Diageo opens first distillery for Bulleit
Diageo has finally opened its first-ever distillery for the booming Bulleit bourbon brand.
Company executives gathered in Kentucky for the $US115million distillery's ribbon cutting on Tuesday.
“This distillery is the most important thing we can do to grow our business,” said Bulleit’s US and global brand director, Ed Bello. “We have big ambitions to continue to grow the brand in the US and expand it globally.”
Global sales for Bulleit brand reached 1.1 million cases in the financial year ending in June 2016, up 29% from the prior year.
Bulleit bourbon was previously made at non-Diageo distilleries. The rapid growth of the brand means its rye variant will continue to be made under contract until production at the new facility can expand.
“We will be quickly pivoting to start looking at what the expansion plans could be,” Bello said in a phone interview with AP.
Bulleit bourbon was launched 30 years ago when Kentucky lawyer Tom Bulleit revived his family’s whiskey recipe - his great-great-grandfather Augustus Bulleit made whiskey in the pre-Civil War era.
In 1997, Tom sold Bulleit to Seagram. In 2000, Bulleit was among Seagram assets sold to Diageo for $5USbillion, along with Captain Morgan rum, Crown Royal and VO Canadian whiskies, and wine producer Sterling Vineyards.
Bulleit remains the brand's ambassador.
Environmental considerations were key
Dan Feeser, chief engineering director for the project, told BizJournals that Diageo plans to draw water from a nearby lake and to buy corn from local farmers. The water it draws from the lake will be pumped into a pond on the property first.
"We've designed the site to be not only energy-efficient but also environmentally friendly," he said.
The environmental considerations added $2 million to $3 million to the project, Feeser estimated.