Jim Beam and Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest Join Forces to Create Natural Limestone Water Sanctuary

Two Kentucky icons are embarking on an alliance to preserve and protect the pristine limestone water in the Clermont area.

Jim Bea and Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest, a 15,625 acre privately held forest just south of Louisville, have joined forces to develop a natural water sanctuary on Bernheim grounds immediately adjacent to the Jim Beam distillery.

Beginning as a one-year agreement, the Natural Water Sanctuary Alliance will protect water quality, restore wildlife habitats, and reintroduce native plants and trees. This group is also working toward a long-term agreement to enhance environmental education, improve watershed protection planning, and secure quality water.

“Great Bourbon starts with great water,” said Freddie Noe, eighth generation Beam Distiller. “In fact, the water in Clermont is one of the main reasons my family chose to settle here back in 1795. Jim Beam Bourbon gets its distinct and wonderful taste, in part, from the local water, which is filtered naturally through limestone. We’re proud to team up with our neighbors at Bernheim to preserve this vital natural resource.”

The Jim Beam Natural Water Sanctuary Alliance at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest will concentrate on conservation activities across Bernheim, particularly within the Long-Lick and Wilson Creek watersheds. These areas feature large forest expanses, wetlands and the head waters of three creeks and several small lakes that support wildlife, the surrounding communities, and the production of Jim Beam Bourbon.

Through this alliance, Jim Beam will also support Bernheim’s work to protect the federally endangered Indiana Bat, and co-host an annual landowners’ workshop to educate the community and promote best practices in water conservation and forest stewardship.

“The importance of clean water cannot be overstated. It’s essential for wildlife. It’s essential for human life and it’s essential to our economy,” said Mark Wourms, Bernheim’s Executive Director. “We are grateful to have a corporate partner like Jim Beam that values protecting this vital natural resource.”

The Natural Water Sanctuary Alliance is the latest example of Beam Suntory’s dedication to protecting water and the environment, inspired by corporate parent Suntory Holdings, which has established 20 Natural Water Sanctuaries throughout Japan. These more than 20,000 acres of forest protect quality water to supply its facilities, and nurture surrounding communities for many years to come.

“Both the Beam and Bernheim families have deep Kentucky roots and centuries of heritage in the Clermont area,” added Noe. “We have long shared a common respect and love for the land here and we understand the critical role protecting our environment, especially our natural water, plays in our future – not only the future of our business but the future health and well-being of our families, friends and colleagues who call this area home. We feel privileged to be able to give back to the community that has given us so much.”

Caroline Paulus
Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.