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Beam gives $1m to help Kentucky tornado victims

Maker’s Mark owner Beam Suntory and its parent company have donated US$1 million to support organisations providing aid to those affected by the tornadoes in Kentucky.

The Jim Beam still house in Clermont, Kentucky

On 10 December 2021, a deadly tornado moved across western Kentucky, causing damage across a number of towns and the deaths of more than 50 people.

Jim Beam producer Beam Suntory and its parent firm, Suntory Holdings, has spread its donation between the state’s Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which has been established by governor Andy Beshear, and the American Red Cross’ disaster relief fund.

“The quick response to this heart-breaking tragedy by first responders, relief organisations, government agencies and neighbours helping neighbours has been inspiring,” said Beam Suntory CEO Albert Baladi.

“While our facilities and teams were spared the worst of this catastrophe, we stand with our neighbours and offer this support on behalf of the more than 1,200 people of Beam Suntory in Kentucky.”

Furthermore, Beam Suntory is matching personal donations by its US workers to relief organisations. Through the company’s Care Days programme, some employees are volunteering to support the recovery, while the firm has donated single-barrel Bourbon from Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek to a charity auction organised by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA).

Kentucky Bourbon Benefit

The KDA has teamed up with the Bourbon Crusaders charity and Bourbon writer Fred Minnick to host a fundraising effort to support those affected by the tornado.

KDA president Eric Gregory said: “Kentuckians are hurting. They’ve lost their homes, loved ones and their livelihoods. It’s our obligation as a signature industry – and duty as fellow Kentuckians – to help each other in times of crisis.”

The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit will feature an online and live auction of 20 exclusive private barrel selection experiences, rare and vintage spirits, and tasting and tourism offerings from Kentucky’s distilling industry, and hospitality partners.

Hospitality firms across the Kentucky Bourbon Trail have donated overnight stays at bed-and-breakfast inns, transportation and tourism packages, and a six-foot-tall Christmas tree made out of barrel staves.

“I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support in recent days,” Beshear said. “I appreciate our signature Bourbon industry quickly stepping up to raise much-needed money for Kentucky families that have lost so much in this tragedy.”

The online auction will begin today (16 December) at 5pm EST and run until Tuesday 21 December at 10pm EST. A live-streamed auction will be held on 21 December from 7pm EST at Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville, Kentucky.

All proceeds will go directly to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. Visit to view all the auction items and bid.

In 2018, Beam Suntory-owned Cruzan Rum launched the Island Spirit Fund to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts in the US Virgin Islands and across the US.

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