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May 29, 1967 Address by T. Jeremiah Beam

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Mr. Butler....this one is for you.... grin.gif just have someone put the monitor on the ceiling so's ya can read it grin.gif ....

Awhile back I spent a lot of time trying to post the article, "Jim Beam defines Old Fashioned Sour Mash". Everything that I did was wrong....got very ticked.... blush.gif and said just exactly what ya think I would say blush.gif .....Soooooooooo I have picked another on instead......and I hope that this one will get there....

Address by T. Jeremiah Beam, James B. Beam Distilling Co. May 29, 1967, Iroquois Hunt Club, Lexington, Kentucky


One hundred and seventy five years ago tonight, I believe Kentucky was a happy land. Folks were getting ready to take their place in the world as citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a state that was to be distinguished among all others as the birthplace of bourbon whiskey. The Kentuckians of that day could not know that a glorious position in history was already assurred them, even before their constitution had been signed, but a few of them may have dimly suspected it; for they were already distilling and drinking bourbon. In front of the hearth in many a log cabin that night 175 years ago, the firelight sparkled and danced on the red-gold surface of the REAL THING as friends toasted the Commonwealth and each other in perfect amity.

From time immemorial, when American's have wished to pay tribute to a fellow citizen they have praised him as "A gentleman, a scholar and a judge of good whiskey". In Kentucky that long-ago night, the frointiersmen were gentlemen only in their generous hearts, not in their rough and ready manners; scholars, only in their eagerness to seek new horizons, not in their limited education but many of them could qualify as first-class judges of good whiskey.

Bourbon was a new discovery in 1792.

As early as 1640 a distillery on Staten Island was making spirits from corn. This corn liquor was not yet bourbon; the great discovery still lay in the future.

As distilling spread through the seaboard Colonies, it happened that rye became the major grain used. This rye-based spirit-in itself no small accomplishment of American genius-became known as Pennsylvania Whiskey.

In 1767 Daniel Boone let the first settlers into what is know Kentucky. Englishmen, Scotsmen, and Ulstermen. They brought their families, their livestock, their tools, their spinning wheels and their copper pot stills. They fortified their cabins with rough-hewn stocade fences and they fortified their courage and camaradarie with You Know What.

But in Kentucky the soil and climate favor the growing of corn rather than rye. Well, it is true, you can distill spirtits out of almost anything. I have been told of inferior nations that even make their national drink out of potatoes.

By 1783 Even Williams was distilling corn whiskey in Louisville at the Falls of the Ohio. The golden moment was almost at hand. It waited only for some genius to comprehend the true purpose of Kentucky's natural resources; cool, iron-free limestone springs, bumper corn crops and extensive stands of white oak. Some say that inspiration came first to the Rev. Elijah Craig in 1789 on his property in Scott County. The favorite nominee for this honor around bourbon county is Jacob Spears, of who's whiskey a contemporary once said.

"A man can run, shoot, and jump better after on drink of that nobel fluid". He is porbably an ancestor of one of our honored guests tonight, Ed. Spears.

I'm no taking sides. We have seen how Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers and other great inventors were closely followed by other men working independently on the same ideas, who in time would have made the same discoveries. As has been wisely said, nothing can stop a idea who's time has come.

On the eve of statehood in Kentucky, bourbon was a idea who's time had come.

I'm not going to tell you exactly how we make Beam Bourbon; that has been a family secret of six generations since Jacob Beam started our distillery in 1795. But, I can tell you this much. Corn is the basic grain, mixed with rye and barley malt. The grain is ground into meal, mixed with limestone water, yeast is added, and it is allowed to ferment. This fermented mash is slowly heated until all the alcohol, certain of the flavoring elements and some water are vaporized and drawn off. The vapor condenses into what distilleries call "Low Wine". This low wine is re-distilled and the resulting product placed in new charrred white oak barrels for aging.

Barrel specifications are part of the federal law governing the manufacture of bourbon whiskey. It must be aged in new charred white oak barrels.

One story tells of the careless cooper who let a batch of staves get too near the fire while he was heating them before steaming and bending them into a barrel. The building caught fire. By the time he put out the fire ther was a layer of charred wood on one side of each stave.

Unwilling to write the whole thing off as as total loss, he made them up into barrels anyway and sold them to a local disiller. The distillery was so delighted at the pleasing amber color and bouquet of the whiskey that matured in those barrels he ordered all of his barrels in the future to be charred.

Wooden barrel were the primary storage container of the frontier, holding everthing from crackers to salt, sugar, pickled and salted fish.

Whatever the origin, the charred whit oak barrel is here to stay and the distinctive flavor, color, bouquet and clean after-taste are an integral part of good bourbon.

In frontier days, two barrels of whiskey slung across the back of a pack-horse traveled to market much more easily than the 24 bushels of grain that went into the making of that much whiskey.

Whiskey was better than money as a medium of exchange; in times of inflation you could always drink it yourself-and by the time you finished the first barrel the inflationary cycle probably would be over.

The value of Kentucky Whiskey as a medium of exchange played a important role in opening up the west. Countless political, economic and military dicisions of the government were influenced by the need to facilitate the flow of Kentucky Whiskey down the Ohio and Mississippi to remote markets where judges of good whiskey were steadily growing in numbers and influence, In some ways we still have a frontier outlook here in Kentucky; if we were as technologically oriented as the petroleum industry, for example, we would build pipelines from Kentucky to major population centers to protect the people from ever experiencing the crisis of a bourbon shortage.

Many stories have come down to us about frontier days. Evan Williams, the eary distiller, was a member of the Louisville board of trustees. It is said that the other memebers invriably finished the bottle by the time the meeting was over. Perhaps it was the other way round; the meeting may have lasted only till the whiskey ran out.

An early bourbon distiller in Nelson County nearly changed the course of American History in 1814 by giving Thomas Lincoln a job at the ditillery. Lincoln's son Abraham used to bring his father's lunch to him from home and helped around the still house.

The distiller watched the boy at work and told friends.

"That boy is bound to make a great man, no matter what trade he follows; and if he goes into the whisky business, he will be the best distiller in the land".

If the Lincoln's hadn't soon afterward moved to Indiana, we might be drinking tonight a bourbon by the name of "Old Abe".

On the way to their new home in Indiana, the Lincoln family had to float all thier possessions across the Ohio on a raft. Thomas Lincoln had sold his thirty-acre farm at Knob Creek for twenty dollars in cash and ten barrels containing 400 gallons of bourbon worth about $640. When the raft overturned in midstream Abe and the rest of the family scrambled first to save the whiskey the turned their attention to salvaging their less important possessions. At this early stage in his life, Abraham Lincoln had already developed a proper sense of values.

Later, as President of the United States, Lincoln made his famous remark in response to complaints about Gen. Grant's drinking habits. "I wish I knew what brand of whiskey he drinks so I could give some of it to my other General's".

After the battle of Vicksburg a Washington newspaper reported that President Lincoln sent his congratulations to General Grant along with a gift of bourbon. I like to think that bourbon was BEAM but the records don't specify.

Judges of good whiskey had the opportunity to exercise their talent in those days. Making good bourbon requires skill and loving patience as well as the right ingredients. Some of the small distillers used to move around. If one old-timmer heard of a spot that offered a better water supply, he would load his entire distillery on a old wagon and move it to the new location. His customers might not know where he was for weeks. I suppose he could have made excellent whiskey, but I have a hunch he didn't.

In the beginning bourbon was shipped to saloon's and distributors in it's original barrel, then transferred to earthenware jugs or bar bottles at the point of sale or spigoted straight into the shot glass or bottles. But gentleman of refinement began to carry fancy personal flasks now know as "commemoratives". These featured a variety of designs, shapes and lettering, and were the pride of the pre-civil war glass industry.

The Beam company recieved this idea in the 1950's. We have issued dozen's of special bottles, including commemoratives celebrating the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the union and observing the centennials of Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, West Virginia, Montana, New Jersey and Ohio. Most of these bottles immediately became collectors items. You'd be surprised how many judges of good whiskey there are in some of those young states just finishing their first 100 years.

Having done this for other states, we couldn't neglect My Old Kentucky Home. So we have a special commemorative bottle for Kentucky's 175'th anniversary, and here it is (UNVEIL PHOT BLOW-UP AT THIS POINT) -KY BOTTLE

As you can see the decorations of the front symbolize Kentucky's leading industries, including distilling. From humble beginnings in the log cabins of the Kentucky frontier bourbon has risen to an honored place in the palaces, mansions, embassies and restaurants of the centers of civilization. I suppose there maybe as many gentleman and scholars alive in the world today as their were 175 years ago. I'm sure there are more judges of good whiskey, which makes me proud to be a Kentuckian we showed the world the way!

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo Boone grin.gifgrin.gif

7th generation Jacob Beam

Great-grandaughter of Joseph L. Beam

One of the first original incorporators of Heaven Hill

First Master Distiller of Heaven Hill

A special note; grin.gifgrin.gif Erica E. Boone grin.gifgrin.gif (my youngest daughter) was so gracious to help me with this long long story..... grin.gifgrin.gif the next generation.....BEAM Family historian... grin.gifgrin.gif

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Cool Bettye Jo, a good read!

I tried just laying down and holding the monitor above me with both arms, but I got tired and the monitor fell and hit me in the head pretty hard. Now it hurts at both ends, and what with the pain so much better balanced, I'm able to go about my daily routine much more efficiently tongue.gif

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