I had the recent pleasure of getting a behind the scenes VIP tour of not one but two iconic Kentucky bourbon distilleries — Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark. Both brands are owned by Beam Suntory, one of the world’s largest purveyors of premium spirits. The occasion of the tour was the reward for two bartenders from Australia who’d won a nationwide contest. After spending a week in New York City, Max and Tim (and their Beam Suntory host Haley), came to Kentucky to see how two of the world’s most renowned bourbons are made. I was hired to capture images during their distillery tours for use in Beam Suntory press and PR communications.
Max and Tim truly experienced a behind the scenes tour: they were ushered into tasting rooms and private venues that regular visitors don’t get to experience. We even happened to run into Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe while walking across the distillery grounds.
These types of jobs are among my favorite to cover as a corporate event photographer. They allow me to meet interesting people from around the world, and to learn something I didn’t know before. Case in point: Unlike most (or maybe all) bourbon distillers, Maker’s Mark does not age their whiskey to a specific year (ie., 6, 8 or 12 years). Rather, the whiskey’s ready for market only when it achieves a flavor profile that matches the standard set by Bill Samuels, Sr., the distillery’s founder.