Donation enhances UK’s role as leader in distillery research, education

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/UK Public Affairs)Want to become a master distiller? Want to one-day run your own distillery or brewery? Have an idea to improve the distilling process?
Those and other opportunities just got a big boost at the University of Kentucky.
The James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits at UK received a large donation of distilling equipment from the institute’s founding partner, the James B. Beam Distilling Company.


Jim Beam’s donation included two tractor-trailer loads of stills, tanks, pumps and instruments from the historic craft distillery in Clermont, reducing equipment expenditures by nearly half.

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“We are pleased to be able to help our partners at the Beam Institute with this donation,” said Andrew Slater, vice president of procurement and supply chain strategy for the James B. Beam Distilling Company. “This equipment will support research and innovations in distilling as well as help educate the next generation of distillers.”

The Beam Institute was created to ensure welfare and prosperity of Kentucky’s spirits industry through teaching, research and outreach, and this donation will enable researchers to further that mission.

“This adds tremendous value to the Beam Institute and really allows us to extend our investment in industry as a whole,” said Seth DeBolt, institute director and professor in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

“We are working with still designers at Vendome Copper and Brassworks, a global leader in copper stills, to expand the capacity and capabilities of our new distillery on the UK campus,” said Brad Berron, professor of chemical engineering for the UK College of Engineering who teaches bourbon production engineering for the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Distillation, Wine and Brewing Studies program.

“This will allow us to create specialized demonstration units to teach the science and engineering behind the numerous safety tools used in modern distilleries,” Berron added.

The donated equipment will be stored until construction of the Beam Institute’s new building on campus is complete in 2021.

“This donation will help UK lead the nation in distilled spirits education as it will be the only university with a still house and maturation facility on campus. We’re really looking forward to using this equipment in our programs,” DeBolt said. “It’s yet another way the James B. Beam Distilling Company proves how committed they are to innovation and small-batch distilling. They put a lot of emphasis on industry and workforce development, and that is the culture the Beam Institute embraces as well.”