The bourbon industry likely held its collective breath today as a Whiskey Row building caught fire. Nobody was inside and firefighters are preparing for a possible collapse.
The buildings under fire–111, 113 and 115 West Main Street–are co-owned by Brown-Forman, Jim and Maryann Welch, Steve Wilson (21 C owner) and Laura Lee Brown, according to a Brown-Forman spokesperson.
Currently, Brown-Forman’s Old Forester Distillery, 117 West Main St., is not on fire. A Brown-Forman spokesperson told me the fire took place a few door buildings away and that the just-under-construction Old Forester is “just a hole in the ground and was not impacted whatsoever. It’s not been under construction yet.”
Area buildings evacuated. Nobody has been reported hurt.
In 2011, the developers mentioned above saved Whiskey Row and the city has centered much of its economic efforts around it, while bourbon has largely ridden Louisville’s past to what it hopes would be a resurrection of Whiskey Row.
Brown-Forman planned to invest heavily into the new Old Forester Distillery, recently telling the public the facility will now cost $45 million to build instead of the projected $30 million. The new distillery is to include fermentation, distilling, barrel making, filling and dumping, and bottling lines.
Built in the 1850s, the historic properties were once used for warehousing barrels and served as home to wholesalers, and other whiskey-related businesses.
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