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Thousands of Bourbon Barrels Destroyed in Mysterious Distillery Collapse

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Thousands of barrels of whiskey cracked open when the warehouse of a Kentucky distillery collapsed Friday, spilling liquid treasure over the ground.

Roughly 9,000 barrels of the Barton 1792 distillery’s 18,000 barrel stock in Bardstown were lost in the building collapse that started around 11 a.m. Friday, Nelson County Dispatch Director Milton Spalding told the Louisville Courier Journal.

No one was in the building at the time of the collapse, according to authorities, and no one was physically harmed by the incident.

“Of course, there was the smell of bourbon in the air, but that’s kind of common in the warehouse facility, anyway,” Spalding said.

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The wooden, aluminum-sided warehouse was equipped with a concrete basement to capture the spilled amber-colored spirits and prevent flooding, The Associated Press reports.

The Kentucky Division of Waste Management and the Division of Water collected samples of local water to see if the alcohol had seeped into groundwater, but the tests came out clean, John Mura, a spokesman for the Energy and Enviroment Cabinet, told The New York Times.

“There is a stream of bourbon and water running down the hillside that has taken much time to properly and thoroughly assess,” Mura said.

Some of the spirits appeared to flow into nearby Withrow Creek, but “it appears to be minimal,” he said.

The cause of the collapse is still unclear.

“It was just a regular kind of morning with light rain, cloudy skies,” Spalding said. “So we’re not sure what triggered it.”

“We are assessing how many of the impacted barrels can be recovered,” Amy Preske, a spokeswoman for New Orleans-based Sazerac, which owns the distillery, said in a statement. “A mix of various distilled products at various ages were stored in that warehouse.” 

The Barton distillery was established in 1879 and is the oldest distillery in town.

The facility was on a seasonal hiatus from distilling, and the company assured the public that the collapse won’t affect production.

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The collapsed warehouse is one of 29 rackhouses on the 196-acre estate.

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