LDC Focus: Spotlight on Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy Corp. has experienced growth as an energy provider for the distillery market in Kentucky and Tennessee.

By Gas Technology September 28, 2019

Atmos Energy Corp., headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the nation’s largest fully regulated, natural gas-only distributor of safe, clean, efficient and affordable energy. The Company serves more than 3 million distribution customers in more than 1,400 communities across eight states.

The Atmos Energy service areas in Kentucky and Tennessee, as an energy provider, have experienced industrial growth for the expanding distillery market. Kentucky and Tennessee are home to some of the world’s premier brands for bourbon and whiskey production, and as demand for these distilled products has increased, the demand for safe, clean and reliable natural gas to produce these products has followed.

Jack Daniel’s in Tennessee, along with O.Z Tyler, Wild Turkey, Four Roses and Diageo in Kentucky, have been recent partners with Atmos Energy in establishing new or expanded natural gas service to their distilleries.

In the instance of Jack Daniel’s, which began operations in 1866 in Lynchburg, Tenn., the distillery had previously burned wood and sawdust as its primary fuel source. With Jack Daniel’s construction of a new distillery, along with increased production at its original distillery, natural gas was the fuel of choice to allow Jack Daniel’s to meet future demand. A large part of the natural gas will be used to produce steam, which in turn is used to cook the mash and distill the whiskey.

Expanding gas capacity

Atmos Energy worked with the team at Jack Daniel’s to expand existing gas capacity, and plans on partnering with Jack Daniel’s to construct a new gas pipeline for the distillery. This pipeline will be a four-mile extension of an 8-in. natural gas main, enabling Jack Daniel’s to meet its goal of doubling production in the next 15 years.

Four Roses and Wild Turkey, both located in Lawrenceburg, Ky., also previously used wood-burning fuels as their energy source. Like Jack Daniel’s, both distilleries have shifted to natural gas due to recent expansions.

In the case of Wild Turkey, the conversion to natural gas required two additional miles of new gas infrastructure. For Four Roses, wood will continue to be used as backup to natural gas, but with production expected to double, the company chose natural gas as its primary fuel choice for the required expansion.

Distillery powered by natural gas

Diageo has built its new distillery in Shelbyville, Ky. At this new facility served by natural gas, Bulleit Bourbon will be produced to meet anticipated customer demand. Atmos Energy partnered with Diageo to construct a two-mile extension from its existing system, part of which included a 600-foot bore of a lake that was along the construction path.

Diageo also has announced plans for a second distillery to be built in Lebanon, Ky. This distillery already has natural gas available at the chosen site due to a recently completed project and will be provided by Atmos.

Finally, Atmos Energy has initiated gas service to O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro, Ky. This facility uses only natural gas to meet its production needs. In addition to the distillery, the company has constructed six barrel warehouses capable of holding 20,000 barrels of bourbon each.

Serving ancillary businesses

Atmos Energy also has helped to serve the ancillary businesses that exist to serve these distilleries. For instance, Atmos Energy serves multiple cooperages, which are the facilities where oak barrels are assembled that are critical to storing bourbon and whiskey products for aging purposes. Distilleries require these barrels to be charred on the inside before the whiskey or bourbon is aged in order to obtain the quality these distilleries desire in their final product; natural gas is a key component in this charring process.

Atmos Energy will deliver an additional 3,000,000 Mcf annually to serve these expansions, new distilleries and their conversions from wood to natural gas.

Whiskey and bourbon production has a long history in Tennessee and Kentucky and Atmos Energy is privileged to help continue the next chapter by partnering with these companies in providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy.

– This article appeared in the Gas Technology supplement.


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