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Developer to launch new distillery at site of historic T.W. Samuels Distillery

The former T.W. Samuels Distillery is located on the north side of the R.J. Corman Railroad tracks in Deatsville.

NC GAZETTE / WBRT RADIO
STAFF REPORT

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 — Georgia-based developer and builder Rick Puig is planning to launch a new distillery at the site of the former T.W. Samuels Distillery in Deatsville.

The Nelson County Economic Development Agency announced Tuesday that Puig will create Old Samuels Distillery at the site of former distillery, a project that will open in phases that will eventually include tours, a gift shop, private cottages for overnight stays, and a restaurant, bar and tasting room.

The former T.W. Samuels Distillery.

“The historic significance of the property is so incredible, and to be able to be a part of its rebirth is an honor for me and my partners,” Puig said. He hopes to open for restoration tours as early as the end of summer 2020.

“It is with that honor and gratitude that we hope to make the community proud of how we bring this historic relic back to life. Our goal is to create an amazing and wholly unique experience for Kentucky bourbon tourism,” Puig said.

HISTORIC DISTILLERY. T.W. Samuels created his namesake distillery in 1844. It was operated by his sons until Prohibition began in 1920. When “the great social and economic experiment” ended in 1933, third-generation distiller, T.W. Samuels built a new distillery near the original site, where he made whiskey lauded for its high quality.

Though whiskey making at T.W. Samuels ended in 1952, the plant was used to bottle water for several decades afterward. Despite the production facility’s idling in the 1980s, the site’s nine, one-of-a-kind steepled-roof rickhouses have continued to age more than 170,000 barrels of whiskey made by Heaven Hill Distillery and Maker’s Mark.

“One of many things will make touring Old Samuels so amazing is how much of what was used to make whiskey back then still remains,” Puig stated. “The first time we came here, the lab, where grain and new make and whiskey were analyzed for quality, we found beakers, test tubes and electronic devices from that time just left in place as if workers would return the next day. It’s this incredible snapshot in time, and that’s only part of what visitors will see.”

The distillery’s powerplant, which generated steam energy and electricity, remains completely intact, as do its multiple outdoor fermentation tanks. The facility sits beside the Deatsville train depot, where Puig hopes future tourists will disembark from rail cars for tours to explore the site.

Puig’s partnership team includes Ryan Mollenkopf, Paul Diorio and Laura Medley, all of whom bring a diverse array of skills and capital to the venture. Their collective investment is expected to approach $16 million. The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority’s greenlighting of the project in mid-July helped clear the way for future tax incentives that could see the group recoup as much as 85 percent of its capital investment over time.

“Old Samuels Distilling will be much more than another new attraction in Bourbon Country,” said Kim Huston, president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency. “This will be a destination with wholly unique lodging and event space that visitors really want. Having a restaurant and bar to compliment a museum showcasing the history of one of the original and authentic distillery sites in the U.S.—that’s what excites me and this community about its opening.”

Look for details on the opening of Old Samuels Distillery available soon at www.oldsamuels.com.

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