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Beam Institute Industry Conference Recap 2023

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2023 4th Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference Recap

The 4th Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference took place March 13-15, 2023 in Lexington, Kentucky. Read on for a recap of the events.

The James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits Is Part Of The University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture

This past week, the 4th Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference kicked off its fourth year welcoming over 750 attendees. The conference is held on the campus of the University of Kentucky under the direction of the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits (a new edition to UK’s College of Agriculture since 2019). Sessions held over the 3 days provide continuing education in many aspects of Kentucky’s bourbon industry.

The Conference Began With A Speech From Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear

After a few introductory remarks by Dr. Seth Debolt, the director of the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits, the Govenor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, took the podium. Govenor Beshear gleefully began with the overall stellar economic growth the state has experienced in the past several years. He then shifted to acknowledge the significant impact the bourbon industry has made as part of this growth.

Governor Andy Beshear gives opening remarks at the 4th Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference
Governor Andy Beshear gives opening remarks at the 4th Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference
There’s A Lot Of Investment Being Made By The Kentucky Distilling Industry

The Governor reported that 2022 brought record private investment in Kentucky’s bourbon industry, and along with this, a record number of vistors to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Govenor Beshear continued with the industry’s impressive growth with a 2 minute rapid-fire rundown of last years many notable new projects and new investments. For example, in June alone, Heaven Hill Distillery broke ground on its $135 million Bardstown distillery, Four Roses Distillery invested $23 million to expand in Bulleit County, New Riff Distilling broke ground on a new $10 million northern Kentucky warehouse, and Augusta Distlllery broke ground on a new $23 million northern Kentucky distillery in Bracken County. These projects along with many, many others led to approximately 700 new full time jobs. Not a bad year for America’s spirit.

A Conference For Everyone Involved With The Bourbon Industry

While the distilleries are no doubt the face of the industry, their work would not be possible without many other sectors of business. The James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference, in collaboration with the Kentucky Distillers Association aims to bring everyone involved to the table. Whether farmer, scientist, tourism advocate, or distillery staff, all were welcome. The 3 days were filled with an array of interesting seminars, Industry vendors, and exhibits allowing attendees to learn about new industry developments as well as new best practices.

Each Day Focused On A Specific Topic

Each day’s seminars were organized around the different aspects of the distilling business. For example, Monday’s topics included Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Distilling with presentations by UK Associate Professor of History, Dr. Vanessa M. Holden on “African American Contributions to Distilling” as well as Kentucky State University student, Kayla Bush on “African American Contributions to the Kentucky Bourbon Industry”. Business topics such as transportation, bourbon and retail, and finance among several others rounded out the day.

Tuesday Was All About Distilling

Tuesdays topics revolved mainly around the distillery proper with broad topics such as maturation, fermentation, and quality analysis. A deeper dive into maturation for example provided the distiller and warehouse worker alike some interesting information. Dr. Steven Schafrik, Associate Professor of Mining Engineering at the University of Kentucky, continued to report on his ongoing research “Monitoring and Mitigation of the Rust Promoting Environment in Warehouses”.

Wednesday Was For Sustainability

Wednesday’s topics focused mainly around sustainability in the industry from farming practices to a greener supply chain. Seminars here included “The Economics of Solar Energy Use for a Distillery” as well as “Farm Cover Cropping Driving Sustainability Outcomes on Kentucky Farm”. The afternoon wrapped up with the closing of the conference by 8th generation Jim Beam Master Distiller, Freddie Noe.

Kevin Smith from Company Distilling speaks about the sour mash process - James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference Recap
Kevin Smith from Company Distilling speak about the Sour Mash process
A Very Busy, But Informative Three Days

The Annual James B. Beam Conference is a very busy yet informative 3 days. On the plus side, conference goers have the option just to sign up for one day for a discounted price. Also on the plus side, attendees are provided breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks, no need to hunt for food. While these are just logistics, the biggest plus for attending the conference is for the wealth of knowledge gladly shared by presenters. Equally in the plus column are the connections made amongst presenters and attendees as well as attendee and attendee. The access to this amazing amount of networking is incredibly beneficial to individual and business alike.

The only downside is that now the 5th Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference in still a year away.

Would you like to learn more about the Beam Institute’s namesake distillery? Read our James B Beam Distilling Tour Review and read about one of their recent limited release bourbons in our Hardin’s Creek Colonel James B Beam Bourbon Review!

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