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JIm Beam, University Of Kentucky Open Up A Research Distillery

A grand opening in the whiskey world, as the University of Kentucky’s James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits officially opened its doors.

In a statement from the University, officials there touted the institute’s upcoming effect on research, workforce development, education and outreach in the whiskey industry.

The institute has actually served as the industry’s research and development vehicle since 2019, doing so through teaching, research and outreach. The mission? To promote economic sustainability, environmental stewardship and responsible consumption.

James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits
A grand opening in the whiskey world, as the University of Kentucky’s James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits officially opened its doors. (image via University of Kentucky)

“Today reinforces our commitment to investing in our students and Kentucky’s future,” said UK President Eli Capilouto, in his remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “It also reinforces the importance of our essential partnerships that will help us advance Kentucky. This new facility will help leverage transdisciplinary work and show students that the distilling industry needs employees from a vast array of disciplines and majors.”

The new UK campus facilities include a research distillery building, with a 30-foot column still as the centerpiece, and the Independent Stave Company–Boswell Family Barrel Warehouse.

This maturation facility will allow the Beam Institute to experiment with barrel-aging spirits produced in its research distillery.

“This is the largest teaching distillery in the United States and in the world,” said Seth DeBolt, the institute’s director. “It will allow us to train the next generation of distillers and researchers, and to conduct cutting-edge research on the science of spirits production.”

Global spirits company Beam Suntory is the first major gift partner to the Beam Institute, adding workforce education to its list of priorities through an apprenticeship program. The Whiskey Apprentice Program features a curriculum that includes safety, bourbon grains, bourbon engineering, fermentation, public speaking, customer relations, sensory, maturation and distillery science.

“When Beam Suntory first partnered with the University of Kentucky to create the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits, we did so as an investment in the future of bourbon and the future of Kentucky’s workforce,” said Alex Alvarez, chief supply chain officer at Beam Suntory. “The institute has firmly established itself as a forum for continuing education and research, as well as collaboration across the industry to tackle some of our toughest challenges together. We’re proud to be an active partner in this work, pushing our industry toward a bright future.”

The Beam Institute offers engineering, chemistry, business, law, horticulture, forestry, food science and entomology courses to address spirits industry needs in sustainable agriculture, research and development and more.

DeBolt said students will begin learning in the new facilities this fall.

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Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

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