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Interview with Parker Beam, Craig Beam, August 28, 2013

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:01 - Parker’s Heritage Collection Promise of Hope bottles

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Partial Transcript: I'm Dixie Hibbs and I'm interviewing, um, Parker and Craig Beam.

Segment Synopsis: Parker and Craig Beam discuss the Promise of Hope bottles which are part of the Parker’s Heritage Collection. Part of the proceeds of each bottle sold are donated to the ALS Association. Parker Beam discusses how he selected the bourbon for the Parker's Heritage Collection.

Keywords: ALS Association; Aging; Contributions; Donations; Fundraising; Giving back; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Honored; Lou Gehrig's disease; Parker Beam; Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund; Parker’s Heritage Collection Promise of Hope bottles; Philanthropy; Proceeds; Single barrel bourbons; T.W. Samuels warehouses; Tiered warehouses

Subjects: Alcoholic beverages.; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.; Charity.; Distillers.; Fund raising.; Whiskey.

00:04:50 - Craig's first job at Heaven Hill Distilleries / Master Distiller duties

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Partial Transcript: In talking with your father about how he came up through the distilling, uh, processes from sweeping the, the, uh, office to cleaning out the mash tubs and all, you know, the hands on...

Segment Synopsis: Craig talks about his first job at Heaven Hill Distilleries, cleaning out the T.W. Samuels warehouse. He talks about his current duties as a Master Distiller, including quality control, promoting products, and meeting consumers.

Keywords: Cleaning; Consumers; Corn; Duties; Fathers; First jobs; Grain; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Master Distillers; Meeting people; Overseeing; Product promotion; Sweeping; T.W. Samuels warehouses; Traditions; Traveling; Working; Yeast

Subjects: Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality control.; Sales promotion.

GPS: Heaven Hill Distilleries (Bardstown, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.0487074, -84.499245
00:08:08 - New products and experimentation

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Partial Transcript: You kno--I know that you probably each have your own techniques.

Segment Synopsis: Parker and Craig Beam talk about the new products they have introduced while also maintaining their traditional products and standards. They talk about how often they discuss problems with each other, and about talking on the phone to one another every day.

Keywords: Bourbon formulas; Bourbon recipes; Experimenting; Fathers; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon; New products; Old Fitzgerald bourbon; Parker Beam; Phone calls; Supporting; Talking; Techniques; Wheat whiskey; Wheated bourbon; Yeast

Subjects: Alcoholic beverages.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Families.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.

00:12:02 - Warehouse fire of November 7, 1996

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Partial Transcript: Do you have a--can I ask a question Dixie?

Segment Synopsis: Parker and Craig Beam describe the fire that began in one of the warehouses in 1996, resulting in the loss of several warehouses and thousands of barrels of bourbon. They talk about working together to overcome the challenge, and about the help they received from other distillers. They also talk about the smaller problems that they may face each day.

Keywords: Alcohol; Beam Inc.; Bernheim Distillery; Camaraderie; Challenges; Disasters; Domino effect; Early Times Distillery Company; Everyday problems; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Helping; Helpless; Jug yeast; Production; Suppliers; Warehouse fires; Wind; Working together

Subjects: Brown-Forman Corporation; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Fires.; James B. Beam Distilling Company; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.

GPS: Heaven Hill Distilleries (Bardstown, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.0487074, -84.499245
00:18:20 - Other challenges at the distillery

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Partial Transcript: I guess some other challenges we had, I guess we had some pretty good snowfalls in the nineties there too.

Segment Synopsis: Parker and Craig Beam talk about other challenges that they have faced over the years, including freezing temperatures, bad weather, and power loss. They describe how they solved each of these problems, and talk about how Master Distillers must work hard to keep production going.

Keywords: Bad weather; Burning oil; Challenges; Electricity; Freezing temperatures; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Ingenuity; Kentucky Bourbon Trail; Maintenance; Master Distillers; Pipes; Power; Problems; Salting roads; Technology; Water; Working

Subjects: Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Snow.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

GPS: Heaven Hill Distilleries (Bardstown, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.0487074, -84.499245
00:26:30 - Advice

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Partial Transcript: I have a question. What's the most important advice your father has given you, Craig, regarding being a master distiller at this--at Heaven Hill?

Segment Synopsis: Craig Beam talks about the advice he was given by his father, Parker, when he began working at Heaven Hill Distilleries. Parker shares the advice he was given by his grandfather when he began at the distillery.

Keywords: Advice; Bacteria; Cleaning; Earl Beam; Fathers; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Parker Beam; Smells; Washing

Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Families.; Quality control.; Quality of products.

00:28:45 - Tasting and drinking bourbon

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Partial Transcript: I was gonna ask about that kind of thing. You've got your nose at work but you have your palettes.

Segment Synopsis: Parker and Craig Beam talk about whether they generally agree with each other when taste-testing bourbon. They talk about how they drink their bourbon, and how they feel about mixed drinks and mixologists.

Keywords: Agreement; Drinking bourbon; Mixed drinks; Mixing bourbon; Mixologists; Palettes; Taste testing

Subjects: Alcoholic beverages.; Cocktails.; Distillers.; Quality control.; Quality of products.; Whiskey.

00:31:38 - Distilling as a family tradition

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, I, I'm trying to think how I want to put this.

Segment Synopsis: Parker and Craig Beam talk about how distilling has been passed down from fathers to sons as a tradition in their family. Craig shares what he might have done if he did not become involved in the bourbon industry. They talk about what a whiskey thief is and how it is used. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Aging; Angel's share; Beam name; Bourbon industry families; Bung; Char; Distillery talk; Fathers; Meteorologists; Sons; Traditions; Veterinarians; Whiskey thief

Subjects: Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Families.; Quality control.; Whiskey.