CLERMONT, KY. (WDRB NEWS) -- It is expected to increase tourism and add jobs -- it is a multi-million dollar investment at a Bullitt County distillery. And it is what is new along Kentucky's ever growing Bourbon Trail, a brand new visitors center at the Jim Beam Distillery.
"We've upgraded considerably," says Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe III, "we are now going to have tours of our production areas."
Noe showed WDRB News around the new visitors center which just recently opened and will be formally dedicated on Wednesday.
The new center is a replica of a 1940's still house. It replaces a much smaller center which drew about 80,000 visitors each year.
Jim Beam hopes with its new attraction that number will double. The distillery is located just a little more than a mile east of I-65, making it a convenient stop for tourists.
"We are hoping to get them off I-65," says Noe, "and send them off to the bourbon trail, we are the western most distillery on the trail and many times the first stop for tourists."
Tourists like Stuart and Susan Berg from Minnesota who came up I-65 after visiting Jack Daniels in Tennessee. "I am always interested in whatever is locally produced where ever we go," says Susan Berg.
They are among the 350,000 visitors to the bourbon trail last year.
Jim Beam's new visitors center is part of a $30 million investment to the distillery which includes a new Global Innovation Center which is still under construction and expected to open around the first of 2013.
It is expected to bring in about 50 new jobs. "Our Global Innovation Center is where all of our new products will be developed right here in Kentucky," says Noe.
The dedication of the new visitors center comes on the one-year anniversary of Beam Incorporated as a standalone company. It was once a part of Fortune Brands and still is based outside Chicago.
Ninety million bottles of spirits are run through there each year and shipped to more than 200 countries. "Bourbon is hot," adds Noe. "People are discovering it, they are liking it, and they want to come see where bourbon is made."
On Wednesday, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will come to Jim Beam to formally dedicate the latest attraction to the Bourbon Trail.
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