The following is a column written by Joe Arnold, Vice-President of Strategic Communications with Kentucky Living and Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. It appeared in the November 2023 issue of Kentucky Living.
AT FIRST GLANCE, the October announcement of a $350 million distillery in Elizabethtown is just the latest drumbeat in Kentucky’s sustained bourbon boom.
Yet the vision of industry veterans David Mandell, John Hargrove and Daniel Linde signals the beginning of a new era for Kentucky’s signature product. The founders of Whiskey House of Kentucky promise it will be the country’s most technically advanced producer of custom bourbon and American whiskey.
“It will be the largest, it will be the most innovative, it will be the most sophisticated custom whiskey production facility in the country that focuses only on great brands,” Mandell says. “Whiskey House will reshape the contract whiskey market in the United States.”
A contract distiller produces the spirit for other companies, such as big-name distillers who have maxed out on their own production capacity or bourbon brands with a great recipe but no distillery of their own.
With 21st century demand for bourbon continuing to surge, Whiskey House aims not only to help meet that demand, but also to push the envelope on technology and manufacturing processes, even using artificial intelligence to improve quality and efficiency.
“We are implementing state-of-the-art instrumentation across the entire manufacturing and aging process to collect all the data, analyze it and make real-time decisions and provide that for our customers,” Hargrove says, “arming them with the knowledge and the data they need to make great, impactful decisions.”
Slated to open in July 2024 at the T.J. Patterson Elizabethtown Hardin County Industrial Park, Whiskey House is served by Nolin RECC.
“Nolin RECC really went above and beyond with our partnership with them,” Hargrove says. “We owe a lot to them with this project—not just providing electricity, but keeping on timeline and really working together to help build this thing. We couldn’t be more proud of that partnership.”
In a fraternity of Kentucky distillers where relationships run as deep as the limestone aquifer 120 feet below the Whiskey House property, the distillery’s team is committed to promoting a healthy bourbon industry.
“The data that we are developing, we believe, is going to not only be very useful for us and our customers,” Mandell says, “but it’s also information that over time we’ll be able to share with the industry and the community and begin to improve manufacturing processes across the board.”
While Whiskey House is closed to the public to focus on production, it does plan on having a tasting room in Elizabethtown and another elsewhere in the state to showcase its customers’ products.