Joe Magliocco, right, and Michter’s master distiller Willy Pratt.

Our real estate sources tipped us off a couple of days ago that Michter’s Distillery finally closed on the purchase of the Fort Nelson Building at Eighth and Main streets.

So we called New York-based parent company Chatham Imports to check it out. Chatham/Michter’s jovial president  Joe Magliocco (Mag-lee-o-ko) called back and confirmed they now own the building.

Louisville’s first (at least in modern history) downtown boutique bourbon distillery is going forward.

Getting zoning for a distillery and due diligence on the building at 801 W. Main St. took a year, Magliocco said.

“It was a long process, but we’re very excited,” he said.

Now, architects are analyzing the building.

Which may take some doin’.

In March 2009, a stairwell collapse nearly killed Louisville Downtown Development Corp. executives Alan DeLisle and Patti Clare. Then last August, city officials ordered Washington Street behind the building closed because a wall was starting to bow out.

“In the ongoing analysis, the first issue will be to work on rebuilding the structure so the city can reopen the street,” Magliocco said. “The architects are there and the steel is ordered.”

There’s no date for the interior buildout to begin, he added: “It’s still based on analysis of what needs to be done first. We think it just needs everything. But it is a beautiful old building and it’s going to make a wonder facility.”

When we broke the story last July, the figure for the complex was about $8 million.

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.

Joseph and Joseph Architects got the nod for the complex, which will include a distillery, tasting rooms, bar and restaurant gift shops, and offices.

We heard buzz that the deal had fallen through, and no one was at the site even a few weeks ago. But last week, the company reconfirmed Louisville plans via its Twitter account.

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

We’ve sampled all their brands, which include a tomato-flavored organic vodka, and we predict Michter’s operation will become a big draw if they can just finish out the building.

Terry Boyd
Terry Boyd has seven years experience as a business/finance journalist, and eight years a military reporter with European Stars and Stripes. As a banking and finance reporter at Business First, Boyd dealt directly with the most influential executives and financiers in Louisville.