Jim Beam bourbon is produced in Clermont, Kentucky. It is one of the best selling bourbon brands in the world. The Beam family are sometimes referred to as the First Family of Bourbon. The current master distiller, Fred Noe, is the seventh generation of the family to hold the title. The brand is named after James B. Beam, who rebuilt the business following the repeal of prohibition.
Since 2014, the company has been owned by the Japanese spirits producer, Suntory.
Jim Beam is a classic Kentucky bourbon. It has notes of vanilla and caramel with charred oak and a crisp, clean finish.
Jim Beam uses two mash bills to create an array of different whiskies. Their low rye bill contains at least 51% corn, malted barley and around 13% rye. The high rye recipe, meanwhile, is closer to around 27%.
The mash bill is fed into a 10,000-gallon cooker. A portion of the previous mash is added in what is known as the sour mash method. The technique helps to ensure consistency of flavour.
Fermentation creates a distiller's beer using a unique yeast strain that has been around since the end of prohibition.
The distiller’s beer is transferred to a 65-foot column still. The still produces a low wine of 125-proof. The low wine is then distilled again in a pot still known as a doubler. The high wine comes off the still at around 160-proof.
The spirit is aged in virgin, American white oak barrels with a level-4 char. Charred barrels caramelise the sugars with the wood and give the whiskey a richer flavour.
The current core range consists of original Jim Beam, Pre-prohibition, Devil’s Cut, Black Extra-Aged, Double Oak Twice Barrelled and Single Barrel.
Jim Beam bottles a range of flavoured whiskies. Flavours include Honey, Peach, Kentucky Fire, Orange, Apple, Vanilla and Red Stag.
There is also a selection of ready-to-drink pre-mixed highballs.
The Boehm family moved from Germany to America in 1740. Within 48 years they had moved to the area that would later become Kentucky. There, they Americanised their name to Beam.
Kentucky’s climate made it ideal for growing corn. It wasn’t long before Irish and Scottish settlers were using the crop to make whiskey. Among those early distilling pioneers was Jacob Beam.
Beam sold his first cask of Old Jake Beam Sour Mash in 1795. The quality of his product quickly made it popular among the locals.
Jacob’s son David took over the business in 1820. He went on to expand the distribution of his Father’s bourbon beyond Kentucky.
In 1854, the family moved the distillery to Nelson County in order to capitalise on the growing network of railroad lines.
Following prohibition, James Beauregard Beam built a new distillery, this time in Clermont. By 1943 the brand had been renamed Jim Beam in his honour.
Booker Noe, the grandson of Jim Beam, was the master distiller for 40 years. His son, Fred, became the seventh generation Beam distiller in 2007.
In 2004, Beam Inc was purchased by Suntory Holdings Ltd. The company is now known as Beam Suntory.