The NEW Old Forester on Whiskey Row

Louisville's famous Whiskey Row is about to get more whiskey

The Old Forester Distillery on Main Street will be opening this summer.

Derby City Weekend got an exclusive look inside this $45 million distillery in the making. For two years, it’s been almost non-stop construction outside of 117 and 119 Main Street.

“We’ve taken everything out except for the façade,” Mike Beach, the Project Manager with Brown Forman, said.

The building is seven stories and 70,000 square feet. The wall has been taken down between the two addresses, creating what will be a working distillery for the longest-running bourbon on the market – Old Forester.

All the windows are new. So is everything inside.

Erik Brown, the Home Place Manager for Brown Forman, will take over the project once it is complete. He showed us where touchscreens will educate guests as they are waiting for the tour.

“These teach you about (the) Old Forester brand and really inundate you with the old Whiskey Row,” Brown said.

Brown Forman, which produces Old Forester, moved its headquarters into this building in 1881 and stayed until prohibition. They designed the building to allow guests to follow the entire bourbon making process, starting with fermentation.

The large fermenters were brought into the building about a year ago because they’re so large.

The copper still, made by Vendome in Louisville, is highlighted by a glass ceiling. It’s where future tourists will pose for pictures on what will be a grand staircase.

On the third floor is the cooperage, where white oak planks will be used to make the barrels on site. Old Forester representatives didn’t want us to show that part on camera.

“So we have got to hold some things back for that big ‘ta da’ moment, but what guests are going to see on this floor is really the bourbon barrel making process from beginning to end,” Holly McKnight, who handles public relations for Old Forester, explained.

Once those barrels are filled, about 900 will be stored in the downtown building.

“As you walk around you’ll be right next to the barrels — literally, slamming into this wood as you are walking past them,” Beach said.

Visitors will also get to see the bottling. This downtown facility will produce about 4,800 bottles a day.

The top floor has party spaces where you can glance out the window and see the tribute to the man who started it all, George Garvin Brown, on the building across the street. And perhaps, raise a glass to toast him.

Louisville based Bravura Architects did the design work. Messer handled the construction.

Construction had not yet started when that massive fire hit whiskey row in July of 2015.

The building had a little bit of water damage, but otherwise was in good shape. It was used as structural support for the buildings next door until the other buildings could be stabilized.

By: Shannon Cogan