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Early Times was founded in Shively, Kentucky in 1860 by Jack Beam, uncle of Jim Beam. The distillery's core product was a bourbon up until 1983, when they decided to age the whisky in seasoned barrels instead of new charred oak, thus changing the label requirement to "Kentucky Whisky." Early Times is owned by Brown Forman who also own Jack Daniel's, so they own the cooperage, so they have full control over the quality of the barrels used to age their whiskey.
The Early Times Whisky brand production started at Early Times Station, Kentucky. The Kentucky water surrounding the "Station" was used for making the whiskey. The water naturally filtered through limestone springs. Early Times was not popular until 1920 when Congress passed the Volstead Act and Prohibition began. The brand prospered due to its maker having a license to continue production for medicinal purposes.
The Brown-Forman Company acquired the Early Times brand in 1923, and over the next 30 years made Early Times the best-selling whisky in the USA. Today the brand is sold in over 40 countries. It ranks as one of the top four selling bourbons in the world, and in 2005 it became the top selling Kentucky whisky in Japan.