Jim Beam launches educational programme for distillersBy Melita Kiely
Bourbon brand Jim Beam has donated US$5 million to the University of Kentucky to create an educational programme for distillers, called the James B Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits.
The institute will educate new distillers about the skills needed to succeed in the spirits industry at undergraduate, graduate and professional levels.
This is Jim Beam’s biggest single philanthropic or educational donation in the company’s history.
Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s seventh generation master distiller, said: “With the continued global growth of Bourbon, we need to focus on educating the next generation of distillers, scientists and engineers who can tackle the needs of this industry well into the future. And there’s no better place to make Bourbon than right here in Kentucky.”
The James B Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits will be led by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Courses will cover engineering, chemistry, law, horticulture, forestry, food science and entomology, in a bid to address the spirits industry’s requirements in sustainable agriculture, research and development.
The University of Kentucky first offered a certificate in distillation, wine and brewing studies in 2014 and is due to launch an online version this autumn. The institute intends to expand on this teaching as a collaboration between the Colleges of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Business and Economics.
Seth DeBolt, horticulture professor and institute director at the University of Kentucky, said: “The institute is a collaboration to increase the longevity and the economic development for the spirits industry in Kentucky.
“It is really driven from an interdependence that we see between the university and the industry and of course remember UK’s [University of Kentucky’s] land-grant mission is to serve the economy of Kentucky. It’s a win-win all the way around.”
As part of the partnership, the University of Kentucky and Jim Beam have promised to develop and expand alcohol awareness programmes across the state, including programming already funded by Jim Beam owner Beam Suntory.
Jim Beam added that according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, there are almost two barrels of Bourbon maturing in Kentucky per person living there, currently worth US$3 billion – a 300% increase since 2009.
It added that Bourbon is responsible for generating US$8.6bn for Kentucky’s economy each year, including US$1bn payroll and US$235m in state and local tax revenues. It also creates more than 20,000 jobs in the state.