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Visitors can now experience whole new look at Jim Beam

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By Alex Wimsatt

 CLERMONT - From a small family distillery in rural Kentucky to a global leader in the distilled spirits industry, Jim Beam has remained a central figure in the commonwealth’s signature bourbon industry for more than 200 years. 

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In celebration of the world’s number one selling bourbon, hundreds recently gathered at Jim Beam’s flagship distillery in Clermont to witness the beginning of a new chapter in bourbon history.

Standing in the shadow of what Beam Inc. President and CEO Matthew Shattock called, “a testament to both our treasured heritage and our exciting future,” seventh generation master distiller “Fred” Booker Noe III dedicated Jim Beam’s new visitors center.

The Jim Beam American Stillhouse. 

“The doors to our new home are officially open,” Noe proclaimed in his gravely voice with a big smile.

With the grand opening of the Jim Beam Beam American Stillhouse, visitors can now, for the first time, truly experience the heritage and innovation of Beam. 

In his gruff southern drawl, Noe said the Jim Beam American Stillhouse was “a salute to Kentucky,” as he spoke fondly of the company’s humble beginnings and its spirit.

“This distillery is more than just a plant, it’s our home...a living breating thing ,” Noe said. “We’re gonna be proud to tell our story .” 

The muliti-million dollar visitors experience expansion is heralded as one of a kind, giving visitors the chance to not only learn first hand about the world’s number-one selling bourbon and how it’s made, but actually take part in the distillation process. 

“For more than 200 years we’ve been turning friends into family,” Noe said. “Now the world can come and see how special this place is and have a big time doing it.”

Modeled after the original 1930s stillhouse built by Jim Beam himself, the new visitor’s center features impressive and historic architectural elements, including an original prohibition era staircase from the distillery. 

The wood flooring on the second level is made from siding taken from old Kentucky barns, the vanities in the rest rooms are made from Kentucky limestone and the cyprus wood that covers the reception desk was rescued from an 80-year-old vat similar to those used by distillers. 

With extensive improvements made across the Jim Beam campus, visitors can mosey the stillhouse and other facilities on guided tours that engage the senses, from the distillery’s natural limestone water well to bottling. 

The Jim Beam American Stillhouse represents Beam’s $30 million, multi-year investment in its Clermont distillery, the community and the commonwealth. 

In congratulating Beam on its one year anniversary as a standalone publicly traded company, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear commented on bourbon’s significance to the state economy. 

Beshear said the term “signature industry” has become almost cliche, but when it comes to Kentucky bourbon it’s not. 

 “Everywhere I go the one product I’m asked about is bourbon,” he said. “”Bourbon is not just a drink, it’s economic development and jobs.”

The governor commended the Beam team for making theirs the fastest growing distilled spirits company in the market over the last year.

“If they can do half as well with the state as they are with their company we’ll be off to the races,” he said. 

In concluding the grand opening ceremony of the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Beshear joined Noe, Shattock and Beam Chairman of the Board David Mackay in a toast of rare Jim Beam bourbon fresh from the barrel.

 With that, guests were invited to enjoy VIP tours and a cocktail reception inside the stillhouse.

The event boasted a veritable who’s who of elected officials, those affiliated with Kentucky’s distilled spirits and tourism industries, even a country music star. 

Kentucky native Eddie Montgomery of country duo Montgomery Gentry said he’s been a friend of the Beam family for a decade. 

Asked what brought him out to the grand opening of the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Montgomery said Jim Beam was passed down in his family like music.

“I wouldn’t miss it for nothing in the world,” he said. “It’s great to see Jim Beam become number one.” 

After taking a tour of the distillery. Randy Whitt of Louisville, who owns a sports media marketing company, said he had been a fan of Jim Beam for as long as he could remember. 

Whitt said he’d frequently visited the distillery over the years, watching it grow and change. 

“It’s been an evolution,” he said.

Whitt said he felt the distillery’s new and improved visitors experience would greatly promote the brand, adding that he was very impressed by his first impression. 

“It’s one of central Kentucky’s best kept secrets,” he said. “When you have an international company that’s done as well as Beam has you know you’ve got a good thing in Bullitt County.”