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The newest name in Marion County's distillers is an old name in the whiskey business. Brothers Steve and Paul Beam hope to begin making their own whiskey, rum and bourbon before the end of the year.
Steve Beam said their great-great-grandfather, JW. Dant, operated a distillery in Marion County 175 years ago. Both of their grandfathers were distillers as well.
"We hope to continue the tradition of making fine hand-crafted small batch spirits," Steve Beam said.
Construction of the Limestone Branch Distillery is scheduled to begin as soon as possible on 14 acres in the Crossroads Industrial Park, located on the Marion County Veterans Memorial Bypass.
In January, Steve Beam said the distillery would have just a few employees when it opens, but he hopes to expand to as many as four or five full-time employees and 10-15 part-time employees as the business develops.
Marion County Economic Development Director Tom Lund said microdistilleries have become tourist attractions in other areas, and he thinks the Limestone Branch Distillery will become another draw for Marion County on Kentucky's Bourbon Trail.
Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission Executive Director Chris Hamilton agreed. He said the microdistillery will fit in perfectly with the Maker's Mark and cooperage tours.
"This will be another shot in the arm," Hamilton said. "Now, there is another reason for visitors to the bourbon trail to stop here."
Hamilton reported at the May 9 meeting of the tourism commission that Marion County has become the second-leading overnight stay for visitors on the bourbon trail, behind only Bardstown.
The Beam brothers have been operating restaurants in Louisville for several years. Steve Beam has a degree in landscape architecture, and Paul Beam is retired from the Ford Motor Company's truck plant in Louisville.
Construction of the distillery is expected to begin as soon as possible, and Steve Beam said it could be open by late summer, hopefully before Ham Days.
"We're excited," he said. "It's long, hard process, but the county's been helpful every step of the way."