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Lewisport rickhouse gets its first barrel; Q&A follows at council meeting

Green River Distilling Company employees roll in the first barrel of bourbon at the newly built rickhouse in Lewisport last week. The building will house 58,800 bar- rels when completely filled. Seven more rickhouses are scheduled to be built over the coming years. Pictured from left: Keegan Gentry, Jed Sutherland and Jason Morris. — Steve Wimmer photos


The Lewisport City Council Meeting was held on Thursday evening, June 15th. David Carroll, Director of Operations at Green River Distillery, attended along with Ryan Fulkerson, Special Projects & Engineering Manager, and others. Carroll opened the floor for questions concerning the Lewisport rickhouse site.

“The 2nd rickhouse is already underway,” Carroll said. “Those are the 2 we’re planning on for this year. We have submitted for permitting on what used to be the Dal-Tile Plant. We’re planning on using that in our campus. The site itself has the capacity of holding up to 8 rickhouses. There are 6 of them that are all the 58,800 barrel-size rickhouses and 2 of them are a little bit smaller. We’re really excited about being here in Lewisport and in Hancock County.

We did set the very first barrel off to the side. The plan is to have a grand opening. We’re working with Chic (Judge-Executive Johnny Roberts) and Mike Baker (Industrial Foundation) and trying to coordinate for an official grand opening.

We’ve just launched, this week, at the plant a single barrel program, where people come through and select. We’ve set those off to the side. That’s kind of the thought, to hopefully do something with that for the citizens of Hancock County, when we do a grand opening, to do a barrel signing. For example, this year will be the 20th anniversary of ROMP. Six years ago, they set a barrel off to the side and people came through and signed it, and they just bottled that.”

Q & A Forum

Carroll then opened the floor for questions and City Attorney Charles Kamuf asked, “Do the rickhouses put off any fume or vapor that would cause mold on adjoining properties?” Carroll answered, “Yes. It does put off a little bit. Some people refer to it as ‘whiskey fungus.’ We have a program set up to where we clean those things on a routine basis. We pressure wash and clean.

For example, our Bardstown plant is sitting right across the road from a bakery. It’s a large, white building. They keep our rickhouses clean in Bardstown and it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a little bit more predominant in Ohio County, because of the style of the rickhouses versus what we just built here in Lewisport. We have a lot more air flow and air exchange. We don’t anticipate any type of problems.”

An inquiry was then submitted about local employment at the site. “We have 6 employees there,” Carroll said. “If you look at the tile plant building, on the right side where the docks are, the plans are to put barrel filling equipment and operations inside of that. Once we get into there, I’m thinking we’ll need 8 inside there. We just moved 2 truck drivers over this week, with the main position of hauling back and forth. We’re going to probably be somewhere in the teens to twenty, who knows.

As the site grows, (there will be a need for) mowing grass & pressure washing. It’ll be a pretty decent-sized operation. This week, we were looking at putting fencing around the property. We already have it set up for cameras and a security system.” (There is a possibility they’ll hire guards, he said.)

Alec Graves of Green River Distilling Company rolls out the first ever barrel of bourbon to be housed at the newly built
rickhouse in Lewisport. Seven more rickhouses are scheduled to be erected at the Lewisport site.

Barrel Tax

Councilman Kelly Vanover asked about the barrel tax. “That’s something we hoped would stay there,” he said. “How beneficial will it still be for Hancock after that’s phased out?” Carroll answered, “It’ll still be there. You’ll still get property tax. You’ll still get a lot of the taxes that are associated with that.”

It was also stated by a representative from Bardstown Bourbon: “I really feel like, in the end, this barrel tax thing is going to revolve its way back around and communities are going to be able to keep the money they’ve been getting already. I don’t think it’s going to go away. It’s phased-out over a period of 20 years. I believe it’s something political going on right now in the state. I can’t say that for sure, but that’s what I feel like.”

Lewisport Mayor Chad Gregory chimed in on the conversation; “Hancock is in a unique position. How can we bark about something we never had to begin with? I know a lot of these counties have really depended on that (barrel tax). A lot of them are crying the blues right now. I would’ve told them, ‘Don’t live your life on that kind of revenue. It could be gone in a heartbeat.’”

Gregory then asked, “The next rickhouse you’re going to build, you’re moving ground out there already. Is that going to be the same size as the first one? I know in your plans there are a couple of smaller ones.”

Carroll answered, “Looking at the layout, you have the one that runs parallel with Hwy 60. There will be another one directly behind that. The second one (the rickhouse underway now), runs parallel with Fallin Lane. So, you will have one, two, and the one parallel with Fallin Lane, and then three, and there’s a saw mill up there, so you’ll kind of get a few that will be sprinkled in, in the back area.”

Fire Prevention

All of the rickhouses will be spaced 200-feet apart and have sprinkler systems. There is a large tank on the site that is filled with 750,000 gallons of water, with pumps inside. Soon, there will be a second tank installed for emergencies in case one fails. They have the ability to pump 2,500 gallons a minute. These are all part of regulations based on what the state and insurance companies require.

City Administrator Jason Roberts asked, “How often does something like a fire breaking out happen?” The answer was: “Almost never, to be honest with you. The buildings have lightning protection on them. Most of the time, any kind of failure that happens with a rickhouse is almost always because it was older. There are a lot of safety features in the new buildings that prevent that.”

Completion Timeline

Lewisport Mayor Gregory then asked about Green River’s timeline. The timeline, Carroll said, would be about 3 or 4 years for the completion of all 8 rickhouses on the Lewisport site.

The plans for the old Dal-Tile Plant, are to turn it into pallet storage. There are 2 different types of storage for barrels. One is a rack-style, which is the rickhouses. The barrels roll in on pallets and they’re stood up on their ends. Inside the old tile plant, they said they’re hoping to be able to do a pallet storage house, because it is a more cost-effective way to store the barrels.


Gregory asked what type of capacity the old tile plant/pallet storage building will hold. The answer was around 100,000 barrels. “There is a plan to use the building and property to help promote some tourism,” Carroll said. “Everyone is pretty excited about what this campus brings for us. We’re 23-acres in Owensboro, and we’re 78-acres here. So, we’ve got a lot of room to do some things.”

By Jennifer Wimmer

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