10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jim Beam

This beloved bourbon has quite a fascinating story to tell

The basic formula for Jim Beam's bourbon hasn't changed in hundreds of years. 

Even if you’re not a drinker, you’ve probably heard of Jim Beam. But who exactly was Jim Beam, and what’s the story behind one of the world’s most popular bourbon whiskeys?

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jim Beam (Slideshow)

The earliest iteration of what’s today called Jim Beam got its start back in 1795, when a farmer named Johannes “Reginald” Beam, whose parents emigrated from Germany to Kentucky (changing their name from Böhm to Beam along the way), distilled his first batch of corn whiskey. His son, Jacob Beam, founded a company to sell the whiskey, and over the years the company grew and grew as it was passed down from generation to generation. Prohibition threw a wrench into the works and the company was forced to shut down, but after it re-opened in 1935 it was re-named in honor of the master distiller who saw it through Prohibition and got it back on its feet: James Beauregard Beam.

Today, Fred Noe is the company’s master distiller, and he presides over one of the top-selling brands in the booming $2.9 billion American whiskey market. Beam produces six different varieties of straight bourbon whiskey (Original, Choice, Devil’s Cut, Seven Year, Black, and Bonded); five signature craft whiskeys; rye whiskey; white whiskey (“Jacob’s Ghost”); a single-barrel whiskey, a low-cost blended whiskey (Eight Star); and five liqueurs. Its flagship offering, which is overwhelmingly its top seller, is made with rye, barley, and at least 51 percent corn (as all bourbon must), is aged for four years in new charred oak barrels and is bottled at 80 proof.

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You’d be hard-pressed to meet a bourbon drinker who isn’t a fan of Jim Beam. It’s about as classic a bourbon as you’re going to find, and it has quite a history. Read on for 10 things we bet you didn’t know about this legendary company.