Formerly the Jim Beam campus, the newly branded James B. Beam Distilling Company (JBBDCo) campus has long been a household name for bourbon aficionados and novices alike. Known as the birthplace of bourbon, the Beam family has been crafting its iconic American whiskies for eight generations along the expansive bourbon trail in Clermont, KY.
Recognizing an opportunity to create a contemporary customer journey that would preserve the historical brand and connect it to a new generation of bourbon lovers, Beam Suntory embarked on a multi-phase renovation of its campus. The goals were to create an innovative visitor experience, improve existing operations and environmental conditions, introduce its brand and bourbon to new generations of prospective bourbon lovers, and make a home for its family of American whiskies under one roof. Under the creative direction of LOVE, the JBBDCo sought to create an immersive tour of the campus that would draw in new and returning visitors with an unparalleled program that encourages guests to make this a repeat experience for years to come.
LOVE sought an architectural partner who shared their vision for the campus and was dedicated to making an unforgettable consumer experience. Bergmeyer's understanding of the essence of the JBBDCo brand and expertise in designing customer-focused, immersive experiences in retail, restaurant, hospitality, and cultural spaces made a perfect partnership with LOVE. Together, the teams worked on the expansive scope of architectural design work throughout the campus, especially in developing the American Outpost campus visitor experience, the Fred B. Noe Distillery VIP experience, and The Kitchen Table restaurant.
"What you have built is the next chapter of a category defining and enduring legacy. You have not only elevated and honored this legacy, you have also brought it to life in a way that people can authentically experience - the Beam family legacy, our philosophy on genuine whiskey making, and our belief in what is to come as we lead into the next phase of what American whiskey can be." ~Malini Patel, Managing Director, James B. Beam Distilling Co.
The synergy between LOVE and Bergmeyer was even more crucial due to the unforeseen challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, restricting overseas travel, and supply chain setbacks challenging our design process. Our complete understanding of the vision and experience with complicated processes reassured LOVE of the project's success with us as their partner. Our teams worked in close collaboration with the Beam family to tell the story of their brand and history through a pioneering campus experience. Ready for a tour?
American Outpost The first and last stop on the tour, the American Outpost is an interactive visitor center. Serving as a hub for all things James B. Beam, it features a newly designed tasting experience that educates guests about the Beam family's extensive bourbon history. The American Outpost serves as the campus check-in, housing an interactive retail experience with custom capabilities and JBBDCo's full suite of whiskies, a tasting area, and a newly constructed addition for administrative offices. Thoughtful design elements such as a photo booth that shares guests' images on a two-story gallery wall collection of digital screens alongside historic Beam photos welcome guests to truly become part of the family.
Beam Made Bourbon The next stop is Beam Made Bourbon where visitors immerse themselves in the story of the Beam family's bourbon heritage. Renovations were made in and around the former craft distillery while the fermentation room remained in production, requiring careful execution around a volatile setting. Upon arrival, guests are introduced to the legendary brand’s production process, learning about the distillation process while experiencing unique representations of the essential features of bourbon-making. Visitors will experience the world's first cornfall which pays homage to bourbon’s key ingredient and a flowing waterfall of local limestone-purified Kentucky water. On display is a vintage 1939 Cadillac akin to the one driven by Jim Beam himself. New two-story glass windows with views into the fermentation room show the fermentation tanks and process on the distillation journey seen like never before.
The Casehouse After experiencing the bourbon distillation process at the heart of Beam's three-story Beam Made Bourbon and the Still Building, they continue to The Casehouse. This tour segment features an interactive museum and JBBDCo's entire family of brands under one roof. Guests experience a six-stage, multi-sensory educational exercise to learn about distilling bourbon and complete the process by filling their own barrels and bottles first-hand.
Fred B. Noe Distillery Dedicated to Seventh Generation Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, this ground-up state-of-the-art distillery was designed to produce and inspire the brand's newest small-batch whiskies and new creations. A place for innovation, guests can find eighth-generation master distiller Freddie Noe – Fred's son – experimenting with some of the most advanced techniques in distillation. For the first time in JBBDCo's history, two master distillers are working alongside one another, as announced at the opening celebration for the reinvigorated campus.
Offered as a VIP experience, guests can work alongside Freddie to recreate one of his new flavor profiles in the newly designed Tasting and Barrel Rooms. Additionally, to promote the next generation of distillers, JBBDCo offers classroom space in this distillery in connection with the University of Kentucky. The classroom overlooks the distilling operations so students can learn how to craft the next generation of bourbon.
The Kitchen Table Guests to the JBBDCo campus can also enjoy a delectable meal at The Kitchen Table, a first-of-its-kind experience on the trail featuring a full-service bar and restaurant built at the heart of the campus. This newly constructed building brought a much-desired culinary program to the campus, serving some of the Beam family’s favorite recipes alongside a bar program that celebrates the full suite of Beam whiskies. The space features wood-clad ceilings reclaimed from the rackhouses on campus, as well as furniture inspired by the Beam family’s own kitchen table. Guests can conclude their campus visit overlooking Kentucky’s official state arboretum, the Bernheim Forest while swinging on the porch or from the leather-clad stools at the custom-built island bar.
The new James B. Beam Distilling Co’s guest journey will leave you appreciating the traditions of the past and exhilarated for the innovations to come.