During the late 18th century, members of the Böhm family, who eventually changed the spelling of their surname to "Beam", emigrated from Germany and settled in Kentucky.
Johannes "Jacob" Beam was a farmer who began producing whiskey in the style that became bourbon. Jacob Beam sold his first barrels of corn whiskey around 1795, then called Old Jake Beam Sour Mash. Little did he know at the time that he would become the master distiller to one of the best-selling bourbon brands in the world.
Jacob Beam's son David Beam took on his father's responsibilities in 1820 at the age of 18, expanding distribution of the family's bourbon during a time of Industrial Revolution.
Until 1880, customers would bring their own jugs to the distillery to fill them with whiskey. In 1880, the company started bottling the product and selling it nationally under the brand name "Old Tub".
James Beauregard Beam (1864–1947) managed the family business before and after Prohibition, rebuilding the distillery in 1933–1934 in Clermont, Kentucky, near his Bardstown home.
In 1943, the brand name was changed from "Old Tub" to "Jim Beam", after James Beauregard Beam.
Since then, the company has remained family-run, with Fred Noe who became the seventh generation Beam family distiller in 2007.
In January 2014, it was announced that Beam Inc. would be purchased by Suntory Holdings Ltd., a Japanese group of brewers & distillers known for producing Japan's first whiskey. The combined company is known as Beam Suntory.