Steve Beam, of Limestone Branch Distillery, was named the Marion County Chamber of Commerce 2021 Businessman of the Year

We here at the Lebanon Tourist & Convention Commission were thrilled when one of our local tourist attractions got some great recognition.

Steve Beam, of Limestone Branch Distillery, was named the Marion County Chamber of Commerce 2021 Businessman of the Year at the organization’s annual banquet in Lebanon, KY, on June 17.

Steve was a key component in the founding of Limestone, has masterminded the creation and marketing of products, he built the excellent team that works at Limestone, and he has guided growth and expansion into corporate partnership.

Not so obvious to folks outside the bourbon industry: In Kentucky, the nation and worldwide Steve has built recognition and appreciation—and the financial value—of the craft distilling component of the massive bourbon business.

Here’s what renown bourbon blogger Chuck Cowdery says: “Steve Beam has been a leader in the American craft distilling movement, a movement that is challenging and changing the entire beverage alcohol industry. In the process, Steve and (his brother) Paul have put the Beam and Dant families right back into the center of Kentucky bourbon, a source of pride for everyone in those exceptional families. It’s a lot.”

When Steve Beam arrived on the Kentucky bourbon scene beginning in 2011, the Kentucky Distillery Association’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour didn’t even exist. Now that portion of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is booming. And Limestone is a major tourist attraction, and post-Covid Limestone Branch is seeing amazing visitation growth, retail sales success and marketing expansion.

Who hasn’t seen the Limestone Branch Yellowstone ads on the Paramount Network marquee attraction featuring Kevin Costner, “Yellowstone.” Wow.

And the work Steve has done with the National Parks Conservation Association and his association with Yellowstone National Park…. Again, wow. (The park’s Yellowstone Falls is on Limestone Branch Distillery Yellowstone brand label.)

The 2021 Businessman of the Year Award was presented by Marion County (KY) Judge Executive David Daugherty. Here’s the presentation speech.


Our Businessman of the Year Award recipient was born in Louisville, KY where he grew up in the 1960s.

After graduating from Trinity High School he attended Purdue University in the 1980s, where he studied and earned degrees in landscape architecture and horticulture.

After college graduation he immediately had retail success with a produce business he built; but exploiting connections and opportunities, he established a landscaping business that thrived in Atlanta, Georgia and Miami, Florida.

From 2001 to 2010 he was a driving force, along with his brother, in building Bearno’s Little Sicily Pizza into Louisville’s dynamic business and retail landscape.

But always in his mind was an overriding ambition: to get his family back into the bourbon distilling business and bring the famed Yellowstone bourbon label back into family ownership.
The passion comes from the fact that our award winner’s family lineage runs deep into BOTH historic bourbon names: Beam and Dant.

In 2011 and 2012 our recipient was the mastermind of the opening of Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, the Heart of Kentucky.

Why Lebanon, Kentucky? “They embraced us,” said his brother Paul. “Other communities we talked to didn’t understand the significance of the growing interest in craft distilling. This all worked out fantastic because the area where we settled is where it all started to begin with.”

Today Limestone Branch Distillery IS the home of world-famous Yellowstone Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Yellowstone Limited Edition.

The distillery is the star of Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, and global sales throughout 14 countries carry “Lebanon, Kentucky” on the label. It’s the only Kentucky bourbon sold in a national park gift shop, and you gotta go to Yellowstone National Park to get that special edition bottle.

Yellowstone Bourbon is currently seeing a 182 percent sales increase over last year. This year Limestone Branch is on track to triple 2020 barrel production numbers.

In bottling, Limestone Branch just crossed its 200,000th case filled since its inception in 2010.

As for tourism, in 2020 Limestone Branch Distillery had 8,036 visitors. As of early June 2021, Limestone Branch has already had 7,300 visitors and plans 12,000 visitors by the end of the year.

Among the many awards earned, in 2020 Limestone Branch Distillery was named one of the 10 Best Craft Distilleries in the Nation, USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards.

In the 2019 Berlin International Spirits Competition, Limestone Branch Distillery was named the Bourbon Distillery of the Year.

Our award recipient has not only spearheaded the development of Limestone Branch Distillery and its products, “he’s been a leader in the American craft distilling movement,” said Chuck Cowdery, nationally known bourbon writer. “That movement is challenging and changing the entire beverage alcohol industry.”

Looking ahead, the future is bright as innovative products flow from the distillery: Bowling & Burch new world gin is the latest sensation in the distilled spirits retail world. And our award winner’s Purdue University horticulture studies came in handy, because he grows many of the botanicals that go into the unique favoring of the small-batch gin.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the winner of the 2021 Marion County Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year Award, Steve Beam.