An exploration into the James B Beam Distilling Co.
Opinion piece by Aaron Shuttleworth.
Innovation is the solving of problems through incremental changes, a term in our modern lexicons that has become almost synonymous with evolution. In our quest to hurtle forward at often breakneck speed, we often forget that slowing down, standing still, or even looking back are sometimes more beneficial than keeping our blinkers on and going all gas no brakes.
One part of the world that has always seemed to seamlessly integrate this is Kentucky.
Booker Noe famously released his eponymous bourbon in 1987 with the remaining stalwarts of Bakers, Basil Hayden and Knob Creek rounding out the Small Batch portfolio in 1992. These brands were at the forefront of bourbon’s sudden resurgence in the mid-late 000’s; a combined product of the Second Golden Age of Bartending and Scotch whisky’s meteoric (and seemingly endless) price trajectory.
And then we forgot how good they were. New distilleries opened, old distilleries launched new lines and the global beverage industry devolved into a cannibalistic world of mergers and acquisitions that dominated all other headlines. Through all of this, Fred Noe served as a loyal ambassador to his Father’s creations and as a figurehead for the entire bourbon industry, travelling to all corners of the globe promoting America’s spirit.
With Freddie Noe now at the helm of Jim Beam Distillers alongside his Dad Fred B. Noe, the time for innovation is ripe. Craft bourbon is everywhere and the need to cut through the noise and put something fresh and exciting in a bottle is a problem that needs solving, something that no distiller is more equipped than Beam to achieve.
From experimental distilleries to proprietary yeast strains, cask finishing to cross cultural collaboration, I’ll deep dive over the coming months into just what Freddie is cooking up at Beam. With commentary and insight from Global Small Batch Ambassador Tim Heuisler, we’ll explore just why Jim Beam Distillers remains at the forefront of industry innovation after so many years.