The path to success is rarely ever paved alone. It often starts with a singular passion and comes to life thanks to the communities of people who band together to support a common goal.
“It takes a village to make our distillery run,” explains Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s 7th-generation master distiller, making reference to the whiskey’s homeplace in Clermont, Kentucky headquarters. “We’ve got a lot of brothers and sisters in the industry who help us get Jim Beam out to the rest of the world.”
Without its community, there’s no question Jim Beam would never have been the bourbon powerhouse that it is today. It also wouldn’t have had a home — which is an integral part of their identity — because it was the locals who built the Jim Beam distillery in the 1700s, and got it back up and running again in 1933 when Prohibition was repealed — in an impressive 120 days.
“There’s nothing more important to us than welcoming people into our home, and sharing our passion with them,” says Fred’s son Freddie, who earlier this year was appointed master distiller of the newly unveiled Fred B. Noe Distillery. “We love to welcome folks in and show them a good time.”
Jim Beam has been a family business for over nine generations, rooted in a shared passion for bourbon. The master distiller position has been passed down from father to son, upholding a long-running family tradition. “Bourbon has clearly been huge for our family,” adds Freddie. “We all love it so much, and it’s great that we get to share the passion with others.”
In October, the Noe’s got to share this passion with stadium rock titans Muse, who themselves are a product of their community, raised by a village in their hometown of Teignmouth, a seaside locale that sits on the mouth of the River Teign in the South West of England, without which their meteoric rise wouldn’t have been possible.
Welcoming band members Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dom Howard to its Clermont, Kentucky campus for the epic conclusion of its Welcome Sessions — a live event series like no other which explores music’s role in fostering belonging and community — Jim Beam opened its historic doors to Muse and gave them a stage at its American Outpost visitor centre to play a rip-roaring, high-energy set packed full of their greatest hits, marking a world first for the distiller.
Besides this one-of-a-kind music experience, the band were taken on a tour of Jim Beam’s sprawling, 55-acre estate. After knocking on the door of the historic distillery, the band were promptly whisked off in a golf buggy driven by Fred and Freddie, and shown how Jim Beam’s award-winning^ bourbon is made, all while bonding along the way.
When Muse finished the tour, they joined Fred and Freddie on the front porch of the iconic whiskey brand’s Clermont residence for a chat, while sitting in rocking chairs, over how their respective support systems helped them get where they are today. “One of the great things about my career, is having [Fred] as that springboard to help me stay grounded and make sure we’re moving the whiskey forward,” Freddie said, speaking about his father to the band.
“I think that’s very similar to us,” Bellamy replied. “We all went to the same high school together, that means we knew each other when we really were just absolute nobodies. With all the different changes in our lives, we keep each other grounded.”
Passion is a recurring theme in the success stories of both Jim Beam and Muse. In the latter’s case, a shared appreciation for music or a particular artist proved an easy way for them to form a relationship. However, for Jim Beam, it’s all about having a passion for the craft, beginning with a love of bourbon and a point of view on how to do it right. “There is a science behind it, but there’s also an art to it,” Freddie explained to Muse.
The synergies between bourbon and music were also explored, with Freddie telling Muse that he thinks Jim Beam’s products “bring people together” when they are out enjoying them. “Obviously, that’s what music is all about, right?” He asked the band. “It’s people coming together, shaking their head, dancing, having a good time, kind of letting everything else go.”
Bellamy chimed in with his own experience. “There’s plenty of people at our shows drinking whiskey, drinking Jim Beam and having a great time,” he said. “There’s something synonymous about rock and bourbon, what is it?” “We celebrate people coming together because you are enjoying whiskey with people that have a welcoming spirit” Freddie responded. “it’s very similar with music”
Whether bourbon or music, it’s obvious that both success stories run family deep — a culmination of the people who have influenced them and made them what they are today. For Jim Beam, it’s important to celebrate these communities, as well as the home’s they’ve produced and the connections they’ve created. You arrive as friends, but leave as family.
^Jim Beam White, San Francisco World Spirits competition, Double Gold Winner, 2022.
^Jim Beam White, International Spirits Challenge, Silver award, 2022