Angel's Envy still planning downtown Louisville distillery

Planned distillery (Emily Mieure, WDRB)By Chris Otts and Emily Mieure

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Despite a significant delay,

Angel’s Envy

still plans a distillery at the old Vermont American building across from Louisville Slugger Field, chief operating officer Wes Henderson said in a recent interview.

Last July, the makers of the critically acclaimed small-batch bourbon held a ceremonial ground-breaking for the urban distillery and “brand experience center”

with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Gov. Steve Beshear.

Nine months later, no actual construction work has begun. In fact, the sale of the state-owned land to the Angel’s Envy group is still pending.

Henderson, who runs Louisville Distilling Co. LLC, said his group is “ready to go” once it gets possession of the property and that the facility should take a year to complete. Still, he could not say when the project will start or finish.  

“People ask me about the distillery – I say it’s like watching grass grow…We’d like things to be happening a little quicker than they have,” Henderson said.

The distillery is expected to open between June and August 2015,

a Greater Louisville Inc. official told a Metro Council committee on April 17

. At its meeting tonight, the council is set to approve the city’s portion of a state-local tax incentive offer worth up to $872,000 over ten years for Angel’s Envy’s parent company, Angel’s Share Brands.

Other than the barrel aging, the 100,000-square-foot distillery is expected to handle complete production of the bourbon, from the milling of grains to bottling, Henderson said. It will also have a gift shop and conduct public tours as a stop along the Urban Bourbon Trail.

“It’s going to be a wonderful place,” Henderson said. “We think it's going to be a destination by itself.”

The biggest delay in the project stems from having to relocate an underground telephone cable owned by AT&T, according to Henderson and Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which bought the land as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Henderson added that his group “might have underestimated some of the impact and timing” of the bridges project. A significant portion of the site – at the southeast corner of Main and Jackson streets – is right of way for the planned widening Interstate 65.

Meanwhile, the Angel’s Envy group purchased an old barrel warehouse in Shively in November for $530,000, Jefferson County property records show.

The 70-year-old warehouse on 7th Street Road has room for 15,000 barrels of aging bourbon, and Angel’s Envy plans to build more barrel storage buildings on the 10-acre site, Henderson said.

“That is what happens when you grow; you have to grow with the business,” he said.

Henderson called Angel’s Envy “the highest-rated and fastest-growing small batch bourbon in the country.”

Wes Henderson’s father, Lincoln, created Angel’s Envy after a long career as master distiller at Louisville-based Brown-Forman Corp. The elder Henderson died at 75 last September.

Angel’s Envy is finished for three to six months in port wine barrels, which produces, according to its website, “a whiskey of unprecedented smoothness, sweetness and balance.”

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

Digital Reporter

Chris Otts reports for about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and