Jim Beam has officially filled the Bardstown bourbon distillery's 13 millionth barrel since Prohibition.
Master distiller Fred Noe and his son, Freddie, a great-grandson and a great-great-grandson of Beam, hammered in the historic bung Wednesday.
The milestone comes less than three years after the filling of the 12 millionth barrel as Beam has ramped up production to meet demand. Domestic sales of bourbon have increased by 40 percent in the past five years, and exports have topped the $1 billion mark.
"This recent success is a testament to the craft and heritage of 'America's native spirit,'" said Fred Noe, who has been on hand for a number of barreling milestones in his 30-plus years at the Beam distillery. "Globally, bourbon is in huge demand, and we're producing it at a faster rate than ever before. We expect even less time to pass between now and the 14 millionth barrel fill than the three short years it took us to hit 13 million after 12 million."
The popularity of bourbon made Beam an attractive property: After U.S. and European regulatory approvals, Beam Inc. expects to finalize the sale of the company to Japanese spirits maker Suntory on April 30.