- Associated Press - Saturday, October 7, 2017

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - Sazerac is eyeing a Tennessee site for a new distillery.

The Daily News Journal reports that the property under consideration by the Louisiana-based company is near an old rock quarry in Murfreesboro, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Nashville.

Sazerac spokeswoman Amy Preske says the growing city provides an attractive location for the company. She also cited the Middle Tennessee State University’s fermentation science program.

State Sen. Bill Ketron, a Murfreesboro Republican who is running for Rutherford County mayor, says he supports rezoning the site to accommodate the distillery if the company choses to buy the land. He said a distillery would cause less traffic than if it were developed into a 200-home subdivision.

“They want to make this their No. 1 distillery in the country,” Ketron said. “They want to make a showplace out of it.”

Sazerac last year bought craft distillery Avery Trail in Newport, Tennessee. That acquisition was limited to the distillery and did not include any brands, the company said. The distillery’s best-known product was the Popcorn Sutton whiskey brand named after a colorful Tennessee moonshiner.

All of the East Tennessee distillery’s employees will be retained, including veteran master distiller John Lunn and master blender Allisa Henley. Both brought considerable whiskey-making experience as former distillers of George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey.

Sazerac said at the time that it looked forward to tapping their expertise “to start laying down true Tennessee whiskey.”

The dominant Tennessee whiskey brand is Jack Daniel’s, the flagship product of Brown-Forman Corp.

Sazerac purchased the Southern Comfort brand from rival Brown-Forman last year in a $542 million deal that also included Tuaca, a premium liqueur brand. Sazerac’s holdings in Kentucky include the Buffalo Trace, Barton 1792 and Glenmore distilleries.

Sazerac recently invited neighbors and local officials to a meeting about the possible new distillery in Murfreesboro, said City Councilman Eddie Smotherman.

“Obviously improvement of the property, job opportunities and tourism would be good for the community, but we need to make sure that all the environmental concerns have been addressed before we determine this is a good project,” he said.

Tony Johnston, the director of MTSU’s fermentation science, also attended the meeting.

“The position for us is to be able to place students at the distillery in internships,” Johnston said. “The capability it would provide for us to teach students about distillation right here in our home county are really important and would be valuable to us in the program.”

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Information from: The Daily News Journal, https://www.dnj.com

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