BEAVER DAM, Ky. (Nov. 8, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced another significant investment in Kentucky’s bourbon industry, as the Western Kentucky Distilling Co. will invest nearly $22 million, with potential to grow to $30 million with a second phase, and create 35 full-time jobs with a new distillery and 15 warehouses in Beaver Dam.
“The momentum we are seeing in our state’s bourbon and spirits industry is critical to Kentucky's continued economic success,” said Gov. Beshear. “This investment by Western Kentucky Distilling Co. is going to strengthen our bourbon production and bring quality jobs to Ohio County and Western Kentucky. Anytime a company is committed to sourcing all its materials and production right here in the commonwealth, it is a testament to its belief in this great state. I want to thank the leaders of Western Kentucky Distilling Co., and I look forward to their future success.”
Phase one of the project will see the construction of a new 25,000-square-foot facility on 64 acres of land in Ohio County. Construction began in June 2022 with the facility scheduled to become operational in May 2023. Once complete, it will be the first official distillery in Ohio County. Phase two of the project will see the expansion of the new facility by 300,000 square feet on an additional 16 acres of land. The distillery will be capable of producing up to 50,000 barrels of whiskey per year, eventually storing over 250,000 barrels. The Western Kentucky Distilling Co. will be a full Kentucky-themed distillery – producing Kentucky Bourbon, using Kentucky made equipment, owned by Kentucky residents, buying corn from Kentucky farms, and providing 35 full-time Kentucky jobs.
“From the best ingredients to an ideal climate for aging, Kentucky is known worldwide as the best place for making whiskey,” said Western Kentucky Distilling Co. COO and Master Distiller Jacob Call. “As someone whose family goes back eight generations in both Kentucky and distilling, I’m proud to be a partner and to help build the new Western Kentucky Distilling Co. At the distillery, we’re celebrating all things Kentucky from our ingredients and equipment to our 100% Kentucky ownership. We look forward to opening next year.”
Western Kentucky Distilling Co. is a bourbon and rye whiskey distillery located in Beaver Dam, Kentucky. The Kentucky-owned distillery is scheduled to open mid-2023 as the first official distillery in Ohio County, under the leadership of eighth-generation distiller and Kentuckian Jacob Call and President J.D. Edwards. From purchasing all cooking, fermenting and distilling equipment in Kentucky, including a Vendome 36" copper still, to plans to use all locally grown Kentucky corn, the team is proud to support the local community and the commonwealth.
Western Kentucky Distilling Co.’s planned investment builds on recent bourbon and spirits growth across Kentucky. Since the start of the Beshear administration, the commonwealth’s spirits industry has announced roughly 60 new-location or expansion projects totaling nearly $1.4 billion in planned investments and creating more than 1,100 announced full-time jobs. Currently, bourbon and spirits facilities in Kentucky directly employ more than 5,300 people.
Ohio County Judge/Executive David Johnston is excited for this opportunity and the opportunities it will bring to the area.
“We are very excited about this new development in our county,” said Judge Johnston. “The Fiscal Court, including myself, has worked to secure this new industry and investment for our community.”
The Ohio County Economic Development Alliance (OCEDA) Board of Directors issued a joint statement expressing their optimism surrounding the project and growing the bourbon industry in their region.
“The OCEDA board is thrilled to see Kentucky's booming bourbon industry grow here at home in Ohio County, and we're proud to be able to help make this project a reality for the company, future workers, county residents and whiskey enthusiasts.”
Former Executive Director of the Ohio County Economic Development Authority Jodi Ashby thanked all involved who helped bring investment and job opportunities to the community.
“The private investment of the Western Kentucky Distilling Co. is an incredible mile marker in economic growth for Ohio County and the surrounding region,” said Ashby. “The bourbon industry is Kentucky’s bread and butter and now Ohio County is a part of that! The citizens of Ohio County will prosper in ways that have not even begun to be thought of yet due to the decision of the folks who envisioned this project and brought it to fruition here in Beaver Dam. The team of people who helped make it happen, including the OCEDA Board, the GRRIDA Board, the Ohio County Fiscal Court and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, worked with one goal in mind – to create a better quality of life for Ohio Countians by creating sustainable job opportunities in the area! I can’t thank this company enough for being willing to invest in Ohio County. I am so very pleased that they chose us to invest in! The regional park of Bluegrass Crossings is an industrial development advantage for all of us and I am grateful to have witnessed this project come together.”
Western Kentucky Distilling Co.’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
In 2021, the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with nearly $7.5 billion invested and more than 13,000 full-time jobs created just through September.
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear’s administration has welcomed $21 billion in investments that are creating 40,000 jobs, including the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September 2021, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. And in April of this year, the Governor was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
Kentucky’s success has been noted by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, which have upgraded the state’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy. In addition, Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
Kentucky has posted record low unemployment rates for five consecutive months, holding at or below 3.9% since April 2022.
In July, the Governor reported the highest annual growth rate in 31 years. And for the second year in a row, Kentucky’s General Fund budget surplus has exceeded $1 billion. Also in July, Gov. Beshear reported that the state’s Rainy Day fund is up to a record balance of $2.7 billion, significantly higher than the $129 million balance the fund had when the Governor took office.
Kentucky reported August 2022 General Fund receipts hit an unprecedented high for any August on record, marking 21 straight months of growing revenues for the state.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Kentucky lead the entire nation in job growth for the month of August and tied with New Hampshire for the largest jump in employment growth for September.
In September, Kentucky reported August 2022 General Fund receipts hit an unprecedented high for any August on record, marking 21 straight months of growing revenues for the state. September was also the third highest revenue month on record with more than $1.4 billion reported, marking the seventh month this year with collections topping $1 billion.
And from September 2021 to September 2022, Kentucky added 81,700 new jobs. Except for a four-month recovery period after the initial COVID-19 shock, this is the largest number of new jobs added in 20 years.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in May preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $1 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of nearly $17.7 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 35 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $31.25 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA in October approved the company for up to $125,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA) based on an additional $4 million investment. KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, the company can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.
For more information on Kentucky Whiskey Co., visit westernkydistilling.com.
A detailed community profile for Ohio County can be viewed here.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at CED.ky.gov. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion at facebook.com/CEDkygov, on Twitter @CEDkygov, Instagram @CEDkygov and LinkedIn.