Kentucky Warehouse Collapses, Dropping 9,000 Barrels of Bourbon

Many remain intact, but the full cost of the damage is yet unknown.

By Ethan L. Johns
June 25, 2018

Image: Emily Maher/Twitter

Turns out anguish has an odor—and it smells a whole lot like spilled bourbon.

Nine thousand barrels of Kentucky’s golden firewater came tumbling to the ground on Friday, when half of a Bardstown bourbon warehouse collapsed. The warehouse is a part of the Barton 1792 distillery—a brand owned by the Sazerac Company.

According to CNN, the warehouse—which has a capacity of 20,000 barrels and dates back to the 1940s—was in the process of having a wall repaired when the roof caved in. No one was injured.

The spill did cause concern for Kentucky’s Department of Environmental Protection, since the distillery is located near two streams and a river. While early reports stated that the leakage was minimal, the Louisville Courier Journal wrote on Saturday that the DEP attempted to catch runoff by digging a small pond nearby. Despite the agency’s efforts, bourbon made its way into at least one of the creeks, killing about 800 fish.

Local officials estimated that about 3,000 of the 9,000 barrels—containing a total of nearly 160,000 gallons of bourbon—could have been damaged.

The collapse is not expected to hamper the distillery’s tourism business; it was closed last week for routine repairs and reopened to visitors on Monday morning.

Despite the Sazerac Company’s outward calm, the reaction of bourbon lovers was decidedly more visceral.

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force,” wrote Drunken Master Paul on Twitter, referencing a line from Star Wars and including a link to the CNN story. “As if 9,000 voices cried out and were suddenly silenced.”

Nine thousand barrels, gone too soon.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns