LAWRENCEBURG – Anderson County community leaders and company officials from Wild Turkey brand-owner Gruppo Campari broke ground Tuesday on an all-new visitor center at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg.
Wild Turkey plans to create at least one full-time job and invest $4 million in the new visitor center, which is expected to open in April. The project follows a $44 million investment announced earlier this year for the company’s new 125,000-square-foot packaging facility, which is set to open in the fall of 2013 and employ up to 62 people, according to a news release from Gov. Steve Beshear's office.
Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon, making it the largest export category of all U.S. spirits. Bourbon was shipped to 68 different countries in 2011.
Wild Turkey traces its Kentucky heritage to the 1800s, when a wholesale grocer, Austin Nichols Co., began specializing in bourbon made by the Lawrenceburg Ripy family. In 1980, French-based spirits company Pernod-Ricard bought Austin Nichols and opened Wild Turkey Bourbon to an international exporting network. In 2009, Pernod-Ricard sold Austin Nichols and the Wild Turkey brand to Italy-based Gruppo Campari, which continues to invest steadily in the brand and the distillery.
Increased demand for led Gruppo Campari to invest $50 million on a Wild Turkey distillery expansion in 2011, which at the time doubled the facility’s annual capacity. Seven million dollars dedicated to warehouse expansions were also announced over the past three years.
“Our goal with our new visitor center is to offer bourbon fans an experience befitting the iconic Wild Turkey brand that will serve as a tourism cornerstone in Kentucky on the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour,” Umberto Luchini, head of marketing, Campari America, said in the news release.
The new $4 million visitor center is expected to tell the story of the company’s history and broaden Wild Turkey’s role in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, a tourist attraction which features six signature distilleries in the Bluegrass.
“We are very excited about Wild Turkey's continued investment in our community,” Lawrenceburg Mayor Edwinna Baker said. “I am confident that the new visitor center will be a great showcase of the distillery and our community.”