Jim Beam planning "urban stillhouse" at 4th Street Live in downtown Louisville
UPDATE, Dec. 9: Beam plans to build "a visitors experience that includes a pot still and bottling line where visitors can fill their own bottle," said Gil Lawson, a spokesman for the tourism cabinet, in response to a public information request from WDRB News. The venue will also include a "tasting experience" and "merchandise sales" -- and will "serve as a trailhead for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail."
The visitors center will have the same address -- 408 S. 4th Street -- as the Global Business Service Center that Beam opened last year on the second floor of 4th Street Live, above the Gordon Biersch brewery. The business center houses employees performing back-office functions for Beam like payroll and benefits.
Beam is set to go before the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority on Wednesday to ask preliminary approval for tourism tax credits to help finance the urban stillhouse.
A number of distillers have opened or are planning bourbon-themed tourist facilities downtown, such as the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on W. Main Street. Brown-Forman is planning a visitor center at its Old Forester distillery set to open in 2016 at Whiskey Row.
Clarkson Hines, a spokesman at Beam's corporate headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., declined to comment, as did Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's spokesman, Chris Poynter.
In addition to its namesake bourbon, Beam also owns bourbon brands Maker's Mark and Knob Creek.
Assuming the state board gives Beam preliminary approval for incentives on Wednesday, Beam would then have to produce an economic study showing how the facility will attract tourists and bring enough new money into the local economy to justify the state aid, Lawson said.
Beam would be able to recoup 25 percent of the project cost -- or $1.3 million -- over 10 years following the opening of the facility, Lawson said. The money would come in the form of rebates on state sales taxes generated at the facility.
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