“The Big Man in the Plant”
David M. Beam retired at the age of 59 just before the turn of the century in 1892. Upon his retirement he ceded control of the distillery and all operations of the company to his two youngest sons of four, Jim Beam and and Park Beam. Jim and their joint brother-in-law Albert ran the business side of things and Park Beam was the Master Distiller. He not only made the bourbon but increased its production four fold in his lifetime.
Born as William Parker “Park” Beam in 1868 in Nelson County, Kentucky, he married Susan Mary Smith in 1889. Park and Mary had two boys named Earl Beam (1906-1993) and Carl Beam (1909-).
When Prohibition hit in 1920, the Beam Distillery was closed and all the Beams employed there scattered into other professions to find out what else they could do, other than make whiskey. In 1933 the Volstead Act (Prohibition) was repealed with the twenty first Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Jim Beam, now 70 years old, along with his son Jere and his brother Park bought the old Murphy Barber Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. It had a logistical advantage over other sites in the area. It was on the same railroad spur as their old distillery site and was actually several miles closer to the main line. This is where rail cars could be uncoupled and hooked up to trains going almost anywhere in the country.
On that spot they built a new plant, and registered it as the Jim Beam Company, Inc. They brought back their familiar and popular "Old Tub" brand and added an additional brand named after the head of the family called "Jim Beam."
They were joined in the new operation by Park and his two sons, Earl Beam and Carl Beam. The family added up together didn't have enough capital after the devastating Prohibition years and after building a new distillery, so they had to take on outside investors not related to the family. Later Park was forced to work elsewhere and ended up at the Shawhan Distillery in Bardstown, which was renamed Waterfill & Frazier Distillery some years later.
Jere (Jim’s son) and Park’s sons Carl (known as "Shucks") and Earl stayed on at Clermont plant. Jere like his father Jim ran the business side of things while Carl became the Master Distiller. Earl Beam was named the Assistant Master Distiller and ran the second shift while Carl ran the first shift. A decade or so later Carl's sons, Baker Beam and David Beam went on to work as distillers at the Jim Beam Company.
Park Beam was inducted posthumously into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2015 in only its eighth class of inductees ever. Park Beam became only the 11th of 11 Beam family members to be inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame behind Parker Beam, Booker Noe, Colonel Jim Beam, Earl Beam, T. Jeremiah Beam, Carl Beam, Baker Beam, David M. Beam, Charles Beam and Fred Noe.