SKOL! Kentucky Exports Moonshine To Sweden
Kentucky, self-proclaimed Bourbon Capital of the World, exports about 97 percent of the planet’s supply of the distinctive aged whiskey. Much of the corn-mash whiskey’s global cachet owes to the iconic Jim Beam brand, founded in 1795 by an immigrant distiller from Germany named Jacob Beam. Now, one of Kentucky’s newest liquor exports from the heart of bourbon country is small-batch moonshine, an uncooked, rough-and-ready cousin to bourbon distilled by the brothers Beam.
Steve and Paul Beam claim Jacob Beam’s DNA but assert no connection to the Beam Inc. name—which was acquired for $13.5 billion in January 2014 by Japan’s Suntory. Two years ago, the brothers placed a 150 gallon copper pot still in their new production facility in Marion County, launching Limestone Branch. Shortly thereafter a pair of distributors walked in.
“They were out on the Bourbon Trail visiting distilleries, and they walked in blind,” recalls Beam. “They were looking for bourbon to import into Sweden. We don’t have that.” What the distributors found instead was the brother’s 100-proof clear whiskey distilled mainly from sugar. Last year, the Scandinavian nation better known for aquavit got its first taste of moonshine—bearing such flavors and corresponding colors as apple pie, cherry and jalapeno.