2 new distilleries aim to put Giles on whiskey map

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two new distilleries planned for Giles County will try to capitalize on the popularity of Tennessee's Jack Daniel and the smaller George Dickel brands by making Tennessee whiskey using the so-called Lincoln County Process.

That involves filtering distilled corn-barley-malt through sugar maple charcoal before putting it into oak barrels in order to give the whiskey a smooth taste and distinctive color.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/QsFV1n) the Tennessee Spirits Co. plant will be built on a 120-acre site along Interstate 65 near Pulaski. The company plans a large operation that will have a capacity to produce 5 million cases of whiskey each year and to distribute it worldwide. The primary product will be Jailers Premium Tennessee Whiskey, which is being billed as "Music City's Whiskey."

In charge of the firm's Tennessee distillery will be founding partner Ray Steelman, who worked 19 years at Jack Daniel.

Tennessee Spirits hopes to break ground on the distillery in early December, Reider said, and production should begin sometime next year. From there it will be five years before the product is ready to bottle, because real Tennessee whiskey has to age at least that long in the oak barrels.

However, Tennessee Spirits already launched its brand in January, using the surplus whiskey from another distillery. The company puts its own mark on the liquor by using a chill-filtering finishing process before it's bottled.

"We're already registered in all 50 states and have begun selling in 11 foreign countries," Reider said.

Reider would not say where they bought the stock of whiskey they're selling, but experts said Jack Daniel and George Dickel are the only producers big enough to have surplus to sell.

Meanwhile, the Tenn South Distillery will be a smaller, boutique-style company with limited production runs.

The plant near Lynnville, is currently under construction and should open in January.

Blair Butler plans to start off by selling products that can be consumed right out of the still in order to get a revenue stream flowing, but he eventually plans to focus on premium products.

Frank Coleman, senior vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said premium products are leading what he called "the biggest recovery in the spirits industry since the end of Prohibition."

U.S. spirits exports hit a record $1.34 billion in 2011, growing by 16.5 percent compared with 2010, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. American whiskeys (which include Kentucky bourbons) account for 69 percent of that growth.

Whiskey exports alone were up 13.6 percent last year.

Both of the new Giles distilleries hope to become tourist destinations featured on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.


Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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