It’s part of the Luxembourg-based spirit brand’s big push into the American whiskey market.
By definition, bourbon is America’s whiskey. For a spirit to be sold as bourbon in the United States, it has to fit a number of legal requirements, one of which is that it must be made in the country. Needless to say, that restriction can pose a bit of a problem for foreign companies looking to sell bourbon on U.S. shores. But there’s always one obvious workaround: Build a distillery in the America. That’s exactly what the vodka brand Stoli has decide to do… to the tune of $150 million.
The Stoli Group, which is the distribution and marketing arm for the Luxembourg-based drinking giant SPI Group, has been making a big push into the American whiskey market thanks to its recently founded “American Whiskey Division.” According to The Drinks Business, in January, the company scooped up the relatively small Kentucky Owl brand, which, despite being founded in 1879, was shut down during Prohibition and only resurrected back in 2008. Now, Stoli plans to build “Kentucky Owl Park,” a 420-acre distilling complex on the site of a quarry in Bardstown, Kentucky, located about 40 miles southeast of Louisville. Once it’s open, which is currently slated for 2020, the reportedly $150 million complex will produce Kentucky Owl bourbon, as well as other to-be-determined brands – with capacity to churn out 1.5 million proof-gallons in total each year.
“We will make Kentucky Owl Bourbon and much more,” Dmitry Efimov, head of Stoli Group’s American Whiskey Division, said according to the Lexington Herald Leader. “The ‘much more’ is not 100 percent known. We’re planning to develop some brands, probably acquire a brand or two ... But Kentucky Owl will be the jewel of our portfolio.”
Beyond a simple distillery, Stoli promises that the park with also contain tourist-friendly options like a visitors center, gourmet restaurant, hotel and convention center to compliment the more practical features like a cooperage, barrel warehouses and bottling center. “We worked on this plan for quite a while ... to create not just an industrial site but a true bourbon experience,” Efimov said. “The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is visited by more than 1 million people a year, and in this area there are not so many hotels, not so many places for large gatherings so that’s how we came up with this idea. We’ll combine the bourbon experience with some other functions.” You might even be able to get a vodka martini. Maybe.