Day three of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival began with what’s become a common theme in these parts – bourbon for breakfast. After a great trip to Maker’s Mark yesterday, on Friday morning my group headed to the Jim Beam Distillery. Upon arriving at the distillery, we were greeted by Master Distiller and Jim Beam descendent, Fred Noe. Noe graciously led us around the distillery, showing us each component and stage of the bourbon-making process and regaled us with historical tales of his family and the bourbon industry.
The Jim Beam distillery appears and operates much differently than the Maker’s Mark distillery. While Maker’s Mark boasts luscious green hills and quaint buildings, the Beam distillery is an industrial factory, churning out enough barrels per day to meet demand for the most popular bourbon brand in the world.
On the tour, we sampled high proof clear distillate, which lacks color because it hasn’t yet seen the inside of a charred oak barrel, as well as 125 proof barrel-aged bourbon, full of color and flavor, and several of the finished Jim Beam products.
The Beam portfolio includes the ubiquitious four year old white label bourbon, a five, seven and eight year old bourbon, plus a rye whiskey and the black cherry-infused Red Stag. Jim Beam’s four small batch bourbons include Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Baker’s and Booker’s.