Filling an American White Oak barrel with white dog whisky at the James B. Beam Distillery is nothing new for the Beam family they’ve been doing the same thing for 225 years now.
7th generation Beam family member Master Distiller Fred Noe along with his son 8th generation Freddie Noe just filled and bunged the 16 millionth barrel of Jim Beam bourbon since the family restarted distilling operations after Prohibition. Also on hand for the celebration and barrel signing were 9th generation family members and future distillers Freddy’s daughter Bralee and son Booker. It’s a family tradition that started back in 1795.
“It’s humbling that we get to fill our 16 millionth barrel as we kick off our 225th anniversary. This milestone speaks to our eight-generation commitment to never compromising on quality and always staying true to our roots,” said Master Distiller Fred Noe at the James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont, Kentucky. “Over the past 225 years of making Bourbon in Kentucky my family and I have been able to watch this incredible industry grow and it’s an exciting time for everyone involved. Today marks a moment in time to look back at my family’s story in Kentucky. But as I look at my son and my grandchildren, I know we’re not raising a glass to our past but actually to the next 225 years.”
“One of the best parts of our job is actually watching people around the world enjoy the brands that we make right here and letting them taste a little bit of Kentucky whether its neat, in an Old Fashioned, served in a Highball or canned with Cola we’ve always believed that you should ‘Drink it any damn way you want’.”
Watch the video to hear Fred, Freddie and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. And keep an eye out for young Booker’s ‘handy’ work on the side of the freshly filled barrel.
“What a amazing occasion to be a part of and I don’t think it can be any more Kentucky then what we are doing here today,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “Congratulations to the Noe’s, being the son of a father son duo I can understand how proud you all must be here today. Thank you for all your good work.”
Beshear knows what it’s like to be a father and son team, just like Freddie is following in his father’s footsteps Beshear’s father was the 61st governor Kentucky Governor from 2007 through 2015.
“Jim Beam is a Kentucky brand recognized around the world – a key reason Kentucky just became the nation’s leading exporter of whiskey. This is an exciting time for Beam and for one of Kentucky’s signature industries. Thank you to the Noe family for inviting me to participate in this historic day and for their commitment to Clermont, to Kentucky and to good Bourbon.”
“We all know that Kentucky is the birth place of bourbon and we are proud to be crafting 95% of the worlds bourbon supply and as the other Gov. Beshear and I have always thought the other 5% must be counterfeit…We all applaud generations of hard work, of family, and of dedicated employees that it took to get here. We congratulate you and we applaud your commitment to Clermont and our treasured bourbon industry.”
Natural Water Sanctuary Alliance and the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits
“We are Kentucky and Kentucky is bourbon,” said Freddie Noe. “Because of what Kentucky and our fellow Kentuckian’s have given us over the past 225 years we are determined to do our part to ensure we can be making the world’s No. 1 bourbon for another 225 years. And our incredible past wouldn’t be worth so much if we weren’t even more focused on the future. That’s why we’ve established a Natural Water Sanctuary Alliance at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest to protect the pristine limestone water that give our Bourbons their incredible flavor. And we’ve donated $5 million to the University of Kentucky to establish the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits to educate our industry’s next generation, and research ways to distill more efficiently, and more sustainably.”
If you go to visit Jim Beam American Stillhouse you’ll find the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, home to a 16,000 acre forest and family of three wooden Giants, is directly across the street from the distillery. Admittance is free but a $10 donation per car is recommended.
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Raising a Glass with 15 Year Old Bourbon from the 10 Millionth Barrel
To celebrate the occasion Freddie dug through several barrels and landed on the 10 millionth barrel that was filled in 2005. So the lovely amber spirits that people in attendance got to enjoy was a 15 year old bourbon served the way it was meant to be – Neat!
Freddie closed out the celebration with this family toast.
“My Granddaddy would say, ‘May there be no hell’ and Fred says, ‘If there is, I’ll probably see you there.’ Cheers.”
~ 8th Generation Distiller Freddie Noe
James B. Distilling Co. Barrel Fill Milestones
And if you are keeping track here’s the timeline from the last three millionth barrel celebrations.
- 14 Millionth Barrel – Filled May 2, 2016
- 15 Millionth Barrel Filled March 12, 2018 (679 days later)
- 16 Millionth Barrel Filled February 17, 2020 (707 days later)