In a remarkable fusion of heritage and innovation, Eastern Kentucky is set to witness the birth of an innovative bourbon distillery, promising a unique blend of tradition and progress. Brothers Wright Distilling Co. is embarking on a visionary venture that aims to infuse new life into the region's coal country. Governor Andy Beshear, a fervent advocate for Kentucky's rich traditions and its burgeoning industries, recently unveiled this exciting project, which is poised to infuse nearly $38 million into Pike County while creating 28 much-needed jobs.
The heart of this groundbreaking enterprise is a rehabilitated underground coal mine, a place where history and modern craftsmanship collide. The company, led by brothers Kendall and Shannon Wright, intends to leverage this coal mine's unique character to age their bourbon, setting the stage for a one-of-a-kind bourbon experience.
The ambitious plan includes the construction of a 12,000-square-foot distillery, a rickhouse, a welcoming center, a museum, and a restaurant on a sprawling 20-acre tract. This will be just the beginning, as the grand vision encompasses plans for lodging facilities and an underground visitor experience, offering patrons a truly immersive journey into the world of bourbon.
The site, situated along Kentucky Highway 292 in Pike County, is part of a larger 1,200-acre property that the Wright brothers acquired in 2020. What was initially intended as a corporate retreat location soon took a remarkable turn as the brothers stumbled upon coal mine maps of their newly acquired land. This mine, operational for over 30 years in the early 20th century, now plays a vital role in the maturation of the company's inaugural bourbon barrels.
The significance of this property's history is not lost on Kendall Wright, who expressed, "From 1913 to 1946, more than 23 million tons of coal were mined out of this property." It was a place where miners from all corners of the world came to work, live, and provide fuel during the nation's most significant period of growth. The Wright brothers see a unique opportunity in paying homage to the labor and dedication of those who toiled here over a century ago.
This innovative project is expected to be a catalyst for economic growth in the region. It will not only provide 28 permanent jobs, ranging from production and maintenance roles to sales and tours but is also projected to create an additional 50 jobs in construction and mine rehabilitation.
The restoration of this underground coal mine is a testament to the enduring spirit of innovation and progress, even in industries with deep-rooted traditions. Construction is anticipated to commence later this year, with a grand opening slated for the end of 2024.
The Wright brothers' connection to the region runs deep. As Shannon Wright, co-owner and CEO of Brothers Wright Distilling Co., explains, "Our family of companies' footprint in Pike County stretches back over 25 years." They have been a part of the fabric of Central Appalachia and Kentucky's coal mining industry, contributing to the growth of their families and their employees' families. The fusion of two quintessential Kentucky industries, bourbon whiskey and coal mining, represents a new economic opportunity that brings fresh hope to the region they call home.
At the heart of this endeavor is a commitment to honoring the heritage of Pike County and Eastern Kentucky while propelling it into a promising future. The bourbon aged in the depths of the rehabilitated coal mine will undoubtedly carry with it the essence of the region's history, showcasing the resilience, innovation, and craftsmanship that define this unique project.
Brothers Wright Distillery's current line-up includes three exquisite bourbons: Brothers Wright Reserve, Brothers Wright Wheated, and Brothers Wright Rye. These bourbons are a testament to the dedication and passion of the Wright brothers, who have now embarked on an exciting journey to create a truly distinctive bourbon experience in the heart of Eastern Kentucky.