As demand for Tennessee Whiskey continues to soar, Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn., announced Wednesday it will invest $140 million to build two new barrel houses and expand its existing bottling facility, which will create 30 new jobs in Moore County.
"This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Jack Daniel Distillery, and as one of the state's most respected brands, we thank the company for its long history in our state," Randy Boyd, commissioner for the state Department of Economic and Community Development said in an announcement.
The state expects to help fund the improvements at the distillery, owned by Brown-Forman Corp., through a FastTrack grant, said ECD spokesman Clint Brewer. Such grants can be used to support companies that expand in Tennessee.
"We're still in negotiations with them about what the incentive will be," Brewer said.
The Tennessee State Funding Board would have to approve any grant above $750,000, he said.
The current expansion will also involve renovations to Jack Daniel's visitor center to support increased tourism and enhance the visitor experience. Last year, the distillery received more than 275,000 guests from around the world.
Jack Daniel Distillery underwent a separate expansion less than three years ago that included the addition of stills, barrel warehouses and related infrastructure. That project represented an investment of $103 million and created 94 jobs.
"They are expanding yet again at Jack Daniel's, that's really no surprise," said Frank Coleman, senior vice president for the Distilled Spirits Council in Washington, D.C. "It is, in fact, the best-selling American whiskey in the world."
The appeal of American whiskey – bourbon, Tennessee and rye – resulted in 7.8 percent overall growth for the category, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.
In 2014, more than 19 million cases of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey were sold in the United States, generating nearly $2.7 billion in revenue for distillers, the council found, compared to $1.4 billion generated by 13,867 cases sold in 2004.
"The demand for American whiskey — including bourbon and Tennessee whiskey and rye — is booming in the U.S. and across the globe," Coleman said. "A huge chunk of that is Jack Daniel's."
Legal requirements for bourbon include that it be made in the United States, that the mash be at least 51 percent corn and that the distilled spirit be aged in new, charred-oak barrels. Tennessee whiskey is basically bourbon that's undergone an extra step: the "Lincoln County process," or filtration before aging through vats of sugar maple charcoal.
"Tennessee whiskey basically qualifies as bourbon," Coleman said.
Jack Daniel's owner, Brown-Forman Corp., is based in Louisville, Ky., and says it's one of the largest American-owned companies in the wine and spirits business with 4,400 employees. Its other brands include Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Early Times and Chambord.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or twitter.com/meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.
This story was updated Feb. 10 at 11:25 p.m. with more information.