A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
The company describes the centre at the "crowning jewel" in the company's near $100 million in distillery operation improvements since Gruppo Campari purchased the whiskey brand in 2009. Earlier this year, the company announced plans for a $44m bottling facility at the site, which is set to be completed by 2013.
Umberto Luchini, head of marketing at Campari America said: "Our goal with our new visitor centre is to offer bourbon fans an experience befitting the iconic Wild Turkey brand that will serve as a tourism cornerstone in Eastern Kentucky on the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour.
"With the Wild Turkey brand growing at more than 22 percent globally, we are dedicated to advancing consumer education of Kentucky's native spirit here in the Commonwealth with our new visitor centre as well as all over the world."
The centre is slated to open in 2013 and the company expects to welcome 70,000 visitors per year - twice as many as before. The space is to house the history of the brand and the bourbon industry 'presented through modern technology' as well as seminar rooms and a gift shop. There will be outdoor space for picnics, events and performances.
Commonwealth of Kentucky governor Steve Beshear said: "In 2011, tourism contributed more than $11.7 billion to Kentucky's economy.
"I applaud Campari America and Gruppo Campari for making tourism a key aspect of their nearly $100 million in capital investments since they purchased the Wild Turkey brand three years ago."
Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell added: "While I wasn't all that fond of going to school in my youth, I look forward to opening the doors to what will essentially serve as the 'University of Bourbon' when we christen our new visitor centre in the spring of next year... with a bottle of Wild Turkey, of course."
Campari America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Davide Campari-Milano.