US distiller Whiskey House is building a distillery that will focus entirely on large-scale contract whiskey production.

The company plans to invest more than $350m in the Elizabethtown, Kentucky, site over the next decade.

The distillery is set to be operational by next July and will create approximately 50 jobs next year, expanding to more than 100 staff by 2027.

Plans for the site include 16 traditional rickhouses (for whisk(e)y storage) each with a capacity of 41,500 barrels, a 50,000-square-foot palletised warehouse, a spent-grain processing facility, a bottling facility and a rail system, as well as access to a limestone aquifer.

Whiskey House is a custom distiller with no brand of its own, and said the Elizabethtown site will be “the first distillery designed from the ground up to focus solely on large-scale, flexible, contract whiskey production”.

The distiller was founded in 2022 by The Bardstown Bourbon Company founders David Mandell, John Hargrove and Daniel Linde. The three are CEO, COO and CFO of Whiskey House respectively and no longer work for Kentucky-headquartered The Bardstown Bourbon Company.

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Mandell said his latest venture “will reshape the contract whiskey market in the US”.

He added: “As the bourbon market continues to grow, we see the need for additional distilling capacity and more customer-focused solutions. We will provide the highest-quality production, guaranteed capacity, and exceptional customer service for our brand partners.”

Whiskey House will begin operations with more than seven million ‘proof gallons’ of annual capacity (112,000 barrels), expanding to more than 14 million proof gallons (224,000 barrels) by 2027.

Hargrove said: “Whiskey House sets a high bar for advanced manufacturing in the whiskey industry.

“We’re making major investments in the technological capabilities of the distillery that will immediately make Whiskey House the most advanced contract whiskey production facility in the US.”

The company will use AI to track its whiskeys across the manufacturing process, creating data that can be shared with customers. The technology can help improve quality and efficiency and increase production yields, it said.

Whiskey House received a Microsoft for Startups Founder’s Hub Grant to increase its use of AI in the manufacturing and distillation process. 

“For the first time, our customers will have access to every data point about their whiskey from start to finish,” said Roger Henley, engineering and technology vice president.

Scotch whisky producer Kimbland Distillery is pursuing a similar use of technology to track its whiskies from grain to barrel, its founder and managing director Sebastian Hadfield-Hyde told Just Drinks earlier this year.

The distillery, on the northern Orkney isle of Sanday, uses Minespider, a blockchain company originally designed to trace provenance in the mining industry, to allow buyers to see “the exact history” of a bottle. This involves noting when each seed is planted and scanning individual bags of barley.