Thousands of whiskey barrels crashed into a massive heap Friday when a large section of a decades-old storage warehouse collapsed at a distillery in the heart of Kentucky bourbon country. The damaged warehouse at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown held about 18,000 barrels, and it appeared that up to half the barrels inside were affected, the distillery's owner said, per the AP. "We are assessing how many of the impacted barrels can be recovered," says Amy Preske, a spokeswoman for the Sazerac spirits company. "A mix of various distilled products at various ages were stored in that warehouse." No cause had been determined for the late-morning collapse, but no one was injured, Preske adds. It could be days or weeks before the company fully assesses damage to the warehouse, built in the 1940s, she says.
The distillery is near a waterway, and officials were checking on whether any whiskey had spilled into it; initial water samples showed no signs of contamination, per the director of Nelson County Emergency Management. The structure has a 12-foot basement to help contain spills, he said. Officials from the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection went to the scene, and distillery workers took a number of steps to minimize any environmental risk, Preske says. About half the structure holding the rest of the barrels was still standing, per an NCEM spokesman. Engineers who arrived Friday were looking at "trying to secure what was remaining and trying to contain what had fallen," he said. The collapse won't affect normal operations at the distillery, and it expects to be open for tours Saturday and to resume normal business operations Monday, Preske says.
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