Once on the verge of collapse, Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery opens

By Mike Fussell, WAVE 3 News

After almost a decade, Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery is open on Main Street.

In 2011, the building was almost at the point of collapse, but a lot of work has been done since then. Public tours start Saturday.

Owners said they could of just kept the façade and torn down the rest of the building to save money, but they felt they’d be losing a piece of history.

Among the crowd of a ribbon cutting Thursday, Pamela Heilmann was smiling.

“Well, my emotions are all over the place,” Heilmann said.

That’s because the drinks, the party and most importantly the building see was looking at were things that almost didn’t happen.

“It was actually falling down basically,” Heilmann said. “It was 23 inches off-kilter. The Leaning Tower of Pisa out into 8th street.”

Just two weeks after Michter’s announced it’d be opening its Fort Nelson Distillery on Main Street, Company President Joseph Magliocco got news he said was terrifying.

“It was perhaps the worst email I’ve ever gotten in my lifetime,” Magliocco said. “There was frightening language in it about sudden failure and stuff that would really have not been at all good.”

The building was in dangerous shape. he said the city closed 8th street to make sure nobody got hurt, but the building, built in 1890, had already been chosen for a reason.

“I saw it for the first time in 2011 and we just fell in love with it,” Magliocco said.

 A romance that after almost a decade of nurture, perseverance and a 400,000 pound steel structure has yielded a working distillery, bar and visitor experience employees said is critical in the era of bourbonism.

Almost just as important, now, they said as the story behind the bottle.

“Its just a wonderful part of history,” Magliocco said.

He credits help from the state, city and many others as what allowed the company to get the project done.

Magliocco adds he doesn’t see the bourbon boom ending anytime soon.

Michter’s also has a Shively distillery, which opened in 2015, and a farm in Springfield Kentucky.

Those at the Fort Nelson Distillery have yet to decide how much bourbon they will produce onsite.

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