Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear Breaks Ground on New Visitor Center for Wild Turkey®
Center represents $4 million investment; complements new, multi-million dollar packaging facility in Lawrenceburg
LAWRENCEBURG Ky.– Governor 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,” said Gov. Beshear. “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.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in Lawrenceburg, 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 Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Marcheta Sparrow. “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. Wild Turkey is a critical part of this growth, and we applaud its investment and commitment to our legendary craft and our beloved Commonwealth.”
“We are very excited about Wild Turkey's continued investment in our community,” said Lawrenceburg Mayor Edwinna Baker. “I am confident that the new visitor center will be a great showcase of the distillery and our community.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude to Gruppo Campari for this investment for the new visitor center that will be in Anderson County,” said Anderson County Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway. “The investment is greatly appreciated by all the folks who live in this great county. The economic downturn has made life tough for many families in Anderson County, but this investment will impact all of us in a positive way.”
For more information on Wild Turkey, visit www.wildturkey.com.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThinkKentucky or follow on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ThinkKentucky.
A detailed community profile for Lawrenceburg (Anderson County) can be viewed at http://thinkkentucky.com/EDIS/cmnty/index.aspx?cw=090.
The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet promotes tourism and tourism development, provides support in market development for our artists, historic downtown redevelopment, film opportunities, trade shows and sporting events, and works to expand museums and special exhibits. All these activities contribute to Kentucky’s economic success. For more information, visit www.tah.ky.gov.