$120 million bourbon bump truly a Fortune

It's common knowledge that the spirits sector of the adult beverage industry is on a continual rise in sales. What isn't widely known is that an industry leader has been straining its capacity to keep up with market demand.

Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. is spending $70 million to expand and update its capacity to produce Jim Beam, the world's top-selling bourbon.

But that's not the only expansion. Fortune Brands, which owns Beam, also is finding demand for its Maker's Mark bourbon so strong it is ponying up close to $50 million to increase capacity of its distillery in Loretto, KY, and production plant in Frankfort, the state capital, meaning a total investment of $120 million.

Jim Beam bourbons are distilled and aged at the Booker Noe distillery in rural Boston, KY, where 61 employees keep production going 'round the clock six days a week to produce 10 millions gallons a year. What is on record as the largest increase in demand since the late 1940s is making that too little.

The expansion program that will raise production capability 50% will result in new rack houses for aging barrels of bourbon to be completed this spring, and a secon d still is on the drawing boards for completion by year's end.

Other bourbon makers are contemplating additional capacity as well as the demand for bourbon continues to grow everywhere.

“The appeal of bourbon worldwide is on a roll,” Ed O’Daniel, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, told the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper. “Everybody is gearing up for more production.”

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