Whiskey barrels were piled in a mountainous heap last week after the rest of a whiskey storage warehouse collapsed in Kentucky, nearly two weeks after part of the decades-old structure came crashing down.
The remainder of the massive structure collapsed July 4 at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Nelson County Emergency Management spokesman Milt Spalding said. No injuries were reported in either collapse, he said.
“It is a mountain of bourbon barrels,” he said.
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The final collapse sent torrents of spirits gushing into retention ponds.
John Mura, a spokesman for the state Energy and Environment Cabinet, said Friday about 120,000 gallons (454,000 liters) had been captured in two retention ponds at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown.
The distillery owner Sazerac, a Louisiana-based spirits company, didn’t immediately comment on the volume of spirits ending up in the ponds. The company has said it didn’t know how many barrels could be salvaged.
Mura says testing has turned up no indication of waterways being contaminated by whiskey spilled in the second collapse.
The distillery owner Sazerac, a Louisiana-based spirits company, already was facing a state fine stemming from the initial collapse.
After the initial collapse last month, the company said the damaged warehouse had held about 18,000 barrels of aging spirits. Up to half the barrels inside were affected by the first collapse, it said.
The company said at the time that the collapse had affected “a mix of various distilled products at various ages.” On Wednesday, it said it did not know how many barrels can be salvaged or what caused the initial collapse.
Cleanup crews have been at the scene for days, and the company called in “more resources” after the second collapse, Spalding said. The warehouse was built in the 1940s.
Following the first collapse, a Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman said Sazerac would be cited for failing to report the spill of whiskey in a timely manner and for polluting waters. The spokesman said Barton 1792 moved quickly to stop the alcohol from entering the creek but didn’t alert the state quickly enough.
Whiskey flowing into a nearby stream and river killed about 800 fish after the initial collapse, officials said. Bardstown is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Louisville.
Nelson County Emergency Management director Joe Prewitt said last month he couldn’t recall another whiskey warehouse collapse.
Bourbon ages for years in charred new oak barrels, where it acquires its color and flavor.
Sazerac also owns Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Kentucky’s bourbon sector is in the midst of a more than $1.1 billion boom that includes expanded production facilities, more storage warehouses and new tourism centers. Kentucky distillers have more than 6.6 million bourbon barrels aging, according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
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