The last time we trekked out to Bardstown to peek at the progress of Lux Row Distillers — in July of 2017 — the distillery was merely a shell. Pipes protruded from the ground, cinder block outlined where rooms would be and a handful of steel beams and a staircase loosely formed the still house silo.
But as creative director Michele Lux, wife of the chairman and CEO Donn Lux, shared her vision of what was to become of the space, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind it would transform into a posh, state-of-the-art distillery and visitor’s center.
On Wednesday, Lux Row celebrated its grand opening, welcoming hundreds of staff, media, industry representatives and politicians to experience the 18,000-square-foot distillery and partake in a good ol’ fashioned barbecue and bourbon bash on the 90-acre property.
Lux Row is owned by the Luxco company, which is based in St. Louis and produces bourbon brands Ezra Brooks, Rebel Yell, David Nicholson and Blood Oath. Luxco also has a stake in the Limestone Branch Distillery, which produces Yellowstone bourbon, in Lebanon, Ky.
These bourbons (except for Yellowstone) eventually will all be distilled and aged at Lux Row, as the still is now up and running and so far 2,200 barrels have been filled and placed in a rick house that can store up to 20,000. A second rick house is under construction on the property.
The event began with a few comments from Donn and Michele Lux, Luxco president David Bratcher and Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton and were followed by a ribbon cutting.
Michele Lux welcomed the large crowd, which included Luxco staff from its St. Louis and Cleveland operations — the first time the entire company has been together in 30 years, she added.
“Thank you all again for being here to celebrate this momentous event in the history of Luxco,” she said. “By law, the bourbon process is universal. Everyone does it the same way. It’s how you tell your story that makes you different. Soon you will experience what stands behind me and learn our story.”
Donn Lux called the grand opening one of the most memorable in his career. He seemed touched by the amount of people who came out — especially the staff from other facilities. He also credited the Shapira family of Heaven Hill with helping Luxco get into the bourbon business years ago.
“Ten, 20, 30 years from now, we will all be remembering this day as a monumental day in the evolution of Luxco,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud, but our work is far from done. Brands, bricks and mortar and the company is nothing without the individuals working there. It’s the people that build the greatness and get shit done.”
With that, the ribbon was cut and the first tour was conducted. Insider was fortunate to get in on that first tour, and our photos are below.
And after the tours and experiencing the homey visitor’s center, guests were treated to an all-out barbecue underneath a tent, which included hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, quesadillas and samples of the Lux Row products, of course. We favored both the Rebel Yell 10 Year Single Barrel and the Blood Oath.
Lux Row is now part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail as a “Heritage” member. Tours are open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sundays, 12:30-4 p.m. Admission is $12 and includes samples in the Tasting Room.
Here’s a closer look at the distillery and the bourbon bash: