HomeMaking Jim Beam bourbon whisky

Making Jim Beam bourbon whisky

The secrets

Jim BeamThe James B Beam Distillery where Jim Beam is made is in Kentucky, USA. It has been there since 1795 when Jacob Beam sold his first bourbon whisky, starting a brand that would become a world leader. The location in Kentucky provides one of the key elements of Jim Beam bourbon whisky – the water. The water is naturally filtered through limestone so is iron-free and calcium-rich.


The jug yeast used to make Jim Beam is a closely guarded secret. James B Beam regarded it as so important to the bourbon whisky he made that he used to take some of it home at weekends. This is now a tradition which his grandson, Fred Noe, is keeping alive.

The process

The process starts with milling the secret mix of corn, rye and barley malt. This mash spill is then put in a cooker along with water 25% of the old mash from the last distillation. This process of making bourbon whisky is called sour mash and helps keep the end product consistent batch-to-batch.
The mash is then put into the fermenter and cooled before the secret yeast is added. The resulting beer is then distilled twice, first in a column still, then in a pot still. From there the liquid goes into charred, American oak barrels. Each barrel holds about 200 litres. They are stored in one of the distillery’s rackhouses where the bourbon whisky interacts with the barrel through the changes of the seasons.
The bourbon whisky spends at least four years in the barrel, twice as long as is required by law.


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