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Mysterious IJW Whiskey to Build $200 Million Distillery

IJW Whiskey

A warehouse belonging to IJW Whiskey in Danville, Kentucky, is pictured. (Photo: Google Street View)

Shelby County is Kentucky’s second-fastest-growing county, and it may soon get an economic boost, thanks to a major major whiskey project.

Shelbyville is calling a council meeting to agree on a partnership with IJW Whiskey Company to build a distillery in the city, WDRB reported last week.

“We’re excited about this opportunity, and there’s been a lot of steps that we’ve needed to take,” Mayor David Eaton said about the move.

Also last week, Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that IJW was “considering” purchasing property to develop a distilling, bottling and storage facility in Shelbyville. Patton reported that building the facility would be a $200 million investment, which last week was approved for $3.5 million in tax incentives by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

IJW Whiskey has a reputation as a mysterious player in the Kentucky whiskey game. Per a story from Whisky Advocate last year, IJW has quietly produced tens of thousands of barrels of bourbon and rye at its facility in Danville “without so much as a peep beyond the required public paperwork.”

Not much is known about IJW. It revealed plans to build its Danville warehouses in 2017, appears to have ties to the University of Michigan and doesn’t have a distillery of its own.

IJW slipped a toe out of the shadows in 2021 for an interview with Whisky Advocate, in which its president, former lawyer David Morduchowitz, revealed thatIJW partners with five Kentucky distilleries to produce its whiskey.

IJW’s production team is led by master distiller Kevin Curtis, who brings experience from Woodford Reserve, Michter’s and Angel’s Envy; and master blender Steve Hughes, who worked at Brown-Forman for 38 years. Whisky Advocate reported that Curtis oversees production at IJW’s partner distilleries. He appears primed to take on a more hands-on role if this proposed $200 million distillery comes to fruition.

IJW produces whiskeys for brands including Puncher’s Chance, Whisky Advocate revealed, but plans to produce whiskeys for its own brand, too.

Shelbyville is about 50 miles north of Danville.

IWJ owns a bottling plant near its danville warehouses and has a building on Louisville’s Whiskey Row. Building its own distillery would take this mysterious company out of the shadows and to greater heights.

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