Kentucky’s ever-booming bourbon industry is making its way into the commonwealth’s coal country.
Brothers Wright Distilling Co. is planning to open in Pike County late next year, and distillers there are aging their bourbon in a rehabilitated coal mine. The plans for this unorthodox Kentucky distillery include lodging and even an underground visitor experience.
Company leaders plan to construct a 12,000-square-foot distillery, rickhouse, welcome center, museum and restaurant on a 20-acre tract, according to a press release Monday from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, announcing the development. The distillery is part of a larger 1,200-acre property along Kentucky Highway 292 in Pike County.
Brothers Kendall and Shannon Wright purchased that farm, which is along the banks of the Tug Fork tributary of the Big Sandy River, in 2020. They initially began to restore the property for use as a corporate retreat location, but then the Wrights discovered coal mine maps of their land. The mine operated for more than 30 years in the early 20th century, and now that space is used to age the company’s first bourbon barrels.
“From 1913 to 1946, more than 23 million tons of coal were mined out of this property,” Kendall Wright said in the release. “Miners from all over the world traveled here to work, live and provide fuel to our nation during its greatest period of growth. We feel there is something special about honoring the work completed here over a century ago with a completely unique bourbon experience.”
The $38 million project will create 28 quality jobs in Pike County in eastern Kentucky. The company’s owners also operate multiple other businesses throughout Kentucky and central and southern Appalachia. Their parent company Wright Concrete & Construction employs more than 200 people across all operations.“Our family of companies’ footprint in Pike County stretches back over 25 years. We have been blessed to live and work in the mountains of Central Appalachia over that time frame,” said Shannon Wright, in the release. “Working in Kentucky’s coal mining industry has given us the opportunity to grow and support our families as well as our employees and their families. We are excited to marry two of the great state of Kentucky’s industries, bourbon whiskey and coal mining, in a new and unique approach that we hope will bring a new economic opportunity to the mountains that we call home.”