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9,000 barrels of aging bourbon crash to the ground after warehouse collapses

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thousands of bourbon barrels were piled in a massive heap Friday after a large section of a whiskey storage warehouse collapsed at a distillery in the heart of Kentucky bourbon country.

About 9,000 barrels filled with aging bourbon were affected by the warehouse collapse at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, said Nelson County Emergency Management spokesman Milt Spalding. No injuries were reported following the late-morning collapse, he said.

Barton bourbon is owned by Sazerac, a New Orleans-based spirits company. Spokeswoman Amy Preske said the company was assessing the damage and declined further comment.

The distillery is near a waterway, and officials were checking on whether any whiskey had spilled into it. The structure has a 12-foot (3.6-meter) basement that would help contain spills, said Joe Prewitt, the local emergency management director.

The warehouse stored about 20,000 barrels, and about half the structure with the rest of the barrels was still standing, Spalding said.

Bardstown fire chief Billy Mattingly said crews had been working on the warehouse earlier in the week.

No one was in the building when it collapsed, Spalding said.

The Barton distillery, established in 1879, includes 29 storage warehouses and 22 other buildings, according to its website.

Bourbon ages for years in charred new oak barrels, where it acquires its color and flavor.

Bardstown is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Louisville.