BARDSTOWN — Jim Beam master distiller Fred Booker Noe III said he had no idea three decades ago when he joined his father, Booker, at the distillery that one day he would also join him in the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
Noe was inducted Friday in a ceremony at the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, along with bourbon warehouse builder Thomas Blincoe of Buzick Construction.
"I started out on the bottling line on the night shift. Dad wanted me to learn the business from the ground up," Noe said. "You go to the night shift bottling line, you're pretty damn close to the ground."
But he said he loved it from the beginning and quickly moved up.
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He said he was never much of a student in school, "but I did take to the distillery pretty good. Been down there 29 years ... I gotta say I'm pretty damn lucky. I got the best job in the world, get to work with the best people in the world, and I get to travel the world."
Beam CEO Matt Shattock said, "Fred's the closest thing we've got to a rock star."
Booker Noe was among the inductees in 2001, and Fred Noe told his son, Freddie, who also now works at Beam, "Stick with it and maybe someday you'll make it too."
Noe joined bourbon luminaries such as Jimmy Russell, Bill Samuels, Jim Rutledge, Parker Beam, and the late Elmer T. Lee and Lincoln Henderson.
Shattock credited Noe with inspiring innovations to the Beam line, including Devil's Cut.
At Jim Beam's American Stillhouse in nearby Clermont, in honor of Fred Noe and the festival, Beam debuted a new app called "I'm Beam."
Fans could sign up and get their picture made to go on the white label of a Jim Beam bottle alongside Noe and all seven generations of Beam.
David Laumeyer, 26, was in town to spend time with his mother, Laureen, at the Bourbon Festival. Thursday night they went to a special dinner at Maker's Mark in Loretto.
They are both Maker's Mark ambassadors already.
But he had no qualms about joining the Beam family, too.
"I just love the Red Stag line, all the different favors they've come out with, so that's why I wanted to come visit," he said.