Wild Turkey Distillery holds grand opening in Lawrenceburg, Ky. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Wild Turkey Distillery holds grand opening in Lawrenceburg, Ky.

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LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (WDRB) -- The good times just keep coming for Kentucky's bourbon industry.

In Lawrenceburg on Tuesday, Wild Turkey Distillery held a grand opening for its new visitors center.

Just down the road at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Gov. Steve Beshear was signing legislation that benefits the bourbon industry.

The new visitors center at Wild Turkey is a $4 million investment that is designed to look a little bit like an old tobacco barn. That's the opinion of master distiller Jimmy Russell. He should know. He's worked at Wild Turkey for 60 years.

"Kentucky is famous for its horses, its bourbon and its tobacco," said Russell. "This, to me, looks like one of those tobacco barns. It's tradition. We wanted to keep everything Kentucky tradition."

The new visitors center sits high on a hill overlooking the Kentucky River with spectacular views.

Indoors there are state-of-the-art interactive displays that tell the history of bourbon in the state.

"We expect our numbers to be up by at least 30 percent," said Melanie Batchelor of Wild Turkey Marketing, "because of the new center; we had over 60,000 visitors last year, but obviously we have a whole lot of new capacity here, so we think the number of visitors will be significantly greater this year."

James Holder made the trip from Chattanooga, Tenn.

"I think the people here are really friendly," said Holder. "The look is awesome, there is a lot of information here about the bourbon industry, and the tour guide was great."

The Italian company that owns Wild Turkey, Gruppo Campari, has invested more than $100 million in the distillery operations here, including a new bottling line that opened last fall.

Adds Batchelor, "We are in a position now where we can grow the brand, we are building some new warehouses to store more barrels."

While Wild Turkey was celebrating the grand opening of its visitors center, down the road at the State Capitol, Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear was signing House Bill 445. It allows Kentucky distilleries to take a corporate income tax credit against the amount of barrel taxes they pay.

The distillers have maintained that the tax drives up their costs and prevents them from expanding and making further investments.

"Record exports, record attendance on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail," said the governor. "Bourbon is our heritage and very much a part of our tourism and our economic development future."

The tax relief legislation requires the distillers to re-invest their tax savings back into their operations as the worldwide thirst for Kentucky bourbon continues.

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