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Ed Driscoll

And Thus, the American Experiment Concludes

January 14th, 2014 - 5:05 pm

Change! “Jim Beam Acquired by Japanese Company Along With Maker’s Mark,” Newsmax reports:

Beam Inc., the classic American whiskey distiller that produces Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon, agreed this week to be acquired by Japanese beverage company Suntory Holdings Ltd. in a massive $13.62 billion deal, The Associated Press reported.

The deal was Beam’s answer to the growing demand of its bourbon — a type of American whisky that is made primarily of corn and typically distilled in Kentucky — and will help Suntory expand globally. The new partnership raised some concerns, however, about Beam remaining an American company, but execs assured customers that they are not likely to even notice the new ownership.

Though most of the country’s major bourbon brands like Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, and Maker’s Mark are owned by foreign companies, the caramel-colored liquor is made almost exclusively in the Bluegrass state, and some master distillers have family ties going as far back as the state’s pioneer whiskey-making days. Jim Beam’s master distiller, Fred Noe, is a descendant of Jacob Beam, who set up his first Kentucky still in 1795.

In a booming industry that swears by tradition, that history is a valuable commodity, and reassures aficionados that while the mailing address for some corporate headquarters may change, the taste of the bourbon won’t.

“Ultimately, what the consumer should be interested in is the product,” said Chuck Cowdery, an American whiskey writer and author of “Bourbon, Straight.” “There’s absolutely no reason that the product should change. So the consumer really doesn’t have anything to be concerned about.”

Well, that’s what they want to you to think. But there’s something rather unsettling about Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark no longer being American owned. On the plus side, now that Suntory owns these lines, perhaps Americans will be graced by Lost In Translation-style ads for these products. Over to you, Sammy!

It’s 5:00 somewhere — including right here. I need a drink; at least while there’s still some American hooch left.

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All Comments   (5)
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Sake to me, Sammy!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Beam me up, Scotty.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The one upside of all this is that we can soon expect a Michael Keaton film where the good ole boys of a Kentucky whisky plant bought up by the Japanese teach the uptight authoritative new management a lesson in good old American knowhow, mostly involving dancing to rock music on the factory floor, cutting corners, and channeling their inner thirteen-year-old while prancing around with neckties tied around their foreheads as a hakimaki.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wasn't Maker's Mark the ones who were gonna water-down their whiskey?

If so, they were already un-American.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
They floated that balloon, but I think they later said they wouldn't. Sounds like this buy-out is Plan B. Southern based liquors have become trendy again. Good news for small distillers, but means there is a lot of money to attract large players.

There are lots of good choices out there for bourbon these days. Not all from Kentucky.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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