SOMERSET, Ky. (Oct. 19, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined leaders from the Somerset community in congratulating Horse Soldier Bourbon on the official groundbreaking of a new $200 million tourism development project that will bring new jobs, bourbon and tourism dollars to Pulaski County.
“I want to thank the team at Horse Solider Bourbon for their service to our country,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are excited that your next chapter includes making Horse Soldier Bourbon in Somerset and investing in the commonwealth – your story reinforces our belief that Kentucky is truly destined for greatness.”
In recognition of the 20th anniversary of their insertion to Afghanistan, Horse Soldier Bourbon is coming back to the Cumberland River where it all started. On Sept. 11, 2001, the Horse Soldier team was training on the Cumberland River when the call came to defend our nation in its darkest hour. Now, 20 years later, they are coming home and bringing their award-winning, ultra-premium bourbon to Kentucky.
“We are every person you’ve ever known in your family,” said John Koko, president and CEO of Horse Soldier Bourbon. “We’re average guys. It was just our turn to do something. And we are proud to be doing it in a place where our story so naturally fits. Horse Soldier Farms will make this already outstanding community stronger and better, with the values its people have always had — values that are also important to us. We are honored to come home, to make our dreams a reality in Somerset.”
Today, Horse Soldier Bourbon unveiled plans for a Somerset-Pulaski County distillery that will consist of a 27,585-square-foot distillery visitor center; 4,600-square-foot activity center; 5,000-capacity amphitheater; 500-person outdoor event space; an adventure center, 3,200-square-foot wedding chapel; 60-key luxury lodge and 20 cabins, and a retail village.
“The American heroes behind this company are the epitome of valor and hope during difficult times,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “We are proud to welcome these Horse Soldiers home to Southern Kentucky to continue their pursuit of the American dream, as they grow this veteran-owned and operated company.”
Currently distilled in Columbus, Ohio, Horse Soldier Bourbon will transfer its operations to Somerset following completion of the $200 million distillery project. The new distillery will complement Lake Cumberland as the premier, off-the-water attraction in Somerset bringing new jobs, bourbon and tourism dollars to the Somerset community.
“Horse Soldier Farms has, from the beginning, been a project that challenges people to believe anything is possible,” said Somerset Mayor Alan Keck “That has been a key part of my vision for this community, and it’s what makes this partnership so special. I’m grateful the Horse Soldier team has been willing to dream big with us. As these two stories intertwine, as we forge our path to becoming a Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience, we will continue to build excitement and a more enduring legacy for Somerset.”
Adding bourbon to Somerset’s thriving tourism industry is expected to have a major economic impact in the local community. Currently, the community’s tourism attractions welcome nearly 5 million visitors annually, generating $115 million in economic impact.
Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, said the historic trade group is proud to welcome the Horse Soldier family to the commonwealth and thanked them for their service to our country, impressive investment and visionary tourism plans.
“Here we have true American heroes who have come together to produce America’s only native spirit: Kentucky Bourbon,” Gregory said. “With this endeavor, the team at Horse Soldier brings a bold sense of adventure and an all-American dedication to preserving Kentucky’s legacy as the one true and authentic home for Bourbon. We’re honored that they chose our beloved Bluegrass as their home, and we look forward to adding them to the KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience.”
Upon the recommendation of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Horse Soldier Farms LLC received approval from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority for incentives totaling over $29.9 million for the new distillery project. Through the Tourism Development Act, eligible Kentucky businesses can receive an annual reimbursement for taxes paid on qualifying tourism development projects.
Throughout the pandemic, spirits companies have continued pledging to invest and create jobs in the commonwealth. Today, roughly 70 spirits facilities employ more than 5,100 people. Since the start of 2020, Kentucky’s spirits industry has seen more than 30 new-location or expansion announcements with over $550 million in planned investments and approximately 500 announced full-time jobs.
Horse Soldier Bourbon’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger in response to the effects of the pandemic.
In September, Gov. Beshear, Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford and CEO Jim Farley, and Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, announced the single largest economic development project in the history of the commonwealth, celebrating a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs and places Kentucky at the forefront of the automotive industry’s future.
In July, thanks to strong fiscal management by the Beshear administration, the state budget office reported the commonwealth ended the 2021 fiscal year with a general fund surplus of over $1.1 billion – the highest ever in the commonwealth – and a 10.9% increase in general fund receipts to $12.8 billion.
Year-to-date, private-sector new-location and expansion announcements include over $8.7 billion in total planned investment and the creation of 12,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Through July, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage is $23.47 before benefits, a 6.2% increase over the previous year.
In May, Moody’s Analytics published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky, noting mass vaccination as the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services. The state’s recovery, Moody’s said, benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services. The report also found Kentucky’s manufacturing industry outperformed the nation’s since the national downturn last year.
Fitch Ratings in May improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. The state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.
In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million. Site Selection also recently placed Kentucky in a tie for fifth in its 2021 Prosperity Cup rankings, positioning the state among the national leaders for business climate.
For more information on Horse Soldier Farms, LLC, visit horsesoldierbourbon.com.
A detailed community profile for Pulaski County can be viewed here. Information about Somerset-Pulaski County tourism is available at lctourism.com.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at CED.ky.gov. To learn more about the cabinet or for information relating to tourism development projects, visit tah.ky.gov.