Case Study - Distilling Bourbon

December 21, 2016


In the middle of a cornfield, near a small town in Kentucky, an innovative, state-of-the-art bourbon distillery is set to open its doors. Situated on 40 hectares, the 3460 square metre facility is being erected at a cost of US $25 million. When it starts production it will have a 5.7 million litre capacity with the ability to easily expand to 22.7 million litres without disrupting the current design. It will be the largest new distillery in America.

But Bardstown Bourbon Company will be more than just another distillery. With Master Distiller and Bourbon Hall-of-Famer Steve Nally leading the distilling team, a combination of art, science and time-honoured techniques will be used to produce the finest whiskeys, including bourbons and ryes. “Everything is transparent here,” he said. “We even put glass panels in our column still so visitors and clients can see every step of the process.”

The 15 metre tall, custom made, one metre diameter stainless steel still, made by Louisville’s Vendome Copper & Brass Works, features large clear panes where you can see the liquid churning and swirling in the vat. At night, you can stand outside and watch the liquid bubbling inside the still and follow the entire distilling process through the glass walls.

The facility is shaping up to be a true farm-to-fork experience with restaurants on-site offering local fare and plans for an on-site hotel in the future.

Another sign of the American spirit...but this spirit is bourbon!


Enter a modern, state-of-the-art distillery and you are bound to see gleaming, mirror-polished, nickel-containing stainless steel vats dazzling your eyes. But when Rob Sherman, Vice President of Vendome Copper & Brass Works Inc., set out to choose the finishes for the vats at Bardstown Bourbon Company’s new facility, he had to consider more than just the beauty of stainless. He had to examine the rigid hygiene regulations, food standards practises and of course the economics. Will the material be durable enough for the raw materials and will it require little maintenance? 

These considerations led to the choice of Type 304 (UNS S30400) stainless steel. The properties of 304 matched up well with the process and the raw materials that would be in constant contact with the surface.

The interior of the still is a 2B mill finish, which exceeds recommendations for surfaces in contact with food, is smooth enough, easily cleaned and consequently suitable for distilling.

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