Leiper’s Fork: where the streams of whiskey will be flowing


Leiper’s Fork: where the streams of whiskey will be flowing

MICHAEL ACKLEY

Whiskey fans in Williamson County will be able to sip on locally made bourbon for the first time since prohibition in the summer of 2015.

Whiskey fans in Williamson County will be able to sip on locally made bourbon for the first time since prohibition in the summer of 2015.

The Leiper’s Fork Distillery held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday to kick off the construction project, which will be completed by late spring of next year. There is another distillery in the area but Lee Kennedy, owner of the Leiper’s Fork Distillery, said that the Thompson Station Distillery is outside of the jurisdiction of the county.

Kennedy’s distillery, which has been years-in-the-making, intends to honor the rich history of the distilling spirits in Williamson County.

“We sat down with Williamson County’s planning staff and told them what we wanted to do,” Kennedy said. “They were supportive, but at the time they didn’t have a law that would allow for us to exist. They are very intent on balancing progress and keeping the rural nature of the county at the same time.”

After multiple public hearings and enthusiastic neighborhood support, the county passed legislation that would allow for the distillery.

“Before I even met with the planning staff, I went around and sat on my neighbor’s couches and told them about the plan,” Kennedy said. “They were overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Some wrote letters to the county on our behalf. It was so important for us to have the neighborhood support.”

The legislation that the county passed was rigorous and Kennedy had to rethink his business plan to see if a distillery could be financially successful in spite of the regulations.

“Ninety percent of our site has to be dedicated as green space,” he said. “We also are limited to 25 gallons per year in production. Some of the big boys make 60 gallons per day. We’re going for quality over quantity. For the type of whiskey, we are planning to make, we found that we could be really successful. We want to make a top-shelf premium whiskey using local grains.”

The premium whiskey won’t be on the market for four years, as it will have to age. In the meantime, Kennedy said that once the distillery is open they will sell white whiskeys, wheat whiskeys and even brandy if they can find a local vineyard to partner with to supply the wine.

“If you look at tourism in Tennessee, Williamson County is behind Nashville and Memphis,” Kennedy said. “Having a destination distillery will increase tourism. We plan on offering tours and having a tasting room. The county has a long history of legally distilling whiskey from 1890 up until prohibition when the business was shut down. We want to bring the history to life.”

Kennedy estimates that top-shelf whiskey will sell for around $50 – $60. A grand opening is planned for June 2015 but a date has not yet been finalized.

To find out more about the Leiper’s Fork Distillery, visit their Facebook page.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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