MIDWAY, Ky. (Feb. 3, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined leaders from Bluegrass Distillers LLC to break ground on the craft distiller’s new $8 million operation on the historic Elkwood Farm property in Midway, which will create 22 full-time jobs for local residents.
“The commonwealth’s bourbon industry is coming off its best ever year for growth in 2022, and it continues to gain momentum,” Gov. Beshear said. “Bluegrass Distillers is a homegrown company that was founded by Kentuckians, and today’s groundbreaking is a welcome addition to Midway and the Woodford County community. I want to thank the leaders of Bluegrass Distillers for their vision to grow in Kentucky and look forward to seeing their continued success in the coming years.”
Company leaders purchased the Elkwood Farm property, at 158 Leestown Road, in 2020. The Elkwood Mansion was built in 1835 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The new location, expected to open this fall, will include a 36-inch column still and six 18,000-gallon fermentation tanks with room for future growth, as well as barrel warehouses, a bottling line, tasting room, visitor center and event space. Once open, the distillery will increase Bluegrass Distillers’ capacity by over 100 times to meet growing demand and facilitate contract distilling and a bottling operation.
“We are thrilled to break ground on our new distillery in Midway,” said Bluegrass Distillers co-owner Sam Rock. “This new, best-of-class facility will allow us to massively expand production of our spirits and grow our reach while creating jobs and contributing to the local economy.”
“Bluegrass has been distilling for nine years, and the release of Elkwood Reserve exemplifies the premium bourbons we will be showcasing with our complete grain-to-glass experience at Elkwood Farm,” added co-owner Ben Franzini. “Our team’s experience paired with the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities we are building will allow us to take everything we do to the next level.”
Opened in Lexington in 2013, Bluegrass Distillers’ products include Kentucky straight blue corn bourbon, Kentucky straight wheated bourbon, five rye whiskies and seasonal products. Since 2019, the company has maintained a Philanthropy Barrel Program, with a goal to raise money through single barrel selections to benefit local nonprofits. To date, the program and other company-led initiatives have raised over $75,000.
Today’s groundbreaking furthers recent bourbon and spirits growth across Kentucky. Since the start of the Beshear administration, the commonwealth’s spirits industry has seen roughly 80 new-location or expansion projects totaling over $2.9 billion in planned investments and creating more than 1,400 announced full-time jobs. Last year represented the best year on record for growth of Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry, with $2.1 billion in new investments expected to create 700 full-time jobs.
“Woodford County’s bourbon boom continues as we proudly welcome another world-class bourbon maker in Bluegrass Distillers,” Woodford County Judge/Executive James Kay said. “No place compares to Woodford County’s support for the jobs, tourism and opportunity created by the best crafted bourbon. We are proud to support our native son Sam Rock, Bluegrass Distillers and its wonderful family of employees. Bluegrass Distillers is creating a uniquely Woodford bourbon and experience in Midway that will provide jobs, economic opportunity and enjoyment for years to come. It is a great day for the bourbon industry, Woodford County and all of Kentucky.”
“We are thrilled to have Bluegrass Distillers in Midway! They have already proven to be generous community partners who are committed to honoring the rich history of our small town,” Midway Mayor Stacy Thurman said. “Congratulations to their team on today’s much anticipated groundbreaking. We look forward to partnering with them in the years to come.”
Bluegrass Distillers’ investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Beshear has announced the creation of more than 43,000 full-time jobs and 828 private-sector new-location and expansion projects totaling $24.5 billion in announced investments.
With the books closed on 2022, the Governor has now secured the best two-year period in state history for economic growth.
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.
That momentum continued strongly into 2022 with 248 new-location and expansion announcements totaling 16,000 full-time jobs behind nearly $10.5 billion in new investment.
The robust job creation has been accompanied by rising wages across the commonwealth. The average incentivized hourly wage in 2022 was $26.78 before benefits, the second-highest mark since 2010 and an 11.5% increase over the previous year.
Gov. Beshear also announced 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 2022, 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.
Gov. Beshear’s administration is projected to post the four highest years of budget surpluses in Kentucky history, and the state’s rainy-day fund has a record balance of $2.7 billion.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in September 2020 preliminarily approved the company for up to $50,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). 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, Bluegrass Distillers 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 Bluegrass Distillers, visit BluegrassDistillers.com.
A detailed community profile for Woodford 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.