TRINITY, Ala. (WHNT) - Gov. Robert Bentley cut the ribbon officially opening the Jack Daniel Cooperage facility, Monday morning. It's a new, state-of-the-art plant that will produce the trademark American white oak barrels that are used for aging the world's number one selling brand of whiskey. It also means about 200 new jobs for the area.
It becomes the anchor tenant in Lawrence County's new Mallard Fox West Industrial Complex. Jack Daniel's officials say sales of American whiskey is booming with exports of Tennessee bourbon and whiskey surpassing the one billion dollar mark for the first time last year. To keep up with the demand, this new cooperage will produce up to 700 barrels a day.
"We needed that, an area that can grow along with us and this facility is a state-of-the-art facility that will continue to grow for years to come," says John Hayes, Jack Daniel's Senior Vice President.
Local industry recruiters were absolutely beaming that this day was finally here. "It's a great day for Lawrence County," according to Tony Stockton, Executive Director of the Lawrence County Industrtial Development Board. He added, "We have worked very hard to make this day a reality."
While it doesn't replace the 1,100 jobs lost earlier this year when International Paper closed, county officials say its a huge step in the right direction and will help attract additional industry to the area.
"Losing IP is a situation that we will handle and we just have to handle but if you look behind me at all that's going on, this is a great day for Lawrence County."
While machinery helps speed the process along, much of the barrel-making will still be done by hand.
Once it's fully operational, the new Jack Daniel Cooperage will employ some 200 people and what they produce here, the barrels along with what's inside, will be shipped all over the world.
Of course, Jack Daniels is produced just up the road in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Jeff Arnett, the company's master distiller, says the barrel is important in aging the whiskey. He says that's where all of the color comes from, along with much of its flavor and character.