Parker Beam: A gentleman with bourbon in his veins

Sad news from the Kentucky bourbon world. Parker Beam, Master Distiller Emeritus, Heaven Hill, passed away after a long battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Heaven Hill today announced Parker died last night.

Parker went public with a diagnosis of the debilitating, disease in 2013. It strikes some 6,000 or so Americans each year and significantly shortens the lifespan of those suffering from the disease.

As a grandnephew of Jim Beam, Parker Beam was born into a family that traces its whiskey-making roots in Kentucky to 1795, when Jacob Beam set up his first still. Parker’s grandfather was Jim Beam’s brother.

Parker began working at Heaven Hill in 1960, where he was trained by his father, Earl, the distillery’s previous Master Distiller. He earned the title himself in 1975, navigating Heaven Hill through difficult times, including the near-collapse of the bourbon market in the ’70s and a catastrophic warehouse fire in 1996. He was inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame, 2001.

So, this evening, a toast to Parker…we hope you’ll join us in pouring a finger or two of your favorite bourbon and reflect on a life of purpose, a life thoroughly and elegantly well lived.