BAMBERG -- A bourbon barrel maker announced Friday it is temporarily closing as part of a business restructuring effort.
Black Water Barrels LLC President Greg Pierce said Friday the company is working on restructuring a “larger deal with another party.”
"We still have a skeleton crew," Pierce said via text. "We will reopen as soon as the deal is consummated."
"We have paid our employees through the holidays and anticipate being reopened within 60 days," Pierce said in an emailed statement.
Black Water Barrels announced in September 2016 that it was investing more than $3.6 million in the former Zeigler automotive facility to produce white oak barrels for the bourbon industry.
The company said it would make 30-, 53- and 60-gallon barrels out of the Bamberg facility.
Black Water Barrels planned to create up to 60 new jobs over a five-year period. The SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance website said it employed 23.
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SouthernCarolina Vice President of Marketing Kay Maxwell said she understands that the reduction in workforce is both temporary and seasonal.
"In addition to this, there is some restructuring that we can’t discuss at this time which should be announced soon that will lead to increased jobs and additional shifts that they have been wanting to implement for quite some time," Maxwell said.
"The company is not shutting its doors or being replaced,” she said.
During a 2017 interview, Pierce expressed his optimism that growth was on the horizon for the fledgling company.
"Bourbon is growing about 9 percent a year,” Pierce said at the time. "It is not going to slow up."
Black Water’s operation includes a 17-step process entailing the selection of wood, the preparation of the staves and the final construction of the barrels.
Initially the company was making about 150 barrels a day, or about 30,000 a year, but the amount would vary depending on orders.