Beam Suntory to build new Bourbon distillery in Kentucky

The owner of Bourbon brand Jim Beam, Beam Suntory, has broken ground on a new distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, less than a month after a major fire damaged 45,000 barrels of its whiskey.

The move is part of a larger US$60 million investment to re-establish James B. Beam Distilling Co. and production of its Bourbon brands in the town.

The drinks giant said that the new distillery, to be named the Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery, will serve as the home of its “small-batch Bourbons”, such as Booker’s, Baker’s, Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek, Legent and Little Book.

James B. Beam Distilling Co is a reference to the name the company held following the repeal of Prohibition, and will now be used in reference to Beam Suntory’s operations in Clermont.

Commenting on the news, Albert Baladi, president and CEO of Beam Suntory, said: “Beam Suntory is excited to honour our roots by investing in the James B. Beam Distilling Co., and setting ourselves up for a bright future in Kentucky and around the world. With nearly 225 years behind us, we are proud of our history of entrepreneurialism, craftsmanship and innovation. As the world leader in Bourbon, we are thrilled to be laying the foundation for the next 225 years.”

The distillery is named after the seventh generation master distiller, Fred Noe. His son, eight generation distiller Freddie Noe, will use the facility to both produce Bourbon and explore “new fermentation and distillation techniques”.

Noe added: “At Beam Suntory, we like to say that we’re all one big family, and what we’re beginning here today reinforces our leadership in Bourbon, and sets us up for the future. Now I can’t think of anyone who’s set up the future of Bourbon any better than my dad, so I can hardly begin to express my pride in naming this new distillery after him.”

Beam Suntory is also said to be improving the visitor experience at its site in Clermont, giving visitors the opportunity to book distillery tours, tastings and “customisable experiences”.

The news comes after a major fire broke out at a Jim Beam warehouse in Versailles, Kentucky on 2 July, damaging 45,000 barrels of whiskey.

The fire, which was thought to have been caused by a lightening strike, led to a 23-mile-long flow of alcohol spilling into the Kentucky River, killing fish and other aquatic life forms due to depleted levels of oxygen in the water.

It has been reported that Beam Suntory could be fined following the incident. 

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings of Japan. Its global brands include Courvoisier, Hibiki, Laphroaig, Bowmore, Canadian Club, Sauza, Pinaccle, Sipsmith and Roku.

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