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Jim Beam
Type Bourbon whiskey
Manufacturer Fortune Brands
Country of origin Clermont, Kentucky USA
Introduced 1795
Proof 80 and 86

Jim Beam is a brand of bourbon whiskey. It is currently the best selling brand of bourbon in the world.[1] Founded in 1795, the Jim Beam distillery has been family operated for seven generations. The brand was given the name “Jim Beam” in 1933 after Colonel James B. Beam, who rebuilt the business following Prohibition. The company produces several varieties of bourbon and whiskey, as well as food products that include bourbon as an ingredient. Although the Beam / Noe family is still involved, Jim Beam Bourbon is owned by Beam Global Spirits & Wine, which is in turn owned by holding company Fortune Brands (NYSE: FO), both headquartered in the suburbs of Chicago, in Deerfield, IL.

Contents

History

During the late 1700s a group of immigrants from Germany came to America who would leave a lasting impression on the American spirits business. Members of the Boehm family, eventually changing the spelling to "Beam," settled in the lush bluegrass hills of Kentucky. Johannes "Jacob" Beam (1770–1834) found the land rich for farming and began experimenting with the corn and grains that grew on his farm, blending them with the clear spring water that flowed nearby. The mix was run through a still and aged in barrels, producing a liquid that came to become known as bourbon, possibly named after Bourbon County, Kentucky. Jacob Beam sold his first barrels of corn whiskey around 1795. The whiskey was first called Old Jake Beam, and the distillery was known as Old Tub.

David Beam (1802–1854) took his father’s responsibilities in 1820 at the age of 18, expanding distribution of the family’s bourbon during a time of industrial revolution. David M. Beam (1833–1913) in 1854 moved the distillery to Nelson County to capitalize on the growing network of railroad lines connecting states. Colonel James Beauregard Beam (1864–1947) managed the family business before and after Prohibition, rebuilding the distillery in 1933 in Clermont, Kentucky, near his Bardstown home. From this point forward, the bourbon would be called “Jim Beam Bourbon” after the Colonel. T. Jeremiah Beam (1899–1977) started working at the Clear Springs distillery in 1913, later earning the title of Master Distiller and overseeing operations at the new Clermont facility.James B.Beam Distilling Company was founded in 1935 by Harry L. Homel, Oliver Jacobson, H. Blum and Jerimiah Beam. Jeremiah Beam eventually gained full ownership and opened a second distillery near Boston, Kentucky, in 1954. Jeremiah later teamed up with child-hood friend Jimberlain Joseph Quinn, to expand the enterprise.

Booker Noe (1929–2004)[2] was the Master Distiller Emeritus at the Jim Beam Distillery for more than 40 years, working closely with retired Master Distiller Jerry Dalton (1998–2007). In 1987 Booker introduced his own namesake bourbon, Booker’s, the world’s first uncut, straight-from-the-barrel bourbon, and the first of the Small Batch Bourbon Collection. Fred Noe (1957–Present), birth name Frederick Booker Noe III, became the seventh generation Beam family distiller in 2007 and regularly travels the world to educate consumers on America’s Native Spirit. September, 2007, was declared “National Bourbon Heritage Month” by an Act of Congress, further recognizing bourbon as the only spirit that is uniquely American.[3][4]

Nearly the entire Jim Beam ownership family, including Colonel James B. Beam and the most recently deceased owner, Booker Noe II, are buried in Bardstown City Cemetery, Bardstown, KY, just minutes from the offices and distillery.[5][6]

Distillers

There have been seven generations of distillers from the Beam family. Retired Master Distiller Jerry Dalton (1998–2007) was the first non-Beam to be Master Distiller at the company.

Products

A bottle of Jim Beam Black

Several types of Jim Beam, also commonly known as Beam, are available [7]

  • Jim Beam White label (Aged 4 years, 80 proof) Sold in Australia as 37.0% alcohol (75 proof)
  • Jim Beam White label (Aged 7 years, 80 proof, "Premium Aged 7 Years Old" across top of label, allegedly unavailable outside of Kentucky, but can be found in many states)
  • Jim Beam Green label (Aged 5 years, 80 proof, "Jim Beam Choice" charcoal filtered)
  • Jim Beam Black label (Aged 8 years, 86 proof)
  • Jim Beam Yellow label (Rye whiskey, aged 4 years, 80 proof)
  • Jim Beam and Cola (contains bourbon aged 4 years, 10 proof)
  • Jim Beam and Ginger Ale (contains bourbon aged 4 years, 10 proof)
  • Jim Beam Special package for Operation Homefront (Aged 4 years, 80 proof)
  • Jim Beam Red Stag (Black Cherry Flavored, 80 proof)

Several of these offerings have performed quite well at international spirit ratings competitions. For example, Jim Beam's Black label was awarded a Double Gold rating at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. [8]

The Small Batch Bourbon Collection:

  • Booker’s: aged 7 years, 120-127 proof (60-63.5% ABV)
  • Baker’s: aged 7 years, 107 proof (53.5% ABV)
  • Basil Hayden’s: aged 8 years, 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • Knob Creek: aged 9 years, 100 proof (50% ABV)

Other bourbons associated with Jim Beam through ownership by Fortune Brands:

  • Old Crow
  • Old Taylor
  • Old Grand Dad
  • Makers Mark

Also associated with Jim Beam through ownership by Fortune Brands are the straight rye whiskeys:

  • Old Overholt
  • (ri)1

Process

In order to be called America’s Native Spirit [9], a designation given to bourbon in 1964, distillers must follow government standards for production. By law, bourbon must be: produced in the United States; made of a grain mix of at least 51%, but not more than 79% corn; distilled at less than 160 proof (80% ABV); free of any additives (except water to reduce proof where necessary); aged in new, charred white oak barrels; and aged for a minimum of 2 years (to be called a “straight bourbon”).[10]

Jim Beam starts with sweet water filtered naturally by the limestone shelf found in Central Kentucky. A special strain of jug yeast used since the end of Prohibition is added to a tank with the grains to create what is known as “dona yeast,” used later in the fermentation process. Hammer mills grind the mix of corn, rye and barley malt to break it down for easier cooking. The mix is then moved into a large mash cooker where water and set back are added. “Set back” represents a portion of the old mash from the last distillation – a cornerstone of the sour mash process, ensuring consistency from batch to batch.

From the cooker, the mash heads to the fermenter where it is cooled to 60–70°F and yeast is again added. The yeast is fed by the sugars in the mash, producing heat, carbon dioxide and most importantly, alcohol. Called “distiller’s beer,” the mix looks, smells and tastes like a rich, light beer. The bourbon travels into a column still where it is heated to over 200°F, causing the alcohol to turn to a vapor. As the vapor cools and falls it turns to a liquid called “low wine” which measures 125 proof or 62.5% alcohol. A second distillation in a pot still heats and condenses the liquid into “high wine” which reaches 135 proof (67.5% alcohol).

The high wine is moved to brand new, charred American oak barrels, each of which hold about 53 gallons of liquid. A “bung” is used to seal the barrels before moving them to nearby hilltop rackhouses where they will age up to nine years. As the seasons change, Kentucky’s climate expands and contracts the barrel wood, allowing bourbon to seep into the barrel. And the caramelized sugars from the gator-charred oak flavor and color the bourbon. A fair portion of the 53 gallons of bourbon escapes the barrel through evaporation, or stays trapped in the wood of the barrel.[11] This is known by distillers as “the Angel's share.” Jim Beam ages for at least four years, or twice as long at the government requires. At the end of the aging period the amber liquid is bottled, packaged and sent to one of its many outlets around the world in compliance with the three-tier distribution system.

Visiting the Distillery

Jim Beam distillery as viewed from the Beam House.

Jim Beam’s Clermont distillery allows bourbon enthusiasts a view into how America’s Native Spirit is produced. Visitors are given the opportunity to tour the plant grounds, a working rackhouse and cooperage. Tours of the plant itself are currently not available to consumers. The American Outpost celebrates “America’s First Family of Bourbon [12],” guiding guests through over 200 years of bourbon-making history and artifacts. Available for purchase are a selection of bourbons and whiskeys hand-signed by seventh generation Beam family distiller, Fred Noe, as well as Jim Beam-themed apparel, food, barware and other merchandise. The T. Jeremiah Beam House, home to three generations of distillers, now welcomes adults of legal purchase age to enjoy a free sampling of Jim Beam products. The distillery is located about 30 minutes South of Louisville in Clermont, Kentucky. Admission is free and the facility is open Monday-Saturday 9:00AM–4:30PM ET and Sunday 1:00–4:00PM ET, closed New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Sundays in January and February. Whiskey sales or sampling are not permitted on Sundays [13].

Food and Licensed Merchandise

On July 26, 2004, THANASI Foods announced the release of Jim Beam Soaked Sunflower Seeds, a snack product soaked in Jim Beam and available in 3 flavors; Original, Barbeque, and Jalapeño. The products were released in August 2004. On October 18, 2004, the company announced the addition of Jim Beam Soaked Beef Jerky to the range. Jim Beam has a licensing agreement with Vita Food Products to manufacture and sell Jim Beam BBQ Sauces, Marinades, Mustards, Steak Sauces, Hot Sauce, Wing Sauce, Pancake Syrup and Glazes. Vita Specialty Foods also produces a range of Jim Beam hot smoked and fresh, marinated salmon. Top Shelf Gourmet specializes in Jim Beam bourbon-infused fresh pork and poultry products, including Jim Beam Bourbon Barrel Ham, Pulled Pork, and Pulled Chicken. Brandmark Products produces a full range of Jim Beam branded billiard and home recreation products. Zippo produces a range of Jim Beam branded pocket and multi-purpose lighters. Bradley Smoker produces a line of smoking briquettes made from actual Jim Beam Barrels, and Jim Beam branded smokers. Silver Buffalo designs Jim Beam wall art, dartboards and accessories for home recreational use. Concept One develops Jim Beam headwear. Headline Entertainment develops Jim Beam t-shirts and outerwear. Sherwood Brands produces a full line of Jim Beam gift sets.[14]

Advertising/Sponsorship

As a global brand with strong ties to the American pioneering spirit, Jim Beam has for centuries appealed to adults of legal purchase age with advertising and promotional efforts. Jim Beam has across geographies been featured in print, on air, in movies, at event sponsorship and most recently online. In 2004 the brand launched “The Stuff Inside Matters Most” campaign in the United States, with messaging around authenticity, American pride and craftsmanship. There was a strong magazine print and cable TV focus to complement in-store activity in major metropolitan areas [15]. June 2008 saw the evolution of the original 2004 campaign idea, turning from craftsmanship and product messaging to celebrating people and activities that embody the core values shared with the brand. “Here’s to The Stuff Inside” through print, online and social media outreach seeks to champion those with integrity, character and passion, broadcasting their stories to a larger audience [16]. Jim Beam chose an unsigned hip-hop band, a comedy troupe, an emerging photographer, a tattoo artist, Operation Homefront, Robby Gordon a NASCAR driver, a firefighters’ fund, a country band and Chicago’s Wrigley Field to help illustrate acting with character, and not just talking about it. As a part of the national print campaign, Jim Beam was one of the first to integrate 2D tagging into the consumer experience. By using the scanning program on a mobile phone, consumers are able to snap an image of the bar code located in the top corner of the print advertising and go directly to a mobile version of the campaign website with downloadable content.

In June, 2008, Jim Beam launched the company’s first social media press release in support of the “Here’s to The Stuff Inside” campaign [17]. Recognizing that interested bloggers approach topical news stories very differently from traditional public relations, the online newsroom places all campaign information and assets in one place. It is possible that this was the first effort of its kind in the beverage alcohol industry.

In 1994 the duo of Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry won Jim Beam’s national Talent Contest. Today, the GRAMMY-nominated Montgomery Gentry has performed in front of well over a million fans; visited Kuwait, Iraq and Germany as a part of a USO tour; and produced seven albums, the most recent featuring the #1 Country Single, “Back When I Knew It All.” [18]

Global Markets

Outside the United States, Beam Global Spirits & Wine has a sales and distribution alliance with The Edrington Group.

Increased investment in emerging markets around the world such as India, China and Russia has fueled strong growth for the Jim Beam brand globally. Jim Beam is currently the best-selling spirit of any kind in Australia, the world’s second largest bourbon market. The brand also has a significant presence in the Global Travel Retail and Duty Free categories.

Motor Racing

Since 2004 Jim Beam has been one of the primary sponsors for NASCAR racer Robby Gordon. On September 22, 2009 Jim Beam announced that it would not return to NASCAR for the 2010 Season, thus ending its relationship with Robby Gordon Motorsports after 5 years. [19] Robby Gordon drives the number 7 Jim Beam Toyota Camry as an owner/driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In addition to being NASCAR’s only single-car owner/driver for four consecutive years, Gordon was the first American to win a stage in the Dakar Rally in 2005 [20]. Steven Johnson and James Courtney drive the number 17 and 18 Dick Johnson Racing team Ford Falcons in the V8 Supercars championship, which are both sponsored by Jim Beam. Jim Beam used to sponsor the Oran Park Raceway V8 Supercar round, which was known as the Jim Beam 400. Jim Beam is also the main sponsor of Turkish Dakar Team in 2008.

References

External links


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