Pernod Ricard plans to invest about $250 million over five years to build a carbon-neutral distillery with aging warehouses in Marion County, Kentucky for its fast-growing Jefferson’s Bourbon brand.
The spirits maker behind Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey said the investment “doubles down” on the future sustainability of American whiskey and the “strong growth – and growth potential” that exists in the company’s portfolio.
Ann Mukherjee, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America, said in a statement that the new distillery will enable Jefferson's to efficiently keep up with strong consumer demand while underscoring the company's commitment to sustainability.
“American whiskey is booming, and Jefferson’s growth has been phenomenal,” Mukherjee said. “We’re very bullish on the brand’s potential, and we’re committed to making our new Jefferson's facility one of the most exemplary distilleries in the world in order to achieve it.”
Construction of the new distillery — which will have a 7.5 million proof gallon capacity — is expected to begin in January, with a target completion date in 2025 for the distillery and related warehouses.
The facility is expected to be the first distillery of its size in the U.S. to achieve LEED certification. It also will have electrode boilers powered by certified renewable electricity; on-site electric trucks and facility vehicles also powered by renewable electricity; and solar and natural lighting.
Jefferson’s joined the Pernod Ricard portfolio in 2019 when the company acquired the brand's parent, Castle Brands. Since the acquisition, Jefferson’s U.S. sales have doubled, the company said.
Jefferson’s rise reflects broader growth across the whiskey category. In 2020, more than 28 million 9-liter cases of American Whiskey were sold in the U.S., generating over $4.3 billion in revenue for distillers, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Whiskey consumption has experienced a resurgence, rising nearly every year since at least 2002.
As more companies look to build production capacity in preparation for future demand, a growing number of firms are incorporating sustainability into these new facilities — a nod to consumer interest in purchasing products from businesses that have like-minded beliefs.
PepsiCo plans to build a 1.2 million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Denver that will be its most sustainable beverages plant in the U.S. by using 100% renewable electricity, best-in-class water efficiency and reduced virgin plastic use. And Cargill is spending $50 million to build a corn syrup refinery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, that will expand the company’s ability to meet the growing demand for the ingredient in a more sustainable way.