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Brown-Forman Cooperage in Louisville to undergo $45m modernization

Published 18 September 2017

Brown-Forman said that it will invest $45m in the Brown-Forman Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky, US.

The investment will modernize the Cooperage, reduce operating cost by improving efficiency, and allow the continued production of high quality barrels in Louisville.

The new equipment will be focused in the Heading and Staving departments and necessitate the elimination of 70 hourly positions once fully implemented in early 2019. The Cooperage will continue to employ approximately 205 individuals. All impacted employees, determined by the current UAW contract, will be offered a variety of transitional assistance.

“As the only distilling company to craft its own barrels, making this investment will help ensure the long-term viability of our Cooperage in Louisville, reduce injuries, and preserve our unique competitive advantage of barrel-making,” said Alex Alvarez, chief production officer, Brown-Forman.

“While the improvements will result in the loss of some hourly positions, we believe this will strengthen the long-term viability of the Cooperage in Louisville.”

Brown-Forman began bottling bourbon nearly 150 years ago and recognized the important role of the barrel and the impact wood has on bourbon. Based on this vision, Brown-Forman established its own cooperage in 1945, resulting in more than 70 years of raising barrels and honing the craft of using wood to impart unique flavour characteristics to bourbon.

“We believe that barrels are more than a container for our whiskey, they’re an important ingredient,” said Alvarez. “We’re proud to continue making these barrels at the Brown-Forman Cooperage.”

The Cooperage will remain open during the construction phase with an expected completion date of early 2019.

Brown-Forman Cooperage crafts more than 2,500 barrels per day for the aging of spirits such as Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Canadian Mist, el Jimador, and Herradura. It is located on MacLean Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. Brown-Forman also has a cooperage in Decatur, Alabama, where it makes barrels for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.

Source: Company Press Release