The Kentucky Bourbon Trail was created in 1999 to give bourbon fans an up close and personal look into the art and science of crafting bourbon and to educate them about the rich history of Kentucky’s signature industry. One of the seven founding members of the Trail includes the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Last year, as the popularity of bourbon tourism has continued to grow the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and its companion Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, which launched in 2012, welcomed 1,719,821 million thirsty whiskey fans.
Though 2020 bourbon tourism numbers will no doubt have an asterisk next to them because of the pandemic Jim Beam and its parent company Beam Suntory are still committed to bourbon tourism and are investing heavily in its future. In July of 2019 Beam Seventh Generation Master Distiller Fred Noe and his son Eighth Generation Master Distiller Freddie Noe broke ground on a $60 million expansion project to renovate, renew and rethink the tourism experience at the distillery. Progress continues on construction and the company has released some new details on what bourbon fans can look forward to once the project is completed next year.
New Visitor Experience to Celebrate 225 Year Jim Beam Legacy
Visitors can expect to see an elevated consumer experience opening in the summer of 2021. The first thing fans will notice as a part of that renovation is a return to the distillery’s Post-Prohibition name as the James B. Beam Distilling Co. The company says the new destination will pair its historic commitment to genuine bourbon with an eye on the future to allow consumers to enjoy all its spirits brands. This new experience will embody the Beam family ethos, honor and celebrate its 225-year legacy in bourbon, and showcase an ambition for the future of American whisky with a craft distillery and cutting-edge partnerships.
“We are so proud of our history and are thrilled to honor it through this new experience to best tell the stories of our family and the craft that we have such immense passion for,” said Freddie Noe, 8th generation Beam Distiller. “We are excited about the future and the impact we can have on the industry, and I can’t wait to give visitors an inside look at how we do things the Beam way, and to also have a hand in educating the next generation, too.”
Visitors can expect a truly immersive experience, featuring the full Beam Distilling family of brands, from Jim Beam® Bourbon to small-batch icons such as Booker’s®, Baker’s®, Basil Hayden’s® and Knob Creek®, and recent introductions including Little Book® and Legent™. They will also be offered one-of-a-kind opportunities to better understand the “Beam Way” of making bourbon and get a glimpse at the industry’s future.
“For 225 years, we have been the author of our own destiny and have charted a new course for bourbon, as industry pioneers of quality, craftsmanship, and innovation,” said Albert Baladi, President & CEO, Beam Suntory. “We will be excited to re-open our doors in a post-pandemic environment. Our new visitor experience, including the craft distillery, will set us up for success in the next 225 years as we continue to be the definitive voice in bourbon, both in Kentucky and globally.”
James B. Beam Distilling Co. to include Educational, Historical, and Culinary Experiences
The new visitor experience will be redesigned for first time visitors just learning about bourbon as well as existing bourbon fans from near and far. Kentucky’s laws have changed over the last several years that now allow distilleries to offer spirits by the cocktail, larger sample sizes and bottle sales at the distillery. These are just a few things that invite fans back to the distillery on a regular basis.
Here’s a short list of what visitors can expect to see in 2021.
The American Outpost – Replacing the American Stillhouse, this unique visitor and retail center will honor the James B. Beam Distilling Co.’s past. The original American Outpost was the first retail visitor experience in 1981, selling Jim Beam® merchandise. The American Outpost will also feature new tasting rooms, offering a more complete experience for the family of brands.
The Kitchen Table – Inspired by the Noe family kitchen table, where generations have enjoyed bourbon and shared meals, The Kitchen Table will champion local farmers and producers. Visitors can take in the stunning views and unwind with world-class food and cocktails in this 5,000 square ft. restaurant and gathering space.
Beam Made Bourbon – This immersive consumer tour is a visual educational experience showcasing how to make bourbon the “Beam Way,” and a stop in the Distillate Room, highlighting each brand’s unique distillation levers that help shape its character.
Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery – The new home for small-batch and next-generation whiskies will also serve as a functional production facility to explore new fermentation and distillation techniques. Named after Seventh Generation Master Distiller Fred Noe, the craft distillery will offer distillation process sessions with Freddie Noe, 8th Generation Beam Distiller, hands-on activities in the blending lab, a tasting bar and a state-of-the-art classroom for the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits.
Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse in Louisville to Close Permanently
Jim Beam has announced its Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse visitor center in downtown Louisville, Kentucky which opened with much fanfare in 2015 will be closed permanently. Here’s a statement released by Beam Suntory about the closing.
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“As we maintain focus on our transformational agenda in Clermont, with an eye on reopening to consumers in mid-2021, we have made the decision not to renew our lease at the Urban Stillhouse in downtown Louisville. We will maintain our offices on Fourth Street Live and look forward to bringing a new consumer experience to Louisville that is in line with what we are building at our iconic homeplace.”
The company says it plans to reimagine its consumer experience in Louisville with a bigger and better consumer experience to a new location in Louisville in the future. In the meantime, Beam Suntory’s commitment to Kentucky remains strong as it focuses on a fully immersive experience for the full Beam family of brands across the state.
We will keep you posted on progress at the James B. Beam Distillery in Clermont over the next several months and when it will once again start welcoming bourbon fans again in 2021.
Who Were the Original Members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?
Today’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour members have grown to include 37 distilleries across the state. The original Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 1999 included these seven members.
- Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort
- Four Roses Distillery, Lawrenceburg
- Heaven Hill Distillery, Bardstown
- Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Clermont
- Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto
- Wild Turkey Distillery, Lawrenceburg
- Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles
View all Kentucky Distilleries.