LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 2, 2020) — Bourbon is an $8.6 billion industry in Kentucky and boasts more than 21,000 jobs and rising, accounting for a third of all distilling jobs in the United States. The James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits at the University of Kentucky will offer an inaugural industry conference Feb. 27 in the UK Gatton Student Center.
The Beam Institute is a collaboration between the UK colleges of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Arts and Sciences; Business and Economics; and Engineering. Its vision is to educate the next generation of distillers through a curriculum that develops skills for undergraduates, graduate students and professionals to succeed in the distilled spirits industry.
“We wanted to offer an information-rich learning experience for those who work every day to produce the top-quality products Kentucky is known for worldwide,” said Seth DeBolt, UK horticulture professor and Beam Institute director. “We are hoping this first conference will be educational, memorable and ultimately provide information and resources industry professionals can use in their jobs.”
The conference will address key topics those in the industry deal with on a regular basis. UK and industry representatives will lead sessions focused on fermentation, spent grains, warehouse issues, maturation, white oak and a grains panel. Exhibits and vendors will offer interactive displays and opportunities for networking. Attendees will also earn a certificate of continuing education for participation.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Beam Suntory
- Manager of environment, health and safety, Tony Ising
- Health and safety manager, Tate Preston
- Director of maturing inventory and barrel performance, Phil Luddeke
- Whiskey blending scientist, Tyler Gomez
- UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
- Professor Seth Debolt, Department of Horticulture
- Professor Dave VanSanford, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
- Associate Professor Jeffrey Lehmkuhler, Department of Animal and Food Sciences
- Extension Professor Mike Potter, Department of Entomology
- Independent Stave Company
- CEO Brad Boswell
- Director of spirits research and innovation, Andrew Wiehebrink
- U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station project leader, Dana Nelson
- Sazerac Buffalo Trace master distiller, Harlen Wheatley
- Associate Professor Steven Schafrik, UK College of Engineering Department of Mining Engineering
- Jeptha Creed CEO and master distiller, Joyce Nethery
- Heaven Hill master distiller, Connor O’Driscoll
- Brooks Grain LLC president, Erica Fields
- South Fork Malthouse maltster and owner, Russell Case
- Wilderness Trail co-owner and master distiller, Shane Baker
- Walnut Grove Farms owner and farmer, Sam Halcomb
- Buzick vice president and chief engineer, Kevin Aldred
- Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services owner and manager, Gary Spedding
The day will begin with registration at 7:30 a.m. EST and wrap up with closing remarks at 4 p.m. Early bird registration is $95 through Jan. 15. Student registration is $25. Beginning Jan. 16, registration is $195. The price includes the full day of educational sessions, exhibits, breakfast, lunch and snacks. Organizers are accepting vendors through Jan. 31. To register as a participant or vendor, visit the Eventbrite page at https://beam-institute-conference.eventbrite.com.
For more information, visit the Beam Institute website at http://beaminstitute.ca.uky.edu. Participants are welcome to stay after the conference and attend the Bourbon and Distilled Spirits Career Fair, which requires a separate registration, https://dwb.ca.uky.edu/BourbonCareerFair.
UK and Jim Beam-parent Beam Suntory are dedicated to the responsible consumption of alcohol and together will develop and expand successful alcohol awareness programs, including programming already funded by Beam Suntory.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.