Bourbon Industry

Kentucky’s biggest bourbon considers $165 million expansions

Jim Beam white label bourbon, bottled at the James B. Beam  Distilling Co. in Clermont, is considering a major expansion to increase distilling capacity in Clermont and in Boston.
Jim Beam white label bourbon, bottled at the James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont, is considering a major expansion to increase distilling capacity in Clermont and in Boston. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Jim Beam, already the biggest selling bourbon in the world, is preparing to make a whole lot more: Expansions of about $165 million are under consideration to augment two plants.

On Thursday, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved incentives for a $101.7 million expansion the company is considering in Clermont in Bullitt County for “new distillation capacity” and “new capabilities in the bourbon-making process.”

The board approved tax incentives of up to $1.2 million for the expansion.

Separately, the KEDFA board approved another $600,000 for a proposed expansion at the Beam distillery in Boston in Nelson County, where Beam Brands is “considering steadily increasing capacity over the next five years at its largest distillery in Boston to meet customer demand.”

The company declined to say exactly what is planned.

“As the world leader in bourbon, we are committed to investing ahead of growth, and setting our brands up for continued success,” said Emily York, Beam Suntory spokeswoman. “While we have not finalized our plans, we’re considering a variety of investments to continue to grow our business in Kentucky and around the world.”

Besides Jim Beam white label, Beam also makes Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s and Booker’s premium bourbons, Jim Beam Black, Jim Beam Rye, Devil’s Cut, Red Stag, Old Grand-Dad, Old Crow and other brands.

Beam Suntory also owns Maker’s Mark, which is made in Loretto.

The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse in Louisville is offering free engraving on a bourbon bottle for any participants in the Kentucky Derby Marathon or miniMarathon. Runners can go through the bottling for a more intimate look at the bourbon process.

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