While people were out celebrating July 4 with barbecues and outdoor activities, what was left of the Barton 1792 Distillery barrel house in Bardstown, Kentucky, collapsed. Trouble started at the seven-story warehouse on June 22 when the first half of the building gave away, spilling some 9,000 barrels of bourbon. The rest collapsed on America’s birthday at around 2:20 p.m. local time.
No one was injured in either of the crashes. In a statement, Amy Preske, a spokesperson for Barton 1792’s parent company, Sazerac, said officials weren’t able to determine the cause of the initial collapse because of worker safety concerns. She added that they won’t know what’s responsible for the most recent fall for weeks to come.
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The building, called a rickhouse, was one of 29 on land owned by Sazerac, which also makes Buffalo Trace, Southern Comfort, Pappy Van Winkle and among others. The rickhouse that fell was built in the 1940s. Bourbon flowed into a nearby river after the first fall and killed about 800 fish, leading to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to fine Sazerac for polluting the water. That didn’t happen this time around thanks to “the Barton 1792 Distillery team’s preparation and quick action,” Preske said.
A third party inspected the 28 remaining Sazerac warehouses and deemed them safe. It’s unknown how many, if any, barrels of whiskey can be salvaged from the fallen rickhouse.