Jim Beam invests $400M to ramp up bourbon production

The project will increase capacity by 50% while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the same percentage

Jim Beam plans to ramp up bourbon production at its largest Kentucky distillery to meet growing global demand. 

The maker of the top-selling bourbon said it has reached production capacity at its plant in Boston, Kentucky, located about 36 miles south of Louisville. The expansion will be used to produce two mainstays — Jim Beam white and black label bourbons — and will mostly support expected sales growth overseas, especially in European and Asian markets, said Carlo Coppola, managing director of the Beam brands.

Mixing renewable energy into crafting whiskey, Beam will use a process that produces renewable natural gas to power the plant, the company said.

Jim Beam bourbon bottles lined up next to each other

Bottles of bourbon are shown on a shelf at The Jim Beam Distillery on February 17, 2020 in Clermont, Kentucky. U.S. whiskey exports have fallen by 27 percent to the European Union, the product's largest export market, caused by retaliatory tariffs im (Bryan Woolston/Getty Images / Getty Images)


3 Rivers Energy Partners will supply the technical knowhow to build a facility across the street to convert waste from making bourbon into biogas, which will be treated to renewable natural gas standards and piped directly back to the distillery.

"This expansion will help ensure we meet future demand for our iconic bourbon in a sustainable way that supports the environment and the local community that has helped build and support Jim Beam," said Beam Suntory President and CEO Albert Baladi.

Japanese beverage maker Suntory bought Jim Beam in April 2014 for $83.50 per share, valuing the company at $13.6 billion. As a result of the transaction, Beam was renamed Beam Suntory.

Suntory Beverage and Food

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
STBFY SUNTORY BEVERAGE & FOOD 15.72 -0.13 -0.82%
DEO DIAGEO PLC 140.57 +1.64 +1.18%

Beam Suntory, whose products include Kentucky-crafted Maker’s Mark and Sipsmith gin, said last year it wants to cut its companywide greenhouse gas emissions and water usage in half by 2030. 

The world's oldest single malt scotch was stored in Cask 340, an oak barrel. Gordon & MacPhail reportedly distilled the scotch in 1940. (Sotheby's)

The company’s more ambitious goal is to remove more carbon than is emitted from its operations and among its supplier base by 2040. The spirits giant also is committed to planting 500,000 trees annually by 2030, with a goal of planting more trees than are used to make barrels to hold its aging whiskeys. 


The new project will create 51 more jobs and includes additional storage warehouses. Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, where it acquires its color and flavor. Scottish Whisky (Scotch), which is produced using second-hand Bourbon barrels, has also seen unprecedented demand in recent years. 

Close-up shoot Bottles of Johnnie Walker ( Red Label) on the market shelf are waiting to be purchased by consumers in Antalya, Turkey, Feb. 12, 2014. Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch Whisky owned by Diageo and originated in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, S (iStock / iStock)

With a 50% increase in production of bourbon comes a 50% in used oak barrels which, in time, will help satiate the growing demand for all whiskey including Scotch.  

Jim Beam isn’t the first maker of bourbon to go green. Last year, spirits giant Diageo opened a carbon-neutral distillery of Bulleit bourbon powered by renewable energy in Lebanon, Kentucky.


Beam’s expansion at its Boston, Ky. distillery comes amid continued rapid growth in the state’s $9 billion distilling industry. Kentucky distillers are in the midst of a more than $5 billion capital investment campaign that includes expanding production facilities and warehousing to meet the global thirst for Kentucky bourbon, according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. 

Beam Suntory did not respond to a request for comment.

The Associate Press contributed to this article.