Black Velvet has been an iconic brand in Lethbridge for over 50 years, but the distillery will close its doors in 2020. The whisky distillery was purchased by American Heaven Hill Brands, which produces Burnett’s vodkas and dry gins, HPNOTIQ, and Admiral Nelson’s spiced rum.
Debbie Morris, chief operations officer of Heaven Hill Brands, explained: “After extensive deliberation and a comprehensive financial analysis, Heaven Hill Brands has made the challenging decision that revitalizing on-site bottling operations is financially unfeasible”.
Black Velvet Whisky Closes Bottling Division
Morris cited aging equipment and a lack of investment by the previous owners as factors in the decision to halt operations. The bottling operation is scheduled to move to Kentucky, USA.
A relocation of the bottling operation to Bardstown, Kentucky will be announced on Tuesday. The company says employees affected by the move will receive “free outplacement services.” The distilling operation will remain in the city, but the bottling operation will cease.
Defining the decision to keep the distillation in Lethbridge as strategic, Heaven Hill says the brand remains strong. Heaven Hill has yet to confirm a specific closing date, but the company predicts that it will be during the last week of February.
In 2020, Black Velvet remained one of the top-selling whiskies in the US, with an Iowan report noting that it has kept its number 1 slot despite the pandemic.
Black Velvet Whisky held onto its longtime No. 1 spot as the best-selling liquor in Iowa, according to the annual report from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.
The Canadian whisky has been popular in Iowa for decades: In a 1999 interview with the Des Moines Register, a state liquor official called Black Velvet “No. 1 by a country mile” among Iowans.
Such reports shed doubts on the clear reasons for the urgent closure of the fabric when no financial reports of negative growth have been filed by the company.