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Book Review: Beam, Straight Up by Fred Noe (with Jim Kokoris)

Posted on by Eric Burke

Fred Noe is a man that I have seen on a couple of occasions. Each time it was to get a bottle signed. I didn’t say met, or spoke to, or anything more personal because for some reason, he intimidated me a bit. I’m unsure of the reason. I normally don’t get intimidated by people just because of celebrity. He’s kind of a bigger guy, so maybe that was it. Maybe I just didn’t have anything to say that would be worth taking up his time. He looked busy. He was telling stories. 

After reading this book, I don’t think I’m going to have that problem anymore. I’ll have at least one thing to say: “Sir, I enjoyed your book.” And I did. The book is one story after another with a little history thrown in for good measure. In those stories you learn a little about what makes up the man that is the face of Jim Beam. 

It starts where the story starts, with a little family history. It moves into Fred’s boyhood and his view of Booker, his dad. And then into college where he really used a trunk full of Jim Beam to try to solve every problem. And it turns out that he did have problems, not being the best student. After a stint in college he hits the road with a band and eventually ends up back home working at the distillery. Finally taking over for his dad as the face of the company.

But my synopsis doesn’t do the book any justice. Fred is a masterful story-teller, I’m guessing from years on the road doing just that, and it comes through in the stories he tells and how he tells them. I can almost hear the soft Kentucky accent as I read and laugh. And, oh did I laugh. This is a damn funny book. If you haven’t, go read it. It’s short. You won’t be sorry. (Oh, and my wife seconds this review...so there's that.)

Purchase info: Signed copy, $22.95 at the Jim Beam booth, Kentucky Bourbon Festival