LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 21, 2014) — Diageo said it plans to invest an initial $2 million to develop the Stitzel-Weller Visitor Center at the former Louisville distillery site, which ceased operation in 1992.
The company will renovate the original administrative building to bring to life the history of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery through artifacts from the site’s archives; a whiskey education section; an homage to the people, land and water of Kentucky; and a celebration of the heritage, brands and people behind Diageo’s award-winning collection of American whiskeys. The Visitor Center will showcase the Bulleit brand as well as Diageo’s evolving craft whiskey portfolio, including the just-launched Orphan Barrel whiskeys, Barterhouse and Old Blowhard.
“Another of our state’s storied distilleries will get new life thanks to Diageo’s investment, which will attract even more bourbon fans to Kentucky,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “We’re excited about this project and for the continued growth of Kentucky’s bourbon businesses.”
Diageo aims to begin the project immediately, and finish the first phase in time for Derby Day this May. The company plans to complete the Visitor Center, welcome center and gift shop this summer.
“We are excited to partner with Diageo on this exciting tourism opportunity that will bring to life the rich distilling history of Shively,” said Sherry Conner, mayor of Shively, the suburb of Louisville, where Stitzel-Weller is located.
Over the last year, Diageo’s momentum in American whiskey has accelerated with both established flagship and new brands. Bulleit has captured the imagination of bartenders and consumers across the country. According to the latest Impact Hot Brand rankings, Bulleit is America’s fastest growing bourbon and number one rye.
Just last week, Diageo introduced the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co., an endeavor to rescue long forgotten barrels of rare and delicious whiskey and share them with discerning adult fans. The first two variants include the 20-year-old Barterhouse Whiskey and the 26-year-aged Old Blowhard Whiskey. Both brands are expected to begin appearing on select shelves throughout the U.S. in March 2014 under strict allocation due to limited supply.
“Stitzel-Weller is one of the most significant and historic parts of Kentucky’s bourbon heritage and we are honored to be restoring it to share it with Louisville residents and visitors,” said Larry Schwartz, president of Diageo North America. “We are pleased to be investing in the community and this important site. This is another step in our support of and leadership within the
American craft whiskey movement and we hope that the Stitzel-Weller Visitor Center will soon be included on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.”
The Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Shively, opened on Derby Day in 1935. For four decades, it thrived and was known for making the finest bourbon in the world. On June 30, 1972, the company was sold. After a series of name and ownership changes, Stitzel-Weller is now owned by Diageo. Though the site today is operational in that it stores and rests barrels of various whiskies, Stitzel-Weller has not been a functioning distillery since 1992.
Diageo is the world’s leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Windsor, Buchanan’s and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, Guinness, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards Wines.
(The Lane Report)