David Carroll, Director of Operations at Green River Distilling Company, was the speaker at the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner on Tuesday, June 13th, addressing the completion of the first rickhouse and seven more that will be built in Lewisport.
“We want to give everyone some updates,” Carroll said. “Something we’ve found at Green River is our most important investment is our people. That’s one thing we try to bring, is the importance of investing in people, spending time with our families and just having fun.
I’m sure everyone here has seen the large building that we just built in Lewisport. It kind of sticks out a little bit. The first rickhouse we’re building in Hancock County, in Lewisport, has the capacity of 58,800 barrels. To put that into perspective with what you see in Owensboro, the largest one there is around 20,000. This is the largest rickhouses capacity that we can build, and that’s what’s coming in.”
Grand Opening-Barrel Signing
Carroll said the first barrel rolled into the warehouse this Wednesday, June 14th, which is a huge milestone for them. “We just passed all of our permits and inspections,” he said. “We’re planning a grand opening for this. It’s a single barrel release that has some unique things.
There are about 30 cases out of one barrel. We will set that first barrel off to the side and have our grand opening and open that up for the citizens of Hancock County to sign it. It’ll be aged and then released in 5 to 6 years.”
He said the second rickhouse is underway, and likely when you read this, the concrete will have already been poured for the foundation. “This second rickhouse will also hold 58,800 barrels,” he said. “We’re just aging the product. We’re not actually making anything here.
In July of 2022, when I came on board, Green River was purchased by Bardstown Bourbon Company. Right after the purchase, we had the Green River product in 4 states. We are now in 24 states. The product is being made in Owensboro, aged in Hancock County and going out to 24 states. By the time this ages and goes out, we’ll be in all 50 states. That product will go all over the country.
We also do a lot of contract distillation. Some of that goes into all kinds of different brands. Also, Bardstown Bourbon has done some stuff with several country music singers – celebrity style brands.” www.wave3.com/2022/05/
Carroll gave an outline of what the campus will look like in Lewisport. “We have the warehouse that you can see from Hwy 60,” he said, “and then warehouse 2 is underway. Next year, the plan is for the tile plant. These will start falling in for a total of eight rickhouses and one palletized warehouse. This has a capacity of around a half million barrels, that we can put here in this site.
We have submitted for permits on the Dal-Tile plant. Once they’re approved we’ll start on that building. It will be painted & cleaned up. The end where the dock doors are, that area will be where the barrel-filling operation will be going in.
The Owensboro campus, the grounds are nice. I highly recommend people take a tour of our site. They’re aesthetically pleasing. We have a grounds crew that do a really good job of keeping the site tour-ready all of the time. That same type of thought process will go into the Lewisport site, so it’ll be a pretty campus when it’s done.”
“We’re not planning on doing any bottling right now,” he said. “We are planning on filling barrels. We’ll create jobs. We’ll put barrel-filling equipment in. That gives us a lot of options. We’ll be producing in Owensboro, trucking it up to this site and filling barrels here.
One thing we help out on is farming. In order for us to get our product outside the U.S., we have to use Non-GMO corn. This last year we made a few ripples with some farmers, some here in HC. We’re planning on bringing that back, so any farmers that’ve switched to Non-GMO corn, we’d love to have them back at our distillery. Just for example, one semi-load of corn, roughly, is 950 to 1,000 bushels of corn. Last year, we used 900,000 bushels in order to make our product. We finished, last year, at about 92,000 barrels that were produced in Owensboro. This year we’ll probably finish at 105,000-110,000.
Another thing we produce is distiller’s grain or ‘slop’ and that goes out to feeding cattle and other livestock. It’s mineral rich.
There has been some discussion around the barrel tax. We are not a fan of what happened with the state. That was pushed by what we refer to as ‘the big guys.’ That actually hurt us a little bit. We do a lot of contract distilling, so it hurt us on our impact. One thing it does help is the county will be receiving some barrel tax from us, property tax, income tax and maintenance & upkeep of the buildings.”
“There may’ve been concerns about the whiskey fungus that goes out into the air after alcohol is being produced and black stuff gets on buildings,” he said. “We pressure wash those buildings. We keep them clean. It does not travel. It’s a white building and it stays clean all the time. That maintenance and upkeep will all be county-driven jobs.
We want to be an employer of choice. We want them to be long-term and as a place where they can potentially retire from. The people we’ve hired have all been local employees. We found there’s a lot of talent in all this surrounding area. We want people that’re in it for the long haul.”
With building the first rickhouse, they had 60 employees with Buzick Construction as one of the main contractors, and the second rickhouse will also bring 60 employees. “Buzick builds all of the rickhouses across the state,” he said. “That has such an impact on other local businesses.
We’re part of the gateway to KY from the west on the Bourbon Trail. We have tours, events, experiences, all that at the distillery. It’s a very nice campus (in Owensboro). It’s a hidden gem. www.greenriverwhiskey.
You’ll see more advertising and more billboards, to help promote tourism, eventually, for Hancock County. We’re excited about what the future might bring. We’re just excited to see where it all goes.”
Carroll said the goal is to be involved with the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in the county. “We want to be involved,” he said.
By Jennifer Wimmer