In the fall of 2018 the University of Kentucky announced the creation of the Kentucky Spirits Research Institute. It is a collaborative research and workforce development effort with the distilled spirits industry and the state’s largest university. The concept behind the initiative is to grow the states signature spirits industry not only as the source of billions of dollars in revenue but to make it the home for spirits innovation, workforce development and thought leadership.
Since its creation many distilleries from across the state have come on board to support the Institute. In April of 2019 James Beam Bourbon announced it would be donating $5 million dollars to the university for the Institute. The gift was Jim Beam’s and its parent company Beam Suntory’s largest single philanthropic or educational gift in the company’s history. With that gift came the naming rights of what is now known as the James B. Beam Institute of Kentucky Spirits, led by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
This past week in Lexington was the inaugural James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference. It was a gathering of large heritage distillers as well as up and coming craft spirits makers. And of note, these distillers were coming from across the country, not just the Institutes home state of Kentucky. The event also included vendors from across the country who provide products and services to the industry.
One of those industry suppliers and world leader in barrel making was Independent Stave Company. Independent Stave is a family owned company that has been making barrels for the wine and spirits industries since 1912. As you visit distilleries around the country you’ll often see the ISC Barrel logo embedded on barrels. To give you an idea of the size of the company they now have operations throughout the world on six continents.
At a media gathering that included a dozen distillers Independent Stave’s CEO Brad Boswell was chosen to close out the event with a special announcement.
Independent Stave Company – Boswell Family Donate $1 Million
Watch the video to hear Independent Stave Company CEO Brad Boswell announce the $1 million donation.
“My name is Brad Boswell, I am a 4th generation cooper. I’m honored to be here to represent the barrel industry. My family, the Boswell family, we’ve been in the business for about 108 years and we’re just thrilled to be a part of it. Our family believes that the future of any industry is based on the quality of the young people coming into it. And having well trained, ambitious people coming into any industry definitely brightens its future. We think the Institute is going to help facilitate that and we believe in it so much that they asked me to go last because we are making an announcement today that my family is donating $1 million to the University of Kentucky to build a barrel house adjacent to the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits on campus.”
“I think it’s going to be a barrel house that will be a real barrel house. It will be about a 600 barrel house for experimentation and for training young distillers of the future and distillery workers of the future how to practically handle barrels. They’ll come to work prepared knowing what barrels are and how to handle and maintain them.”
“This will be the Independent Stave Company and Boswell Family barrel warehouse. We are excited to use it for experimentation. With my friends up here (the distillers) hopefully we’ll have lots of good liquids going into barrels, different types of barrels for different amounts of time and see how they perform and have a common goal of making better and better bourbons and whiskies that the public enjoys responsibly.”
“We think it will compliment the distillery that will be built at the James B. Beam Institute. I think it will be the perfect complement to actually have the warehousing and barrels on site. And it’s going to be beautiful, right on campus and I think the industry and the University will be very proud of it. And thanks to everybody, this Institute is awesome!”
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The new experimental barrel warehouse will be the only one of its kind in the United States. With its 600 barrel capacity it will become an interactive classroom and laboratory where students and scientists can tackle real-life industry issues.
“Independent Stave Company is the industry leader in American white oak barrel manufacturing, sustainability and innovation,” said Seth DeBolt, director of the Beam Institute. “This generous investment by the Boswell family will greatly enhance the reach of the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits at the University of Kentucky and is an investment in Kentucky’s future.”
“As the University of, for and with Kentucky, we are grateful for the Boswell family’s generosity,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “This gift further strengthens our commitment to research and workforce development in an industry inextricably linked to Kentucky’s economy.”
The James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits, led by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, will support the offering of courses across engineering, chemistry, business, law, horticulture, forestry, food science, and entomology to address spirits industry needs in sustainable agriculture, research and development, and more. The facility will include a state-of-the-art classroom, conference room and quality laboratory as well as a world-class research-teaching still.
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