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New Distillery by Company Behind Best-Selling Liquors & Beers Coming to Kentucky

The company behind iconic liquor and beer labels such as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, and Guiness, plans to build a 1.8 million proof gallon distillery in Shelby County, Kentucky.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday that the $115 million investment by Diageo (pronounced Dee-AH-Gee-O) will create approximately thirty jobs.

“This is an exciting day for one of Kentucky’s signature industries,” Beshear said in a news release. “The world’s taste for bourbon continues to grow, and Diageo’s new distillery in Shelby County will help satisfy that demand. I look forward to this significant investment and seeing more Kentucky-made product in stores and homes across the globe.”

Diageo plans to build the distillery and six warehouses on Benson Pike in Shelby County. The proposed facility will distill a number of current and future Diageo bourbon and North American whiskey brands. Diageo hopes to receive the necessary approvals in the near future and would like to break ground later this summer with the goal of having the distillery online between July and December 2016, according to a news release.

“This proposed investment in Shelby County, in the heart of Kentucky bourbon country, will cement our commitment to growing our share of the American whiskey category,” said Larry Schwartz, president of Diageo North America. “Diageo has a long tradition within the craft of whiskey-making, and we look forward to bringing this artisanship to the new distillery. The distillery will build on our presence in Kentucky, and we are committed to being a productive member of the local community. We are very thankful for the support we have received thus far from state and local officials and look forward to a long and fruitful working relationship.”

This is the latest in a series of Diageo investments in Kentucky. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to invest $2 million to develop the Stitzel-Weller visitor center in Louisville. Diageo will renovate the original administrative building to bring to life the history of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery through artifacts from the site’s archives.

To encourage the investment and job growth in Shelby County, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives of up to $2.5 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

KEDFA also approved the company for tax benefits up to $1.5 million through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, which 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.

Diageo is the world’s leading premium drinks business with brands that include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit, George Dickel, Buchanan’s and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, Guinness, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards Wines.

Bourbon distilling contributes nearly $2 billion in gross state product each year and has more than doubled its importance to the state’s overall economic activity in the past thirteen years. Kentucky exported $383 million of its distilled spirits in 2013, a full 21 percent of the U.S. total.

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