Rickhouse collapses at O.Z. Tyler

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Workers from O.Z. Tyler Distillery look over Warehouse H that collapsed during a thunderstorm shortly after midnight Monday that included about 4,000 barrels.

A section of a 20,000-barrel rickhouse collapsed at O.Z. Tyler Distillery during a thunderstorm shortly after midnight Monday.

Jacob Call, master distiller and operations manager for the distillery, said about 4,000 barrels were in the section of Warehouse H that collapsed.

Each barrel holds roughly 53 gallons of bourbon.

But most of the barrels remained intact, Call said.

"We had very minimal spillage," he said. "Those oak barrels are strong."

Call said the Environmental Protection Agency sent people to the distillery in the early morning hours Monday and determined that the spillage wasn't enough to create an environmental problem.

"They didn't see any issues," he said.

"The good news is that nobody was hurt," Call said.

Now, he said, "We're trying to stabilize the building and remove the barrels that are inside. We have to stabilize and rebuild the rickhouse. And we have to find a place to store the barrels that are inside."

A windstorm in 2016 caused another of the rickhouses -- Rickhouse B -- to partially collapse.

But it wasn't full of bourbon at the time.

Last fall, the distillery picked up a permit to rebuild the 93,220-square-foot rickhouse at a cost of $1.5 million.

O.Z. Tyler is running out of storage space on the property at 10 Distillery Road.

It sought permission this year to build more rickhouses in Daviess County, but the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission denied the request.

So, the distillery plans to build nine in Ohio County.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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