Sustainable Bourbon distillery planned by Jim Rutledge

Former Four Roses master distiller has presented plans to open his own distillery in Kentucky

Once a distiller, always a distiller! When master distiller Jim Rutledge retired from Four Roses in 2015, it only took him seven days to figure out it wasn't his cup of tea. "There's nothing I enjoy more than working in a distillery," said the restless retiree.

JW Rutledge Distillery

Jim announced two years ago that he wanted to open a distillery. Now there seem to be concrete ideas and plans. Together with his friends and colleagues Stephen Camisa and Jon Mowry from Bedford & Grove – a wholesaler and distributor of super premium and craft spirits in the US founded in 2006 – he wants to build a modern medium-sized distillery near the city of Louisville. The new distillery, called JW Rutledge Distillery, has a planned budget of 20 to 25 million US dollars. Rutledge and his partners are working with Venture First to attract more investors to the project. It is important for them to hold more than 50 percent of the shares in the company.

Sustainable and energy efficient

The 69,000 square foot facility – equivalent to an area of approximately 6,400 square meters – is located in Middletown, Kentucky, and was designed to be modern and environmentally friendly. Energy efficiency and sustainability are at the forefront. The concept engages incorporating the landscape. The bourbon production process – from grain delivery all the way to barrelling – will be able to flow naturally via gravity. The distillery will convert the naturally occurring distillation residues into energy through a biomass digester and regulate heating and cooling via a geothermal pond loop.

Image: JW Rutledge Distillery

Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Rye Whiskey

What kind of whiskey will be produced in the future? Jim writes about this on the JW Rutledge Distillery website: "We will produce Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Straight Rye Whiskey in the old-fashioned, traditional way as required by the requisites, guidelines and standards for the production of Straight Whiskey that have been in place for almost two centuries." Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will be made using both rye and wheat as small flavoring grains. Finally, there are plans to add another pot still to expand the range of spirits as needed. Another goal of the company is to remain free of corporate structuring and to respond to consumer demands for mashbills, whiskey ages, alcohol strengths, single barrel and small batch bottlings.