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Pernod Ricard Doubles Down on the Sustainable Future of American Whiskey with Kentucky Investment

December 8, 2022

The no.2 worldwide producer of spirits and wines to build $250 million, carbon neutral distillery in Kentucky to meet rapidly increasing demand for Jefferson’s Bourbon

NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Pernod Ricard today announced a significant move to further leverage the strong growth – and growth potential – of its premium American whiskey portfolio, The American Whiskey Collective. The world’s second largest wine and spirit company will invest approximately $250 million over five years to build a state-of-the-art, carbon neutral distillery, with related aging warehouses in Marion County, Kentucky for its fast-growing Jefferson’s Bourbon brand. This investment will also include the build of a world class visitor center facility that will welcome whiskey aficionados on the historic South Trail of Kentucky Bourbon.

Distillery Rendering

“American whiskey is an extremely vibrant spirits category, and our strategic investments over the last few years have proven successful,” said Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard. “Our philosophy of partnering with entrepreneurial brand founders, while preserving the heritage and terroir associated with the brands they created, has made us an established player in premium American Whiskey. Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller is no exception.  This new investment will allow us to grow our share of category sales not only in the U.S., but also in export markets,” Ricard said. 

Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America, said the new distillery will enable Jefferson’s to efficiently keep up with very strong consumer demand while staying true to the company’s longstanding commitment to sustainability. “American whiskey is booming, and Jefferson’s growth has been phenomenal,” Mukherjee said. “We’re very bullish on the brand’s potential, and we’re committed to making our new Jefferson’s facility one of the most exemplary distilleries in the world in order to achieve it.

Pernod Ricard has announced the intention for this new distillery to be carbon neutral once operational. The facility is also expected to be the first distillery of its size in the U.S. to achieve LEED certification, an internationally recognized sustainability framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving environmentally friendly buildings. The distillery and warehouses will include such low carbon technologies as:

  • Electrode boilers powered by certified renewable electricity, enabling the distillery to not use fossil fuels during bourbon production.
  • On site electric trucks and facility vehicles also powered by renewable electricity.
  • Extensive use of solar and natural lighting throughout the property and facility.

In addition, as part of Pernod Ricard’s commitment to protect and nurture the terroir surrounding its facilities, Jefferson’s will continue to partner with local farmers and suppliers to source ingredients and casks.  

“Our company is an agricultural company at its core and so it is vital that we lead the category forward – in partnership with our farmers and growers – and remain committed to the long-term sustainability of our people, our industry and our planet. This investment is the latest illustration of that belief,” said Mukherjee.

Pernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers and Chivas Brothers brand companies recently announced plans to invest in decarbonizing their distilleries and creating new carbon neutral facilities, following the example set by The Absolut Company, which has consistently set the industry standard for sustainable production. Pernod Ricard is on track to meet the ambitious targets set out in its 2030 global sustainability & responsibility roadmap, ‘Good Times from a Good Place,’ which align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

According to Pierre Joncourt, SVP, Operations, Pernod Ricard North America, “Construction of the new distillery – which will have a 7.5 million proof gallon capacity — is expected to begin in January 2023.  Our target completion date for the distillery and related warehouses is 2025.”

Founded in 1997 by Trey Zoeller and his father Chet, Jefferson’s joined the Pernod Ricard portfolio in 2019 when the company acquired the brand’s parent, Castle Brands. Known for his unrelenting thirst for adventure, as well as a decades-long passion for crafting the world’s most unique expressions of bourbon, Trey Zoeller continues to guide Jefferson’s in his role as Founder and Chief Strategist. Since the acquisition, Jefferson’s U.S. sales have doubled.

“For the last 25 years we have been sourcing, contract distilling and — through Kentucky Artisan Distillery — distilling ourselves,” Zoeller said. “It is now time for us to take more control of our destiny. The carbon neutral, state-of-the-art distillery we are building would not be possible without Pernod Ricard’s forward thinking, integrity, and commitment to Jefferson’s and the Bourbon category’s future.” 

Pernod Ricard USA’s capital investment in the new distillery and visitor center is expected initially to add roughly 55 new company jobs in Kentucky while generating extra economic benefits for Kentucky-based businesses during the construction period. It is the latest in a series of moves made by Pernod Ricard to expand its investment in U.S. manufacturing and grow its share in the lucrative American spirits and wine market.

  • In 2022, the company’s Ft. Smith, Arkansas manufacturing plant has invested in new canning and bottling lines.
  • In August 2019, Pernod Ricard acquired the TX Whiskey brand, based in Fort Worth, Texas. TX is known for its bourbon made from a proprietary yeast derived from the pecan tree, the official state tree of Texas.
  • In July 2019, Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in Rabbit Hole Distillery, known for its super-premium bourbon and iconic distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • In 2016, the company bought a majority stake in Smooth Ambler, the award-winning West Virginia whiskey distiller. Pernod Ricard assumed full ownership of the brand late last year.

“U.S. whiskey sales are expected to account for a significant amount of Pernod Ricard USA’s total volumes within the next 5-10 years, and the U.S. whiskey export business also has enormous growth potential,” Craig Johnson, SVP American Whiskey Collective, said. “To help achieve these ambitious performance goals, the American Whiskey Collective was created the result will be further accelerated growth from our ‘new fashioned’ whiskey portfolio, focused on pushing boundaries rather than adhering strictly to tradition,” said Johnson.

ABOUT PERNOD RICARD USA

Pernod Ricard USA is the premium spirits and wine company in the U.S., and the largest subsidiary of Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard SA., the world’s second largest spirits and wine company. Pernod Ricard employs approximately 19,000 people worldwide, is listed on Euronext (Ticker: RI) and is part of the CAC 40 index. The company’s leading spirits include such prestigious brands as Absolut Vodka, Avión Tequila, Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky, The Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kahlúa Liqueur, Malibu, Martell Cognac, Olmeca Altos Tequila, Beefeater Gin, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, Código Tequila, Monkey 47 Gin, Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin, Malfy Gin, Hiram Walker Liqueurs, Midleton Irish Whiskey, Redbreast Irish Whiskey, Aberlour Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Lillet, Jefferson’s Bourbon, TX Whiskey, Smooth Ambler Whiskey, Rabbit Hole Whiskey, Pernod and Ricard; such superior wines as Jacob’s Creek, Kenwood Vineyards, Campo Viejo and Brancott Estate; and such exquisite champagnes and sparkling wines as Perrier-Jouët Champagne, G.H. Mumm Champagne and Mumm Napa sparkling wines.

Pernod Ricard USA is headquartered in New York, New York, and has more than 1,000 employees across the country. As “creators of conviviality,” we are committed to sustainable and responsible business practices in service of our customers, consumers, employees and the planet. Pernod Ricard USA urges all adults to consume its products responsibly and has an active program to promote responsible drinking. For more information, visit: www.pernod-ricard-usa.com.

About Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard is the No.2 worldwide producer of wines and spirits with consolidated sales amounting to €10,701 million in fiscal year FY22. The Group, which owns 17 of the Top 100 Spirits Brands, holds one of the most prestigious and comprehensive portfolios in the industry with over 240 premium brands distributed across more than 160 markets. Pernod Ricard’s portfolio includes Absolut Vodka, Ricard pastis, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, Royal Salute, and The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies, Jameson Irish whiskey, Martell cognac, Havana Club rum, Beefeater gin, Malibu liqueur or Mumm and Perrier-Jouët champagnes. The Group’s mission is to unlock the magic of human connections by bringing “Good Times from a Good Place”, in line with its Sustainability and Responsibility roadmap. Pernod Ricard’s decentralized organization empowers its 19,480 employees to be on-the-ground ambassadors of its purposeful and inclusive culture of conviviality, bringing people together in meaningful, sustainable and responsible ways to create value over the long term. Executing its strategic plan, Transform & Accelerate, Pernod Ricard now relies on its “Conviviality Platform”, a new growth model based on data and artificial intelligence to meet the ever-changing demand of consumers. Pernod Ricard is listed on Euronext (Ticker: RI; ISIN Code:FR0000120693) and is part of the CAC 40 and Eurostoxx 50 indices.

Contact:
Jalana Torres
jalana.torres@pernod-ricard.com

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