UPDATE: $200 million Horse Soldier Bourbon project breaks ground
Project pays homage to soldiers in Afghanistan.
UPDATE POSTED OCTOBER 19, 2021 AT 10:54 A.M.
SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – Gov. Andy Beshear joined leaders from the Somerset community in congratulating Horse Soldier Bourbon on the official groundbreaking of a new $200 million tourism development project that will bring new jobs, bourbon and tourism dollars to Pulaski County.
“I want to thank the team at Horse Solider Bourbon for their service to our country,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are excited that your next chapter includes making Horse Soldier Bourbon in Somerset and investing in the commonwealth – your story reinforces our belief that Kentucky is truly destined for greatness.”
In recognition of the 20th anniversary of their insertion to Afghanistan, Horse Soldier Bourbon is coming back to the Cumberland River where it all started. On Sept. 11, 2001, the Horse Soldier team was training on the Cumberland River when the call came to defend our nation in its darkest hour. Now, 20 years later, they are coming home and bringing their award-winning, ultra-premium bourbon to Kentucky.
“We are every person you’ve ever known in your family,” said John Koko, president and CEO of Horse Soldier Bourbon. “We’re average guys. It was just our turn to do something. And we are proud to be doing it in a place where our story so naturally fits. Horse Soldier Farms will make this already outstanding community stronger and better, with the values its people have always had — values that are also important to us. We are honored to come home, to make our dreams a reality in Somerset.”
Today, Horse Soldier Bourbon unveiled plans for a Somerset-Pulaski County distillery that will consist of a 27,585-square-foot distillery visitor center; 4,600-square-foot activity center; 5,000-capacity amphitheater; 500-person outdoor event space; an adventure center, 3,200-square-foot wedding chapel; 60-key luxury lodge and 20 cabins, and a retail village.
“The American heroes behind this company are the epitome of valor and hope during difficult times,” said Congressman Hal Rogers. “We are proud to welcome these Horse Soldiers home to Southern Kentucky to continue their pursuit of the American dream, as they grow this veteran-owned and operated company.”
Currently distilled in Columbus, Ohio, Horse Soldier Bourbon will transfer its operations to Somerset following completion of the $200 million distillery project. The new distillery will complement Lake Cumberland as the premier, off-the-water attraction in Somerset bringing new jobs, bourbon and tourism dollars to the Somerset community.
“Horse Soldier Farms has, from the beginning, been a project that challenges people to believe anything is possible,” said Somerset Mayor Alan Keck “That has been a key part of my vision for this community, and it’s what makes this partnership so special. I’m grateful the Horse Soldier team has been willing to dream big with us. As these two stories intertwine, as we forge our path to becoming a Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience, we will continue to build excitement and a more enduring legacy for Somerset.”
Adding bourbon to Somerset’s thriving tourism industry is expected to have a major economic impact in the local community. Currently, the community’s tourism attractions welcome nearly 5 million visitors annually, generating $115 million in economic impact.
Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, said the historic trade group is proud to welcome the Horse Soldier family to the commonwealth and thanked them for their service to our country, impressive investment and visionary tourism plans.
“Here we have true American heroes who have come together to produce America’s only native spirit: Kentucky Bourbon,” Gregory said. “With this endeavor, the team at Horse Soldier brings a bold sense of adventure and an all-American dedication to preserving Kentucky’s legacy as the one true and authentic home for Bourbon. We’re honored that they chose our beloved Bluegrass as their home, and we look forward to adding them to the KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience.”
Upon the recommendation of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Horse Soldier Farms LLC received approval from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority for incentives totaling over $29.9 million for the new distillery project. Through the Tourism Development Act, eligible Kentucky businesses can receive an annual reimbursement for taxes paid on qualifying tourism development projects.
Throughout the pandemic, spirits companies have continued pledging to invest and create jobs in the commonwealth. Today, roughly 70 spirits facilities employ more than 5,100 people. Since the start of 2020, Kentucky’s spirits industry has seen more than 30 new-location or expansion announcements with over $550 million in planned investments and approximately 500 announced full-time jobs.
Horse Soldier Bourbon’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger in response to the effects of the pandemic.
For more information on Horse Soldier Farms, LLC, visit horsesoldierbourbon.com.
ORIGINAL STORY POSTED SEPTEMBER 23, 2021 AT 2:06 P.M.
PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Horse Soldier Bourbon expects to create more than 50 jobs with a new $200 million development project that will bring bourbon and tourism dollars to Pulaski County.
“Kentucky’s bourbon industry continues to expand, bringing quality jobs and tourism dollars to communities in every corner of the commonwealth,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in discussing the project. “Today’s announcement further reinforces our commitment to ensuring Kentucky is a top tourism destination, but also a premiere location for businesses to grow and expand.”
Horse Soldier Bourbon is an award-winning, ultra-premium bourbon brand founded by retired members of the U.S. Special Forces – the first to enter Afghanistan, on horseback, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The hand-selected detachment of Green Berets later became known as the “Horse Soldiers,” and their story was told in the 2018 action drama film “12 Strong.”
Never satisfied, the Horse Soldiers committed themselves to a new mission in 2014 to make history again, this time by creating a world-leading, ultra-premium bourbon brand.
Since then, Horse Soldier Bourbon has been expanding its brand state-by-state, all while developing a long-term investment plan to build a world-class distillery experience in Somerset-Pulaski County.
“Horse Soldier Bourbon is excited to start this new phase of work with the local community in Somerset and Pulaski County. We understand both the importance of building a good team and the value of finding a place to call home,” said Horse Soldier Bourbon CEO John Koko. “From the mountains of Afghanistan to the rolling hills of Kentucky, there’s one thing we’ve seen time and time again: You’re only as good as the company you keep.”
Horse Soldier Bourbon is currently distilled in Columbus, Ohio.
The company will transfer its operations to the new distillery campus in Somerset once the project is completed. The distillery will compliment Lake Cumberland as a premier, off-the-water attraction in Somerset, adding to the area’s thriving tourism industry that welcomes nearly 5 million visitors annually.
Horse Soldier Farms will be the first Southeastern Kentucky distillery experience and serve as a southern gateway to Kentucky’s legendary Bourbon Trail.
The Somerset-Pulaski County distillery project will consist of a 27,585-square-foot distillery visitor center; 4,600-square-foot activity center; 5,000 person-capacity amphitheater; 500 person-capacity outdoor event space; an adventure center; 3,200-square-foot wedding chapel; 60-key luxury lodge and 20 cabins; and a retail village.
Upon the recommendation of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Horse Soldier Farms LLC received approval from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority for incentives totaling more than $29.9 million for the new distillery project.
Through the Tourism Development Act, eligible Kentucky businesses can receive an annual reimbursement for taxes paid on qualifying tourism development projects.
“This administration continues to support tourism development because we understand the direct economic value that our industry brings to both rural and urban communities throughout the commonwealth,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry. “This new project will expand one of Kentucky’s most sought after tourism experiences to Southeastern Kentucky, bringing bourbon and additional revenue to the Lake Cumberland region.”
Tourism is an $8.9 billion industry in Kentucky.
In Pulaski County, tourism supports 1,025 jobs and generated $115 million in economic impact in 2020 despite the spread of COVID-19.
This year, the commonwealth has approved six tourism development projects for a total economic investment of over $182.6 million to companies seeking to expand operations in Kentucky to incorporate tourism.
Chris Girdler, CEO of the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority, welcomed the Horse Soldier expansion to the Somerset community that thrives from Lake Cumberland and outdoor adventure tourism.
“It has been an absolute honor to get to know these true American heroes and a privilege to call them friends. They continue to live out their legendary journey by creating an iconic and symbolic brand that is known throughout the world,” said Girdler. “We are so grateful that they selected Somerset and Pulaski County as their new headquarters and we welcome them home.”
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck has been a longtime advocate for expanding the state’s thriving bourbon industry to Somerset.
“So much of my vision for Somerset has been about changing the expectation for what people believe is possible. By doing that, we’ve been able to generate excitement in this community that builds every day, because we’re telling our story and showing the world how special this community truly is,” said Keck. “I am forever grateful to the Horse Soldier Bourbon team for embracing that excitement and choosing to marry their legendary story with ours. Somerset is home to so many signature Kentucky experiences. I am thrilled bourbon is now one of them and cannot wait to share in the extraordinary experience Horse Soldier Farms will bring to our community.”
Throughout the pandemic, spirits companies have continued pledging to invest and create jobs in the commonwealth. Today, roughly 70 spirits facilities employ more than 5,100 people.
In 2021 alone, Kentucky’s spirits industry has seen 12 new-location or expansion announcements with over $270 million in planned investments and 267 announced full-time jobs.
Year-to-date, private-sector new-location and expansion announcements in Kentucky include more than $2.8 billion in total planned investment and the creation of 6,600-plus full-time jobs across the coming years.
On Oct. 19, Horse Soldier Bourbon will host a private ground breaking ceremony in Somerset to mark the 20th anniversary of the team’s insertion into Afghanistan.