FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 30, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced an innovative addition to Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry, as Brothers Wright Distilling Co. will invest nearly $38 million and create 28 quality jobs in Pike County to establish a new distillery that will use a rehabilitated underground coal mine to age the company’s products.
“It is great to see the continued growth of our state’s bourbon sector, especially when we have companies that embrace Kentucky’s history the way Brothers Wright Distilling has with this investment,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is an incredibly innovative project that will use a once-forgotten coal mine to bring a great Kentucky product to market. I want to thank the company’s leaders for their commitment and for creating more great jobs for Kentuckians.”
Company leaders plan to construct a 12,000-square-foot distillery, rickhouse, welcome center, museum and restaurant on a 20-acre tract – part of a larger 1,200-acre property, along Kentucky Highway 292 in Pike County – with future plans for lodging and an underground visitor experience. The company will age its Kentucky-made bourbon in a rehabilitated coal mine, encompassing 1,400 acres underground, on the mine property that operated from 1913 through 1946. More than 100 years after construction, the mine’s internal dry-stacked rock walls remain intact, and the site already serves as home to the first barrels of the company’s product, which was distilled in Pike County.
Jobs to be created at the operation include 28 full-time positions ranging from production and maintenance to sales and tours. Additionally, 50 construction and mine rehabilitation jobs are projected. Construction of the new facility in Eastern Kentucky is expected to begin later this year with completion scheduled by the end of 2024.
“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, co-owner and CEO of Brothers Wright Distilling Co. “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.”
In 2020, brothers Kendall and Shannon Wright purchased a 1,200-acre farm along the banks of the Tug Fork tributary of the Big Sandy River and began work to restore the property for use as a corporate retreat location. Following the acquisition, the brothers discovered coal mine maps of the property, which uncovered the location of the mine that is now being used to age the company’s bourbon.
“From 1913 to 1946, more than 23 million tons of coal were mined out of this property,” said Kendall Wright, co-owner and COO of Brothers Wright Distilling Co. “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 company’s owners also operate multiple other businesses all over Kentucky and central and southern Appalachia, including parent company Wright Concrete & Construction, employing more than 200 people across all operations.
The company’s investment and job creation build on recent economic momentum in the commonwealth.
On Oct. 10, Gov. Beshear reported that General Fund receipts for September 2023 totaled over $1 billion, marking the 13th straight month with revenues over $1 billion. The Governor also recently announced that his administration secured the largest General Fund budget surplus and Rainy Day Fund, as well as the most jobs filled in state history.
The General Fund budget surplus at the end of fiscal year 2023 was more than $1.55 billion. Nearly all of the $1.55 billion surplus will go into the commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing the fund to a record balance of $3.7 billion – a 2,700% increase since Gov. Beshear took office in 2019.
This year, the Governor announced that Kentucky set the record for the longest period with the lowest unemployment rates in state history.
Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Beshear has announced 904 private-sector new-location and expansion projects totaling over $27.8 billion in announced investments, creating 48,700 jobs. This is the highest investment figure for any governor in state history.
The robust job creation has been accompanied by rising wages across the commonwealth. The average incentivized hourly wage in 2022 was $26.78 before benefits, the second-highest mark since 2010 and an 11.5% increase over the previous year.
The Governor also secured the best two-year period in state history for economic growth and announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September 2021, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK On celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. In April 2022, the Governor was joined by leadership at AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
That position was strengthened even further in May 2023, when the Governor and leaders at Toyota announced a $591 million investment across multiple projects as the company’s largest manufacturing operation in Georgetown introduced its first battery electric vehicle. Growth within the EV sector continued into June as Gov. Beshear joined INFAC North America to break ground on the company’s $53 million investment to support EV-related production in Campbellsville.
Over a two-month period this year, Kentucky secured two credit rating increases from major agencies. On May 12, Gov. Beshear announced that his administration obtained the first state-level credit rating upgrade in 13 years and the first-ever upgrade from Fitch Ratings. On June 29, Gov. Beshear announced the commonwealth received its first-ever rating increase from S&P Global Ratings. Recently, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Kentucky’s credit outlook from stable to positive.
Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky first in the South Central region and top-5 nationally in its 2023 Prosperity Cup ranking, which recognizes state-level economic development agencies for their success in landing capital investment projects. The publication also placed Kentucky second nationwide and first in the South Central region for its annual Governor’s Cup ranking for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
Gov. Beshear announced a new “Supply Kentucky” initiative with the goal of boosting job growth, reducing costs and providing more security in the supply chains of our Kentucky companies.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) last week preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $850,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of nearly $37.9 million and annual targets of:
Creation and maintenance of 28 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and Paying an average hourly wage of $30.50, including benefits across those jobs. Additionally, KEDFA approved the company 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.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, the company can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.
For more information on Brothers Wright Distilling, visit BrothersWrightDistilling.com.