Jim Beam is the same symbol of the United States as the Stars and Stripes or the cowboy hat. Moreover, in the history of this drink, as in a mirror, the events of the last two hundred years of American history were reflected. Jim Beam’s path to the heights of world fame began at the end of the 18th century, when the wagons of settlers moved to the Wild West to explore new lands. Among them was the great-grandfather of the famous James (Jim) Beam, who gave the name to the most popular bourbon – Jacob Beam. After the war of 1776, the US government encouraged the settlement of new lands in the West. The first settlers reluctantly traveled to “Indian Country” west of the Appalachian mountains. The government has promised those who settle there and grow corn crops free land to own. Unfortunately, at that time there was no demand for corn at all. However, they still found a way to benefit from corn – they began to make whiskey out of it. The first barrel of bourbon was sold by Jacob Beam back in 1795. Jacob may not have invented corn whiskey, but he certainly was one of the first producers of bourbon.
The drink acquired its name “bourbon” in honor of the area where it was first produced – the state of Kentucky, Bourbon County. According to legend, Jacob used cornmeal to make whiskey, as they say, on a dare, deciding to prove that corn whiskey can be no worse than barley. In 1820 Jacob Beam passed the family business on to his son David. At this very time, the country is experiencing an industrial revolution. The discovery of California gold deposits brings hundreds of Americans west, new immigrants come to America in search of freedom and success. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the beginning of the navigation of the Mississippi made it easier to transport goods and, of course, bourbon. David M. Beam, David’s son and Jacob’s grandson, took over the business in 1850, a few years before the start of the Civil War. Shortly after his father’s death, David moved the plant to Nelson County, Kentucky, close to the state’s first railroad. He called the new distillery “The Distillery at a Pure Spring”, as the river flowing nearby carried the purest waters. Later, David M. Beam brought his son, the legendary James (Jim) Bergard Beam, to the company when he was 16.
David gave him the same knowledge and secrets of bourbon production, which he himself received from his father. Jim began running the family business on his own in 1894 at the age of 30 and continued to oversee the making of Jim Beam for the next 52 years. The Jim Beam Company continued to grow and prosper in the early 1900s until it was forced to close with Prohibition in 1919. During 14 years of Prohibition, Jim Beam sold the alcohol business, switching to a citrus growing and selling business in Florida. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, 70-year-old Jim Beam returned to the alcohol business and established The James B. Beam Distilling Co., in Claremont, Kentucky. Eleven years later, his son T. Jeremy Beam took over as president and treasurer of The James B. Beam Distilling Co. A year later, Jim Beam passed away at the age of 83. Today, the company is controlled by Fred Noe, great-great-grandson of Jim Beam.
Jim Beam is the best selling bourbon in the world!
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