As Kentucky celebrates Black History Month, Gov. Andy Beshear congratulated African American owned Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co. on its plans to construct a new distillery and create about 25 jobs in Lexington.
“Bourbon is a mainstay of Kentucky’s economy, and I am thrilled to see this step toward greater inclusivity in this iconic industry,” Gov. Beshear said. “Creating opportunities for all Kentuckians is essential, and our administration aims to pave the way for progress. I sincerely thank Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co. for choosing to build its distillery in our state.”
Fresh Bourbon Distilling plans later this year to begin constructing a 34,000-square-foot distillery near Lexington’s Distillery District. The site would produce the company’s new line of bourbons and other whiskeys, as well as host tours and guided tastings. Plans also include an event space.
Company leaders will celebrate with an announcement event Wednesday evening in Lexington, during which guests will partake in an inaugural bourbon tasting. Fresh Bourbon Distilling will officially launch its line of spirits in late 2020.
“For nearly three years, we have been diligently developing an authentic and unique bourbon and spirits line,” said Sean Edwards, Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co. owner and founder. “We chose not to buy bourbon from someone else and just place our name on a bottle. We have been very intentional and deliberate in crafting our spirits - from the mash bills up - and also our Fresh Bourbon team, including in selecting our master distiller, the first African American master distiller in Kentucky since slavery. We are excited to receive economic incentives from the State of Kentucky to build our distillery and share with the world what we have created.”
Fresh Distillery’s products are mashed, fermented, distilled, matured and will ultimately be bottled entirely in Kentucky. The unique recipes are currently produced under contract through Hartfield & Co. Distillery in Paris, Ky.
A Lexington native, Edwards registered the company in 2017 with the goal of establishing a premier, African American owned bourbon brand and opening a distillery in his hometown. The company recently completed a first round of financing, with a second round near finalization.
Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said the company is bringing to the surface an important part of the distilling industry’s history.
“Congratulations to Sean Edwards and everyone at Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co.,” Mayor Gorton said. “The history of African Americans in the distilling industry is often forgotten. Fresh Bourbon is reviving that history and giving it new life in our Distillery District.”
Commerce Lexington Inc. President and CEO Bob Quick said the project is great news for the bourbon industry as a whole.
“We are very excited to welcome Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co. to Lexington,” Quick said. “Kentucky has seen a surge in tourism due to the rapidly-growing bourbon industry, and this announcement will not only further strengthen our economy, but also the Commonwealth’s hold on the title of top producer of bourbon in the world. Congratulations to Sean and Tia Edwards on this wonderful announcement, and our team looks forward to working with them on this project.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in December preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $200,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $5.4 million and the following annual targets that meet the eligibility criteria of the program:
· Creation and maintenance of 15 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years
· Paying an average hourly wage of $18 including benefits across those jobs
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co. for up to $125,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
In addition, Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co. can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.