Jackson Purchase Distillery in Midst of $25 Million Expansion


May 15, 2024

Jackson Purchase Distillery logo square

In the farthest reaches of Western Kentucky, along the Mississippi River where Kentucky meets Tennessee and Missouri, a startup distillery is quietly producing bourbon in the Bluegrass State. Situated in the small town of Hickman, Jackson Purchase Distillery is primed for growth in the competitive contract distilling market.

Led by a team featuring Master Distiller Craig Beam and Assistant Master Distiller Terry Ballard, Jackson Purchase is in the midst of a $25 million expansion, allowing the distillery to ramp up production to meet demand.

“Right now, we have produced more than 40,000 barrels for our customers and we’re just getting started,” Beam said in a news release.

If anyone knows how to spend $25 million to upgrade a distillery, it’s Beam and Ballard, both Bardstown natives. A seventh-generation distiller who traces his lineage to the iconic Jim Beam family, Craig Beam learned the ropes from his grandfather Earl and his father Parker at Heaven Hill where he served for 35 years, winning a host of awards in the process as Master Distiller.

Ballard comes to Jackson Purchase from Willett, where he served as Lead Distiller for a decade and is known around Kentucky and the United States as a maker of whiskey. Their decades of expertise ensure the current 40,000 barrels of bourbon aging on-site are meeting the most stringent quality standards.

“The expansion was a great opportunity for Craig and me to build and configure a distillery the way we wanted,” said Ballard. “Our new 36-inch column copper still is beautiful and it’s already putting out very, very good whiskey.”

That 36-inch, 100% copper column still is the cornerstone of the expansion effort. Renowned for its exceptional quality, copper is chosen for its affinity with alcohol, ensuring a refined and superior final product.

“It’s also traditional,” Ballard said. “Back in the old days, in the old school of distilling, your still had to be copper. Copper impacts your beer differently than stainless steel, so it produces, in my opinion, a finer whiskey.”

With two stills now operational, Jackson Purchase is expected to produce well over 60,000 barrels in 2024. The distillery has also added 10 new 20,000-gallon fermenters and is constructing two new rick houses on its property, each with a capacity of nearly 25,000 barrels. Construction is underway, and both rick houses will be aging Kentucky bourbon by the end of 2024.

The impact of the expansion extends beyond the distillery walls. The project is expected to create 20 new jobs, bringing the total workforce to 50. It’s a welcome boost for Fulton County’s economy, providing opportunities for locals and further strengthening the distillery’s ties to the community and its farmers.

“We plan to source more than one million bushels of local grain from Western Kentucky farmers this year alone,” Beam said. “Then we’re able to provide the slop from the spent mash, which is a great source of livestock feed, to the farmers free of charge.”