Earlier this month, Fred Noe, Seventh-Generation Jim Beam Family Distiller, spoke with us about what every guy should know about bourbon. After that portion of the interview wrapped, Complex jawed with Fred a bit longer, encouraging him to wax poetic about that beautiful liquor.
And speaking of how beautiful bourbon is, Beam has two new expression—Red Stag Honey Tea and Red Stag Spiced—that hit stores soon. These bold varietals are delicious additions to the Beam family.
Interview by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)
What’s your earliest memory of bourbon?
When I was a little boy, my mom’s favorite cough medicine was bourbon, honey and lemon juice. In the winter-time, she’d make up a bottle of that and keep it in the refrigerator. And when you had that nagging cough, she’d give you spoonfuls of it. Now they tell me—I don’t remember it—but when I was a baby cutting teeth, my grandmother, my mother, and all the old timers, would dip their fingers in a little bourbon and rub my gums. That would’ve been the first time that bourbon crossed my lips.
When did you realize what you liked as far as bourbon goes?
When I was in college. We were going out, having drinks. I think I started off drinking bourbon with Sprite. When you first start drinking, I don’t think you’re appreciating the taste so much as you’re enjoying drinking with your buddies. You’re out partying, or at the ballgame. Different things. But at college, we started tasting and comparing, because different people drank different stuff. I remember comparing the flavor of my dad’s bourbon to other things people were drinking. I noticed the flavor. I saw that some bourbons had a tougher finish, a little rougher around the edges than the Beam bourbons.
What are some other bourbons that you respect and like that are not part of the Beam family?
The Samuels family over at Maker’s Mark—theirs is a good product. The Russell family at Wild Turkey—I think Jimmy Russel and his son Eddie produce some very good bourbons. My cousin Parker Beam up at Heaven Hill, he and his son Craig do a terrific job with a lot of their products.
Here in Kentucky, if you taste around, everybody has got different bourbons that you’ll like, especially since there are so many varieties now. You look around, you’ll find something in almost everybody’s portfolio that’s pleasing to your palate.