Jim Beam - no more American Whiskey

We lost Budweiser to Belgium a few years ago.

Now Jim Beam sells out to Japan.

We lost Heinz to Brazil.

We’re steadily losing some great American brands to overseas companies.

Unless they’re firing Fred, I’m not too worried about it.

While I am all in favor of globalization and international flows of capital and all that razmatazz, I have to admit that on a gut, emotional level, seeing great American brands like Beam “lost” to overseas investors makes me a little bit sad.

(Note: FSR, seeing Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram-Plymouth sold to the Italians didn’t bother me one whit, probably because I’ve stopped thinking of the US auto manufacturers as “great” American brands. :p)

Will it now be called Jim Bimu?

“No more American Whiskey”? Isn’t that overstating just a little?

Who’s going to be distilling Jack Daniels, Old Granddad and Maker’s Mark? The Dutch?

Well, since Maker’s Mark and Old Granddad are part and parcel of Jim Beam…

Jack Daniels is still american, though.

Why does it matter what country the accounting department of the international conglomerate is located in? As it stands, isn’t Japan pretty into fine whiskey anyway? Makes as much sense as selling to RJ Reynolds.

True, the best thing to happen to the Four Roses brand in my lifetime was when it was bought by a Japanese company. It went from not even being good enough to mix with coke to possibly being the best bang for your buck in whiskey.

And they started selling it in the US again, too. I love 4 Roses.

A few years ago I went to the Jim Beam Distillery in Claremont, KY and took their ‘tour’. The ‘tour’ was a big joke that consisted of gathering in the gift shop then being taken to the distiller’s house to watch a video then going back to the gift shop for a free shot.

Anytime a company sells there’s always a concern about what changes will be made. Will they go crazy slashing costs and make a inferior product? Fire all the local employees and move the plant overseas. You never know.

I think Budweiser has improved since Inbev, bought it.

Hopefully Jim Beam will keep the same traditional methods of aging in oak barrels.

Yeah, I did the Jim Beam tour and was pretty disappointed, too. The tasting was pretty bad, as well. They didn’t even break out any of their interesting products that I wanted to try and perhaps even buy. It was just Jim Beam Black and Jim Beam Original, I think. Plus the staff wasn’t exactly enthusiastic, either.

We only had time for one more tour when we were down there and went to Maker’s Mark. Even though it had a bit of a Disneyfied Whiskeyland feel to it, if that makes sense, it was much more interesting, with a knowledgable and enthusiastic staff, and at the tasting included four drinks: an unaged Maker’s (Maker’s white), a regular Maker’s (about 5 years old), an overaged Makers (about 7 years), and Maker’s 42. The first three were interesting as you can taste how the whiskey ages as it matures. That kind of stuff is always educational. I’m not the biggest Maker’s fan, as it tends to run a little sweet for my tastes with the winter wheat instead of rye in the mash, but I was very impressed with their operation and their tour.

This is encouraging news. It sounds like they are smart enough to continue without any major changes.


Can it be aged any other way? I suppose you can throw chunks of charred oak barrels into stainless steel tanks and age it that way, but is it ever commercially done that way?

ETA: Looks like US labeling laws have something to say about this. “Bourbon whiskey” must be stored in charred new oak containers.

Quite a few years back, a Japanese company developed a fast-aging system for liquor that involved heating and cooling cycles and, IIRC, ultrasonic vibration. It turned raw distill into quite palatable whiskey in a matter of hours.

Not saying it’s a good technique/idea/process, but you asked.

Out of curiosity, is color then added to the fast-aged distillate? I’m curious about this process.

But it couldn’t be sold in the US as “Bourbon” I believe.

Also, other than the color, I wonder how the oak/vanilla types of flavors get in there. I’m assuming there must be some wood or some kind of chemical additive somewhere in the process, as if you just leave white whiskey sitting in a stainless steel tank to “age,” not much is going to happen even if you actually wait 10 years AFAIK. I’m guessing its character will change somewhat, but would it yellow and get the vanilla flavors that come from wood? I wouldn’t have thought so.

On the other hand, Lowenbrau went to hell when they began making it in Texas.

Foreign ownership bad? it depends: if the new owners invest, improve the product, and expand sales, it is a positive thing. But if they just pull an Icahn, load the firm up with debt, whilst sucking every nickel they can out of it, it is bad.
generally, Japanese owners invest and improve the products.
Long term, this reflects the huge negative balance of payments…as long as we import more than we ex[ort, capital will be available for acquisitions of US firms, by foreign buyers.