Steve and Paul Beam decided to get into the distilling business in 2010. They have a family heritage from not only the Beam side of the family, but also the Dants. They are descended from the Minor Case Beam branch of the Beam family and from the J. B. Dant branch of the Dant family. The family had not been in the distilling business for over a generation and they wanted to revive the family heritage. They have many of the family papers from both sides of their family and wanted to make some whiskey from the mash bills recorded in these papers.
They started by building a small distillery near Lebanon, Kentucky which opened in 2012. It is a small distillery that makes about a barrel a day. Like most new distillers, they started selling flavored moonshine. Amongst other flavors, they created “Moon Pie Moonshine” which won them some recognition for its quality. In the year 2014, the Beam brothers agreed to a merger with Luxco. This brought the Yellowstone brand back to the family. Yellowstone Bourbon and Minor Case Rye are their two whiskey brands produced by the Beam brothers today, honoring both sides of their family.
The distillery is easy to find and within an hour and a half drive from Louisville. It is still a small distillery, but they have increased capacity at least once since they started. You enter the limestone building into their gift shop and are often greeted by their brand ambassador and tour guide Steve Fante. Fante is a very knowledgeable and personable guide, so if you are lucky enough to have a tour with him, you will be in for a treat.
The tour starts with a look at what I call their “heritage wall”. It is a wall in the hallway leading into the distillery, filled with many artifacts and documents dealing with the Beam and Dant families including brands they produced. The old Yellowstone advertising is very interesting in that you can see the old pre-Prohibition labels, the post-Prohibition labels, and label changes made when the brand was sold to Glenmore Distillery. The old labels depict the waterfall in Yellowstone Park, but Glenmore changed it to depict Old Faithful in the 1970s. Steve and Paul have changed the label back to the waterfall. After hearing this interesting heritage, you enter the distillery.
The distillery is small and consists of a few mash tubs and a pot still. The same room contains their area for filling barrels and bottling whiskey. They do not have a separate warehouse and most of their full sized barrels are aged in the Luxco warehouses. They do have a shipping container out back that is a warehouse for the whiskey experiments done by the distillery. Most of these experiments are whiskeys made from the family mash bills that are made in small batches and aged in small barrels. Steve and Paul have bottled some of these experimental products and sold them in 375ml bottles. I have tried several of these experiments and find them very interesting.
After leaving the distillery, you are taken into the tasting room and given some samples of their products. The distillery is small and much of their whiskey is being made at the Lux Row distillery in Bardstown today. This is good as it is being made to their specification and in amounts that allow for a wider distribution. If they had to depend upon the produce of this small distillery, Yellowstone would be available only in Kentucky and in short supply even then. This means the tasting room has plenty of the Yellowstone Bourbon and the Minor Case Rye, but it is also a place where you can try some of their experimental products. I highly recommend you do this as this may be the only place where you will find them.
The last step in the tour is a visit to their gift shop. It is well supplied with many interesting items. I personally purchased the wooden advertising signs for Yellowstone and Minor Case and have them on my wall behind my desk. You can also purchase bottles, glassware and other such items.
The trip to Limestone Branch Distillery is one worth taking. Make a day of it and pair the trip to either Maker’s Mark Distillery or Independent Stave Cooperage. Both are short drives from Limestone Branch Distillery.
Photos Courtesy of Limestone Branch and Rosemary Miller