Wilderness Trail Distillery of Danville, Kentucky, has achieved the rank of Heritage member with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. This is the highest level in the non-profit group that unites and leads the state’s signature bourbon and spirits industry.
To qualify as a Heritage member, distilleries must have at least 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits aging in Kentucky warehouses.
Wilderness Trail reached this milestone in 2019 and delayed the election process to move up to Heritage member for the distillery to prepare for the increase in tourism and footprint across the United States. Wilderness Trail produces up to 215 barrels per day and the majority of those production barrels remain onsite for aging. Wilderness Trail has more than 100,000 barrels storage capacity and is building additional rickhouses on the property to the south of the main distillery.
In addition to Wilderness Trail, other new Heritage members are Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville and Willett Distillery in Bardstown.
As Heritage members, these distilleries will have an expanded leadership role in the management of the association and the future of the iconic industry.
After years of working with distilleries around the world to provide advice and fermentation products through their company Ferm Solutions, founders Shane Baker and Pat Heist launched Wilderness Trail Distillery in 2012 with a focus on making high quality Bourbon, rye, vodka and Bourbon barrel-aged rum.
Blending traditional production methods with scientific advancements and new technology, Wilderness Trail has grown from a small, craft facility to one of the most distinguished distilleries and consulting firms in the Commonwealth.
Wilderness Trail joined the KDA in 2013 and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour this year.
“It is a great honor to advance in membership to a Heritage Member alongside the historic distilleries that have built Kentucky Bourbon as our signature industry,” Baker said. “This is a remarkable milestone for our Wilderness Trail family to achieve and embrace as we continue to grow our brands around the world and proudly promote Kentucky Bourbon.”
Baker says achieving Heritage level solidifies Wilderness Trail’s brand.
“We are in 32 states with our Bourbons and whiskeys and we have visitors coming here from all over the world. It exemplifies the hard work and time spent on building a successful operation and turning that into a brand. Our staff is key to maintaining that quality expectation, sharing our story here in Danville, and connecting ambassadors from all over with our community. It is more than pride for our team to achieve this status and we are elated to have this opportunity.”
The KDA also announced that New Riff Distillery has met the inventory requirements to advance to “Proof” level membership, the second-highest tier. “Proof” level membership is reserved for established licensed distilleries that maintain an inventory between 10,000 and 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits.
“This year we are recognizing the growth of four KDA members, a tremendous accomplishment that is rightfully celebrated,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “In addition to their individual achievements, all four companies actively work for the greater good of the industry and will now expand that leadership role.
“We raise a glass to toast their success and advancement within the KDA ranks and our iconic industry.”
The KDA now has 14 Heritage members, including Bardstown Bourbon Company, Beam Suntory (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman, Diageo North America, Four Roses, Green River Distilling Co., Heaven Hill Brands, Louisville Distilling Company, Lux Row, Michter’s and Wild Turkey.
Wilderness Trail future includes more growth across the United States and in four other countries.
“We plan to release to many more states and countries over the next few years. The distillery already is well beyond the levels needed to maintain Heritage status in terms of inventory as well as offering a mature Kentucky Bourbon for the world to fall in love with.”