Barrell Bourbon to Build Kentucky Distillery


January 25, 2017

As one of the highest rated non-distiller producers, Barrell Craft Spirits plans to start its own distillery, the company told me in a recent interview.

Currently, Barrell Craft Spirits, the parent of Barrell Bourbon, acquires whiskey from existing distilleries and bottles them as unique cask strength batches. In addition to bourbon, Barrell includes rum and whiskey blends. Soon, it can add its own distillate to the mix.

The company leased a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, formerly the Cricket Wireless warehouse, in Jefferson County, Kentucky, where it intends to build a distillery and store whiskey.

Barrell also hired biochemist Tripp Stimson, 36, as its master distiller. Stimson, a Brown-Forman research and development scientist from 2004 to 2013, served as the Kentucky Artisan Distillery’s master distiller until December. (KAD partnered with Jefferson’s Bourbon in 2015.)

Tripp Stimson, formerly the master distiller for Kentucky Artisan Distillery, is the new master distiller for Barrell Craft Spirits. He has consulted on 23 craft distillery projects since 2013.

One of the most respected fermentation and distilling consultants, Stimson has worked with dozens of craft distillers during his time at KAD and developed an in-house malting operation for the distillery.

Barrell founder Joe Beatrice says the five-year lease will help maintain the brand’s growth. The hybrid pot-and-column distillation equipment will yield 750 to 1,000 barrels a year, but Beatrice plans to continue purchasing stocks from sourced whiskey suppliers. “The production will be an additional component to our products,” Beatrice says.

The brand appears to be shooting for an atypical approach. Instead of consistency in small batches, like Elijah Craig or Knob Creek, Barrell hopes every batch is unique and different, placing an emphasis on blending that draws different flavor profiles from batch to batch.

The new facility should be ready by the fall, says Beatrice, who doesn’t expect the typical lag time new distilleries face. That’s because Stimson’s been there and done that. “We are not going to spend stupid money to get started, because Tripp knows how to put together a distillery,” Beatrice says. “He’s worked through problems in the past, and I know what the spirit will taste like off the end of the still.”

Feature photo credit: Barrell Bourbon

Fred Minnick is the author of several spirits books. Buy signed copies at Square.