Barrell Craft Spirits—the company behind the Barrell Bourbon, Barrell Whiskey, and Barrell Rum brands—has announced plans to build its own distillery in Louisville, Kentucky’s Gilmore Industrial area, and naming Tripp Stimson as master distiller. Stimson formerly worked as a scientist at Brown-Forman and as master distiller at Kentucky Artisan Distillery (KAD), where Jefferson’s bourbon, among other brands, is made. In addition to providing consultation services to the craft spirits industry for the last few years, he also built Kentucky’s first malting operation at KAD in 2016.
Barrell was founded in 2014 with a business model based on independently bottling whiskeys—and recently, rum—in batches. The company’s move into distilling echoes similar actions by Scottish independent bottlers opening new distilleries, like Adelphi (Ardnamurchan distillery), Wemyss Malts (Kingsbarns distillery) and Hunter Laing & Co. (Ardnahoe distillery, where former Bruichladdich master distiller Jim McEwan will be overseeing production). Barrell aims to begin production by the end of 2017, shooting to make 1,000 barrels of whiskey in its first year and 2,000 the year following. It’s already considering expansion opportunities as well.
The Barrell distillery will include a hybrid pot/column still, with whiskey aged off-site in Kentucky and other locations. According to founder Joe Beatrice, Barrell will be making whiskey with a variety of mash bills and multiple yeast strains, but its independently-bottled whiskey and rum will not be disappearing. “That is very much a part of our DNA,” he says. “Our business model is based on variety and unique, cask-strength products. Currently, our plan is to add our own whiskey to our product line. The packaging will identify which are the whiskeys we produce and which we source. But we are not ruling anything out.”