John Wayne is coming to town.

Not the man himself.

He died 40 years ago.

But in April, Duke Spirits, a company that makes bourbon and rye based on the actor's 1962 handwritten recipes, will be opening its Duke Tasting Room and John Wayne Experience at Owensboro's O.Z. Tyler Distillery, which crafts the products.

"We're excited," Jacob Call, master distiller and director of operations at O.Z. Tyler, said. "I hope it will help increase tourism and bring more people to our distillery."

"John Wayne is an international icon," Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said of the announcement. "You just can't buy this type of national and international exposure with a legend like John Wayne, and we are going to capitalize on it."

The distillery makes bourbon and rye for more than a dozen companies, Call said.

But Duke Spirits is the first to go public with where its spirits are made.

Call said the tasting room and John Wayne Experience will be in the current visitor's center.

The John Wayne Experience will feature "never-before seen memorabilia from his estate," according to a news release.

Although the center won't open to the public until April,Duke Spirits is having a news conference there at 3 p.m. on Nov. 20.

Runaway June -- a country trio featuring Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne, John Wayne's granddaughter -- are scheduled to perform for the event.

Chris Radomski, founder of Duke Spirits, and Call will discuss the new bourbon and rye products.

Duke Spirits' website says its flagship Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will retail for approximately $40 per 750 milliliters.

It says the bourbon is distilled from a recipe of corn, rye and barley and aged in American Oak barrels for a minimum of five years.

Its Duke Grand Cru Kentucky Reserve Bourbon, which sells for about $125 per 750 milliliters, is a 9-year-old Kentucky Straight bourbon finished in French oak barrels.

Radomski says on the site, "To my knowledge, no one has used this type of French oak barrel to age bourbon."

The third product in the Duke portfolio is its Double Barrel Rye -- aged in the wine bottles that previously held bourbon.

The company also has a tequila that's in production at a boutique distillery in Mexico, the site says.

Wayne made more than 170 movies between 1926 and 1977.

He won the Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in 1969's "True Grit."

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301,

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Mark Calitri

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