The Historical Connection Between Jim Beam And Baker's Bourbon

Whiskey roots dig deep across the industry, with interconnections weaving through heritage lines, fledgling distillers maturing into their own brands, and invaluable techniques shared from moonshiners to entrepreneurs. That's why it's no surprise to find an intricate web cradling the histories of both Baker's Bourbon and Jim Beam. Both hold designations of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, but one gets its foundation straight from the other. That's because Baker's is a branch of the Jim Beam family tree, albeit from an exclusive small-batch line. Here's how those binding whiskey ties play out. 

Baker's Bourbon gets its name from a man named Baker, who happens to hold Beam's surname. That's right, it's an actual family tie. Baker Beam began toiling at the family distillery as a young man, following in the long, broad footsteps of his granduncle, Jim Beam himself. The young nephew earned his bourbon stripes within the company, working as a teen night security guard, then laboring in countless positions before becoming the respected distiller of Jim Beam whiskey. 

Baker retired after 38 years of spirited service, but his name only brandished a label after his infamous cousin, Booker Noe, launched the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection of premium bourbons. Baker Beam's time in the spotlight finally came, though the old-time distiller reportedly preferred his niche in the everyday workflow of making good bourbon. The 13-year-old version of Baker's Bourbon is having a renaissance of sorts after being reintroduced in 2019 and now again in 2023. 

Baker's, the rebel bourbon

Baker's Bourbon is still a member of the Jim Beam small batch clan, comprised of three other limited-production compatriots: Booker's, Knob Creek, and Basil Hayden. Baker's is a self-proclaimed rebel of sorts, calling itself a bold bourbon with a rebellious spirit, aligning with the nature of its namesake, Baker Beam, who drove a truck, rode a motorcycle, and believed in working hard. 

Also, like the man whose name it bears, it's one of a kind, in the sense that each batch in the current 13-year-old release is created in a single barrel, which can take on varying nuanced characteristics depending on the individual barrel and which Jim Beam campus it ages within. But consistency is somewhat maintained through standards such as seven-year minimum aging in the single charred oak barrel, and a 107-proof distillation. By contrast, the mainstream Jim Beam bourbons are more uniform in taste, aged for only four years, and distilled at 80-proof.  

There's no question the historical connection between Jim Beam and Baker's is strong, intricate, and everlasting. It's also complex, as all family relationships tend to be. While the other three bourbons in the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection routinely enjoy recognition by whiskey connoisseurs, Baker's roars in and out of the scene. But it's still all in the Jim Beam family, with Booker's, routinely landing on Best Bourbon lists, being named for none other than Baker's notorious cousin, Booker Noe.