Jim Beam is the number one selling bourbon in the world, and the brand team realized it needed a visitor experience worthy of that status. In 2009 PNSA began working on what would evolve into a four year project, culminating in the opening of the American Stillhouse in Clermont, KY in 2012.
PNSA served as project managers, assuring adherence to the project timeline, critical goals and brand messages. We managed communication between key stakeholders both in Kentucky and corporate headquarters in Chicago, architects, construction managers, experiential designers, and many others through the concept, design, development and execution. The expansion included the construction of a new visitor center and retail space, opening of the production operation to consumers, transformation of the tasting experience and venue, creation of a tour path and script, landscaping, wayfinding and many other critical elements.
The facility has been heralded by many as the flagship of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail with elements now being replicated by Beam in major markets across the globe. View photo gallery here.
The original pumping station and water tower have been iconic landmarks in Louisville for over 150 years. The water tower building, designed in the Classical Revival style to resemble a two-story temple with wings on either side was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. For many years, the Louisville Water Company leased the event space to another organization to manage. Overtime it fell into disrepair and was greatly underutilized. Recognizing the significance of this building to the city, The Louisville Water Company chose to take the space back over and subsequently took on a painstaking renovation process to return the building to its original glory. They also added the Waterworks Museum as well as an updated kitchen, restrooms and offices.
As The Louisville Water Company prepared to re-open the facility to the public, they asked PNSA to step in and assist with a number of operational issues. We created standard operating procedures for the building, consulted on staff duties and job descriptions, helped management with plans for marketing, booking and executing weddings and other social events, assisted with the initial retail inventory purchase and many other projects. The facility officially re-opened in 2014 and is now being enjoyed by thousands of guests each month from school groups to elegant social events.
The Kentucky Center for the Arts is an icon in downtown Louisville. It is where visitors from across the state come to experience all types of performing arts from children’s theater to the opera. In 2013, the new president tasked her executive team to create an entire new brand for the Center. Included under that umbrella was the need to recharge the facility and staff to make sure each patron has a truly exceptional experience. PNSA was brought in to do a complete facility and experiential audit ranging from initial ticket purchase through exiting the building after a performance and all elements in-between. We conducted interviews with numerous stakeholders and lead a strategy and ideation session with 30 managers, agency partners and staff and audited numerous performance experiences. The project culminated with training sessions for over 600 staff and volunteers, emphasizing professional development and each team member’s critical role in the patron experience.
Pigeon Forge, nestled at the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains, has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States for decades. Hidden amongst all the larger-than- life amusement rides and carnival-like atmosphere of the area is a quaint little gem called The Old Mill. It is a collection of two restaurants, a historic mill, a potter and shops, all offering a peek back at the history and tradition of the region. In 2014, Old Mill decided to further expand their brand by opening the first modern-day distillery in Pigeon Forge. Paying homage to the history of the area, which included an iron forge, they began a craft distillery operation using corn grown in TN and ground two doors down at the mill. Management asked PNSA to help create the guest experience within the distillery. We did extensive research on the history of the area and its early distillers, created multiple tour path options, designed the tasting experience, completely set the distillery retail store and advised on ways to incorporate the distillery experience with the rest of the property. The distillery opened with very positive reviews and the master distiller is working on the next line of new spirit expressions to be released in the coming months. View our retail store photo gallery here.
Kentucky Peerless Distillery in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville, has deep roots in Kentucky. The brand was started in Henderson in the 1880s by Henry Karver. Like most other distilleries of its time, it fell victim to prohibition. In 2015, nearly 100 years after closing, Corky and Carson Taylor, have revived the family distilling business by re-opening Peerless Distillery.
The family knew a great deal about distilling and historic preservation. They turned to PNSA for guidance on the path consumers should take within the facility and the creation of the retail experience. The Taylor family knew they would be opening the distillery selling Lucky Kentucky Moonshine, a fun and youthful brand while still wanting to begin the process of establishing brand recognition for Kentucky Peerless.
PNSA put together a full portfolio of merchandise to represent those two very different brand identities, while also keeping in mind the demographics of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Louisville tourists most likely to visit the distillery. We also selected all fixtures and props, re-purposing many items found in the storage areas of the old building as well other industrial pieces. PNSA went to buying shows, established relationships with many new vendors and eventually developed and placed the open-to-buy inventory. We then set the store in preparation for the grand opening.
The store opened to rave reviews from visitors. PNSA is continuing the retail consultation relationship with the Peerless team helping them with additional purchases, store flips and other needs. View our photo gallery here.
How do you build a second destination in the same state as the official brand heritage center so the two complement each other, yet each have their own distinct personalities? That was the challenge given to PNSA and the team that developed and launched Beam’s newest visitor experience, the Urban Stillhouse. The American Stillhouse, in Clermont, Kentucky where Beam and its entire family of brands is made, is seen by many brand lovers as “mecca.” Acknowledging the rapid addition of new bourbon brand destinations in Louisville, the brand team decided to add a second visitor experience a mere 30 minutes from Clermont. Louisville is a significant convention city and seen by many as the “launching pad” for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The challenge put before us was to create a distinct visitor experience in downtown Louisville that was unique to all other experiences in the area, exemplified the contemporary elements of the Beam family of brands and served as a catalyst for visitors to make the pilgrimage to the American Stillhouse.
PNSA was involved from the beginning stages of concept design and remained engaged in various aspects of the project including training the entire staff on critical hospitality and customer service skills and completely setting the retail store in the days leading up to the September 2015 grand opening.
The Urban Stillhouse has been very well received by convention goers, locals and those making their way along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. View our photo gallery here.
Boone County, Kentucky was once home to one of the largest distilleries in the country, but like most others it closed its doors as a result of prohibition. In 2016 the rich history of distilling in Boone County was brought back to life with the opening of Boone County Distilling Company with a mantra “made by ghosts.” Due to county ordinance, the distillery had to be located in an industrial area. The location brought a set of challenges but also means the distillery is less than two miles from interstate 75, one of the most traveled roads in the United States! Once production was up and going the owners, two business men and the local sheriff, realized they needed to turn their attention to accommodating visitors.
That’s where PNSA came in. We helped the Boone County team map out a tour path, touch points and exhibits, crafted the tasting experience and developed merchandise and set the retail store. PNSA also advised on a number of operational elements in preparation for the distillery to join the Craft Trail in the coming months. Finally we outlined a phase II expansion plan the owners can keep until resources and visitor count warrant growth in the future. View our photo gallery here.
Jeptha Creed Distillery – A Family Dream Realized
The Nethery family has been part of the fabric of Shelby County, Kentucky for generations since Bruce Nethery’s grandfather began farming the land at the foothills of the Jeptha Knobs. Like many Kentuckians, their ancestors are from Scotland, specifically the Clan Graham whose Gaelic motto, “Ne Oublie” means…”don’t forget where you came from”. Their heritage and this motto were guiding forces as the distillery and guide experience were designed. The distillery is run by mother and daughter team Joyce and Autumn Nethery – the 1st female owned distillery in KY. Joyce is a chemical engineer by trade and Autumn studied brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland then traveled the world by sea, to learn about other distilleries.
The Nethery’s had a clear vision of what they wanted their distillery to be, featuring products with a very strong tie to their land including the use of Bloody Butcher corn for distilling and fruits and honey from their farm for flavoring the moonshines and vodka. They first turned to PNSA over two years before opening for general guidance and consultation on personifying their vision to future guests. As construction progressed we worked on several specific aspects of the visitor experience including the script for introductory video, tasting profiles for the products and tour guide training. For retail, PNSA gave guidance on merchandise selection and sources. We then created a merchandising plan, sourced all the fixtures and props and set the store for grand opening.
It was very rewarding for the PNSA team to see this project go from a dream of the Nethery family to reality, and we are honored to have been a part of the process! View our photo gallery here.