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Cocktails & Spirits

Jim Beam, Maker's Mark Now Owned by Japanese Beverage Company

The companies that make some of America's favorite whiskey will no longer be American but Japanese.

Beam, Inc., distiller of classic American whiskey Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, was acquired by Japanese beverage company Suntory Holdings. Beam agreed on Monday to be purchased by the Japanese company in a $13.6 billion deal that creates the third-largest premium spirits company in the world.

See Also: Maker's Mark Shortage? Lower Alcohol Content

Included with the deal, the company also gets brands Knob Creek, Teacher's and Laphroaig Scotch whiskeys, Canadian club whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Sauza tequila, and Pinnacle vodka.

Don't freak out too much, though; the whiskey will still be, always will be, distilled in good ol' Kentucky. The taste for American bourbon whiskey has increased overseas, and everyone there apparently wants more of it.

Demand for bourbon and Tennessee whiskey has increased as much as 26 percent over the past decade, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, and now foreigners have grown extremely fond of some American shine.

With the craft spirits trend rising, Maker's Mark even once thought about reducing alcohol content from 45 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) to 42 percent to keep up with demand. Angry fans rose up against the company, which eventually backed down.

Suntory indicated to Beam spokesman Clarkson Hine that it doesn't plan on altering the recipes for the bourbons and the company will still be run out of its Chicago headquarters.

The Japanese company has been on a global buying spree in the past few years, purchasing French beverage maker Orangina Schweppes Group and GlaxoSmith Kline's Lucozade and Ribena drinks.

Suntory was founded in Osaka, Japan, in 1899, and its products include Japanese whiskeys Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki, and Kakubin. It also makes Bowmore Scotch whiskey and Midori liqueur.

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David Minsky is U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky

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