Blue Run Spirits has released a first look at its upcoming distillery in Georgetown, Kentucky, and the bourbon world has never seen anything like it before.
The birds-eye renderings look more like a museum or a monument than a distillery.
The young bourbon company, which launched in 2020, is most recognizable by its stunning, signature metallic butterfly on its bourbon bottles, and the renderings of the upcoming distillery are equally as catching. The highly anticipated development features a 35,000-square-foot distillery and a 20,000-square-foot rick house, and it's will break ground later this year at the Lanes Run Business Park.
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The company aims to update and modernize what bourbon and looks, feel and tastes like, Blue Run Spirits CEO and co-founder Mike Montgomery told The Courier Journal in an interview on Tuesday. There is a massive, worldwide audience out there for the spirit and Kentucky is at the center of it. Distillery leaders in the state have done a great job elevating bourbon to an international audience, and now, it presents the opportunity for new young companies to expand on that tradition.
"Kentucky is a shrine to Bourbon, and we want to be an additive to this great community," Montgomery said.
It's too early to release specifics on the distillery's experiences, but Montgomery says that his team is trying to strike a balance between "old favorites" and bourbon education as well as interactive opportunities for guests. His team has spent time in California's wine region as well as the Champagne region of France. The goal is to create opportunities that both bring tourists to the state and inspire them to come back again and again.
"We've drawn from the great work that the people before us and currently in the industry have put forth, but we've also looked around the world at different examples of the art of the possible," Montgomery said.
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The building's design, which is called "Meander," is meant to evoke the journey of the limestone-rich water as it winds its way through the distilling, aging and blending process to becoming bourbon and rye whiskey. It was designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, which is based in Copenhagen and New York City.
"For Blue Run, we have boiled the entire process of whiskey-making down to a single linear sequence — from distilling to maturing to bottling," the firm's founder and creative director, Bjarke Ingels, said in the release. "The half-mile long process meanders, through the gentle hillsides creating bends and banks, inlets, and outlooks."
The whisky company has come a long way since it launched in October 2020. For the past two-and-a-half years, Blue Run Spirits has produced bourbon by tapping into partnerships with other distilleries throughout the region. At that time, opening a distillery of its own ? amid the early COVID-19 pandemic, no less ? wasn't "even a twinkle in our eye," Montgomery said.
"This doesn't look like anything that's that's ever been built," Montgomery said. "We definitely tip our hats to the folks out there, who pushed the boundaries years ago. We grabbed that baton, and I think what we're attempting to do is advance it really far."
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Blue Run Spirits has introduced 13 bourbon and rye whiskey releases since the company launched in October 2020, and in its short time on the market, it's become a highly sought-after spirit. The company sold 21,000 9-liter cases in 2022, which is a 300% year-over-year increase. Distillery operations are anticipated to bring at least 45 full-time jobs to Kentucky.
Montgomery also said he's extremely excited to bring a distillery of this scale to Georgetown and Scott County. Lexington is, essentially, where the Kentucky Bourbon Trail distillery map stops in the central part of the state, with the exception of Hartfield and Co. in Paris and Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville. He's hopeful in the future more distilleries pop up in the region and create natural pathways to one another.
"I think if you picture the (Kentucky) Bourbon Trail as a spiderweb, you want to have as many touch points as possible, really start connecting dots," Montgomery said. "So (Georgetown) is a dot that we felt was really needed, that didn't exist."
Reach reporter Maggie Menderski at 502-582-4053 or [email protected].