Bardstown construction company part of bourbon boom
BOSTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- There are more bourbon barrels in Kentucky than there are people. The inventory has topped five million barrels for the first time in almost 40 years.
It's not only good news for the bourbon industry, but also for one Bardstown construction company -- Buzick Construction.
As more and more warehouses are needed to store the increasing number of bourbon barrels required by the industry to keep up with the growing worldwide demand for Kentucky bourbon, construction projects are a familiar sight in bourbon country these days.
At the Jim Beam Distillery on Highway 61 in Nelson County a seven-story rack house is now under construction, one of several that have been built there in recent years.
"We've got this one being built now in 2014 and we have two more scheduled to be built in 2015," operations manager Kevin Evans explained.
Buzick Construction is the only company around the region that builds these kinds of rack houses for the bourbon industry.
"We've been very busy here the last few years at Jim Beam, at Maker's Mark, and at some of the other distilleries," said the president of Buzick Construction, Tom Blincoe.
Over the years, the company has constructed about 200 such specialty warehouses in Kentucky and Tennessee.
"It has just been great for our employment and all of our suppliers," Blincoe said.
When construction is completed on the rack house at Jim Beam later this fall, it will hold 50,000 barrels of bourbon.
That amounts to 22 million pounds of bourbon, so the wooden structure has to be built to last and stand up to such weight.
Many safety improvements have been added over the years, including sprinkler systems after a 1996 fire at Heaven Hill where several warehouses were destroyed by a fire that created a river of burning bourbon.
The cost of the new rack house now under construction at Beam's Nelson County operation is about $4 million.
Blincoe says he has never seen a bourbon boom like the one underway now.
"This is the biggest one in a long, long time, since I was born, but it is a worldwide market now," he says.
In addition to the continuing rack house demand for his construction company, Blincoe says this fall it will begin another major project, the construction of the entire operation of the new Bardstown Bourbon Company, a small distillery announced by its developers on June 26 of this year.