I’ve known Fred Noe of Jim Beam Bourbon for several years now, going back to my days as the in-house whiskey expert for About.com. So, when I received a copy of “Beam Straight Up, the Bold Story of the First Family of Bourbon,” I couldn’t wait to read it. Being a giant in the world of whiskey, Fred Noe is the seventh generation Beam Master Distiller, following in the footsteps of his legendary father Booker Noe (of Booker’s bourbon fame.)
Now, some of you may be asking yourselves, “Why would I want to read a book about a whiskey distiller?” The answer is simple: “Beam Straight Up” is not only an informative read for bourbon afficionados, but it’s also an entertaining book that will appeal to a broad audience. From stories about managing Hank Williams Jr. to being detained in the Moscow airport, Fred Noe has lived a life worth writing about. His anecdotes are funny and engaging, but Fred also peels back the curtain on Jim Beam and gives his insight into how Jim Beam manages to keep their family values in an era of corporate greed. A look at his 10 observations on building a business could have been written by a Fortune 500 CEO, but Fred doesn’t use business jargon, keeping things simple and easy-to-understand. The whiskey business is ultimately about relationships, and Fred has cultivated those, both within Jim Beam and with fans, restaurants, bars, and distributorships.
Another fun section of the book lists some of Fred’s favorite Jim Beam recipes. From stuffed mushrooms with bourbon to the perfect whiskey sour cocktail to Knob Creek chicken, Fred offers a plethora of uses for his whiskies.
“Beam Straight Up” suffers from one great problem. Fred Noe isn’t done in the business yet, and some of his best anecdotes are still to be written. Of course, a sequel to this book could rectify this, but based on the tone of this volume, I’d almost expect that Fred will only write this one book. Perhaps his son Freddie, the next Beam in line for the Master Distiller role (although not associated with the company yet), will have to write the next chapter in the Beam history. Whatever may happen, “Beam Straight Up” is a fun, entertaining, and captivating read by one of the most interesting people in the world of whiskey.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product from Jim Beam for review. No other compensation from Jim Beam was received.