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If you’re an attentive bourbon fan, you were likely surprised to hear the news last year that Maker’s Mark master distiller Denny Potter and head of innovation and blending Jane Bowie were leaving the storied Kentucky distillery to embark upon a new venture. While there haven’t been many details about what the pair were going to be up to, we finally have some information to share.
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This isn’t a singular event by any means—over the past few years other notable figures have left major distilleries. These include Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett moving on to Company Distilling and Old Forester master taster Jackie Zykan cofounding the new Hidden Barn Whiskey. Bowie and Potter seem to have left Maker’s on good terms, and managing director Rob Samuels offered some glowing words about their contribution to the distillery and brand upon their departure. Now comes the news of their new venture, aptly called Potter Jane Distilling Company, a new distillery that will be located in Springfield, Kentucky which is not far from Bardstown, the epicenter of bourbon.
Bowie and Potter celebrated the official groundbreaking for the new distillery on September 13 with more than 200 guests attending the event. Potter Jane Distilling Company will encompass 36,000 square feet over 153 acres and will employ about 40 people. The distillery will have the capacity to store 45,000 barrels for maturation onsite, with two initial warehouses that can each store 24,000 casks. Construction will begin this fall, and according to a lighthearted statement in the press release, “They plan to be operational by January of 2025 (if they don’t kill each other first).”
The production model will be to produce contract whiskey and lay down stock for the Potter Jane house brand. We reached out to Jane Bowie to get some more specific info, and she told Robb Report that the distillery will make wheated bourbon, rye bourbon, and a small amount of rye whiskey (no enzymes will be added to the mash because a high percentage of malted barley will be used). Daily production will yield about 150 barrels using a copper column still with a copper doubler. There are plans to build a smaller experimental warehouse with different micro-climates to see how that affects the whiskey. They will not be sourcing any whiskey or contract distilling—instead they will contract distill for other brands while their own whiskey matures. “[Our] long-term whiskey goal will be seven to eight years old but really we won’t know our product’s maturation curve until we are in it,” she said. “We plan to bring folks along on this journey so will release younger whiskey, but [our] ultimate goal is in this age range for our standard product.” The brand name is still TBD.
Of course, it’ll be some time before we get to try any of this new whiskey, but in the meantime you can reminisce about the Potter-Bowie days at Maker’s Mark by sipping on some of that distillery’s excellent bourbon, much of which can be found for sale from websites like ReserveBar.
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