The North Charleston distiller that makes liquor quicker is looking to expand to Kentucky with a subsidiary of the company.
Terressentia Corp. is eyeing the former 35-acre Charles Medley distillery in Owensboro, Ky., to invest $20 million and add 50 jobs to the area's economy with a spin-off firm called TerrePure, company CEO Earl Hewlette said Friday.
The old distillery has been idle for about 20 years, but a spirit-making business has operated on the site since 1850, he said.
Owensboro is a city of about 60,000 people on the Ohio River in Daviess County in northwestern Kentucky.
The Daviess County Economic Development Advisory Board recently recommended a $200,000 incentive to attract TerrePure, a subsidiary of Terressentia.
"We are at the point now where we have to make a decision," Hewlette said.
The company, which has about 30 employees in Palmetto Commerce Park, will make a decision within 30 days, Hewlette said.
If the site is acquired, the company plans to renovate existing warehouses and other buildings and start making bourbon in 12 to 18 months. The $20 million would cover the cost of buying and renovating the site as well as providing funds to operate it.
Hewlette said the company would have looked at a adding a distillery in South Carolina to expand if one existed, but he added that Kentucky is the home of the American bourbon industry and a likely candidate for the company's expansion.
"We have seen incredible growth in demand," Hewlette said. "The demand has become so great, our suppliers can't supply us fast enough."
Last year, the gross revenue of Terressentia, a company started in 2007, was $4 million. Hewlette projects this year's revenue to top $12 million.
"We are continuing to add major national retail chains to our customer base," he said. Among them are Target, Total Wine and Meijer, a Michigan-based food chain in the Midwest. Others are in the works, Hewlette said.
Terressentia doesn't have any brands. It creates spirits for retailers by purifying distilled alcohol in just a few hours, eliminating oak-barrel aging for certain liquors and providing a smoother taste and less-pungent smell to finished products.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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