Two separate barrel warehouses caught fire in the accident, thought to be the result of a lightning strike during a Tuesday night storm. Four Kentucky counties sent firefighters to battle the flames, which are expected to burn into Wednesday night.
Because of the highly flammable nature of a bourbon fire, crews said the fire is being monitored while it burns out to avoid injuries among emergency workers, and also to avoid contaminated runoff seeping into nearby water sources. Though 45,000 barrels of aging bourbon were lost, no one was hurt.
Jim Beam’s parent company Beam Suntory released a statement on Wednesday morning:
“We are thankful that no one was injured in this incident, and we are grateful to the courageous firefighters from multiple jurisdictions who brought the fire under control and prevented it from spreading. Initial reports suggest that the fire resulted from a lightning strike, and we will work with local authorities to confirm the cause and to remediate the impacts.”
The statement detailed the company’s warehouse safety program, including inspections and strict protocols given the importance of security for Jim Beam’s ‘aging inventory.’
“We operate 126 barrel warehouses in Kentucky that hold approximately 3.3 million barrels for our brands, and the warehouse that was destroyed contained 45,000 barrels of relatively young whiskey from the Jim Beam mash bill. Given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers,” the company said.