Jim Beam didn’t actually start the distillery that bears his name. His great-grandfather Jacob Beam opened the distillery in 1788 and started selling his first barrels of whiskey in 1795.
In those days, the whiskey went by the name of “Old Tub.” Jacob Beam handed down the distillery to his son David Beam, who in turn passed it to his son David M. Beam, who passed it to his son, Colonel James Beauregard Beam, in 1894.
He was 30 years old when he took over the family business and ran the distillery until Prohibition shut him down. Following repeal in 1933, Jim built a distillery and resurrected the Old Tub brand and also added a bourbon simply called Jim Beam.