CommunitySpotlight Series


Spotlight on Lancaster: Garrard County Distilling, Kentucky's largest all-new independent distillery

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 26, 2024

LANCASTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — Our Spotlight Series in Lancaster continues as we head to Garrard County Distilling Co. The largest all-new independent distillery in Kentucky produced its first barrel back on January 4.

The idea comes from the founder of Atlanta-based Staghorn.

Every finishing touch on every barrel rolled out has special meaning to Ray Franklin.

"We're blown away every day we walk in here," said Franklin, CEO and founder of Garrard County Distilling.

Franklin points out the size and scale of the more than 50,000 square foot distillery.

"When you tell people you're building a distillery, they go, 'oh that's great,' and then we built one of the biggest."

Walk up the spiral staircase, and you'll see the 45-foot-long and 36-inch-high Vendome Copper and Brass Works column stills.

The place has two distilleries under one roof, a west wing and an east wing.


"We're running rye bourbon on the east side and rye whiskey on the east side," said Franklin.

Numbers and switches in the lab monitor fermentation. There's constant analysis and grain testing.

Equipped with 10,000 gallon cookers, and 20,000 gallon fermenters, the distillery accounts for 12 percent of the whiskey produced by independent distilleries in the nation.

As distillery manager David Devoe puts it, it's about the quality.

"I don't wanna make turpentine, I wanna make stuff, and everybody here wants the stuff that goes into those bottles, they wanna be able to be proud of it," said Devoe.

Garrard County Distilling can proudly say it's the second-largest job creator in the area.


It can be life-changing work for some, according to Devoe.

"It can become your career, and you can find real passion in a place like this, places that you didn't expect."

The house next to the distillery is a slice of American history preserved. It's the home of radical prohibitionist Carrie Nation, who was born about 12 miles from where Garrard County Distilling sits today.

Her home, restored and moved here, is part of the brand story of Garrard County Distilling and Nation, best remembered for bashing up saloons and bars.

"They would place these signs in the window that all nations were welcome except for Carrie. so we were like, this is going to be a great brand story. We've got the American history piece with the home," said Franklin.

Garrard County Distilling can produce up to one hundred and fifty thousand barrels of whiskey a year.

"We don't wanna make the most, however we do make quite a bit, but we really wanna make the best whiskey, and I think we're well on our way," said Franklin.