A Jim Beam warehouse in Northern Kentucky burned along with 45,000 barrels of bourbon late Tuesday, in what officials initially blamed on lightning. The warehouse is owned by Beam Suntory.
Drew Chandler of Woodford County Emergency Management in Kentucky said in reports one warehouse caught fire and that flames spread to a second warehouse. Chandler said the fire may have started because of lightning. Estimates are that firefighters will work late into Wednesday night to put the massive fire out. The warehouses are about the size of a football field and are about seven stories in height.
The company runs 126 barrel warehouses in the state that holds around 3.3 million barrels. While 45,000 barrels of whiskey is a lot, it pales in comparison to how much is held in all the Kentucky warehouses. Nobody was hurt in the fire nor will Jim Beam consumers face a shortage of whiskey as a result of the fires
Still Enough Whiskey to go Around
"We are thankful that no one was injured in this incident, and we are grateful to the courageous firefighters from multiple jurisdictions who brought the fire under control and prevented it from spreading," spokeswoman Emily York said in a statement. "Given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers."
On Twitter, the company said it has a comprehensive warehouse safety program that includes regular inspections and "rigorous" protocols to promote safety and security of its aging inventory. The company said initial reports are that the fire resulted from a lightning strike. In addition to smoke and flames, residents who live near the warehouses could also smell the bourbon in the air.
This isn't the first time Jim Beam has suffered a production loss due to causes outside its control. In 2015 a big storm and lightning strike hit another Kentucky warehouse, resulting in an explosion. The fire caused more than 800,000 gallons of alcohol to spill into a retention pool which also erupted in flames. A large section of the factory was destroyed.