Big things are happening at Wilderness Trail Distillery in Danville, KY. Regular readers will recall a Q&A with Master Distiller Shane Baker and another post about Wilderness Trail’s recent awards at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. (Read those posts at http://bit.ly/2sRCfxX and http://bit.ly/2rfwNrb). Wilderness Trail has also made three significant recent announcements.
First, Wilderness Trail announced earlier this month that it has partnered with Caverndale Farms in Danville to commemorate Kentucky’s 225th anniversary of becoming a state. Caverndale sourced a strain of corn that would have grown in 1792 when Kentucky entered statehood. The corn will be used to make a limited edition of Kentucky Happy Birthday Bourbon. The announcement was made at an event honoring Kentucky’s 225th anniversary and will be released in five years to recognize the state’s 230th anniversary.
Second, Wilderness Trail won a Platinum Award at the 2017 Spirits International Prestige Awards. The blind taste test included 673 spirit brands and 118 consumer judges.
Third, Wilderness Trail announced last week that it will expand its production and add 10 new jobs. The increase in production will take the distillery’s production from 6,000 barrels annually to 36,000 barrels annually. The press release below includes all the details plus quotes from Governor Matt Bevin about the Wilderness Trail and Kentucky’s bourbon industry.
Wilderness Trail Distillery to Add Capacity, 10 New Jobs with $10 million expansion
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 6, 2017) – Wilderness Trail Distillery, a producer of bourbon, rye whiskey, vodka and rum, will increase capacity at its Boyle County facility by six fold with a $9.91 million investment and 10 new jobs, Gov. Matt Bevin announced today.
“Wilderness Trail’s expansion will create exciting opportunities for people in the Boyle County area and beyond, not only in relation to new jobs, but in attracting new visitors to the area as well,” said Gov. Bevin. “With 95 percent of the world’s bourbon made in Kentucky, our spirits industry is a large and rapidly growing contributor to our economy each year. We are grateful for this investment by Wilderness Trail, and look forward to their continued success.”
To fill customer demand for small-batch spirits, Wilderness Trail will expand its current facilities and purchase and install new equipment. The 10 new employees will fortify its two shifts.
The project will raise the distillery’s output from 6,000 barrels annually to approximately 36,000, bringing new capacity for both its own brands and contract distillation. Work could begin in the coming weeks and be completed by January 2018.
“We are a family owned and operated distillery and this milestone helps us secure the ability to continue to grow now and in the future here in the commonwealth. We are excited to bring more job opportunities to our neighbors and more for visitors to experience in our beautiful historical community and great state of Kentucky,” said co-founder and master distiller Shane Baker. “Kentucky bourbon production has been in my family since 1940 and we are very proud to continue that tradition and to be a part of Kentucky’s signature brand recognized all over the world.”
The company, Danville’s first distillery, relocated its small start-up operation in 2014 from downtown Danville to the historic Willis Grimes farm off Lebanon Road and Highway 127. As member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, Wilderness Trail’s new farm attracted 20,000 visitors last year.
Wilderness Trail, a traditional distillery that specializes in premium quality production methods, was founded in 2012 and produces its spirits from locally sourced ingredients. Its unique rum recipe uses Kentucky sorghum molasses rather than sugar cane to create a true Kentucky Proud product. Currently, bourbon and rye whiskey accounts for 95 percent of the company’s production. Wilderness Trail also specializes in training and educational courses from micro to macro spirit production, and offers a full analytical laboratory in addition to troubleshooting and optimization services for brands seeking to grow.
The distillery spun off from Ferm Solutions Inc., which supports hundreds of brewers, distillers and ethanol producers around the world with bioscience analytics and fermentation adjunct products such as various yeast strains and naturally develop antimicrobials and enzymes.
Sen. Rick Girdler, of Somerset, noted the project is a team effort.
“We are happy to welcome this new $10 million investment for expansion of the Wilderness Trail Distillery in Danville,” he said. “We anticipate that this investment will further raise the profile of one of our valued local businesses, and we are always pleased to embrace new job opportunities in the Boyle County community. I appreciate Gov. Bevin, the Cabinet for Economic Development and the folks at Wilderness Trail for all their hard work with this project.”
Danville Mayor Mike Perros said the company’s growth into new areas is a plus for the community.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to support the expansion of Wilderness Trail Distillery in our community. This is exactly the kind of economic development we want, and I applaud them for their entrepreneurial spirit and efforts,” Mayor Perros said. “Their desire to make our community better by expanding and offering more than just distillation is admirable.”
Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney said Wilderness Trail fits perfectly within the county’s mission.
“Our community recently identified its true place brand to be ‘Historically Bold,’ and Wilderness Trail Distillery is fulfilling that high standard with its rapid pace of business growth and community impact,” Judge-Executive McKinney said. “I commend Boyle County’s first distillery for not only making local history, but also once again creating jobs and reinvesting in the future of the Birthplace of Kentucky.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in May preliminarily approved Wilderness Trail for tax incentives up to $200,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Wilderness Trail for up to $150,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
Wilderness Trail also can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal year 2016, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for nearly 95,000 Kentuckians and 5,000 companies from a variety of industry sectors.
A detailed community profile for Boyle County can be viewed at http://bit.ly/BoyleCoKy.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.