A New Approach on the Bourbon Trail

Ground was broken yesterday for Wild Turkey’s new visitors’ center in the heart of Kentucky’s horse country and smack-dab in the middle of the state’s legendary Bourbon Trail.

The site near Lawrenceburg rests on a majestic bluff that overlooks the Kentucky River and two bridges spanning it.

“There are two ways to approach it,” says Roberto De Leon of Louisville-based De Leon & Primmer, whose firm won a recent competition to design the new facility.  “One is by land, and the other is by the bridges, where you can see it high up on a cliff looking over the river.”

For its form, the architects took their cues from the vernacular of the creosote-blackened tobacco barns prevalent across rural Kentucky.

“It looks barn-like, but it’s an exaggerated barn,” he says. “It looks black from far away, but it’s just a dark stain.  You still see the wood – it’s a zigzag herringbone pattern.”

A sheen of screw heads, patterned on the wood slats, will shine during the day.  At night, the pattern reverses with lights inside, turning building into lantern.

The 9,500 square-foot structure will house exhibition space, gift shop, offices and a private tasting room, with terraces and vistas all around.  It’s designed to serve as the starting point for tours of the distillery and bottling plant.

At its center is a bridge element that will hold a ramp along which spaces for hands-on, interactive displays addressing the history of the brand and the components of bourbon-making will be experienced.  As visitors ascend the ramp, they’ll look down toward the exhibit spaces through the floor, while moving up toward the tasting room.

“It’s a process that culminates in tasting the bourbon,” he says.

The new center will form the hub of Wild Turkey’s entire complex of buildings in the Kentucky countryside, delivering a new kind of sophistication to an agrarian landscape.

“The client wanted something iconic and simple,” he says.  “The simpler we kept the shape, the more powerful it became.”

For more on Wild Turkey, go to http://www.wildturkey.com/

For more on De Leon &Primmer, go to http://deleon-primmer.com/

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