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Monday, January 16, 2023

The Royal House of Beam

Jim Beam is one of the best-selling bourbons on the planet.  The first drop of Beam spirit was believed to be distilled in 1795.  The Beams have been synonymous with bourbon ever since.

Jacob Boehm (his name was later changed to Beam) moved from Maryland to Kentucky County, Virginia in 1787, and started making whiskey out of his bumper crop of corn soon after.  His spirit, Old Jake Beam, was well-received in the area.  His son David took over the operation in 1822 and modernized everything.  He bought a large factory, and switched from pot to column stills (one of the first to do so) to maximize output.  David also used steamboats to circulate his product, now called Old Tub, westward.  David’s son, David M. Beam, moved the distillery to Nelson County, where a growing network of rail lines could further expand the reach of the brand.

James (Jim) Beam was David M.’s son.  He had the misfortune of taking over just before Prohibition.  Poor Jim.  An angry mob destroyed the distillery shortly after the 18th Amendment became law.  He tried his hand at farming and quarrying, but both were magnificent disasters.  When Prohibition ended, he quickly resumed the family trade.  The first Jim Beam barrel was filled in 1935.  Today, it can be found in pretty much every bar and liquor store on the planet.  Booker’s is named after its creator, Fred “Booker” Noe Jr.  Fred’s mother was Jim Beam’s daughter.  She lost the Beam name after marrying into the Noe family (thanks for explaining the obvious Ryan).

Booker’s is bourbon in its purest form.  It’s not filtered and water is never added.  2022-01, the first Booker’s batch of 2022, is also known as Ronnie’s Batch.  Ronnie Land spent 40 years of his life working for the Beam distillery.  Most of this batch was matured on the 5th floor of a 7-story warehouse, which explains why so little alcohol was lost to angel’s share (evaporation).  Warehouse temperatures in the summer can reach 50 degrees Celsius.  The higher up you go, the lower the humidity.  Alcohol levels will rise in low humidity.  Many Booker’s actually gain proof during maturation.  Cinnamon, caramel, oak.  A drop of water is strongly encouraged for this bruiser.  2022-01 is a lot of fun, and an excellent example of how good bourbon can be in its natural state.

Happy dramming,


Instead of dying she shall merely fall into a profound slumber that will last a hundred years. -  Charles Perrault,  The Sleeping Beauty in ...