1700 - 1799


November 15

Elijah Craig

The Father of Bourbon
1st Generation - Craig Family

Born in Orange, VA, Elijah Craig would become known as the “Father of Bourbon” for his discovery of charring barrels for aging whiskey. He was not only a reverend, a farmer, and a fire chief, but he would open a clothing manufacturing plan, a paper mill, a lumber mill, a grist mill, and a distillery.


Evan Williams

Kentucky's First Distiller

Born circa 1740 in Virginia, Evan Williams founded the first commercial spirit distillery in KY, “K.S.P. #1” in an area that was later admitted into the Union in 1792 as the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Under the guidance of Earl Beam, Heaven Hill Distillery would name a product after Evan Williams in 1959.


January 02

Basil Hayden, Sr.

Old Grand Dad – King of High Rye
1st Generation – Hayden Family

Basil Hayden, Sr. is born in St. Mary’s, Maryland.


February 09

Johannes Jacob Beam

The Founder
1st Generation – Beam Family

The 5th of 10 children, Johannes Jacob Beam is born on February 9th. His father, Nicholas Boehm, changed the family name to “Beam” to fit in better in America.


Daniel Boone and James Herrod clear the Wilderness Road to Kentucky.


General George Rogers Clark defeats the British in the Northwest Territory, leading to mass migrations into the area.


Basil Hayden, Sr. leads a group of over 50 Catholic families from Baltimore, MD through the Cumberland Gap to settle in Nelson County, KY.


Elijah Craig opens a distillery in, what was then, Fayette County, KY, which would become Scott County in 1792. It was never located in Bourbon County. Though he is known as the “Father of Bourbon” there is little to no evidence he was distilling whiskey any differently than the hundreds of local farmers in the area. It wasn’t until 1874 that a publication referenced Craig’s whiskey and the elaborate story of accidentally burning a barrel.


Dr. James C. Crow

Perfecter of Sour Mash Process

Born in Inverness Scotland, Dr. James “Jim” Christopher Crow would be credited as the perfecter of the sour mash process, though no historical records support him as being the creator of the process. He moved to the States in 1820 and was hired as Master Distiller of a distillery run by Oscar Pepper. The distillery used the newly invented Coffey stills instead of pot stills. And unlike his counterparts, Dr. Crow used a hydrometer to test proof instead of gun powder, or shaking the jars.


Basil Hayden, Sr. opens his distillery, using a mash bill that was very high in rye, giving him the nickname, the King of High Rye.


Jacob Beam begins selling barrels of his corn whiskey, known as Old Jake Beam Sour Mash.

1800 - 1849


David Beam

The Innovator
2nd Generation Beam

David Beam, third son of Jacob Beam, is born in the newly formed Commonwealth of Kentucky.



Basil Hayden, Sr. passes away at the age of 61.


May 18

Elijah Craig, the Father of Bourbon, passed away at the age of 79 in Kentucky.



James Ripy

1st Generation - Ripy Family

Born James Rippey in Northern Ireland in March of 1811, he would have his name incorrectly shortened to “Ripy” by customs officials when he entered the country in the late 1820’s. He would establish what would become the Wild Turkey Distillery in 1853.


Henry McKenna

Stickler for Sanitation
1st Generation – McKenna Family

Born in Draperstown, County Derry in Ireland in 1819, Henry McKenna moved to Nelson County, KY with his family at the age of 18. He worked in an Irish distillery before he moved but had no intentions of working in the whiskey industry when he came to America. In 1855 he opened a flour mill in Fairfield, KY and needing a way to dispose of all of the grist waste the mill produced, he fed as much as he could to his farm animals, then turned the rest into a wheat whiskey.


At the age of 18, David Beam is named Distillery Manager of the distillery by his father Jacob Beam.


May 07

Joseph Washington Dant

Log Still Pioneer
1st Generation – Dant Family

Joseph Washington Dant is born on May 7th in Marion County Kentucky, to John Baptist and Mary Jane. JW’s aunt (John Baptist Dant’s sister) was Mary Polly Hayden who was married to Lewis Hayden.


February 11
3rd Generation – Hayden Family

Raymond B. “RB” Hayden is born to Lewis Hayden and Mary Polly Dant Hayden. R.B. was the grandson of Basil Hayden Sr. and first cousin of J.W. Dant.


December 10

William Harrison McBrayer

The Judge
1st Generation - McBrayer Family

Born in Anderson County KY, W.H. McBrayer would be elected judge of the county in 1851, and served until 1859 when he was elected to the KY Senate. He served in the Senate until 1863. He established the Cedar Brook Distillery in 1847. By 1892 the distillery had 3 bonded warehouses, and 1 free warehouse on the property.


Jacob Beam turns over ownership of the distillery to David Beam at the age of just 20. David renames the distillery, Old Tub Distillery and converts the plant from pot stills, to column stills.


May 19

Joseph B. Beam

3rd Generation – Beam Family

The oldest of David Beam‘s sons, Joseph B. Beam, is born in Washington County Kentucky. His son is Minor Case Beam, the first cousin to James Beauregard “Jim” Beam.


July 25

William Larue Weller

Inventor of Wheated Bourbon
1st Generation - Weller Family

William Larue Weller is born to Samuel and Phoebe Larue in 1825 near Bardstown, KY. He would serve in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848 before opening a trading company with his brother, William Larue Weller & Brother, which would later become W. L. Weller Distillery Company, and then Stitzel-Weller Distillery.



John Thompson Street Brown, Sr.

The First Brown
1st Generation – Brown Family

J. T. S. Brown, Sr. was born in Louisville, KY, he was part of a six generation family that grew into the largest whiskey producing company in the world.


February 12

Colonel E. H. Taylor

The Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry
1st Generation - Taylor Family

Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. was born in Columbia, Kentucky in 1832 and was a descendant of two U.S. presidents: James Madison and General Zachary Taylor. As Mayor of Frankfort, KY, he used his influence to help pass the “Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897” along with help from the Secretary of Treasury, John Carlisle, and a friend in the whiskey business, Ezra Brooks.


January 19

David M. Beam

The Visionary
3rd Generation – Beam Family

David M. Beam is born in Washington County, KY. to David Beam and Elizabeth.


J.W. Dant Whiskey

At the age of 16, Joseph Dant founds the J.W. Dant Company. He was the first bourbon maker to utilize the log still method of distilling.


November 15

John H. “Jack” Beam

Inventor of Early Times
3rd Generation – Beam Family

The youngest of David Beam‘s sons, John H. “Jack” Beam, is born.


Basil Hayden Sr.’s grandson, Raymond B. Hayden, founded a distillery in Nelson County and named his label, Old Grand-Dad in honor of his grandfather.


The Cedar Brook Distillery is established by William Henry McBrayer. The land was purchased from Uncle Dave, a former slave to the Ryan family who inherited the land from them since they had no heirs. According to company literature dated in 1916, the distillery opened in 1847 in a “primitive little log hut.”


William Isaac Samuels

2nd Generation - Samuels Family

Born to Taylor William Samuels, founder of T.W. Samuels Distillery, William Isaac would become a primary manager of the T. W. Samuels & Son Distillery with his father. He is the grandfather of Bill Samuels, Sr., founder of Maker’s Mark.


September 02

George Garvin Brown

Bourbon’s First Bottler
1st Generation – Brown Family

In September, George Garvin Brown is born in Munfordville, KY to J.T.S. Brown. He is the namesake of Brown-Forman.


August 25

T.B. Ripy

The First Whiskey Baron
2nd Generation - Ripy Family

Born Thomas Beebe Ripy in 1847, T.B. was the son of James Ripy. With the help of his father, T.B. would later become a partial owner of a distillery with Judge McBrayer before taking over completely in 1868, renaming it T. B. Ripy Cliff Springs Distilling Co. This would later become Wild Turkey Distillery.


September 05

Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniel

Tennessee's Finest

Most historians believe Jack Daniel was born in 1848, and though the exact date is unknown, the Jack Daniel’s website celebrates his birthday on September 5 each year. After running away from home at 15 to get away from his widowed step-mother, Jack was taken in by Reverend Daniel Call, who began teaching him how to distill.  While he was a partner with Rev. Call at a small distillery, and while the bottles state “Est. & Reg., in 1866”, the distillery was not registered until 1875 when he inherited his father’s estate.

1850 - 1899


April 16

Joseph Bernard Dant

2nd Generation – Dant Family

Joseph Bernard Dant is born to Joseph Washington “J.W.” and Ann Catherine Ballard Dant.


December 26

Ezekiel Harrison Allen

The Reverend
1st Generation – Allen Family

Ezekiel Harrison Allen is born in Cartersville, GA. He would lay the foundation for what would become one of the largest, illicit moonshining and bootlegging operations in the South.


April 20

Dr. James C. Crow, the man credited with perfecting the sour mash process, passes away at the age of 67. At one point his whiskey was so popular, Union soldiers wrote to President Lincoln during the Civil War urging him “not to let the fine gentleman Old Crow to escape”. The brand was sold to the Jim Beam Company in 1987.


January 24

Minor Case Beam

4th Generation – Beam Family

Minor Case Beam is born to Joseph B. Beam and Mary Ellen Humphrey. He is the first cousin to James Beauregard “Jim” Beam., and great-grand father to Steve and Paul Beam, operators of Limestone Branch Distillery.


January 10

Mary (Murphy) Dowling

A rebel is born

Mary (Murphy) Dowling is born in Kentucky. In the early 1900s she would take over the Waterfill & Frazier Distillery, owned by her husband and brother-in-law. She is a badass, keep reading her story!


Jack Beam leaves the Old Tub Distillery and starts new distillery named Early Times. His whiskey carried the same name and would go on to become a top 20 selling whiskey around the world.


David M. Beam moves the family distillery from it’s original location to Nelson County, KY. He would rename their flagship product to Old Tub Bourbon. Years later, he would launch new brands such as Pebble-Ford and Clear Springs.


J.T.S. Brown, Sr. relocates his wholesale liquor company to Main Street in Louisville, KY (a.k.a. “Whiskey Row“) and changed the name to J.T.S. Brown and Brother after bringing his half-brother George Garvin into the business.


August 25

James Beauregard “Jim” Beam

The Namesake
4th Generation – Beam Family

James Beauregard “Jim” Beam is born on August 25 to David M. Beam, in Bardstown, KY


Joseph Bernard Dant, son to J.W. Dant, moves the distillery, Cold Springs Distillery Company, to Gethsemane, KY.


December 19

George T. Stagg

The Ultimate Salesman

Born in Garrard County, KY in 1835, George T. Stagg would start a spirits distribution company out of St. Louis, MO, importing and shipping Kentucky whiskies all over the mid-West. in 1878, due to a world economic downturn, Stagg would purchase the O.F.C. Distillery from Col. E. H. Taylor who owed Stagg over $150,000 – more than $4MM in today’s value.


Col. E.H. Taylor opens his first distillery, The Hermitage, named after Andrew Jackson’s Estate.


April 09

Joseph L. Beam

Mr. Joe
4th Generation – Beam Family

Joseph L. Beam, better known as “Mr. Joe”, was born in April in Washington County Kentucky to Joseph B. Beam. He is Jim Beam‘s first cousin, and brother to Minor Case Beam.


December 22

William Parker “Park” Beam

The Big Man In The Plant
4th Generation – Beam Family

Younger brother to Jim Beam, William Parker “Park” Beam, is born on December 22 in Washington County, KY to David M. Beam


Just two years after opening his first distillery, Col. E. H. Taylor purchases the Leestown Distillery which he renames to O.F.C. Distillery in 1870. O.F.C. stood for “old fire and copper.”


Along with his half-brother J.T.S. Brown Jr., George Garvin Brown started a whiskey business that was the first company in the US to put whiskey in a sealed bottle. George was a proponent of standards in whiskey production long before E.H. Taylor. He named his first product after a prominent Louisville doctor, Dr. William Forrester, though the labeler misspelled it as, Old Forester.


Charles Townsend

Yellowstone label circa 1920

Charles Townsend, a salesman for the Taylor & Williams company who distributed J.B. Dant’s Cold Spring’s Distillery product, suggested they rename the whiskey to Yellowstone, named after the newly created national park in Wyoming.


January 29

Leslie B. Samuels

3rd Generation – Samuels Family

Leslie B. Samuels is born to William Isaac and Emma Dorcas in Kentucky. He is the father to Bill Samuels, Sr., founder of Maker’s Mark Distillery.  At the age of 26 he would inherit the distillery after the death of his grandfather and father in the same year. The distillery produced two brands: T. W. Samuels and Old Deatsville.


May 05

George Washington Dant

2nd Generation – Dant Family

J.W. Dant‘s youngest son, George Washington Dant, is born in Marion County, KY. George is 22 years younger than his brother, Joseph Bernard Dant.


By 1874, J.T.S. Brown, Sr. and his brother George Garvin Brown, were in a disagreement over the quality of the product they were producing. George favored higher quality with higher prices, but J.T.S. wanted to cater to a wider audience with a cheaper, less potent whiskey. George left to start what would become Brown-Forman, and J.T.S., Sr. brought his kids into the company, changing the name to J.T.S. Brown and Sons.


March 22

Julian P. Van Winkle, Sr.

1st Generation - Van Winkle Family

Born in 1874 in Louisville, KY, Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle began working as a salesman in 1893 for a liquor wholesaler known as W.L. Weller & Sons. His son, grandson, and now great grandson, run the Van Winkle brand operations for Buffalo Trace Distillery.


September 16

James Harrison Allen

Big Jim Allen
2nd Generation – Allen Family

James “Jim” Harrison Allen is born in Henry, GA to Ezekiel Harrison and Sarah Dunahoo. At the age of 14 he began distilling the family’s 4 grain whiskey recipe.


Being close to bankruptcy and owing him a substantial amount of money, Col. E. H. Taylor sells the O.F.C. Distillery and the Carlisle Distillery to George T. Stagg. Just 4 years later, lightning strikes and burns it down in “The Great Fire”. A year later, Stagg would found the E.H. Taylor Jr. Company with himself as President, and E.H. Taylor as the Vice President. Due to their eventual hatred of each other, Stagg would have to rename the distillery to George C. Stagg and Co. in 1890.


Henry McKenna opens an office on Louisville’s Market Street to sell his whiskey, but was so successful, had to purchase “The Old Blue House” a year later. Later on he had to move his Lexington offices to Fourth Street near Main, a region that would later be dubbed “Distillery Row“. By 1890’s his product, Old Line Sour Mash Whiskey, was being sold all over the United States. The brand name would later be sold to Heaven Hill Distillery in the early 1980’s. <a href=”http://pre-prowhiskeymen.blogspot.com/2013/07/henry-mckenna-irelands-gift-to-american.html” target=”_blank”>More info</a>.


February 28

Albert Bacon Blanton

A Company Man

Born on a farm next to the O.F.C. Distillery (known today as Buffalo Trace Distillery) in Frankfort, KY.


Minor Case Beam, master distiller of Early Times, purchases rights into the J.B. Dant’s Cold Springs Distillery. He renames it Head and Beam Distillery.


June 11

Raymond B. “RB” Hayden passes away in Kentucky at the age 64.


William “The Judge” Harrison McBrayer, founder of the Cedar Brook Distillery, dies at the age of 67. The distillery passes to his three grandchildren: Mary, Wallace, and William Moore. In 1894, the “W.H. McBrayer Cedar Brook Distillery” brand trademark was worth $200,000; about $6.2MM today.


William Larue Weller, now operator of W. L. Weller & Sons hired Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle as a salesman for the company. Van Winkle would go on to purchase the company in 1908 and merge it with another distillery he owned, changing the name to Stitzel-Weller Distillery.


May 24

George T. Stagg, owner of O.F.C. Distillery (later known as Buffalo Trace) passes away at the age of just 57 in Baltimore, MD.


December 20

Elmo Beam

5th Generation – Beam Family

Born Joseph Elmo in Nelson County, KY to Joseph L. Beam, Elmo would serve as the first master distiller of Maker’s Mark Distillery. His brother, C. Everett Beam was the master distiller for Michter’s. His uncle was Minor Case Beam.


Albert Blanton is hired as an office boy at O.F.C. Distillery which would later become Buffalo Trace Distillery.


Taylor William Samuels, great-grandfather to Bill Samuels, Sr., founder of Maker’s Mark, passes away in Bardstown, KY at the age of 77.


Dying the same year as his father Taylor William Samuels, William Isaac Samuels passes away at the age of 52 in Kentucky.


March 23

William Larue Weller, founder of the company that would become W. L. Weller Distillery Company, passes away at the age of 73 in Ocala, FL. He is buried in Cave Hill Cemetary.


June 06

T. Jeremiah Beam

The Mogul
5th Generation – Beam Family

T. Jeremiah “Jere” Beam is born in July to Jim Beam. Jere would later turn the Jim Beam brand into the global giant it is today.

1900 - 1949


June 30

2nd Generation Ripy family member, T.B. Ripy, passes away at the age of 55 and buried in Lawrenceburg Cemetery.


O.F.C. Distillery (which stood for Old Fire and Copper) changed it’s name to The George T. Stagg Distillery.


October 17

While walking home from work, J.T.S. Brown, Sr. was hit by a streetcar and died two weeks later at the age of 76.


April 12

Earl Joseph Beam

The Earl of Bourbon
5th Generation – Beam Family

Born in Nelson County, KY to William “Park” Parker and Susan Mary. Earl would eventually leave the James B. Beam Distillery Company and become the master distiller at Heaven Hill. It was a friendly split.


June 06

Charles Everett Beam

5th Generation – Beam Family

Born in Nelson County, KY to Joseph L., C. Everett would become the master distiller for Michter’s. His uncle was Minor Case Beam.


At the age of 33, Pappy Van Winkle and a fellow salesman, Alex Farnsley, purchased the liquor wholesales company they were working for, W. L. Weller & Sons.


Carl “Shucks” Beam

Dean Of All Distillers
5th Generation – Beam Family

Carl Beam is born in Nelson County, KY to William Parker “Park” and Susan Mary.


Pappy Van Winkle purchases the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery in Louisville, KY, which had started as a sour mash whiskey distillery in 1872. The products were distributed through the wholesale company Van Winkle owned, W. L. Weller & Sons. Just before Prohibition started, the company introduced Old Rip Van Winkle. During Prohibition, the Stitzel-Weller company was awarded a license to manufacture whiskey for medicinal purc


April 16

Taylor William Samuels

1st Generation - Samuels Family

Taylor William Samuels was born in Kentucky to William and Sarah. In 1844 he would establish the T.W. Samuels Distillery, from his father’s little family farm setup. He is the great-grandfather of T. William (Bill) Samuels, Sr., founder of Maker’s Mark Distillery.


April 16

Bill Samuels Sr.

The Baker Maker
4th Generation - Samuels Family

Born Taylor William Samuels II, “Bill” was born in Kentucky to Leslie B. and Mary Louise, and was heir to the T. W. Samuels Distillery Co. On early labels of T.W. Samuels‘ products, Bill is listed as “T. W. Samuels IV” being born in 1911. After leaving his family’s distilling company in 1943 due to disagreements over the quality of their product, he would go on to establish Maker’s Mark Distillery. It is believed he changed his name to distance himself from his family’s distillery.


August 30

Henry M. “Harry” Beam

5th Generation – Beam Family

Born August 30th to Joseph L. Beam and Katherine Leone McGill in Nelson County, KY.


The Star Distillery Co. of Cincinnati purchased control of the T.W. Samuels & Son Distillery, buying out the Samuels’s family interest, except for Leslie’s. He would remain on as manager of the plant until it closed in 1920 due to Prohibition.


February 03

Julian P. Van Winkle Jr.

2nd Generation - Van Winkle Family

The son of Pappy, Julian P. Van Winkle Jr. was born  in 1914 in Louisville, KY. He would run the Stitzel-Weller Distillery founded by his father from 1964 until the family sold it in 1972. In 1977 he founded J.P. Van Winkle and Son, a bottling and commemorative decanter plant. This company would create the Old Rip Van Winkle label as a side venture for his son, Julian III.


May 13

John H. “Jack” Beam passes away at the age of 75.


January 24

George Garvin Brown, founder of the Brown-Forman Company, passed away in Louisville, KY at the age of 70.


January 17

Prohibition Begins

Prohibition starts in the US.


After 34 years of service, Albert Blanton is promoted to President of the George T. Stagg Distillery. Under his supervision, Albert kept the company alive by securing one of only six special government licenses to produce “medicinal whiskey” making it the oldest continuously running distillery in the country.


October 07

Charles Lloyd Beam

Inventor of Eagle Rare and Benchmark

Born to Roy Marion and Mittie Beam in Kentucky, Charles “Chuck” L. Beam would become the fourth master distiller of Four Roses Distillery in 1968. His uncles included Elmo Beam, Desmond Beam, and C. Everett Beam. During his tenure, Four Roses introduced Benchmark Bourbon in 1969 and Eagle Rare in 1975. He retired in 1984 and was inducted posthumously into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2010.


October 07

Charles Lloyd Beam

6th Generation – Beam Famil

Born on October 7th in Louisville, KY, Charles would become the fourth Master Distiller at Four Roses in 1968. During his tenure, Charles would introduce Benchmark Bourbon in 1969 and Eagle Rare in 1975. He would be posthumously inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2010.


January 19

Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr., founder of the O.F.C. Distillery brand, passes away at the age of 92 in Frankfort, KY.


To avoid Prohibition laws, Mary Dowling hired Joseph L. Beam to move her Waterfill & Frazier Distillery operations from KY to Juarez, Mexico. She would continue making bourbon in Juarez until 1964 when Congress passed Resolution 57. Mary named the company, Dowling Mexican Distillery, aka D.M. Distillery.


Joseph L. Beam comes back to the states during Prohibition to join A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery in Louisville, KY to distill whiskey. This was possibly due to Stitzel being one of the few companies to have a medicinal selling license.


November 28

First generation moonshiner, Ezekiel Harrison Allen, passes away in Cobb County GA at the age of 76.


December 05

Prohibition Ends

December 5th, Prohibition ends after 13 long years of oppressive government regulations.


December 07

Booker Noe

The Virtuoso
6th Generation – Beam/Noe Family

Born in Kentucky in 1929, Frederick Booker Noe II, served as the Master Distiller for The Jim Beam Distillery for over 40 years. He would coin the phrase “small batch” to describe his uncut, unfiltered bourbon, which was released as Booker’s Bourbon in 1987. His maternal grandfather was Jim Beam.


After Prohibition ended, the T.W. Samuels & Son Distillery company was reorganized as the T.W. Samuels Distillery Co. with Robert Block serving as president, Leslie B. Samuels as plant manager, and his son, Bill Samuels, Sr., as vice president.  Just three years later, Leslie would die, leaving Bill as the plant manager until his departure in 1943.


Along with his son Jere and his brother Park, Jim Beam purchases the Old Murphy Barber Distillery in Clermont, KY. At this location they would build a new plant and register it as the Jim Beam Company, Inc.


Heaven Hill Distillery

Joseph L. Beam helps establish the Heaven Hill Distillery with four other investors, including two of the Shapira brothers, David and Ed. Due to financial troubles, Joseph would sell his shares of the company to the Shapira brothers, a fact that Heaven Hill disregards in it’s history.


March 30

Minor Case Beam passes away on March 30th in Jefferson County Kentucky at the age of 77.


May 27

James Henry Allen

Uncle Henry
3rd Generation - Allen Family

James Henry Allen is born in Acworth, GA to Jim Harrison Allen. At the age of 16 he began bootlegging his father’s whiskey and moonshine covering west Georgia, Alabama, western Tennessee, and Mississippi. He is currently nominated for the National Moonshiners Hall of Fame.


May 04

Stitzel-Weller Distillery

Opened on Derby Day, the Stitzel-Weller Distillery was a merger between two companies that Pappy Van Winkle owned, the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery and the liquor distribution company of W. L. Weller & Sons.


August 11

Barbara Belle Allen

3rd Generation – Allen Family

Barbara Belle Allen, sister to Henry Allen, is born in Acworth, GA. to James Harrison Allen and Mildred Proctor. She would later marry William “Bill” J. Hartsfield , part of the family whose name is on the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.


November 20

Jimmy Russell

The Budda of Bourbon
1st Generation - Russell Family

Born in 1935, Jimmy Russell started at the Boulevard Distillery (later to be renamed Wild Turkey Distillery) on September 10, 1954 as a plant sweeper at the age of 19.  In 1967 he would be named the distillery’s 3rd master distiller. A role he would keep for 48 years until 2015 when his son, Eddie, would take over as the master distiller.


December 13

Two years after being established, the Heaven Hill Distillery fills their first barrel of their first brand, “Bourbon Falls”.



After Prohibition, the Dant family brothers built the Taylor & Williams Distillery in Jefferson County, KY. and would produce Yellowstone Bourbon. The new distillery would later be sold to Arm & Hammer, who would sell it to Schenely in 1952, and then to Glenmore. Yellowstone eventually was sold to Heaven Hill and then to Luxco.


Tom Pendergast

The Boss

In 1936, a Kansas City mafia boss, Tom Pendergast, buys the Sam P. Lancaster Distillery. He changes the name to Shawhan Distillery in an homage to legendary distiller, George Shawhan of Lone Jack Missouri. Soon after, Park Beam would join the company after leaving the Clermont KY location due to financial troubles.

Tom Pendergast would subsequently sell the distillery to Joe Makler of Chicago who operated it in partnership with Waterfill & Frazier Distillery, operated by Mary Dowling.


July 30

Edward “Baker” Beam

Advocate of High Storage
6th Generation – Beam Family

Edward “Baker” Beam, son of Carl Beam, is born in Bardstown, KY.


Five years after being established, bottles of Bourbon Falls from Heaven Hill Distillery hit the shelves. Joseph L. Beam’s youngest son, Henry M. “Harry” Beam, remains on as the first master distiller.

However, by 1943 Joseph L. Beam is out of money and has to sell his shares to the three other Shapira brothers to keep the distillery afloat.


September 17

Earl Parker Beam

Master Distiller Emeritus
6th Generation – Beam Family

Earl Parker Beam is born on September 17th to Earl Beam and Velma Beam.



“Wild Turkey” brand is introduced by importer, Austin Nichols. The product is contract manufactured by producers such as Bernheim, Barton, Beam, and Schenley.


Carl Beam named Master Distiller of the James B. Beam Distillery Company.


Earl Beam named the second Master Distiller of the Heaven Hill Distillery.


December 27

Jim Beam passes away in Bardstown KY at the age of 83.

1950 - 1999


Maker’s Mark

Bill Samuels, Sr. re-entered the distilling business after leaving T.W. Samuels Distillery Co. in 1943. He purchased the former Burks Spring plant on Star Hill Farm and named it, Maker’s Mark Distillery. It is believed he changed his name from Taylor William Samuels II to Bill Samuels, Sr., to distance himself from his family’s distillery. Elmo Beam, son of Joseph L. Beam, served as the distillery’s first master distiller.


Under the supervision of Master Distiller, Earl Beam, Heaven Hill Distillery fills their 500,000th barrel of bourbon.


Under the direction of Jere Beam, a second Jim Beam Distillery location is opened in Boston, KY. The plant is called “J.B.B.2″ plant for 30 years before being renamed the Booker Noe Distillery.


April 25

Joseph Elmo Beam, master distiller at Maker’s Mark, passes away at the age of 59.


June 20

Second generation moonshiner and bootlegging legend, “Big Jim” Allen passes away at the age of 77.


April 14

Martha Sue Hartsfield

Little Sue
4th Generation – Allen/Hartsfield Family

Martha Sue Hartsfield is born to William J. Hartsfield and Barbara Belle Allen. At the age of 15, she joins her uncle James Henry Allen’s bootlegging operation throughout GA, TN, and AL. (Since she is still alive today, we must add (for legal purposes) that this information is speculation, and has not been confirmed… Her name would change to Lusk when she married in 1974.


November 13

Joseph L. Beam, founder of Heaven Hill Distillery, passes away in Nelson County, KY at the age of 88.


March 09

Fred Noe

The Ambassador”
7th Generation – Beam/Noe Family

Born Frederick Booker Noe III in Bardstown, KY, Fred is the son of “Booker” Noe Jr. and grandson of Jim Beam. He currently serves as Jim Beam’s 8th Master Distiller and was inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2013.


Earl Beam, introduces the brand Evan Williams which would become Heaven Hill Distillery’s flagship brand. It was named after the first licensed distiller of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Evan Williams. Evan Williams is the second best selling bourbon in the world behind it’s cousin, Jim Beam.


Carl Beam named Executive Vice President of the James B. Beam Distillery Company.


May 21

Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton passes away at the age of 78 in Frankfort, KY.


Jim Beam Black

Jim B. Beam Distillery Company releases Jim Beam Black Double Aged Bourbon.


Carl Beam retires from the Jim B. Beam Distillery Company at the age of 64. His nickname, the “Dean of all Distillers” comes from him teaching some of the greatest distillers ever, including his two sons Baker and David Beam, and Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s grandson.


May 04

Bourbon’s Birthday

The 88th Congress passes H. Con. Res. 57 that defines bourbon whiskey as a distinctive product of the United States, and set forth official regulation on what makes a whiskey, a bourbon. Res. 57 was first introduced to Congress on January 24th, 1963 by John C. Watts, Congressman of the 6th District in KY.


February 16

Founder of the Stitzle-Weller Distillery and creator of the Van Winkle brand of products, Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr. passes away at the age of 91 in Louisville, KY.


After Pappy’s death in 1965, the Van Winkle family sold the Stitzel-Weller Distillery to the Sazerac family in 1972. Rights to all of the brands produced at the distillery were part of the deal which included W. L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, Cabin Still, and Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve.


July 01


Austin Nichols, a spirits importer who owned the brand, “Wild Turkey”, purchases the Ripy Bros. distillery, Boulevard Distillery, in Lawrenceburg, KY. From this day forward, all “Wild Turkey” brand whiskey was produced at this facility with Jimmy Russell as master distiller.


Waterfill & Frazier Distillery transfers the Shawhan Distillery label to Barton Distillery in Bardstown, KY. Barton also operated under the trade name of County Line Distillery during this time, and continued to supply McKesson and Robins with the Shawhand Distillery private brand label of Old Miner for quite some time after.

At the same time, Joe Makler sold the actual Shawhan Distillery plant to the James B. Beam Company which was now a subsidiary of American Brands. The Beam Company torn down the plant but kept the large storage warehouse.


Parker Beam becomes the third Master Distiller of Heaven Hill Distillery, taking over for his father, Earl Beam. More facts about Heaven Hill from our friends at the Whiskey Jug.

During his tenure as Master Distiller, Parker would go on to create the industry’s first super premium small batch bourbon in Elijah Craig Small Batch, the company’s first single barrel bourbon in Evan Williams Vintage Single Barrell, and Rittenhouse Rye.


November 21

Maker of Old Rip Van Winkle, Julian P. Van Winkle Jr. passes away at the age of 66 in Kentucky. The ownership and operations of J.P. Van Winkle and Son company would fall to Julian P. Van Winkle III.


Starting in 1984 with the release of Blanton’s, then the release of Elijah Craig in 1986, and the finally the release of Booker’s in 1988, the “Bourbon Renaissance” refers to the boom that followed with these three releases.  These three bourbons were so unique, the term “Super Premium” was established to describe single barrel and longer aged bourbons.


Elmer T. Lee, Master Distiller at the George T. Stagg Distillery, releases the industries first single barrel product in Blanton’s. He would retire the following year after a 45 year career with the distillery.


James B. Beam Distilling Company acquires the spirits division of the National Distillers company. The acquisition included what is now known as “The Olds”, a group of the oldest brands in the country – Old Grand-Dad, Old Overholt, and Old Crow.


July 27

Charles Everett Beam Sr., master distiller at Michter’s, passes away at the age of 82. He was the son of Joseph L. Beam, the brother of Elmo Beam, and the nephew of Minor Case Beam.


Beam Industries introduces their small batch collection which included the new brands: Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s Uncut, and Baker’s, named after Baker Beam.

In the same year, Sazerac, a family owned company out of New Orleans, purchases the George T. Stagg Distillery.


Earl Beam, second Master Distiller of Heaven Hill, and son of Park Beam, passes away.


Buffalo Trace Distillery

Sazerac renames the George T. Stagg Distillery to Buffalo Trace Distillery.