Rest of Kentucky bourbon warehouse collapses

Rest of Kentucky bourbon warehouse collapses
Posted at 3:16 PM, Jul 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 12:35:47-04

BARDSTOWN, Ky. — Thousands more Kentucky bourbon barrels crashed and formed "a mountain of barrels" Wednesday when the rest of the warehouse that partially collapsed last month fell to the ground.

Bardstown Fire Chief Bill Mattingly tweeted photos from the scene at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown.


Officials indicated the "mountain" included about 18,000 barrels from the two collapses. About 9,000 barrels were still stored in the building following the partial collapse on June 22, according to Milt Spalding, spokesman for Nelson County Emergency Management. The 9,000 barrels affected in the first collapse had not been removed because of  "worker safety concerns," a distillery spokesperson said.

It was not clear what caused either collapse. No one was in the area at the time Wednesday and no injuries were reported, according to the Nelson County Gazette.

Spalding said none of the bourbon leaked into the nearby creek this time. Leakage last month killed more than 800 fish, according to Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura.

Spalding said crews had created a berm to contain leakage following the first collapse. A response crew had been at the site for the past 10 days, he said.

A state spokesperson had said it planned to fine Sazerac, the Louisiana-based company that owns Barton bourbon, for polluting the waters and not immediately reporting the spill after the June incident.

The distillery which can store up to 20,000 barrels, was undergoing repairs at the time of the first incident. 

"It's not the call you ever want to get, but now we've gotten it twice in just a couple weeks," Spalding told WLKY in Louisville.  "It's just a mountain of barrels, it's hard to describe. Just a pile, a pile of barrels."

The distillery is hoping some barrels can be saved and is planning to construct a new warehouse on the site to store the recovered barrels.

The distillery, established in 1879, includes 29 storage warehouses and 22 other buildings, according to its website. The other buildings have been recently inspected and are considered safe.

Kentucky's bourbon sector is in the midst of a more than $1.1 billion boom that includes expanded production facilities, more storage warehouses and new tourism centers. Kentucky distillers have more than 6.6 million bourbon barrels aging, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

Bourbon ages for years in charred new oak barrels, where it acquires its color and flavor.

Bardstown is about 40 miles south of Louisville.