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State, local officials break ground for new Kentucky Owl Park distillery project

Gov. Matt Bevin and Dmitri Efimov, center, were joined by a host of local and state officials for the ground-breaking ceremony for Kentucky Owl Park, which will include a bourbon distillery operation, visitor’s center, a train station and other attractions. Click to enlarge.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 — Gov. Matt Bevin and a host of state tourism and economic development officials joined local legislative and elected leaders Wednesday for the official unveiling of Bardstown’s newest — and arguably most unique — distillery project in the middle of the Cedar Creek rock quarry.

The Stoli Group — an international beverage company known for its flagship Stolichnaya vodka — will build its first bourbon distillery in the middle of the 420-acre Cedar Creek rock quarry owned and operated by the Haydon family.

Dmitri Efimov is the head of Stoli Group’s new American Whiskey Division.

The new Kentucky Owl Park is expected to begin construction by the middle of next year.

The $149 million project has already been approved for state economic development incentives. The company’s flagship bourbon — Kentucky Owl — will be produced and aged at the new Bardstown location.

The quarry’s five existing gravel pits will eventually fill with water, covering more than 200 acres surrounding the distillery. The distillery will be located on a peninsula in the middle of the property.

Dmitri Efimov, the head of Stoli Group’s American Whiskey Division, told the group of more than 100 onlookers that plans for the property include the distillery, a bottling facility, and a visitors center. The distilled spirits produced on the site will be stored in as many as 10 rickhouses that will be built along the edges of the lakes.

“We believe we can take bourbon tourism to a whole new level.”

Stoli Group will also add or create additional distilled spirit brands to its “brown spirits” portfolio, most of which will be created in Bardstown, Efimov said.

In addition to bourbon production, Efimov said Stoli’s plans for the former quarry will include a train station that will allow visitors to reach the site via the R.J. Corman railroad, and a convention center with an art gallery and concert hall.

Efimov said Stoli’s search for a distillery location began a year ago with possible locations in several states before it was narrowed down to Kentucky and Tennessee.

Gov. Matt Bevin presents Dmitri Efimov with a Kentucky Colonel commission. Click to enlarge.

“I can be honest with you that I was pulling for this site from the beginning,” Efimov said.

The distillery’s plans for the quarry include the use of the natural limestone and the water that will create five lakes around the distillery.

Efimov said another factor in the decision to come to Bardstown came down to the fact that “nowhere else will you find the people who understand and love bourbon as much as folks do here in Kentucky and Bardstown.”

Dixon Dedman, the fifth-generation proprietor of Harrodsburg’s Beaumont Inn and great-great-grandson of the man who launched the Kentucky Owl brand in 1879, will be part of the new distillery project.

Kentucky Owl bourbon — “The Wise Man’s Bourbon” was founded by pharmacist C.M. Dedman, and produced until the arrival of Prohibition in 1916. Dixon Dedman said every generation of his family since then have dreamed of bringing Kentucky Owl back.

In 2008, Dedman began the process of blending a premium bourbon worthy of bearing his family’s brand.

Dixon Dedman, the man who revived his great-great-grandfather’s bourbon brand, will serve as the distillery’s master blender. Dedman and his family are own and operate Harrodsburg’s historic Beaumont Inn.

“If you had told me then that some 10 years later I would be standing here, in this setting with this opportunity, I would said you were absolutely out of your mind,” Dedman said. “I’m excited that what we’ve accomplished has led our family’s brand to this partnership.”

Gov Bevin predicted the Kentucky Owl Park project will be successful.

“Global demand for bourbon continues to bring significant economic impact to Kentucky through jobs, investment and tourism,” Bevin said. “This new project by Stoli Group in the heart of bourbon country will serve to accelerate this trend.”

Bevin presented Efimov with a Kentucky state flag and a commission as a Kentucky Colonel.

Bevin and the crowd raised their glasses — filled with 11-year-old Kentucky Owl Rye whiskey — as Bevin led a toast saluting the project and those who are making it possible.

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