Buffalo Trace-maker Sazerac Co. to buy shuttered Pillsbury plant in New Albany

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) – The former General Mills Pillsbury plant in New Albany that closed in 2016 is set to be reborn as a distillery and bottling facility for Sazerac Co., the maker of Buffalo Trace and other bourbon brands.

Sazerac, a family-owned company based in New Orleans, will invest $66 million in the facility and start operations as soon as November with about 50 employees, according to a news release.

By 2021, when the plant would be fully running, Sazerac plans to employ about 110. The jobs will pay about $24 an hour in addition to benefits.

Sazerac leaders made the announcement alongside state and local economic development officials at a news conference Wednesday. 

Sazerac described the facility as a manufacturing plant that will allow the company to “expand its processing, blending, packaging and distribution capabilities.”

But the company hasn't determined which products will be made, bottled or packaged at the New Albany facility, said Jeff Conder, Sazerac's vice president of manufacturing.

The deal is pending approval of public incentives from the city of New Albany. Indiana has already offered Sazerac $900,000 in tax credits and $150,000 in training grants. The New Albany city council, meanwhile, will be asked to approve property tax breaks worth $2.9 million, according to a Sazerac official. The council will take up the approvals on Monday.

The sale of the 460,000-square-foot plant at 707 Pillsbury Lane is expected to close by June 10.

Although Sazerac is a Louisiana company, its central office is in Louisville, and it has three bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. That makes New Albany  the "perfect location" for an additional plant, Conder said. 

"It's right in the nexus -- right in the heart of all our manufacturing operations," he said at the news conference. 

Sazerac owns the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky., where the company produces its flagship bourbon along with other brands such as Eagle Rare and Pappy Van Winkle.

Sazerac also owns the 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Ky. and the Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro.

But Sazerac makes dozens of other spirits besides bourbon, from Taaka Vodka to Southern Comfort liqueur.  

General Mills operated the Pillsbury plant for more than 55 years before closing it in 2016 and laying off more than 400 workers, some of whom made more than $20 per hour.

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