We have made a lot of progress since we last updated you on the major expansion project of the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg and on the Warehouse & Bottling Facility in Cox’s Creek.
We sat down with Chief Operating Officer Ryan Ashley, who was recently recognized with an Icons of Whisky Award for his role as director of Distillery operations, to provide you with the inside scoop on the Distillery expansion project.
What are you most excited to see at the Distillery once the expansion project is complete?
The satisfaction my team and I will feel of having accomplished the largest expansion in Four Roses’ history. We will have taken a very historic and finely tuned Distillery and doubled its size in the most authentic way possible: duplicating the equipment, methods and procedures all under the same roof and walls the Distillery has been operating within for over 100 years. I believe this is paramount to our success and quality. We want the employees and visitors to feel as though we have grown to fill our existing space and in areas such as fermentation, where we had to add space, we did it in such a way that we maintained the authenticity of our product and processes.
Are there any recent milestones that have been completed with the project
Probably the biggest milestone was the fact we were able to pull off one of the shortest shutdown periods in our history and meet the numerous critical paths to allow us to start up seamlessly in September, as well as continue to produce at 100 percent capacity. The 2016 calendar year not only marked our most efficient production year but also the highest quality rated distillate we have ever seen, truly a testament to the dedication of every single employee.
In terms of equipment milestones, one must simply look around – we have installed a number of new areas on the power house side to accommodate maintenance, the new boiler, spent grain processing, etc. The most exciting and intricate pieces would have to be the additional beer still and doubler that now reside in the Distillery building. To watch these huge copper works-of-art being craned in through a tiny opening in the roof of a more than 100-year-old building and set with surgical precision is certainly a feat in and of itself!
What has been the most challenging part of the expansion process?
The biggest challenge would have to be planning all that has to be done and executing it all while we are running a fully functioning Distillery. A Distillery that is pushing its limits at 100 percent capacity, maintaining the utmost safety, quality and efficiency and undergoing a massive renovation and addition is truly a challenge. The fact that we’ve been successful thus far is again, a huge hats off to the entire team, as well as the patience and support of our customers and visitors.
When can we expect the new facilities to be up and running?
We are shooting for the fourth quarter of 2018 to be cooking, mashing and distilling on our new system. Although this seems like a lofty target (and it truly is) I think it’s one this team can execute.