LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- There is a certain newness on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville and seen through the eyes of an "old friend' named Forester.
"This is a day we have been waiting for for years," Old Forester Master Taster Jackie Zykan said Thursday before the opening of the company's distillery and tour facility on Main Street.
There will be more than just distilling at the location. Much of bourbon's rich history is fermented on its grounds. Nearly 150 years for Old Forester dates back to the days of George Garvin Brown, whose signature was to seal whiskey in glass bottles.
"Old Forester in Louisville is such a heritage brand, this is the hometown bourbon of bourbon's hometown.
But in this part of bourbon's hometown, disaster tried to leave its own fingerprint.
Many watched intense flames rip through Whiskey Row in 2015, but even before then, and since, the plan to open the distillery has not stopped.
"We have such an amazing construction team and this is a very important investment for the company, fire or no fire," Zykan said, "It's not the first fire on this block, hopefully it's the last; this distillery was going to exist no matter what happened with that."
Now fans of Old Forester and Louisville visitors can see firsthand how the famous bourbon is made and why the finish is so smooth.
Visitors can get so close to the action, they can stand less than 5 feet from the bourbon barrels being burned prior to being filled with the spirit.
"You've never been able to come inside and see the process or see all of the history," Zykan added.
The company hopes visitors will hear current Old Forester president Campbell Brown's words echoed through the halls of the distillery, "Welcome friends, old and new, into our new, old home."