The news today is that Party Source, the largest beverage and alcohol store in the U.S., and apparently the only one with an on premises microbrewery and distillery, became 100% employee owned.
The place has many articles about it, from breaking ground for the distillery to today’s announcement of the transfer of ownership to the employees. Many stories indeed, because it sounds like an interesting place.
“The new distillery will allow us to celebrate in our state’s heritage, while producing a world-class product and visitor experience that will only enhance the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region as a travel destination. We’ve done everything possible to ensure that our distillery will be top-notch, from the hiring of Glaserworks as the architects of the distillery to the securing of industry veteran Larry Ebersold as our master distiller,” said Mollie Lewis, Nth Degree Distilling Owner/President.
“The expanded store will house a micro-brewery and craft beer bar with 40 taps, as well as the ‘library bar’ of 400+ bourbons and ryes to educate the public,” says Lewis.
When Ken Lewis saw a surge in bourbon sales at his Party Source liquor store here, he decided to make his own.
The stainless steel fermentation tanks now standing in front of his store will become part of The Nth Degree distillery sometime next year and produce alcohol that will sit in charred-oak barrels for five or more years before becoming a new brand of Kentucky bourbon — the only one produced in this part of the state.
Distillery owner Ken Lewis plans for New Riff to be a way to connect with Kentucky’s bourbon tradition. The facility is expected to open to the public in the spring, but it’s already been added as a stop on the Craft Bourbon Trail.
“The new distillery will allow us to celebrate in our state’s heritage, while producing a world-class product and visitor experience that will only enhance the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region as a travel destination,” Lewis said in a statement. “We’ve done everything possible to ensure that our distillery will be top-notch, we like to call it Kentucky URBAN Whiskey. A new taste on the long standing tradition of bourbon.”
New Riff’s still will be able to produce about 12 53-gallon barrels of bourbon per day once it is prepared. But it will be years before the first batch of the distillery’s bourbon will be available. In the meantime, New Riff will sell other spirits and offer tours of its brewing facilities.
Ken Lewis, founder of the Party Source, is creating an employee stock ownership plan. The day-to-day operations of the Bellevue-store will not change.
“It’s been my dream all along to turn this company over to my employees who helped make the Party Source not just the largest beverage and alcohol store in the U.S., but one of the most successful and cutting edge operations as well,” Lewis said in a news release. “Selling to my employees is the ultimate way to keep this company moving forward even as I turn my attention to New Riff Distilling and Ei8ht Ball Brewing, both located on The Party Source campus. Much more than just personal material success, enriching so many hard working, loyal families gives me great personal satisfaction.”
Most of the news about employee-ownership recently has been coming from Europe or Canada, so it is very nice to see this story coming out of Kentucky of all places. I have a great deal of respect for Ken Lewis and commend him for his entrepreneurial spirit, his ambition and his equitable principles.
A hearty congratulations to all those at The Party Source!
Cross-posted at MyFDL