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Thread: Puffery

  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Puffery

    In the BOTM thread, we were talking about Maker's puffing up its history, first in a spirit of fun, later a bit too seriously. As I said there and in other places, marketing puffery is part of the game, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't call them on it.

    These days, I think a much worse offender than Maker's is Jim Beam.

    For example: "Jim Beam is the only American whiskey that has been made the same way, following the same recipe, for 211 years."

    That statement is, plain and simple, bullshit. The claimed date for Jacob Beam's first whiskey sale is 1795, which is where the 211 years comes from. That date claim is based entirely on "family lore," i.e., it is undocumented. But, okay, Beam family members have been saying it for a long time and it is credible. I'll concede that Jacob Beam was making whiskey 211 years ago and his descendants have been making it ever since, but the claim says more than that.

    As for the recipe, that part of the claim is based on nothing, except an assumption that the "Beam way" of making whiskey has been passed from father to son since Jacob. Is that the same as a recipe?

    Fact is, there is no "recipe," certainly nothing documented, and to claim that Jim Beam is made today exactly the same way Jacob Beam made whatever he made 211 years ago is simply preposterous. It is false, a lie, balderdash, whatever term you prefer. It just ain't so.

    Another distortion, if not an outright lie, is calling the house at Clermont the "Jere Beam house." Jere Beam was Jim Beam's son and, presumably, he lived there at one time, but in reality that was the Master Distiller's house, because the Master Distiller was on-call 24 hours a day. Park Beam lived there with his family, including sons Carl and Earl, and Carl lived there with his sons, David and Baker.

    The brothers Jim and Park Beam had a distillery before prohibition. Jim was the money man, Park made the whiskey. After Prohibition they found some investors from Chicago. The new investors owned the company then, the Beams did not, they were employees. Park and his line were the whiskey-makers. Jere, who like his father was the business side, had no children. His sister, who married a guy named Noe, did and her son, Booker, went to work for the company. Beam's official history says his uncle Jere taught Booker how to make whiskey. Bullshit. It was Carl "Shucks" Beam who taught Booker how to make whiskey, while he was teaching his own sons.

    Now Booker is dead, and David and Baker are retired. Booker's son, Fred, is employed by the company primarily as a spokesperson. Fred is a nice guy and I don't want to say anything bad about him, but if he ever walked into a distillery and started to tell people what to do...well, it wouldn't be pretty.

    The Beam company, which is part of Fortune Brands and based in a suburb of Chicago, has decided there are no Beams that matter except those in a direct line to Jim and then back to Jacob through him, which pisses off the approximately 200,000 other Beam family members.

    Take, for example, Parker Beam. He, as an active whiskey-maker descended from the whiskey-making side of the family, has a much better claim to that 211-year legacy than anyone else, but the Beam company essentially owns the name "Beam." For a long time, Heaven Hill was forced to call him "Mr. Parker" for fear that Beam would sue their pants off. Eventually it was decided that it was okay for the man to use his own name.

    And, finally, the Jim Beam brand itself is a Post-prohibition newcomer. The company that was actually owned by the Beams prior to prohibition never sold a whiskey called "Jim Beam," their brand was Old Tub.

    I'm just sayin'...
    Last edited by cowdery; 10-19-2006 at 13:25.

  2. #2
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    C'mon Chuck, tell us how you really feel.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery
    ....marketing puffery is part of the game, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't call them on it....
    1) agreed that firms should be called on it
    2) it is not necessarily part of the game. In my years managing household name brands we avoided general puffery.
    3) I don't mind so much "there is none better" which can easily mean "all are the same." I do mind "bullshit."
    4) I appreciate a writer (Mr. Cowdery) suggesting the avoidance of said bullshit
    Greg Kitzmiller

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery
    ...The Beam company, which is part of Fortune Brands and based in a suburb of Chicago, has decided there are no Beams that matter except those in a direct line to Jim and then back to Jacob through him, which pisses off the approximately 200,000 other Beam family members.

    Take, for example, Parker Beam. He, as an active whiskey-maker descended from the whiskey-making side of the family, has a much better claim to that 211-year legacy than anyone else, but the Beam company essentially owns the name "Beam." For a long time, Heaven Hill was forced to call him "Mr. Parker" for fear that Beam would sue their pants off. Eventually it was decided that it was okay for the man to use his own name...
    Outside of these (cyber)walls, I've never found anyone to correctly answer the bourbon trivia question: "What distillery has never had anyone but a Beam as master distiller?" Everyone always, of course, incorrectly assumes it's Jim Beam Brands.
    Tim

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNbourbon
    Outside of these (cyber)walls, I've never found anyone to correctly answer the bourbon trivia question: "What distillery has never had anyone but a Beam as master distiller?" Everyone always, of course, incorrectly assumes it's Jim Beam Brands.
    Ok, I suppose I'm the only SB.com'er not to know the answer.
    I will guess, Heaven Hill?

  6. #6
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    The better question is, "How many different Beams have there been that have been master distillers at the Beam Distillery?".
    Mark/Nebraska


    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take... but by the moments that take your breath away. 11/25/2004

  7. #7
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    That really sucks them into the vortex
    Mark/Nebraska


    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take... but by the moments that take your breath away. 11/25/2004

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nebraska
    The better question is, "How many different Beams have there been that have been master distillers at the Beam Distillery?".
    If you count Booker, post-prohibition, six.

    The even better question is, how many are there now?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by OscarV
    Ok, I suppose I'm the only SB.com'er not to know the answer.
    I will guess, Heaven Hill?
    Ding, ding, ding!
    Tim

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    The even better question is, how many are there now?
    Fred Noe is an associate distiller, what percentage of a master distiller that is, I do not know. I'm going out on a limb here and I'm going to say it's more than zero.
    ___Bobby Cox___
    ____________

    May you have wonderful things thought of to do...

 

 

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