Three generations of Brown family descendants gathered today in Louisville to take part in the construction kick-off ceremony for the new Old Forester Distillery, which will be located at 117 & 119 West Main Street along Louisville’s famed “Whiskey Row.”
Old Forester was Brown-Forman’s founding brand and was the company’s flagship for many years, selling more than a million cases a year by the early 1970s.
While Kentucky bourbon sales (including Old Forester) declined for many years, Old Forester maintained a strong base of support in its hometown. With the bourbon resurgence now underway, Brown-Forman executives, members of the Brown Family, and the Old Forester brand team began to dream of building an urban distillery on the very ground Brown-Forman once called home, “Whiskey Row.”
Old Forester President Campbell Brown said that a recent fire on Whiskey Row that damaged adjacent buildings has delayed the completion of the new Old Forester Distillery to sometime in 2017, several months past the original schedule.
Campbell Brown and Brown-Forman Board of Directors Chairman Garvin Brown led the Brown family contingent, joined by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and other government and company officials. Brown-Forman Master Distiller Chris Morris led a ceremonious filling of the first barrel in connection with the new distillery, while Garvin Brown and Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga offered a toast to the project with Old Forester’s 1870 Original Batch from the new “Whiskey Row Series” of products.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a large, new banner of the Old Forester Distillery logo was unveiled marking the location of the new distillery during construction.
The historic properties at 117 and 119 Main Street, where the Old Forester Distillery will be located, were built around 1857 and used for warehousing barrels of whiskey produced at numerous distilleries in the areas. At least nineteen distillers, wholesalers, and other whiskey-related businesses called this block of West Main Street home. By the mid-1870s, this stretch of Main Street was known as “Whiskey Row.”