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We’ll drink to that: Michter’s Distillery announcing $8 million Louisville operation at Eighth and Main

by Terry Boyd

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(Editor’s note: This post was updated at 10:30 a.m. on July 6.)

Insiders are telling Insider Louisville that Michter’s Distillery officials will make their formal announcement today about the New York-based distiller’s new Louisville operations.

A media event is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the site, the Fort Nelson Building at Eighth and Main streets. Mayor Greg Fischer will be attending, according to sources, and those sources say this project has been kept under wraps for months.

Michter’s Distillery LLC, a division of Chatham Imports, will have a distillery, bottling operation and visitors center, according to insiders with direct knowledge of the project, an investment we’re being told will come in at more than $8 million.

That jibes with a Kentucky  Economic Development Finance Authority release last month stating Michter’s has been approved for as much as $200,000 in tax incentives under the Kentucky Business Investment program, and up to $180,000 in sales tax rebates in exchange for creating about 10 new jobs.

But the secretive part of this is the renovation of the Fort Nelson Building. The building is now notorious for the March 2009 collapse of a stairwell that nearly killed Downtown Development Corp. executives Alan DeLisle and Patti Clare. Apparently, the building is sound and officials and engineers involved in the project are in the process of getting Planning and Zoning approval for the distillery.

Until this thing, we’d never heard of Michter’s.

Apparently, the brand, at least, dates back to before the American Revolution in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.

Several bourbon blogs state that Michter’s was the oldest American brand of whiskey before it closed in 1990.

In 2004, the brand was sold, then resurfaced in Bardstown, the center of the bourbon distilling world.

The Michter’s website features a full range of small-batch bourbons, ryes and “American whiskey,” whatever that is.

By the standard of today’s $50-plus small batches such as Booker’s and Basil Hayden brands, Michter’s bourbon is moderately priced, with the 10-year-old small-batch going for $35 per 750-ml bottle online. The single-barrel version sells for about $75.

As for Chatham Imports, the wine and spirits company is the only company we’ve seen that posts little mini-resumes for its execs, including where they went to college. Here’s a sample, because we’re guessing at least of few of them will be here tomorrow. And check out the Louisville connections for Willis Pratt, master distiller:

Joseph J. Magliocco: President, Chatham Imports, Inc.

Education & Prior Experience: Yale College, B.A., Harvard Law School, J.D.

Commandeur de L’Ordre du Bontemps de Medoc et de Graves

Joseph Nardoci: Executive Vice President, Chatham Wine & Spirits Division

Education & Prior Experience: Niagara University

Managing Director, wine & spirits wholesaler

Wine Director, wine & spirits wholesaler

Restaurant Owner

Vincent Arlotta: Director of Finance

Education & Prior Experience: Villanova University, B.S., New York University, Masters

Assistant General Manager, wine & spirits wholesaler

Joanne Goldberg: Chief Financial Officer

Education & Prior Experience: Hunter College, B.A., C.W. Post, C.P.A. Qualification

Partner, accounting firm

Connie Kam: Director of Marketing

Education & Prior Experience: University of California, Berkeley, B.A., Cornell Law School, J.D.

Managing Director, legal search firm

Associate, law firm

John McLaughlin: Vice President – Production, Chatham Wine & Spirits Division

Education & Prior Experience: New York Institute of Technology, B.S., Cornell University Management Development

Schwartz Lab for Brewing Studies

Vice President Production, brewer

Principal & CEO, soda bottler

Willis Pratt: Master Distiller – Michter’s American Whiskey Company

Education & Prior Experience: Southeastern Christian College, University of Louisville

Production & Barrel Selection, distiller

Steve Ziegler: Vice President – Sales, Chatham Wine & Spirits Division

Education & Prior Experience: North Carolina State University, B.S.

National Sales Manager, brewer

Kenny Ng: Regional Director – Fine Wines & Spirits

Education & Prior Experience: Baruch College

Restaurant General Manager

Claudia Orozco: Administration

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