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Distillery Feature: Jim Beam

The First Family of Bourbon

Discover the seven generations that worked to make Jim Beam even better.

They don’t mince words at Jim Beam. Straight up, the declaration is clear: this is the world’s most popular bourbon. The distillery achieved that level of success thanks to a family with oversized ambitions and big personalities who had a knack for giving people what they want.

This story reaches back to before Kentucky was a state and the Beams were actually Boehms. At the time, industrious corn farmers distilled their excess crop into a sweet whiskey. The Boehm family saw the opportunity to grow their capacity and take their brand – then known as “Old Tub” – to a nationwide audience.

Through the seven generations that mark this distillery’s history, three names stand above all others: James Beauregard Beam (Jim Beam), Booker Noe, and his son, Fred. Each helped broaden the brand’s appeal in ways that boosted bourbon’s profile and showcased the Beam name.

Known as “The Colonel” to some, and “The Legend” to others, Jim Beam recognized Prohibition’s end in 1933 as a watershed moment. Though nearing 70 at the time, he and his son T. Jeremiah took to rebuilding the distillery and started production. By the next year the "Old Tub" was out and bottles were now emblazoned with the Jim Beam name. Their reputation and sales soared.

Two generations later, Booker (“The Innovator”) Noe ll rallied the bourbon category when sales were slumping in the late 1980s. His Small Batch approach reinvigorated the industry, starting with Booker’s, an uncut and unfiltered small batch release that’s uncompromisingly bold and flavourful. Baker’s, Basil Hayden’s and Knob Creek would soon follow, creating the hugely successful Small Batch Collection.

Booker Noe’s son, Fred, has taken the brand global and is overseeing a number of releases to help to broaden bourbon’s appeal. Red Stag, Devil’s Cut, Jim Beam Honey and the ultra premium Signature Craft 12-Year expression all prove Beam to be a distillery that continues to honour its heritage and embrace the possibilities of the new.

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