Local distiller buys Kentucky site for expansion

Earl Hewlette, CEO of North Charleston distiller Terressentia, shows some of the equipment at the company in this 2013 photo before the firm changed locations in Palmetto Commerce Park.

A North Charleston distillery is expanding to Kentucky.

Terressentia Corp. closed a deal Friday to buy the former 35-acre Charles Medley distillery in Owensboro, Ky., company CEO Earl Hewlette said. It will invest $25 million add 50 jobs to the area's economy with a spin-off firm called TerrePure.

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 company, which makes liquor quicker and doesn't have any brands, 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.

Hewlette said the deed for the site will be recorded Monday and then the company needs to raise about $23 million to pay for refurbishment of existing warehouses and other buildings. He projects that will take about four months. After that, reconstruction and restoration will take from 12 to 18 months before bourbon can start being made.

The company chose the site for expansion because it is the heart of the American bourbon industry.

"We have seen incredible growth in demand," Hewlette said.

Last year, the gross revenue of Terressentia, a company started in 2007, was $4 million. Hewlette's projects this year's revenue to top $12 million.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.