Kentucky suffers second Bourbon warehouse collapse in a year

Less than a year after a warehouse containing over 18,000 barrels of Bourbon collapsed, another distillery in Kentucky has suffered a similar fate with around 4,500 barrels caught up in the incident.

Image: @_jimmysanders (Twitter)

A barrel storage facility at the O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro suffered a partial collapse, with a “small fraction” of the 4,500 barrels affected suffering damage, according to a statement from the producer.

Shortly after midnight on 17 June, the northwest quadrant of the Rickhouse H facility collapsed. No employees were at the distillery at the time and there were no reports of any injuries.

Image: @_jimmysanders (Twitter)

In an updated report, published on 19 June, the distillery wrote that there had been “minimal leakage from the displaced barrels so far”.

“Structural engineers have been on campus working with all parties to assess the structure and help with a recovery plan for barrels in both the affected area and entire warehouse,” it added.

After a series of consultations, the distillery has decided that the best course of action is a “deliberate deconstruction of Warehouse H,” which will start immediately.

This will allow the company to remove the remaining barrels safely – of which there are a total of 19,400 stored in the warehouse – and transfer them to other warehouses for continued maturation.

The damage barrels will be separated, “assessed and repaired or disposed of as per government protocol”.

The distillery thanked members of the local community as well as the wider Bourbon industry for their support and noted that it would be providing further updates in the coming days.

The O.Z. Tyler Distillery, formerly known as Old Charles Medley Distillery, was acquired by TerrePure Spirits in 2014. Its US$12 million renovation, which included plans to make “rapidly aged whiskey”, was completed in 2016 when the distillery became operational.

It follows an incident in June last year, when around 9,000 barrels of Bourbon came crashing down when part of a warehouse, owned by Kentucky distiller Barton 1792 which is part of the Sazerac Company, collapsed. In July, the remaining part of the structure fell to the ground, with around 18,000 barrels affected. This could explain why O.Z. Tyler Distillery has elected to deconstruct its warehouse to avoid further damage to the whiskey stored there.

Like the collapse at O.Z. Tyler, there were similarly no injuries reported following the incident at Barton 1792, however, spillage led to Bourbon flowing into the nearby Withrow Creek, contributing to the death of around 800 fish, according to Courier Journal. 

In March this year, Barton reported that it had suffered another equipment failure after 120,000 gallons of mash spilled from tanks, injuring two people.

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