Forge a career in distilling with top employer Beam Suntory

Forge a career in distilling with top employer Beam Suntory

 August 22, 2023

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Thanks to an innovative partnership with Beam Suntory, the University of Kentucky is strengthening Kentucky's signature industry for generations to come. With dozens of experts collaborating across disciplines, the university's teaching, research and outreach operations promote economic sustainability, environmental stewardship and responsible consumption.

As such, top employer Beam Suntory has opened the doors of the world’s largest teaching distillery, the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits, built in partnership with the University of Kentucky. 

"This special moment embodies Beam Suntory's core value of Growing for Good, which guides the company in expanding its positive influence within its communities in the journey to become the 'World's Most Admired Premium Spirits Company,' commented the company.

Research and teaching go hand in hand's what we do every day," said Institute Director, Dr. Seth Debolt.

Largest teaching distillery in the world

BeamSuntory JIMBEAM distillery teaching kentucky

The institute elevates its impact on research, workforce development, education and outreach.  

Since 2019, the institute has served as the industry’s research and development vehicle, pursuing its mission to ensure the welfare and prosperity of Kentucky’s spirits industry. Through teaching, research and outreach, the institute promotes economic sustainability, environmental stewardship, and responsible consumption.

The new University of Kentucky campus facilities include a research distillery building, with a 30-foot column still as the centerpiece, and the Independent Stave Company – Boswell Family Barrel Warehouse. The maturation facility allows the Beam Institute to experiment with barrel aging spirits produced in its research distillery.

“This is the largest teaching distillery in the United States and in the world,” said Seth DeBolt, Institute Director and UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Professor. “It will allow us to train the next generation of distillers and researchers, and to conduct cutting-edge research on the science of spirits production.”

Workforce education 

As the first major gift partner to the Beam Institute, global spirits leader Beam Suntory made a long-lasting commitment to the Institute’s vision of excellent hands-on distillation, wine and brewing. The company, known for its iconic brand portfolio that includes Jim Beam, has continued to be a broad-interest partner, adding workforce education to its list of priorities through a one-of-a-kind apprenticeship.

The Whisky Apprentice Program delivers a robust curriculum that includes safety, bourbon grains, bourbon engineering, fermentation, public speaking, customer relations, sensory, maturation and distillery science. 

“When Beam Suntory first partnered with the University of Kentucky to create the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits, we did so as an investment in the future of bourbon and the future of Kentucky’s workforce,” said Alex Alvarez, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Beam Suntory.

“The institute has firmly established itself as a forum for continuing education and research, as well as collaboration across the industry to tackle some of our toughest challenges together. We’re proud to be an active partner in this work, pushing our industry toward a bright future.”

Addressing the needs of the spirits industry 

The Beam Institute offers engineering, chemistry, business, law, horticulture, forestry, food science, and entomology courses to address spirits industry needs in sustainable agriculture, research and development, and more. DeBolt said students will begin learning in the new facilities this fall.

The Beam Institute is a multidisciplinary effort of experts from the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences and Gatton College of Business and Economics. 

Work for top employer Beam Suntory 

Beam Suntory is dedicated to addressing the needs of the spirits industry. 

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