American Still Life. The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World's #1 Bourbon

  • ID: 2217492
  • Book
  • Region: Global, United States
  • 256 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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"Barrel proof and unfiltered! As usual Pacult has delved deep, and revealed many hitherto unknown facts about the Beams. Best of all, though, this is a fascinating, page–turning look into America?s royal family of whiskey."

Gary and Mardee Haidin Regan, authors ofThe Book of BourbonPublishers of

"With his ?Old Jake Beam Sour Mash,? Jacob Beam launched a whiskey dynasty. It?s a superb story, and no one spins a great story better than F. Paul Pacult, America?s most respected authority on distilled spirits."
Robert Whitley, Wine & Spirits Columnist, Copley News Service

"This is a stellar piece of documented history written in a most accessible style. With legions of disciples, F. Paul Pacult is a legend in the making."
Robert Plotkin, Spirits Author, BarMedia

"Highly regarded as America?s preeminent authority on spirits, Paul Pacult relates a fascinating story of authentic pioneer and entrepreneurial endeavor, intertwined in a family saga spanning generations, all in the background of creating one of the most enduring and recognizable global brands, Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey. Pacult portrays figures larger than life up against the major events of our country?s history, with a cast of characters and style that reads like a novel."
David Talbot, Associate Publisher, Wine Enthusiast Magazine

"An epic American story told with passion and insight."
Anthony Dias Blue, Wine & Spirits Editor, Bon Appétit

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Foreword vii

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv


1 Jacob Beam and Surviving in a Harsh Land 3

2 David Beam and Pre–Civil War Kentucky 37

3 David M. Beam and the Debris of War 59


4 Jim Beam and the Making of a Bourbon Whiskey Brand 85

5 T. Jeremiah and Carl Beam: Jim Beam Bourbon Steps onto the World Stage 115

6 Booker Noe: Big Man, Small Batch 141

7 Other Beams: Behind Every Good Bourbon Whiskey 169

8 Finding a Crown for the Jewel 189

Appendix A Tasting Notes on Jim Beam Bourbons 209

Appendix B The Jim Beam Bourbon Timeline 221

Bibliography 229

Index 233

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How does a sour mash corn whiskey brand go from being a Kentucky family′s "adjunct farming activity" to founding a corporation that ships over five million cases worldwide each year? Pacult (Kindred Spirits: The Spirit Journal Guide to the World′s Distilled Spirits and Fortified Wines) extensively researched the story of the Beam family, which is just as much a 19th–and 20th–century American history. The young country′s struggles with slavery, Prohibition and war, its sociopolitical maturation and its shift from the agricultural to an industrial economy all come into play. A prolific spirits writer, Pacult has an expert′s grasp on the topic, which carries the book through its slow periods. Upstanding citizens to a man, the Beams don′t always make for scintillating reading – no scoundrels, no scandals – and only Jim Beam′s grandson Booker Noe, the refreshingly blunt, six–foot–four, 360–pound former master distiller, emerges as a character with any color. Trying to keep all the Beams straight might make readers feel like they′ve just downed a few shots of the bourbon itself. Most interesting is Pacult′s examination of American popular culture and its effect on the bourbon business: how bourbon became déclassé in the 1970s, the venerable spirit losing out to sexy newcomer vodka (and its inadvertent pitchman, James Bond), and how scotch whiskey′s rising popularity in the 1980s fueled the production of bourbon′s answer to the single–malt, the small–batch bourbon. The book could use a few more colorful details, however, such as the bit about temperance activist Carry Nation and her ax attacks on taverns. (Aug.) (Publishers Weekly, June 16, 2003)

"...It′s a fascinating glimpse of American political history..." (Drinks International, December 2003)

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