Bourbon Warehouse Collapse Leads to Fish Kill

On June 22, 2018 one half of a bourbon warehouse came crashing down damaging an estimated 9,000 barrels of aging whiskey. Just shy of two weeks later on July 4, 2018 the other half of the same warehouse collapsed sending another 9,000 barrels to their doom. The Barton 1792 Distillery is in Bardstown, KY about 40 miles south of Louisville. CNN reports that the warehouse in question was having a wall repaired at the time of the collapse, however, definitive cause of the accident will not be known until later in the clean-up and salvage process. To put this in perspective each bourbon barrel holds about 53 gallons whiskey; that is nearly 1 million gallons of Kentucky Bourbon. The combined weight of the 140 proof liquor (70% ABV) and barrel is approximately 500lbs.

During the initial collapse the distillery was caught off guard and the resulting cascade of whiskey discharged into two adjacent creeks leading to a fish kill. While most of the 1000 dead fish were reported to be minnows; state inspectors also found small numbers of other larger species. Sazerac, the parent company for Barton 1792, will face $25,000 per day fines for failing to report the release and pollution of the waterways. The liquor from the second collapse was able to be contained and no discharges were reported.

Water quality emergencies can happen at any time and under unusual circumstances. Please contact Brent Eysenbach, Stormwater Program Manager if you have any questions.

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Blog author: Brent Eysenbach, Stormwater Program Manager

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