Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: July 20, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, | Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Elaine Lidholm, (804) 786-7686, | Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc.: Maggie Anderson, (443) 340-3788,

Governor Northam Announces Speyside Bourbon Cooperage to Establish Operations in Smyth and Washington Counties

Company to invest total of $35 million and create 160 new jobs

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc. will invest $26 million to establish a bourbon barrel cooperage in Smyth County and $9 million in a new stave mill facility in Washington County. The stave mill will supply the company’s new Smyth County cooperage, and the two operations will ramp up simultaneously. Virginia successfully competed against West Virginia for the projects, which will create 125 new jobs in Smyth County and 35 new jobs in Washington County.

“Speyside Bourbon Cooperage is expanding its footprint in Virginia just two years after announcing its first operation in Bath County, a neat testament to the Commonwealth’s business advantages and access to markets,” said Governor Northam. “This global company’s new facilities in Smyth and Washington Counties will be a significant economic boost to the region, and we look forward to working with our state partners to facilitate the company’s success in the Commonwealth.”

Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc. is an offspring of Speyside Cooperage Ltd., founded in Scotland in 1947. In 2008 Speyside Cooperage was sold to the Tonnellerie François Frères Group, a publicly held company founded in 1910 and headquartered in France. The company operates stave mills and bourbon cooperages in the U.S., with facilities in Kentucky, Ohio, and Bath County, Virginia.

“This major win is a tremendous example of state, regional, and local collaboration to secure Speyside Bourbon Cooperage’s newest supply and production facilities in the U.S., and will have a positive impact on Smyth and Washington Counties, Southwest Virginia, and the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The projects also demonstrate the value and efficiency that Virginia’s robust logistics infrastructure adds to companies’ supply chain management. We thank Speyside for its significant investment and 160 new, 21st-century jobs.”

“Through its commitment to making significant investments in Virginia, Speyside Bourbon Cooperage is further supporting Virginia’s forest industry, loggers, and landowners, a critical part of Virginia’s economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am thrilled the Commonwealth could partner with Washington County through the AFID program to support this company in a flourishing industry. This project fills a critical gap in the spirit industry supply chain and through Speyside’s handcrafted barrels, Virginia-grown forestry products will be a part of making craft beverages all around the world.”

“Speyside Bourbon Cooperage is very excited to be expanding our operations in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said General Manager of Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc. Darren Whitmer. “Working with state and local authorities has been a wonderful experience for us, and thanks to these groups of people we have been able to locate excellent sites for our upcoming expansions. Virginia is perfect for us from a business standpoint; the communities that we are working in have been very welcoming. Logistically, the access that Virginia has fits our business model, and from a resource standpoint, Virginia cannot be beat. All of these factors have played an important part in leading us to Virginia, and we look forward to a long and prosperous future here.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, and Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance worked with Smyth and Washington Counties, the Smyth-Washington Regional Industrial Facilities Authority to secure the projects for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $325,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Smyth County with the cooperage project and a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to assist Washington County with the stave mill project. The stave mill will procure approximately 80% of the white oak logs used for stave production from Virginia growers. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved a total of $510,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the projects.

The company is also eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and for Sales and Use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP).

“On behalf of the Smyth County Board of Supervisors and the citizens of Smyth County, I am excited to welcome Speyside to our community and region as a whole,” said Chairman of the Smyth County Board of Supervisors Todd Dishner. “We are very pleased with the decision to locate one facility here in Smyth County and a second facility in Highlands Business Park, which we partner with our good neighbors from Washington County in the Glade Springs area. Together, we are looking forward to beginning what is sure to be a win-win relationship for both our communities and Speyside moving forward.”

“Today’s announcement exemplifies the power of partnerships in helping to catalyze new job creation and new investment opportunities which benefit both Washington County residents, and our neighbors,” said Chairman of the Washington County Board of Supervisors Saul Hernandez. “We are delighted to be celebrating not just one project today, but two.  The people of Washington and Smyth Counties hit a homerun today with the location of Speyside to our communities.” 

“On behalf of the Smyth-Washington Regional Industrial Facilities Authority (SWIFA), it is a pleasure to welcome Speyside to Highlands Business Park,” said SWIFA Chairman Henry Snodgrass. “Speyside’s development of a stave mill facility represents an impactful supply chain investment in our region, and we are excited to be a part of helping the company bring new job growth and investment opportunities to our residents.”

“This project is a sure win for both Smyth and Washington Counties, as well as the entire Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Smyth County Board of Supervisors member and SWIFA Board member Curtis Rhea. “Speyside, and its operations, will go a long way in filling a void that exists within our area and provide the necessary opportunities for citizens to live, work, and play here within our communities. Thanks to all those involved in this process and especially the leadership and visionaries within Speyside for making this happen.”

“As a member of the SWIFA Board and the Washington County Board of Supervisors, I wish to thank Speyside for selecting Washington County and Highlands Business Park,” said Eddie Copenhaver. “It was truly a pleasure to work with company principals and regional and state officials as Speyside explored locations for new development.”

“Bringing a new business to Southwest Virginia is always good news, especially when it will create a large number of new jobs,” said Tobacco Commission member Senator Bill Carrico. “We have a dedicated and skilled workforce in our region and it’s great to see that recognized by a company like Speyside through their decision to locate here. I’m also pleased that the Tobacco Commission chose to support this project and look forward to seeing Speyside get their workers hired and operations underway.”

“Regional cooperation and out-of-the-box thinking are critical factors in successfully retooling economic development and job creation in Virginia,” said Delegate Jeffrey Campbell. “Today’s announcement represents shining examples of both. The vigorous efforts of the state, regional, and local partners involved in bringing this outstanding company to our area should be commended. We welcome Speyside with open arms and look forward to their continued success and the opportunities they bring to the people of Smyth and Washington Counties.”

“Speyside’s significant business expansion is great news for Southwest Virginia, and we are grateful for their decision to locate in Smyth and Washington counties,” said Delegate Israel O’Quinn. “We look forward to the numerous job opportunities that will become available to our residents, the millions of dollars of investment in our communities, and what we hope will be a long-standing working relationship with Speyside.”

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