The Jim Beam whiskey brand is one of the best-known American brands of bourbon whiskey. It has the name of a U.S. state printed on its bottle, and this is the name of the state in which it is produced – Kentucky.
The Jim Beam brand is made in the city of Clermont in Kentucky. Made by Beam Suntory, it is one of the world’s top-selling bourbon brands, and it has a long and illustrious heritage. The Beam family have been part of the whiskey production industry since 1795, but the name of the brand didn’t become “Jim Beam” until 1943. The name change came about to honor James B. Beam, the man who was responsible for rebuilding the business when Prohibition came to an end.
The origins of the brand go back to Germany when the Bohm family emigrated to America and settled in the state of Kentucky in the late 1700s. Eventually, they changed the way they spelled their surname to Beam – the name associated with the brand to this day.
The first Beam to be involved with whiskey making was Johannes Beam which started making whiskey in a style which later became known as bourbon. The first barrels of his corn whiskey were sold in about 1795 under the name “Old Jake Beam Sour Mash”.
His son, David, took over production of the bourbon in 1820 and moved his father’s distillery to Nelson County, capitalizing on the Industrial Revolution and the development of the railroad. The company began bottling their whiskey in 1880 (before this time, customers brought jugs with them to the distillery).
It was at this time that the brand name changed again, this time to “Old Tub”. In the 1930s, the distillery was rebuilt in Clermont, Kentucky, where it is still located today, and in 1935, the James B Beam Distilling Company was established.
The name became “Jim Beam” in 1943 The company was bought in 1945 by a spirits merchant from Chicago called Harry Blum, and in 1968, it was bought once more, this time by American Brands. Finally, in 2014, the brand was purchased by a Japanese group made up of distillers and brewers best-known for manufacturing the first-ever Japanese whiskey – Suntory Holdings Ltd.
The result is a combined company called Beam Suntory. Nevertheless, the whiskey is still strongly associated with Kentucky and, indeed, the state has become synonymous with bourbon.