Old Forester returns to roots with new Ky. distillery

Bruce Schreiner
Associated Press

Louisville, Ky. – Old Forester, the bourbon that launched a family dynasty and a spirits company, has returned to its pre-Prohibition Kentucky home in a newly renovated building that symbolizes the brand’s comeback from years of decline.

The Old Forester Distilling Co. opens its doors to tourists Friday along a stretch of downtown Louisville known as Whiskey Row for its historic ties to Kentucky’s bourbon industry. Bourbon tourism has matured into big business in Kentucky, and Old Forester is tapping into the strategy to build brand awareness.

Construction of the distillery was slowed by a devastating 2015 fire in a neighboring building. The blaze set back the opening, but Old Forester President Campbell Brown, a descendant of the company’s founder, said the company knows how to be patient since its business involves waiting years for products to mature.

Visitors to the new distillery can take in the sights and smells of bourbon making all under one roof.

At the end of tours, they can raise their glasses to toast George Garvin Brown, who launched Old Forester in the 1870s as the original brand of Brown-Forman Corp., the Louisville-based spirits company he founded.