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Frazier Museum's Bourbon-Centric Expansion Could Be 'Game-Changer'

Aging bourbon at a distillery in Kentucky.
Aging bourbon at a distillery in Kentucky.

An expansion of the Frazier History Museum to include a bourbon-centric visitors' center would be a "game-changer" for the bourbon industry and the region, said the president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

But it may be some time before that happens.

Plans for the expansion were announced Thursday. The visitors' center would include bourbon exhibitions and programs. (More details can be found here.)

The visitors' center would be the official starting point for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Eric Gregory, president of the distillers' association, said distillers have taken notice in recent years of Louisville's potential to boost the industry, noting the opening of bourbon attractions such as the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on Main Street.

Mac Brown is involved in the plans on two fronts—he's treasurer of the Frazier History Museum's board and also a vice president of Brown-Forman.

Bourbon experiences and distillery attraction, he noted, focus on distillers' brands. The Frazier's expanded bourbon exhibition will take a broader approach.

"We realized there's a real need to tell the bourbon story and how the history of bourbon really fits into the culture and heritage of all of us here in the commonwealth," he said.

Discussions about the expansion began about a year ago when the museum and the distillers' association worked together on a bourbon history exhibition, according to a news release announcing the expansion.

Brown and Gregory both touted the expansion's potential to boost tourism in Louisville.

Gregory said he expects the industry will throw financial support to the project.

The cost of the project has not yet been determined, a spokeswoman said.

Frazier interim director Paula Hale said said the attraction will spotlight a big part of local history.

"From our perspective, the history of bourbon is also the history of corn, it's also the history of agriculture," Hale said. "It uses the river, it also uses some of the early founders."

Hale said the plans are still in the planning stages. She said it'd be years before the expansion would be complete.

This story has been updated to reflect the cost of the project.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

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