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40,000 Barrels of Bourbon Destroyed in Jim Beam Warehouse Fire

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(Bloomberg) — A fire at a Jim Beam bourbon facility in Kentucky destroyed about 40,000 barrels, potentially causing hundreds of millions of dollars of lost spirits.

Two warehouses caught fire late Tuesday, one of which was destroyed, according to Drew Chandler, the Woodford County Emergency Management Director. Damage to the second warehouse was contained to an external structure, Chandler said. A couple of barrels were left among the rubble of the burned structure, but none will be suitable for human consumption, he said.

A spokesman for parent company Beam Suntory did not have an immediate comment.

The company has not said how many bottles of whiskey were lost, but reports estimate the company can make between 150 and 210 standard-sized bottles per barrel. With estimated retail prices of between $15 and $35 per bottle, the destruction could result in between $90 million to nearly $300 million of lost bourbon, according to Bloomberg calculations. It wasn’t clear what type of bourbon was in the storage facility.

The fire in the first warehouse is still burning, since putting it out with hoses could lead to contamination of a nearby river that feeds a drinking water facility, Chandler said. He estimated that the fire department would continue to let it burn for the next six to eight hours.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but “weather could have been a factor,” Chandler said. An Associated Press report said it could have been caused by lightning.

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