Brown-Forman upgrading Woodford Reserve visitors center, distill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Brown-Forman upgrading Woodford Reserve visitors center, distillery

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VERSAILLES, Ky. (WDRB) -- Brown-Forman, the Louisville based spirits company, is spending millions to upgrade its Woodford Reserve Distillery about 60 miles from Louisville in Woodford County.

The historic distillery is set in a scenic location in horse country. It is part of the ever growing Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Last year about 130,000 people visited the Woodford Reserve operation.

So Brown-Forman spent almost $2 million modernizing its visitors center, adding some new attractions.

On Wednesday, Governor Steve Beshear joined company executives to mark the re-opening of the center, which has a number of new and improved features.

Master Distiller Chris Morris explained some of the improvements.

"There is a new tasting room and we have some new interactive displays where people can go through the history and production of Woodford Reserve," said Morris.

Improvements also include a bigger eating area, a larger gift shop and outdoor dining overlooking the distillery grounds.

The renovations to the visitors center are just part of a $35 million upgrade of the distillery's operations.

Plans are to modernize the bottling operation. Work has already begun clearing land adjacent to the property to build new warehouses to store additional barrels.

The current boom in bourbon tourism is matched by the boom in worldwide bourbon demand with no end in sight.

"In ten years as we look to the future, you will seen places such as China, Brazil, India, and Russia, a lot of the emerging markets of the world are growing so rapidly like they are with a lot of industries and businesses," said Paul Varga, the chief executive officer at Brown-Forman.

Varga says growth in bourbon sales continues in the United States and Western Europe as well.

The governor says distillers all across Kentucky are spending money upgrading their operations.

"Kentucky's bourbon industry, one of our signature industries is in the midst of unprecedented growth," said Gov. Beshear, "since 2012 we've announced more than $350 million in new capital construction.

Last year, the Bourbon Trail had a record 630,000 visitors, according to the governor.

More are expected to visit the state's distilleries this year.

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