Fred Noe is the great- grandson of the legendary distiller Jim Beam as well as Beam Inc.'s Global Bourbon Ambassador and Master Distiller. He is the seventh-generation distilling Beam and author of the recently published memoir, Beam, Straight Up.
Dear Bardstown, Kentucky:
You've been a part of my life, and that of my family, for generations. As the "Bourbon Capital of The World," you've been a symbol of my family's life work. Small and unpretentious, you have a style and a rhythm all your own, a look and feel about you that calms and grounds me.
In my position of Jim Beam master distiller and global bourbon ambassador, I've been lucky enough to travel pretty much everywhere in the world. Seen Moscow, Tokyo, Sydney. Even been to the Canary Islands. But after all is said is done, none of those places can hold a candle to you. I'd rather eat at Kurtz's diner, (owned by my good friend Toogie -- try the fried chicken) than in a bistro in Paris. Rather have a Jim Beam Bourbon, straight up, at the Old Talbert Tavern (owned by my good friends the Kelley's) rather than a pub in London. I have nothing against those cities, mind you, they're fine places, all of them, but they ain't you.
You're home, always have been, always will be.
About 100 years ago, my great-grandfather Jim Beam bought the family house on North Third Street. Back then, it was called "Distiller's Row" because all the major distillers lived there. The house has got a wide front porch where you can put your feet up and watch the world go by. We're the only bourbon family left on the street, but bourbon people are everywhere in town. All of the world's biggest distilleries are located within about a ninety-minute drive from so a decent share of the population either works at a distillery, or has a friend or family member who does.
I was born and raised in Bardstown and over the years, not a whole lot has changed. Still a friendly place, still a good place to raise a family, make and keep friends. Located about 45-minutes from Louisville, and an hour from Lexington, we can get a taste of the city when we want. But mostly we stay home. We have nice shops, good restaurants, a local golf course, the Steven Foster Home, and the Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum to keep us entertained. We even have our own cable access television station and newspaper, so it's all good. The new Jim Beam American Stillhouse visitors' center is just down the road, making it easy for me to visit with all the Jim Beam bourbon fans that come through for a visit.
They say home is where the heart is. So, Bardstown, I guess my heart is with you. And no matter where my travels take me, I will always be true.
You take care now,
Frederick Booker Noe III