The idea of aging whiskey in a structure other than a rickhouse isn’t new, but very few American distilleries stray from the typical racked, tin-roof warehouse. But one new whiskey company is taking things in a different direction: Underground.
Brothers Wright Distilling Co. is utilizing old coal mines as areas to store and mature their liquid. The brothers (Kendall and Shannon Wright) had this idea for a while; according to the brand’s website, Kendall Wright had discussed the idea with Lincoln Henderson, who spent nearly 40 years at drinks giant Brown-Forman and helped launch Angel’s Envy. When a 1,000-acre farm with a long mining history became available in Pike County, KY, the brothers pounced.
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Initially utilized as a corporate retreat, the Wrights soon discovered maps of the old mines (which ran from 1913 to 1946) and noted they were still intact. And it’s now home to hundreds of barrels of Brothers Wright Straight Bourbon Whiskey, with room for thousands more.
There are currently three different bourbons available from Brothers Wright, including a four-grain, a wheated bourbon and a high-rye bourbon.
According to The Bourbon Review, the $38 million distillery covers 12,000 square feet and the property will eventually include lodging, a visitor center, a museum and a restaurant. As for the bourbon itself, since it’s not exposed to Kentucky’s widely variable temperatures, it’ll undergo “heat cycling” while down in the mines. Essentially, this is a more controlled way to control temps and barometric pressure. While not aging underground, heat cycling is a process that BWoodford Reserve and Michter’s utilize, according to The Bourbon Review; meanwhile, Buffalo Trace is now playing around with controlled environments in their experimental warehouses, and Maker’s Mark is utilizing a climate-controlled, limestone cellar dug into a side of the hill for its extra-aged releases.
But none of these are actually in a coal mine, an idea that appears to be a first in the whiskey world.
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