Time to Switch to Scotch? 45,000 Barrels of Jim Beam Lost in Warehouse Fire

Jim Beam Whiskey

Firefighters are still battling a blaze in Versailles, Ky., that engulfed a couple of Jim Beam warehouses yesterday afternoon. No injuries have been reported, thankfully — no human injuries, that is. Sadly, over 45,000 barrels of Jim Beam were lost in the blaze.

Two Jim Beam warehouses caught fire after a suspected lightning strike late yesterday. One warehouse has collapsed and is still burning at this time. The other escaped with some external damage. The main reason crews are moving slowly as they work to put out the fire is that they don't want to risk contaminating a nearby river with runoff from the massive amount of water that would be generated by their hoses.

The biggest loss to the company comes from the destruction of an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars worth of young bourbon. Thankfully, in an email sent to BNN Bloomberg, a spokesperson for the company assures everyone that "Given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers."

Beam Suntory, the parent company of Jim Beam, has 126 barrel warehouses in Kentucky. Even with the loss of 45,000 barrels, the total loss is just a fraction of the Jim Beam inventory. Scattered over the 126 warehouses are 3.3 million barrels. That works out to a loss of just over 1 percent of the total barrels. As BNN Bloomberg points out:

Reports estimate the company can make between 150 and 210 standard-sized bottles per barrel. With estimated retail prices of between US$15 and US$35 per bottle, the destruction could result in between US$90 million to nearly US$300 million of lost bourbon, according to Bloomberg calculations. With the barrels containing younger whiskey, losses are expected to be on the lower side.

While I don't celebrate the company's loss, I am thankful for my bourbon-drinking friends that access to their preferred spirit will apparently remain unchanged even after the loss of 45,000 barrels of Jim Beam. However, I would urge them to consider that this might be a great time to switch to Scotch.