Chapter 4Starting Out

Booker started his career working for the Jim Beam Distilling Company at the Clermont plant on September 5, 1951. He showed up on time, his lunch packed, shiny new, laced-up work boots on and ready to go. Cousin Carl showed him around and gave him the overview of the place. While Booker had been there before, this time he took things in with keen eyes. He had a vague understanding of what everything was and what it did, but he needed to know more—lots more. So he made an effort to pay attention and listen to Carl's every word, even though some of the things Carl was saying were fairly basic.

They were standing by the railroad tracks near the front of the distillery. “Over here is where we unload the grain from the trains and take it to get mashed up,” Carl said. He glanced at his watch and started to walk fast. He really didn't have time for this—the suits from Chicago were coming down today for a meeting that Jere wanted him at, and one of the fermenting tanks had to be checked because it might have a leak—but still he pressed on, showing Booker the ropes as best he could.

“We take the grain, the corn and rye, and the malted barley and grind it all up, make it look like meal, then add some water and cook it all together over there,” he said pointing to a building in the distance. “We don't have time to go there now. You can go there on your own.”

“I've been there,” said Booker.

“Go again.”

“Okay, I will.”

“Now once we get the mash cooked up, do you know ...

Get The Big Man of Jim Beam now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.