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Wilderness Trail Distillery expanding with 13-acre property purchase

Wilderness Trail Distillery has added about 13 acres to its Lebanon Road property, with plans to use the land for a new rickhouse and outdoor events for the public.

“We’re a family-owned business, so we try to do things smartly and when we have the money to do it,” said Shane Baker, co-owner of the distillery. “We always intended to get the property adjacent to us. It’s really just the next phase of land acquisition for barrel houses. As well, we are going to be using that property to improve our egress to be able to get traffic in and out of here.”

And the property will provide a “larger community space” for big events such as concerts and festivals, Baker added.

“We’re looking to improve those areas to where we can accommodate the public in a cool setting,” he said.

Wilderness Trail is purchasing the tract of land between its current location and the Bluegrass Community and Technical College Danville campus from the Danville-Boyle County Industrial Foundation, said Jody Lassiter, president of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership.

Lassiter said a right-of-way is being reserved for private street access in the case of future development in the industrial park.

The local Planning and Zoning Commission approved a final plat adding the acreage to Wilderness Trail’s existing property Wednesday morning. P&Z Director Paula Bary said the distillery will have to return to P&Z for any future development plans that involve constructing a new building or changing easements.

Baker said the distillery needs a good amount of land in order to grow its number of barrel houses — also called rickhouses — where it ages its bourbon. That’s because each structure needs to be around 200 feet from any other structures in order for the aging process to work correctly, he explained.

Baker said he expects work to begin on taking some fences down and getting “some aesthetic things out of the way” soon. There are plans to bring utilities to the property and work on a roadway. And when the weather allows, they will start “light excavation” to prepare the property for public events, he said.

Those public events could begin as soon as spring and “we’re going to have tons of those things,” he said.

Later in 2017, Baker said construction will begin on the distillery’s next rickhouse, which will be a sister building to the distillery’s newest 11,000-barrel rickhouse.

Baker said Wilderness Trail is preparing for a lot of growth as its first bourbon barrels come of age this year.

“If anything, our growth is increasing because we’re really now in the banner year of releasing our bourbon,” he said. “We release our first four-year-old this December. So things are going to get really busy for us really fast.”