Booker Noe

Sketch Photo of Booker Noe, provided by Jim Beam Brands, Co. web site

Sketch Photo of Booker Noe, provided by Jim Beam Brands, Co. web site

"The Innovator"

Frederick Booker Noe II was born in December 1929 and passed away in 2004.  He introduced "Booker’s Bourbon" in 1987 and coined the phrase “small batch” to describe his uncut unfiltered bourbon.  Noe worked at beam for almost a half a century and was the "Master Distiller" for over 40 years. Booker was the sixth generation of the Beam family to make bourbon and a larger than life character.  At 6-foot-4, Mr. Noe was a commanding figure. He retired in 1992 and spent the rest of his life traveling around the world and acting as an ambassador for Jim Beam, playing host at bourbon tastings and entertaining audiences weaving stories and history of his family.

In 1987, with the creation of Booker's Bourbon, a "Super-Premium" bourbon, he helped revitalize the bourbon business, which had been battered by the rising popularity of ''white spirits,'' like gin and particularly vodka, in the 1960's and 1970's.

Small-batch bourbons like Booker's did for bourbon what single malts did for Scotch, creating a new market. Booker's bourbon was undiluted at over 120 proof, unfiltered and, in Mr. Noe's terms, ''straight from the barrel, the way bourbon used to be."

Not that Jim Beam itself had suffered much in the postwar rush to vodka. When Mr. Noe was named master distiller in 1965, Jim Beam was the world's top-selling bourbon, and under his direction, production increased 1200%.

Mr. Noe, who attended the University of Kentucky, joined the company in 1950 as an assistant distiller, though he had helped out around the distillery since he was a teenager. Mr. Noe was the son of Jim Beam's daughter, Margaret Noe. More importantly, he was Jim Beam's grandson, keeping the family line intact. In 1995, the company added his picture to the Jim Beam bottle, along with those of Jacob, David, David M., Jim and T. Jeremiah, the five Beam distillers who, from father to son, had preceded him.

Booker’s Bourbon (far left) now introduces four   “Small Batch”   releases every year during the four seasons. But they have also come out with some specialty   “Limited Releases”   like   Booker’s 25th Anniversary, Booker’s Rye   and   Booker’s 30th Anniversary.

Booker’s Bourbon (far left) now introduces four “Small Batch” releases every year during the four seasons. But they have also come out with some specialty “Limited Releases” like Booker’s 25th Anniversary, Booker’s Rye and Booker’s 30th Anniversary.