It’s with great sadness that I must report that we have lost one of the good ones. Parker Beam, a legend in the Bourbon world and a great man, has passed at the age of 75 after a greater than six year battle with ALS.
Parker waged his battle with ALS courageously and publicly, raising great sums of research funds via his Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund and Heaven Hill’s sales of his signature line of Parker’s Heritage Collection American Whiskeys.
Parker Beam was born to be a Kentucky Bourbon man as a descendant of James Beauregard “Jim” Beam. At the age of five his father Earl left Beam to become the Master Distiller at Heaven Hill. At the age of 19 Parker joined his father at Heaven Hill where he started his career washing windows and scrubbing lime scale from the fermenters. “It wasn’t glamorous,” Parker used to say, “But I learned how everything worked in the distillery, because back then you had to be chief cook and bottle washer.”
Of course Parker Beam went on to become a legendary distiller innovating along the way, creating the industry’s first Small Batch Bourbon with the introduction of Elijah Craig in 1986.
“He was a true industry giant long before the current bourbon renaissance,” said Max L. Shapira, president of Heaven Hill Brands. “Without question, he was committed to our industry and possessed a real passion for the craft of distilling.”
Just as Earl had mentored his son in the 1960s, Parker’s son Craig Beam joined the company in the early 1980s performing the same kind of glamour-free jobs that his father had once tackled before eventually working side by side with his father as co-master distillers. “I’ve got a whole lot to live up to with my father and grandfather,” Craig Beam told the AP in 2007. “I’ve got a lot of weight on my shoulders.”
We have truly lost of the greats in the Whiskey world. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Beam family and the entire Heaven Hill family.