Speyside’s GM and new plant manager meet with EDA

The Bath County Economic Development Authority was given an update from Speyside Bourbon Stave Mill on Wednesday evening, and as many of us have been looking forward to- the news is good.   Darren Whitmer, General Manager of Speyside Bourbon Cooperage gave a little company history, and then introduced Jim McCoy, who will be the plant manager in Millboro. Darren Whitmer,

“Speyside Cooperage is a company that started in Scotland next to the River Spey, which is why it’s called Speyside. My boss who lived in Scotland; his grandfather or great grandfather started the company back in the 40s as a family owned business up until probably nine or ten years ago when it was acquired by another family owned business which happens to be French. So now our ownership is French, the TFF, which you can look up on the Paris Stock exchange. It’s publicly traded.”

The cooperage, which opened last Spring in Jackson Ohio, is the destination for the staves that will be milled in Millboro. Darren Whitmer continued.

“We put together a cooperage in a 250,000 square foot building, technically makes us about the second largest barrel producer in the US. We’re already turning out about six hundred barrels a day. So our initial stave source is in Ohio. The sides of the barrel are called staves, the slats that are used to make up a barrel. So we need a lot of those. We make five hundred and ten thousand barrels, which is what we’re going to do this year; next year we’re going to double that.”

“Years and years ago I hear that there were actually cooperages, stave mills here, not maybe cooperages, but stave mills. All of that’s gone. Most of the production is done in Kentucky and Missouri, and kind of in the Mid West. So strategically this works out well for us because we’re fairly far east compared to the other cooperages.”

Mr. Whitmer cited access to the woods, and to the Interstate going west to Ohio as two reasons the Millboro site was such a good choice for Speyside. He also gives credit to many people he and his team met through the search, the purchase, and now the construction.

“We’ve worked with people in this community. Maggie and Wayne were instrumental in bringing us here, truly. That relationship goes back a way. Jim McCoy is our first employee at Speyside Bourbon Stave Mill.”

Several authority members, and others in the public were eager to ask the obvious questions. When does it open? And how soon will you start hiring?

Darren Whitmer and Jim McCoy, plant manager, continued to share the important information. Construction of the mill probably won’t begin until the spring when the weather is more cooperative, and they don’t anticipate production beginning until September or October. Somewhere in those months in between, Speyside management will begin looking at resumes, and buying logs. They plan to keep the public well-informed about all employment opportunities, and will certainly share progress on the facility as it moves forward.   To learn more about the company already up and running in Jackson, Ohio visit speysidebci.com. And then look forward to its sister company growing up in Millboro.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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