CLERMONT, Ky. (WDRB) -- This is the season of all things bourbon especially with the week-long Bardstown Bourbon Festival underway in the Nelson County seat.
Just down the road in Bullitt County a special event took place at the Clermont Distillery of Jim Beam on Thursday.
"This is where our family got this whole thing cranked up after Prohibition," Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe told a crowd gathered outside the distillery's visitors' center to unveil a life size bronze statue of his great grandfather Jim Beam.
Today were are celebrating the 150th birthday of my great grandfather," said Noe.
Jim Beam established Jim Beam bourbon as a national brand when Prohibition ended. It is now the number one selling bourbon in the world.
According to the company Jim Beam sales are up 14 percent this year compared to a year ago.
"The bourbon business has really grown since the 1980's when my dad and some of the other distillers in the state introduced these super premium bourbons," says Noe.
The Beam family line goes way back and runs deep, so everyone with the name of Jim Beam was invited to Thursday's unveiling of the statue.
Jim Beam, from Bardstown, is not in the bourbon business but is a distant relative.
So what's it like to have the name Jim Beam around here? "Nobody forgets your name," he says.
Freddie Noe is hoping someday he can follow in its father's footstep and become a master distiller too, but he now holds the title of special events coordinator.
"I am going around each department helping out and learning each facet of our industry," explains the younger Noe, "so that way when it's time I will know a little bit about each department here."
During the past several years, Jim Beam distillery has spent about $30 million upgrading the operations here with an expanded bottling line, a new research center and a new visitors' center.
More than 150,000 tourists are expected to come through the distillery which is the first stop of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail along the west side just a couple of miles from I-65.
While bourbon is a signature Kentucky industry and its roots are here, most of the distilleries are now owned by foreign companies.
Japanese company Suntory Holdings owns Beam, along with another distillery in Kentucky with strong family roots, Makers Mark, founded by the Samuels family.
But foreign ownership doesn't bother Fred Noe.
Our top leadership people are still in place and they want us to do exactly what we have been doing," he says.
Which is selling a lot of bourbon.
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