“You can make bourbon anywhere but, if you want to sell it, you better damn well make it in Kentucky.”
~ Parker Beam, Heaven Hill Master Distiller Emeritus, 1941-2017
You --- like me --- probably got introduced to the name Beam and Bourbon in high school or college with Jim Beam's Standard White Label. That's what you drank when you really wanted to throw down. Maybe you broke up with your girl or were at the Georgia-Florida game. Either way, you wanted a little extra Umpph! to your partying so you mixed it with coke, shot or chugged the hard stuff.
So a few days ago, Heaven Hill said that Parker Beam, its Legendary Master Distiller, moved on to the great distillery in the sky.
Parker Beam who was the grandnephew of Jim (Park Beam, Parker's grandfather was Jim Beam's brother) actually worked at Heaven Hill (not Beam) who makes Evan Williams (the world's second best-selling Bourbon). In 1960, he started working with his dad Earl. Parker took over the reigns of Master Distiller in 1975. His son, Craig also took up the bourbon-making trade and he is Co-Master Distiller at the company.
Parker fought ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and released the Promise Of Hope bottling of the annual Parker’s Heritage Collection to help raise money and awareness for the ALS Foundation.
Heaven Hill Brands President Max L. Shapira said this about Parker:
“I, along with our entire Heaven Hill family, am saddened to share that our Master Distiller Emeritus, Parker Beam, passed away last night after a long and valiant battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. All of us within the company, and the general public, watched with awe and admiration as Parker and Linda waged a much-publicized war against this terrible disease, using their courage, his standing as one of the industry’s great Master Distillers and his wide sphere of influence to generate international awareness, and millions of dollars, for ALS research and treatment.”
Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association also praised Parker Beam:
"Parker Beam wasn't just a name on a bottle — he was the living embodiment of the whiskey inside — authentic, classic, well-seasoned and distilled from old-fashioned hard work and gentleman integrity,"
If you have some Heaven Hill Whiskey in your collection (Elijah Craig Bourbon, Larceny Bourbon, Evan Williams Bourbon, Pikesville Rye Whiskey, Rittenhouse Rye Whisky and Parker’s Heritage Collection) now would be a good time to pour a shot and drink it down for one of the better guys in the Bourbon biz.
Cheers, Parker. Rest in Peace.