A Fire Wiped Out 45,000 Barrels of Jim Beam Bourbon

The bourbon-fueled blaze was so hot that it melted the headlights of attending fire trucks.

by Meera Navlakha
04 July 2019, 3:48am

Screenshot from WSLS 10 via Youtube

A fire blazed through two Jim Beam warehouses in Kentucky on July 2, destroying about 45,000 barrels of the company’s signature bourbon. One of the warehouses collapsed entirely. Nothing was salvaged in the fire.

Authorities were alerted that a fire had begun to blaze through the buildings shortly before midnight. The heat from the fire was so severe that fire truck lights melted in the midst of firefighters’ attempting to contain the fire.

Jim Beam is known for being the world’s largest producer of bourbon. While the destroyed whiskey could have been worth up to $300 million, according to Bloomberg, that amount is said to represent only 1 percent of the company’s total bourbon inventory.

The company released a statement saying that the whiskey in the warehouse was “relatively young” – or rather, not yet ready to be bottled for consumption. The statement continued to say that the availability of Jim Beam would not be affected.

The cause of the fire remains unknown but Drew Chandler, the Woodford County’s Emergency Management Director, reported that “weather could have been a factor.” Chandler alleges that the fire could have been sparked by lightning.

Although the fire was suppressed, it was allowed to blaze for a couple of hours the following day. According to Chandler, the longer the fire burned, the more the distilled spirits burned with it. Firefighters were able to stop it from reaching nearby storage warehouses.

No injuries were reported. Runoff liquid, however, has made its way into the Kentucky River. There are now concerns that the residual effects of the fire could kill fish, that the runoff may create low dissolved oxygen levels. A spokesman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said the fire could have a “serious impact on aquatic life.”

Jim Beam