Workers have cleared about 75% of the debris and the bourbon barrels from the site of the O.Z. Tyler Distillery rickhouse that partially collapsed in June on Ewing Road, according to Jacob Call, O.Z. Tyler’s master distiller and director of operations.

“I don’t have any good data yet on salvage versus loss,” Call said. "... We've probably got about another four weeks left."

For the past two months, a crane has been painstakingly plucking one barrel at a time from the pile. There were more than 19,000 barrels, which contain aging alcohol, stored inside the rickhouse when it collapsed.

Call said that the majority of the barrels have been recovered intact and that the bourbon inside them had been aging there for about a year.

“It varies in age, but some of it will be over 4 years old,” said Call about how long bourbon is aged once stored in a warehouse.

The city had closed Ewing Road right after the collapse but reopened it on Aug. 2.

Call said he’s not sure if another bourbon storage warehouse will be rebuilt there or not.

“I expect we’ll build some sort of building on that site, but I don’t know if it will be a rickhouse,” Call said.

O.Z. Tyler has also started to expand its aging warehouses in Ohio County.

The distillery has immediate plans for nine there and could go up to as many as 15, Call said.

The first two are already under construction on Country Club Road east of Hartford near the Ohio County Park.

Call said he expects the first one to be ready by the first of September.

“It takes about three months (to build one),” Call said. “… I would guess that warehouse project is probably one of the larger construction projects Ohio County’s had in some time.”

The bourbon that will be stored in Ohio County will be placed vertically on pallets as opposed to stacking them horizontally on a wooden rick or runner system found in O.Z. Tyler’s Daviess County warehouses.

Call said the palletized system is considered more stabilized and greatly reduces the chance of collapse.

The Owensboro-based distillery is undergoing its own expansion that’s expected to increase production from 70,000 barrels per year to 90,000.

“We’re excited about that,” Call said. “We hope to have that completed by the end of September.”

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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