Pernod Ricard to invest $250m in US carbon neutral bourbon distillery

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Pernod ricard Bourbon whiskey Sustainability whiskey American whiskey

Pernod Ricard will invest $250m over five years to build a carbon neutral distillery and aging warehouses in Marion County, Kentucky, for its Jefferson’s Bourbon brand.

The investment will also include a visitor center facility that will welcome whiskey aficionados on the historic South Trail of Kentucky Bourbon. 

Pernod Ricard says the carbon neutral facility will be the first distillery of its size in the US to achieve LEED certification, an internationally recognized sustainability framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving environmentally friendly buildings.

The distillery and warehouses will include such low carbon technologies as electrode boilers powered by certified renewable electricity, enabling the distillery to not use fossil fuels during bourbon production.

Jefferson’s will also continue to partner with local farmers and suppliers to source ingredients and casks.

An 'extremely vibrant' category

Founded in 1997 by Trey Zoeller and his father Chet, Jefferson’s joined the Pernod Ricard portfolio in 2019 when the company acquired the brand’s parent, Castle Brands. Since the acquisition, Jefferson’s US sales have doubled. 

Pernod Ricard has been growing its presence in the American whiskey category over recent years: notably with the creation of a dedicated unit​ this year and a portfolio that includes other acquisitions such as West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler (acquired in 2017) and Texas’ TX and Kentucky’s Rabbit Hole (also acquired in 2019). 

“American whiskey is an extremely vibrant spirits category, and our strategic investments over the last few years have proven successful”​ said Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard.

“Our philosophy of partnering with entrepreneurial brand founders, while preserving the heritage and terroir associated with the brands they created, has made us an established player in premium American Whiskey. Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller is no exception.

"This new investment will allow us to grow our share of category sales not only in the US, but also in export markets.”

Whiskey growth

Over the last decade, whiskey sales have exploded in the US, growing from 22 million 9-litre cases sold in 2011 to almost 42 million in 2021, notes Pernod Ricard. And it sees the market growing at more than twice the rate of the other top-five spirit categories.

American whiskeys are expected to account for around one-fifth of Pernod Ricard’s US sales over the next five to ten years.

Pernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers and Chivas Brothers brand companies recently announced plans to invest €300m in Ireland and €100m in Scotland to equip these brands with more sustainable distillation technologies and greater production capacity to meet growing demands.

The company reports it is on track to meet its 2030 global sustainability & responsibility roadmap, ‘Good Times from a Good Place,’ which align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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