"Advocate of High Storage"
Edward “Baker” Beam is the son of Carl “Shucks” Beam and grandson of Park Beam, two legendary master distillers at the Jim Beam Distillery. Baker was born in July 1936 in Bardstown, Kentucky, the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” As his father Carl was retiring, he and his cousin Booker were running the two plants when Beam released its wildly popular “Jim Beam Black” Double Aged Bourbon.
Baker’s Bourbon is 107 proof and at seven years old is one of the few remaining age stated bourbons. Baker was the Head Distiller at Beam’s Clermont plant while Booker was the Master Distiller at JBB Plant #2.
Baker worked at both these distilleries himself, and has his own small batch bourbon in the famous Jim Beam “Small Batch Bourbon Collection.” Baker’s Bourbon was the 3rd of the collection released in 1992. Baker is retired and does a few appearances at the Beam distillery throughout the year. He is an avid fan of high storage in the warehouse for his Baker’s Bourbon. He believes 7 years is the maximum when you use high storage.
The early days of Beam weren’t all that different from today. Clermont was much more remote back then, people would come out of their homes and drive or walk down to the highway to get a glimpse of an 18 wheeler truck. Back then the focus of the distillery was and still is on the bourbon, especially on the quality.
When Baker first started at the distillery, he worked as a night watchman and then in the labor pool. Baker and his younger brother, David, shared distiller duties at Clermont for many years. Their father, Carl “Shucks” Beam, was distiller there before them, as was his father, Park Beam, Jim Beam's younger brother.
Baker and David grew up in the “big white house” (now called the T. Jeremiah House) on the hill above the distillery. As distillers, Baker worked days and David worked nights. At the same time their cousin, Booker Noe, was distiller at the Boston (Kentucky) plant that now bears his name.
Unlike Booker, Baker is soft-spoken and tactician. Like many in the clan, he loves motorcycles and trucks. For many years after he retired, he would show up at the distillery just to ride along on the trucks going up to the corn silos in Indiana. As kids he and David, along with their cousin, Parker (the late master distiller at Heaven Hill), would ride bicycles together in Bernheim Forest, which is right across the road from the distillery.
Baker Beam was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2007 in only its sixth class of inductees ever. Baker Beam became only the 6th of 11 Beam family members to be inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame behind only Parker Beam, Booker Noe, Colonel Jim Beam, Earl Beam, T. Jeremiah Beam and Carl Beam.
Photos provided by Jim Beam