Jefferson's Bourbon Distillery to Build $250M Distillery
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Pernod Ricard Continues to Invest in ‘Booming’ American Whiskey Category With Plans to Build $250 Million Kentucky Distillery for Jefferson’s Bourbon

Jefferson's Bourbon

A rendering of the forthcoming Jefferson’s Bourbon distillery. (Image: Pernod Ricard)

Jefferson’s Bourbon will graduate to distiller status thanks to a massive investment from its parent company.

On Thursday, French wine and spirits giant Pernod Ricard announced plans to invest about $250 million over five years to build a state-of-the-art, carbon-neutral distillery with aging warehouses and a visitor center in Marion County, Kentucky, for Jefferson’s.

“American whiskey is an extremely vibrant spirits category, and our strategic investments over the last few years have proven successful,” Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard, said in a news release. “Our philosophy of partnering with entrepreneurial brand founders, while preserving the heritage and terroir associated with the brands they created, has made us an established player in premium American Whiskey. Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller is no exception. This new investment will allow us to grow our share of category sales not only in the U.S., but also in export markets.”

Distilled at Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Jefferson’s has always been a non-distilling producer, which will now change.

The distillery is intended to be carbon-neutral once operational. It is also planned to be the first distillery of its size in the U.S. to achieve LEED certification. This certification is an internationally recognized sustainability framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving environmentally friendly buildings. The distillery and warehouses will use low-carbon technology such as electrode boilers powered by renewable energy, electric trucks and other vehicles powered by renewable electricity and use of solar and natural lighting.

“American whiskey is booming, and Jefferson’s growth has been phenomenal,” said Ann Mukherjee, chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America. “We’re very bullish on the brand’s potential, and we’re committed to making our new Jefferson’s facility one of the most exemplary distilleries in the world in order to achieve it.”

In August, bottler Blue Run Spirits similarly announced a plan to build its first distillery via a $50 million investment. This massive $250 million investment from Pernod dwarfs that.

Jefferson’s will also continue to partner with local farmers and suppliers to source ingredients and casks.

“Our company is an agricultural company at its core and so it is vital that we lead the category forward – in partnership with our farmers and growers – and remain committed to the long-term sustainability of our people, our industry and our planet. This investment is the latest illustration of that belief,” Mukherjee said.

Jefferson’s was founded in 1997 by Trey Zoeller and his father, Chet. Pernod Ricard acquired Jefferson’s former parent company, Castle Brands, in 2019.

“For the last 25 years we have been sourcing, contract distilling and — through Kentucky Artisan Distillery — distilling ourselves,” Zoeller said. “It is now time for us to take more control of our destiny. The carbon neutral, state-of-the-art distillery we are building would not be possible without Pernod Ricard’s forward thinking, integrity, and commitment to Jefferson’s and the Bourbon category’s future.”

Pernod Ricard has gotten into the American whiskey category only within the past few years, acquiring Rabbit Hole Distillery and TX Whiskey in 2019.

In November, Pernod Ricard announced a $22 million investment into its Arkansas manufacturing plant to increase ready-to-drink production.

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David Morrow is the Editor In Chief of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.