Re: Elijah Craig and Evan Williams
Okay -- can't resist -- now the trick question: which American distillery has never had anyone but a Beam as master distiller?
Obviously, Jim Beam, right? Nope -- current Jim Beam MD Jerry DALTON recently announced his retirement; he was preceded by famed Booker NOE, a Beam grandson.
The correct answer is...Heaven Hill! Joseph L. "Pop" Beam was a founding partner, along with the Shapira brothers, and the initial master distiller. He was succeeded by son Harry Beam, whose successor and cousin, Earl Beam, came directly from the employ of Jim Beam. Earl's son, Parker Beam, is the current co-master distiller with Parker's son, Craig Beam.
I've never tasted Heaven Hill whiskey older than Earl's tenure, which began in 1946, but every sample I've had dating from that time has had a consistent and distinctive 'bubble-gum' nose and sense that closely emulates some older Jim Beam products. As noted previously, Earl came to Heaven Hill directly from Jim Beam.
Thus, HH's temporary use of Jim Beam's distillery seems to have brought the process full-circle -- a Beam, probably using an old Beam yeast and/or grain bill, using the Jim Beam still to make bourbon. Not even Beam Global Brands can claim that trifecta today!