Bourbon is a distinctly American drink. It differs from the whiskey they make in Scotland and Canada and even in other parts of the United States. And, there is something distinctly American about the Beam family.
Beam, Straight Up is a new book written by Fred Noe, the 7th generation Master Distiller for Jim Beam. Fred comes by the job by virtue of his lineage – he is Jim Beam’s great-grandson – and his hard work rising from the shipping room to become the face of one of America’s iconic brands.
Even if you don’t drink or like bourbon, you will enjoy this book. It tells the story of how the whole bourbon industry started; how it developed; and how it continues to innovate to stay relevant.
For instance, did you know that Jim Beam the drink can be traced to Jacob Beam the person? Jacob was Jim’s great-grandfather and came to Kentucky from Maryland around 1790. Jacob Beam was a farmer who, like many others in the area, grew a lot of things including corn. The people around Hardin Creek, Kentucky grew so much corn that they had lots left over. So being enterprising folks, they turned that corn into alcohol.
Here’s the lesson – there are a lot more opportunities for success than we think if we keep our eyes open to them and are willing to do the work.
It turns out that Jacob was more than just an enterprising hard worker. He was very good at making whiskey. So good, in fact, that Jim Beam is still made from the Jacob’s original recipe today.
The book also talks about how the industry survived during prohibition; the family’s philosophy about work and dealing with employees; how the brand has innovated over the years; and mostly how humility and remembering your roots grounds you.
For business people, there is a chapter on how to build and sustain a company the Jim Beam way. For those who work in a family business, there are great role models of how you bring your children into the business in a way that breeds consistency and sustainability. For everyone else, there is a lot of history about how bourbon is made; why this particular type of whiskey is called “bourbon”; and several great recipes.
But mostly, this book is a story about how a great American family created a great American product and the importance of staying true to your roots.
You can order Beam, Straight Up here.
This book will make someone a wonderful holiday or birthday present. It is perfect for a night in front of the fire with a great glass of Knob Hill – the small batch bourbon made by Fred Noe and the team at Jim Beam Distilleries.