Bourbon blend honors master distiller - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Bourbon blend honors master distiller

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Parker followed in his Father's footsteps, and now it's his name that's on the grand tasting barrel at the Heaven Hill tasting center. Parker followed in his Father's footsteps, and now it's his name that's on the grand tasting barrel at the Heaven Hill tasting center.
Craig and Parker Beam Craig and Parker Beam

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - This is Bourbon country. And it turns out there's a long friendship between the brands. So when a friend needs help, they put competition aside and pour out a lot of love. All for Heaven Hill Master Distiller Parker Beam.

Parker Beam says making bourbon is his destiny. Especially since that's his last name.

Parker's Grandfather, was the brother of legendary Jim Beam. And Parker's Dad Earl was Master Distiller at Heaven Hill.  He's been running around Heaven Hill since he could walk.

Parker followed in his Father's footsteps, and now it's his name that's on the grand tasting barrel at the Heaven Hill tasting center.

"That was when I'd been here for 50 years," Beam said. "Seems like snap me a finger."

Two-and-a-half years ago came something unexpected. The now 71-year-old Parker was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a debilitating condition for which there is no cure.

"I said we'll go as long as you can, try to beat it if you can," Parker said.

His son Craig is also a master distiller at Heaven Hill and often by his side. These days he's helping his Father with things he used to do effortlessly. He says his Father is his mentor, his beat friend, and it pains him to see his hero, struggle.

"See him going down a little bit all the time," Craig said. "Always worried in the back of my mind if fall or hurt himself."

But Parker's slogan is carry on.

He still works every single day, meeting people who love his bourbon, his family's legacy.

And now, in an unusual and generous act, Parker was given bourbon from six area distilleries.  They are now mixed together in equal parts to create an extremely limited bourbon, only two bottles.  That will be auctioned off in October to raise money to help in the fight against ALS.  It's the first time this has ever been done.

"Most industries you don't find that cooperation," Parker said.

Parker's not one to give much thought to not being around. He's too busy.

"My theory is the day I die I hope it's late in the afternoon so I can get a lot done in the afternoon," Parker said. "That's the way I see it."

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