting room, exhibits, bourbon-making demonstrations and event spaces.

“George Garvin Brown introduced Old Forester, America’s first bottled bourbon, more than 140 years ago, and with that, he changed our industry and Louisville community forever,” said Paul Varga, CEO of Brown-Forman Corp. “As demand for high-quality bourbon continues to increase, the Old Forester Distillery will enable us to expand capacity to share not only one of the greatest tasting bourbons with more of the world, and share the story of one of Kentucky’s bourbon icons.”

In addition to Old Forester, Brown-Forman Corp. produces Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Herradura, Early Times and Woodford Reserve. The company was founded in 1870 in Louisville. Today, it is still headquartered in Louisville and employs nearly 4,200 people worldwide.

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Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon, and the 5 million barrels of aging bourbon here outnumber the state’s population of 4.4 million. More than 9,000 jobs in Kentucky are connected to distillery-related enterprise, generating approximately $415 million in payroll.

To encourage the investment and job growth in Louisville, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $900,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

KEDFA also approved Brown-Forman for tax benefits up to $410,000 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, which allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing equipment.

From Office of the Governor

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