Jim Beam is the No. 1 selling bourbon brand in the world, but that didn’t happen overnight. The brand has a long history dating back to the early days of America, and it has always been an innovator in the space.
Here are nine things you should know about one of the most historic names in bourbon.
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The brand has used the same ingredients for hundreds of years.
Jim Beam has used the same proportion of corn, rye, and barley in its mash bill for more than 220 years. Along with the mash bill consistency, the distillery has used the same yeast colony for 75 years.
It used to go by a different name.
Jacob Beam, the founder of the distillery, started out under the company name Old Tub Bourbon in 1795 and the Beam family ran Old Tub Bourbon until Prohibition. After Prohibition, in 1934, Jim Beam didn’t know the rights to Old Tub, so he named it Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey instead, using the same recipe.
Jim Beam is a truly global product.
Jim Beam is available in 200 countries and territories. America, Germany, and Australia are the biggest consumers.
You can thank Jim Beam for cask-release, small-batch bourbons.
Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s grandson, released Booker’s in 1987. It was uncut with water and straight from the barrel. Demand exploded and other distillers followed suit with their own small batches.
It’s still family-run.
Jim Beam has been run by one family for seven generations.
Time counts for the distillery.
Jim Beam ages its bourbon for twice as long as the legally required two years.
Speed also counts, though.
The bourbon industry was non-existent after Prohibition. James B. Beam got busy as soon as the alcohol ban was lifted and rebuilt the Clermont, Kentucky distiller in 120 days.
The business is actually owned by a Japanese company.
Suntory Holdings, which is responsible for Japan’s first whisky, bought the company in 2014. The sale also included a few Scotch companies and Maker’s Mark for $13.62 billion. Today the company is called Beam Suntory.
There are two places to get to know Jim Beam in person.
The distillery in Clermont, Kentucky offers tours, as does a spot in Louisville called Bourbon Experiences, where people can learn about the history of bourbon and have bourbon cocktails made tableside.