Home » Officials break ground on new Wild Turkey visitor center

Officials break ground on new Wild Turkey visitor center

$4 million center complements new, multi-million dollar packaging facility in Lawrenceburg

Wild Turkey distillery

LAWRENCEBURG Ky. (Aug. 28, 2012) – Gov. Steve Beshear today joined community leaders and company officials from Wild Turkey brand-owner Gruppo Campari to break ground on an all-new visitor center at the famous Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, where the iconic whiskey started in the mid-19th century.

Wild Turkey plans to create at least one full-time job and invest $4 million in the new visitor center, which is expected to open in April 2013. The project follows a $44 million investment announced earlier this year for the company’s new 125,000-square-foot packaging facility, which is set to open in the fall of 2013 and employ up to 62 people.

“This is another step forward for Wild Turkey and the Commonwealth,” Beshear said.  “Wild Turkey is a globally-recognized brand and a long-time partner of Kentucky and our thriving Bourbon industry. I look forward to the completion of this visitor center that will be a wonderful interactive experience and a showcase for an outstanding company.”

Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s Bourbon, making it the largest export category of all U.S. spirits.  Bourbon was shipped to 68 different countries in 2011.

Wild Turkey traces its Kentucky heritage to the 1800s, when a wholesale grocer, Austin Nichols Company, began specializing in Bourbon made by the Lawrenceburg Ripy family. In 1980, French-based spirits company Pernod-Ricard bought Austin Nichols and opened Wild Turkey Bourbon to an international exporting network. In 2009, Pernod-Ricard sold Austin Nichols and the Wild Turkey brand to Italy-based Gruppo Campari, which continues to invest steadily in the brand and the distillery.

Increased demand for Bourbon led Gruppo Campari to invest $50 million on a Wild Turkey distillery expansion in 2011, which at the time doubled the facility’s annual capacity. Seven million dollars dedicated to warehouse expansions were also announced over the past three years.

“Our goal with our new visitor center is to offer Bourbon fans an experience befitting the iconic Wild Turkey brand that will serve as a tourism cornerstone in Kentucky on the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour,” said Umberto Luchini, head of marketing, Campari America. “With the Wild Turkey brand growing at more than 22 percent globally, we are dedicated to advancing consumer education of Kentucky’s native spirit here in the commonwealth with our new visitor center as well as all over the world.”

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Wild Turkey for tax benefits up to $75,600 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. The program allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing equipment.

The new $4 million visitor center is expected to tell the story of the company’s lively history and broaden Wild Turkey’s role in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, a tourist attraction which features six signature distilleries in the Bluegrass.

Additionally, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority approved a maximum incentive of $1 million over a 10-year period for the new visitor center. The authority considers applications under the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of sales tax up to 25 percent of project capital costs over a 10-year period. Projects must meet certain criteria to be eligible, such as having a positive economic impact for the Commonwealth, and the rebate is based on performance. The authority is part of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

“This development will be a great asset to the tourism industry for this region and the whole Commonwealth,” said Marcheta Sparrow, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary. “This is another excellent example of how incentives from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority have helped tourism and economic development.”

“Wild Turkey was a founding member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s prestigious Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure and one of the state’s first distilleries to have a visitor center,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “Wild Turkey has played a key leadership role in Bourbon tourism, and this new visitor center will further cement its place as a showcase attraction on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour. We continue to be amazed and inspired by the incredible global success of our signature industry and trademark tourist attraction.”

For more information on Wild Turkey, visit www.wildturkey.com.