Jim Beam Bourbon Warehouse Fire

Burned Jim Beam warehouse was insured sprinklers deployedMore

The warehouse in Versailles, Ky., caught fire Tuesday night - possibly due to a lightning strike - and has been hard to extinguish because of the abundance of alcohol that's leaked into a nearby creek and the Kentucky River. Officials want to let as much alcohol as possible burn to reduce the flow of bourbon-filled runoff into nearby waterways.

Despite this good news, officials worry about the runoff whiskey that has flown into the Kentucky River.

"At this point the only thing left burning is the distilled spirits, so it's a clean burn and there is less impact to the atmosphere then there would be if there were attempts to extinguish the fire with water", Drew Chandler with the Woodford County Emergency Management Agency said. It sent flames that could be seen for miles, shooting into the night sky and generating so much heat that firetruck lights melted. The Cabinet is sampling the water daily, and Beam Suntory, Jim Beam's parent company, has begun clearing debris to support the environmental cleanup. The destroyed warehouse was about 100 yards (91 meters) from Glenns Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River. Castle & Key co-owner Will Arvin told WhiskyCast in an email that the fire caused no impact on operations at the distillery, which reopened in 2016 after two years of restoration work on what was known for decades as the historic Old Taylor Distillery. Jim Beam officials on Wednesday said initial reports suggested the fire resulted from a lightning strike.

Sprinklers activated in the warehouse that burned, it said. "In a few days when all this passes, it will be fine", Strohmeier said.

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One barrel can produce approximately 150 to 200 bourbon bottles, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Additionally, the whiskey that was destroyed in the fire only amounts to 1% of its inventory. Jim Beam is the world's best-selling bourbon. "Given the [young] age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers".

"We expect no disruptions to supply as a result of this loss", Beam Suntory spokeswoman Emily Bryson York said. And we think that those will continue.

The company has said it operates 126 barrel warehouses in Kentucky that hold about 3.3 million barrels for its brands.

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