Bourbon Founders

Many of the names below will be found on your favorite bourbon label or whiskey bottle even today. This page is dedicated to the men or women who spent their entire lives working in or improving on the Bourbon or Whiskey industry in North America. In order to have made this list, the person must have had some significant impact on either their Company, their Distillery or the Industry as a whole.


Jim Beam Founders

The Beam family has been producing whiskey since 1795 although it was interrupted by Prohibition. Seven generations and direct line descendants of founder Jacob Beam have been involved in whiskey production for the company that makes Jim Beam. The seven generations and many branches off of the main Beam tree have earned the reputation as "America's First Family of Bourbon."

1.) Jacob Beam

2.) David Beam

3.) David M. Beam

4.) Jim Beam

5.) Park Beam

6.) T. Jeremiah Beam

7.) Carl Beam

8.) Booker Noe

9.) Baker Beam

10.) Fred Noe

11.) Basil Hayden

12.) Dr. James Crow

13.) Abraham Overholt


Heaven Hill Founders

Heaven Hill Brands is an American family-owned and operated distillery company headquartered in the Bourbon Capital of the world, Bardstown, Kentucky.  It is the second-largest bourbon distiller with the second largest inventory in the world. This Founders page takes a deep look into Heaven Hill's two most influential families; the Shapiras and the Beams. The five Shapira brothers and their decedents have run the business side of things so successful that the name Heaven Hill is recognized and consumed all over the world. The Beam family ran the distilling or whiskey production side of Heaven Hill.

1.) Parker Beam

2.) The Shapira Brothers

3.) Joseph L. Beam

4.) Max Shapira

5.) Earl Beam

6.) Harry Shapira

7.) Elijah Craig

8.) Evan Williams

9.) Henry McKenna

10.) John E. Fitzgerald


Buffalo Trace Founders

The Buffalo Trace Distillery distillery is located on the Kentucky River in Frankfort, Kentucky in what was formerly Bourbon County (now Franklin County). It has been well known in the past under several other names like the George T. Stagg Distillery or the O.F.C. (Old Fire & Copper) Distillery. The distillery makes the largest number of whiskies in the world spanning some 98 different labels, brands or variations. Unlike other distilleries the Founders from Buffalo Trace all hail from different families and not the same clan or two.

1.) Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr.

2.) George T. Stagg

3.) Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton

4.) Elmer T. Lee

5.) Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle

6.) William Larue Weller

7.) Orville Schupp

8.) Freddie Johnson

9.) Harlen Wheatley

10.) Ronnie Eddins

11.) Gary Gayheart


Brown-Forman Founders

The Brown-Forman Corporation, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky may be the fourth largest Bourbon Distiller in the world but it is by far the largest Whiskey, wine and distilled spirit maker in North America. In fact, the company produces over 62 brands, labels and variations of Bourbon and North American whiskey. Some of the name brand lines that are produced by one of four distilleries include the world's best selling-whiskey Jack Daniels as well as Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Canadian Mist and Collingwood.

1.) George Garvin Brown

2.) Jack Daniel

3.) J. T. S. Brown

4.) Dr. William Forester

5.) Jack Beam

6.) Owsley Brown,I

7.) Lincoln Henderson

8.) Chris Morris

9.) Owsley Brown, II


Maker’s Mark Founders

Maker's Mark is the fifth most popular a brand of bourbon whiskey in the world. The Maker's Mark Distillery is located in Loretto, Kentucky and produces 6 brands, labels and variations of Bourbon.  Maker's Mark is owned by Beam Suntory, Inc. Maker’s Mark dates back to 1958 but its history revolves around one family long, long before that. The Samuels family is indelibly weaved through out the brand’s very being.

1.) Bill Samuels, Sr.

2.) T. W. Samuels

3.) Bill Samuels, Jr.

4.) Steve Nally

5.) Margaret Samuels

6.) Leslie B. Samuels

7.) William L. Samuels


Wild Turkey Founders

The Wild Turkey Distillery is part of the international mega-corporation Campari America that produces over 27 brands, labels and variations of North American whiskey including bourbon, its biggest distillery is still in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The company and its distillery is now the sixth largest producer of Bourbon and North American whiskies in the world. Wild Turkey’s Founders are dominated by two families in the Ripy family and the Russell family.

1.) James Ripy

2.) T. B. Ripy

3.) E.W. Ripy, Jr.

4.) Austin Nicols

5.) Tom McCarthy

6.) Jimmy Russell

7.) Eddie Russell


Four Roses Founders

1.) Paul Smith, Jr.

2.) Charles L. Beam

3.) Jim Rutledge

4.) Al Young


Barton/1792 Founders

1.) Thomas S. Moore

2.) Oscar Getz

3.) Benjamin F. Mattingly