Ed Driscoll

And Thus, the American Experiment Concludes

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!

[jwplayer config=”pjmedia_eddriscoll” mediaid=”70463″]

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