It’s unclear what caused either of the collapses at the Barton 1792 Distillery. Nor is it clear what the long-term impact will be on the company.
Workers had been attempting to shore up the facility after the June 22 incident. But at 2:20 p.m. local time on Wednesday, as many Americans sipped a bourbon with their barbecue, the remaining half of the seven-story structure came crashing down.
While it’s possible some of the barrels can be salvaged, officials won’t know how many until they begin sifting through the debris. The bourbon runoff from the first collapse was so copious that it killed 800 fish in a nearby creek, despite quick action by fire officials to divert it.
Each barrel of bourbon contains roughly 53 gallons. Some of that is lost to evaporation, referred to within the wine and spirits industries as “the Angel’s Share.” But a barrel generally will result in 150-200 750 ml bottles. So the July 4 incident could mean as many as 1.8 million bottles were lost—bringing the potential grand total to more than 3.5 million.
That’s a lot, obviously, but the warehouse was one of 29 on the Barton estate, so it’s unlikely Barton 1792 lovers will see any shortages in the short term.
Barton Brands, part of the privately-held Louisiana-based Sazerac Company, produces a wide range of spirits including Kentucky bourbon, gin, vodka, and tequila. Sazerac owns a number of well-known Kentucky bourbon brands, including Buffalo Trace. Sazerac acquired Southern Comfort from Jack Daniels maker Brown-Forman in 2016.