When Jack Beam, Jim Beam's uncle, decided to break away from his father and brothers and start his own distillery, he named it Early Times.
He chose that name because he believed the industry was turning too modern too quickly, and he wanted a brand name that captured the 'good old days.' The name was supposed to remind customers of the old-fashioned methods of making whiskey – mashing grain in small tubs and boiling the beer and whiskey in copper pot stills over open fires.
The year was 1860.
Jack Beam’s claims may have been hyperbole, but in his day many whiskey buyers could remember a very different past.
April 12, 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, which began the Civil War. The war was a great watershed event for America, and also for American whiskey-making. Many characteristics of the industry that we now take for granted got started during that period about 150 years ago.
The complete story is in the current issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, Volume 13, Number 3.
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