Diageo recently announced that it plans to invest an initial $2 million to develop the Stitzel-Weller Visitor Centre at Louisville's legendary distillery.
The company will renovate the original administrative building to bring to life the history of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery through artifacts from the site's archives; a whiskey education section; an homage to the people, land and water of Kentucky; and a celebration of the heritage, brands and people behind Diageo's award-winning collection of American whiskeys. The Visitor Centre will showcase the Bulleit brand as well as Diageo's evolving craft whiskey portfolio, including the just-launched Orphan Barrel whiskeys, Barterhouse and Old Blowhard.
"Another of our state's storied distilleries will get new life thanks to Diageo's investment, which will attract even more bourbon fans to Kentucky," said Governor Steve Beshear. "We're excited about this project and for the continued growth of Kentucky's bourbon businesses."
Diageo aims to begin the project immediately, and finish the first phase in time for Derby Day this May. The company plans to complete the Visitor Centre, welcome centre and gift shop this summer (northern hemispehere).
"Diageo's creation of a Visitor Centre at Stitzel-Weller is exciting news for the city of Louisville, the state of Kentucky and bourbon lovers around the world," said Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville. "It is another great step to enhancing the city's bourbon tourism efforts."
"We are excited to partner with Diageo on this exciting tourism opportunity that will bring to life the rich distilling history of Shively," said Sherry Conner, Mayor of Shively, the suburb of Louisville, where Stitzel-Weller is located.
Over the last year, Diageo's momentum in American Whiskey has accelerated with both flagship and new-to-world brands. Bulleit has captured the imagination of bartenders and consumers across the country. According to the latest Impact Hot Brand rankings, Bulleit is America's fastest growing bourbon and number one Rye.
"Stitzel-Weller is one of the most significant and historic parts of Kentucky's bourbon heritage and we are honoured to be restoring it to share it with Louisville residents and visitors," said Larry Schwartz, President, Diageo North America. "We are pleased to be investing in the community and this important site. This is another step in our support of and leadership within the American craft whiskey movement and we hope that the Stitzel-Weller Visitor Centre will soon be included on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail."
The Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Shively, opened on Derby Day in 1935. For four decades, it thrived and was known for making the finest bourbon in the world. On June 30th, 1972, the company was sold. After a series of name and ownership changes, Stitzel-Weller is now owned by Diageo. Though the site today is operational in that it stores and rests barrels of various whiskies, Stitzel-Weller has not been a functioning distillery since 1992.