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    First Bourbon In 25 Years Barreled At Stitzel-Weller
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    The Stitzel-Weller Distillery opened its doors on Derby Day 1935, earning its name from the wheated whiskeys that were developed there.  For decades, Pappy Van Winkle worked from his office there, long before he was a household name.  When he had to sell it in the early 70's, he retained the rights to the Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon line, and it was even made there for a time.  But bourbon fell on hard times as people began to prefer clear spirits, and production stopped at the facility around 1990.

    Bourbon continued to age at the facility, but the stills and the rest of the grounds fell into disrepair.  During a visit to the distillery in this time period, Sally Van Winkle Campbell had a realization that she needed to put pen to paper in order to save the memories of her beloved childhood playground.  Thanks to her efforts, But Always Fine Bourbon serves as a record of this unique piece of bourbon history.

    Thanks to the bourbon boom, Diageo decided to save the historic distillery.  Several key historic buildings have been restored, and it is now known as The Bulleit Experience at Stitzel-Weller.

    Diageo announced last year they would be opening a bottling line at Stitzel-Weller, which led many to believe a distilling operation wouldn’t be far behind.  When they announced the original Stitzel-Weller still would be relocated out to the Bulleit distillery in Shelby County, whiskey geeks were discouraged.  But then they announced plans to build a small experimental still on Stitzel-Weller grounds, returning it to a full distillery.

    The new still will only produce about one barrel of whiskey per week for now, a far cry from Stitzel-Weller’s glory days.  But on April 30, 2015, the first distillate to be produced at Stitzel-Weller in 25 years was barreled, on the 80th anniversary of the opening of the distillery.  It’s not the full-blown production whiskey geeks had hoped for, but it’s a start.

    Diageo has invested heavily in our community with this visitor’s experience, and it keeps improving little by little.  There’s still hope of full-blown Stitzel-Weller production, but for now a baby still and neat visitor’s experience will have to do.

    Photos by Maggie Kimberl

    Maggie Kimberl's picture

    About Maggie Kimberl

    I'm a Louisville native with a passion for traveling and homegrown tomatoes. I write the bourbon news, which keeps me plenty busy since Louisville is the center of the bourbon universe. See bourbon news happening? Contact me on Twitter @LouGirl502!

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