Officials at Jack Daniel’s Distillery announced Thursday a $100 million expansion that will bring with it approximately 90 new jobs to Moore County and the surrounding area. The distillery currently employs about 435 workers.
The investment amounts to the largest single production expansion in the brand’s long history. It will add stills and barrel warehouses at the Jack Daniel’s operations here in Lynchburg said Brown-Forman officials.
The announcement was made in grand fashion, with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and other state dignitaries — as well as Jack Daniel’s employees and members of the community — on hand in front of the distillery’s welcome center early Thursday morning. Welcome Center visitor’s stopped to take photos before trickling into the building where free guided tours of the 147-year-old distillery are given daily.
“We think business can chose where they go, and we love it that Jack Daniel’s chose to grow right here,” said Gov. Haslam. “On behalf of the state, we want to thank you.”
Gov. Haslam joined Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller; John Hayes, Brown-Forman Senior Vice President; Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner; Jane Morreau, Senior Vice President, Chief Production Officer, Brown-Forman; and Larry Combs, Senior Vice President, General Manager of Jack Daniel’s operations on stage for the announcement.
“This is one of those times when two different parts of government come together … manufacturing and tourism. Tourism is a big part of our economy in Tennessee,” added Haslam.
Expansion work will begin this fall and is expected to wrap up within two years. Company officials didn’t specify how many stills and warehouses where the whiskey agers will be added. The distillery is bumping up against capacity pressures that will be relieved by the second production facility.
A second production building will go up on the same grounds as the current distillery site, which traces its roots back to a year after the Civil War ended.
“Jack Daniel’s is thriving. The global appeal for Jack Daniels is very exciting,” said Hayes. “Even so, our share of the global whiskey (market) is still only 3 percent.”
With more capacity in its future, Jack Daniel’s, the flagship brand for Brown-Forman, could put an even bigger dent in the global market, an area the company has worked hard to break into.
Jack Daniel’s sales have soared in the past decade, as the venerable brand has spread to more countries. The brand has had volume growth for 21 straight years, and its global net sales increased by 9 percent in the last year. Since 2004, global case sales have risen from about 7.7 million cases to nearly 11 million cases last year.
The brand is sold in more than 160 countries. The U.S. still ranks as its largest market and the brand’s domestic sales grew in 2012.
But overseas markets now represent slightly more than half of overall sales. Its largest international markets include the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, where the brand’s premixed cocktails are popular. Emerging markets such as Russia, China, Turkey and Brazil have become key contributors to global sales.
“This is definitely a very historic day for those who live in Lynchburg,” said Arnett. “It will create a myriad of jobs … increasing at each of our (work) locations. We’ve had multiple expansions before, but nothing like this … a grass-roots build of a new distillery.”
The Jack Daniel’s brand lineup includes the mainstay Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. The expansion will give the brand more room to roll out new products, part of a key industrywide trend as spirits makers introduce new flavor combinations.
“It’s a good time in the whiskey industry, and our future prospects look really good,” added Arnett. “We don’t want to find ourselves without any additional throttle, if we need it. This will basically secure that we’ve got the ability to give Jack Daniel’s to all of those who want Jack Daniel’s for years to come.”
The new production facility will have access to the same source of cave spring water as the existing distillery, he said.
“It’s going to ensure that every drop of Jack Daniel’s is made here in Lynchburg, Tenn., from the same water source,” Arnett said.
—By ROBERT HOLMAN, MCN Editor (Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this story)