Straight Shot

Bulleit opens new Kentucky distillery campus

Architecture Midwest
Bulleit opens new Kentucky distillery campus. (Courtesy Bulleit Distilling Co.)
Bulleit opens new Kentucky distillery campus. (Courtesy Bulleit Distilling Co.)

Bulleit Distilling Co., maker of Bulleit whiskey, celebrated its 30th anniversary in a big way with the opening of a completely new distillery (and probably a few sips of its amber-colored product). While Bulleit is now owned by London-based Diageo PLC, the grand opening of the new facility also coincides with founder Tom Bulleit’s birthday.

Set on 300 acres outside Shelbyville, Kentucky, the new distillery leverages the latest in warehousing and distilling processes to reduce its impact on the environment. Included in the new facility is the first industrial solar array in the area. The solar array is able to collect enough energy to run all the distillery’s on-site mobile equipment. An overall modular design also means that the layout was able to be carried out with as little tree clearing as possible. The land planning, civil engineering, surveying, and landscape architecture were all carried out by Louisville-based Land Design & Development (LD&D). LD&D was also the local planning consultant.

The Bulleit distillery’s raw industrial material and modular design will allow it to grow as the company’s increased production and introduces new products. (Courtesy Bulleit Distilling Co.)

Until the completion of the new distillery, Bulleit Bourbon was distilled at another company’s facility. Now able to produce 1.8 million proof gallons of whiskey per year in house, Bulleit has greatly improved control over its own distilling process. The company can now more easily explore the production of other lines of whiskey as well. At the heart of the operation is a 52-foot still, designed and built by Louisville-based Vendome Copper & Brass Works. Four barrel houses on the campus are able to hold 55,000 barrels for aging.



(Courtesy Bulleit Distilling Co.)

“Seeing this distillery come to life has been a truly surreal experience that couldn’t have been achieved without the tireless work of so many men and women,” said Tom Bulleit at the opening. Yet the story of Bulleit is just as surreal. According to Tom Bulleit, the first Bulleit Bourbon was made by his great-great-grandfather, Augustus Bulleit, in pre-Civil War Kentucky. The legend goes that after loading up a boat with barrels of bourbon and heading off to New Orleans in 1860, Augustus was never seen again. 

While the $115 million project is not yet open to the public, guests can visit the new Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience in the company’s original Louisville, Kentucky, distillery as they work their way down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

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