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Issue 42 - Beams'dream

Whisky Magazine Issue 42
September 2004


This article is 12 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Among great bourbon families it doesn't get much bigger than the name Beam. And as Charles K.Cowdery reports, another generation is considering its options

One day you're driving through Ohio, on the interstate highway, just minding your own business. You pass a flatbed truck. It is hauling something strange, unfamiliar.

It looks like a big copper pot, but it is huge, the biggest copper anything you have ever seen.

And it is not alone. There is a second truck and a second, smaller copper pot, also gleaming in the sun, and what look like two copper chimneys, and another big pot that is some kind of grey steel, and some massive wooden tubs.

One, two, three of them.

And other stuff too; pipe, tanks, motors. Mostly pipe. Lots and lots of pipe.

You try to keep your mind and eyes on the road, but glance inside the truck cabs as you pass and also into the cars that follow close behind.

The men inside seem a little giddy.

This scene was repeated perhaps hundreds of times that day because motorists who happened to pass this strange procession were witnessing something rare, perhaps unprecedented in modern American history; a complete whiskey distillery in transit.

If the men in the vehicles seemed giddy it was because they were having an improbable adventure involving something that comes as naturally to them as breathing air does to the rest of us.

These were not ordinary men. These were Beams, direct descendants of pioneer Jacob Beam and kin to Jim Beam. Not all of them, but the others were friends, industry veterans too, also with red whiskey where their blood should be.

In the year of the grand procession, 1996, David Beam ...

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