bourbon

Jim Beam

Jim Beam is turning to Hollywood for its latest spokesperson as the company gets set to launch its first-ever global marketing campaign.  

In a video posted on the Jim Beam website, Master Distiller Fred Noe takes actress Mila Kunis on a tour of Jim Beam's Kentucky facilities.

Kunis, who’s starred in movies along with TV shows like That 70s Show and Family Guy, will be the centerpiece of Jim Beam’s new campaign branded “Make History”.  

The announcement of the world-wide marketing effort comes two weeks after Japanese company Suntory announced it was purchasing Jim Beam. The ads featuring Kunis start next month.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s bourbon distillers are celebrating a record number of visitors in 2013.

The eight facilities that make up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail saw a 12 percent jump in visits last year, with nearly 572,000 visitors touring facilities such as Four Roses,  Maker’s Mark, and the recently-opened Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail director Adam Johnson  attributes part of the tourism draw to the efforts distillers have made to improve their facilities.

“Name the distillery, and they’ve put some serious money in expanding that experience for their visitors," Johnson told WKU Public Radio. "Woodford Reserve, for example—they’re working hard on their place and hope to be open in the spring with a much more expanded experience, just like Jim Beam has done, just like Maker’s Mark has done, just as Wild Turkey has done.”

Johnson says the rising popularity of bourbon and other Kentucky-made spirits has also trickled down to the commonwealth’s growing list of smaller craft distilleries. Nearly 62,000 visits were made last year to members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, including Corsair Artisan Distillery in Bowling Green, and Limestone Branch in Lebanon.

Here is a list of the member distilleries that are a part of the Bourbon Trail and Craft Tours:

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.

Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.

Jim Beam distillery

A Japanese company has announced plans to acquire the producer of Jim Beam bourbon.

Suntory Holdings of Osaka, Japan, has agreed to purchase Beam Incorporated for $16 billion.

The Courier-Journal reports that under a deal approved by leadership at both companies, the current Beam management team would continue to lead the business from Beam headquarters outside Chicago, with Jim Beam maintaining its distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.

Beam Incorporated owns many of the most famous names in the world of bourbon, including Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Bookers, and Old Grand-Dad.

The company’s portfolio also includes brands of vodka, rum, tequila, as well as Irish and Scotch whiskies.

The acquisition of Beam Incorporated by Suntory Holdings is expected to finalized in the second quarter of this year.

Kentucky authorities are dangling a $10,000 reward for information that helps solve the disappearance of some sought-after bourbon. 

It's become a compelling mystery in a state that produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon. What happened to 65 cases of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and nine cases of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve rye? The whiskey was taken from the Buffalo Trace Distillery at Frankfort in mid-October.

The missing whiskey is valued at more than $26,000.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said Monday the reward could provide "a heck of a Christmas" for someone who helps crack the case.

Melton says a crime stopper's group put up $1,000, but he declined to identify any other donor.

The sheriff says his detectives have interviewed more than 100 people.

The principal of Bardstown High School is denying that he was involved in the theft of some of the world's most prized bourbon. Chris Pickett met with detectives Monday and denied claims that he offered to sell bottle of Pappy Van Winkle to an Elizabethtown liquor store.

An attorney for Pickett told the Courier-Journal that this client “did not” try to sell bottles of the famous bourbon. The lawyer says Pickett was simply inquiring as to whether any Pappy Van Winkle was available for purchase.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton—who is investigating the bourbon theft—said his office needed to verify information before clearing Pickett of any suspicion related to the case.

Sixty-five cases of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and nine cases of rye were stolen from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. Investigators originally described the crime as an apparent inside job. Video surveillance taken October 20 at a Hardin County liquor store shows Pickett entering and leaving the store.

Sheriff Melton later described the individual in the video as a “person of interest.”

Police are searching for a man who tried to sell a large quantity of a famous bourbon to a Hardin County liquor store. The man—who was caught on surveillance tape—is wanted in questioning over a recent heist of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.

Police in Franklin County started investigating last week when 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and nine cases of rye turned up missing at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, where the whiskey is bottled and aged. Pappy Van Winkle is routinely one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world, having gaining a cult-like status largely because there’s so little of it to go around each year.

The Courier-Journal reports that Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said the man who tried to sell the Pappy Van Winkle to the Hardin County liquor store appeared to be between the ages of 50 and 60, and was wearing what looked like a Bardstown High School pullover. Melton described the man as a “person of interest” and said authorities believe he drove a late model Ford F-150 that appeared to be green with a tan trim.

You can find a link to the surveillance video here.

Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson Dies

Sep 11, 2013
Rick Howlett

A master distiller who helped create the Woodford Reserve brand for Brown-Forman and came out of retirement in 2006 to help launch Angel's Envy has died.

A statement from Angel's Envy says 75-year-old Lincoln Henderson died late Tuesday. It did not give a reason.

Henderson was well-known and respected in the industry and was named as an inaugural member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

A statement from Brown-Forman said Henderson worked for the company nearly 40 years and was a "titan of the Kentucky bourbon industry."  It said he tasted more than 430,000 barrels of bourbon to determine whether they were ready for bottling.

New Blended Bourbon Honors Longtime Master Distiller

Jul 24, 2013

Kentucky's renowned bourbon brands are offering up a bit of their whiskeys for a special blend to benefit efforts to find a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease in honor of longtime Heaven Hill Distilleries master distiller Parker Beam.

The result of the effort is called Master Distillers' Unity. Bardstown-based Heaven Hill says a crystal two-bottle set of the one-of-its-kind blend will be offered at auction in New York City on Oct. 13. All proceeds will go to the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund, which is raising money for research and patient care by the ALS Association.

Parker Beam has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The special blend includes bourbon from Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

Buffalo Trace

The man who introduced the world's first single barrel bourbon has died at the age of 93. Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee passed away Tuesday morning following a brief illness.

Lee's connection to Kentucky's signature spirit began in 1949, when he started working in the engineering department of the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort. In 1966, Lee was promoted to plant superintendent, and three years after that he became plant manager.

Lee's most lasting contribution to the world of bourbon came in 1984 when he introduced the first-ever single barrel bourbon, called Blanton's. Taking a cue from the scotch industry that gained popularity in the U.S. through single-malt varieties, Lee honed the technique of identifying and cultivating the best bourbon that could be produced in his distillery's warehouses. He took into account where the barrels were located in the warehouse, how often they were rotated, and how long the whiskey aged in the barrels.

In 1986, Buffalo Trace honored Lee by naming a line of single barrel bourbons Elmer T. Lee.

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