A year to the day after Jim Beam became an independent publicly traded company, seventh generation Master Distiller Fred Noe, CEO Matthew J. Shattock, Chairman David Mackay, and Governor Steven Beshear celebrated the opening of the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse.
The American Stillhouse project is a thirty million dollar revamp of Jim Beam’s visitor center and tour. Beam is the world’s largest bourbon distillery and the first stop on the bourbon trail. Jim Beam saw 80,000 visitors to the distillery in 2011 and expects to see that number grow to 200,000 visitors a year.
Jim Beam CEO Matthew Shattock spoke to the opening day crowd about Jim Beam’s growth over the past year and how important the Noe and Beam families are to the company, calling them the “first family of bourbon.” Shattock spoke about Booker Noe and his vision for small batch and premium bourbon, and then how Fred Noe has been involved with Beam’s whiskey innovation. Beam has seen immense growth over the past year, with a stock that’s seen a 35% appreciation and new products fueling a full third of their first quarter growth.
Following Matthew J. Shattock was the Governor of the state of Kentucky, Steven L. Beshear. The governor spoke about the importance of bourbon and its essential role in the prosperity of the state. “We have more barrels of bourbon in this state than we do people,” says Beshear, pointing out that over 95% of the world’s bourbon comes from the state of Kentucky.
Chairman David MacKay echoed Matthew Shattock and Governor Beshear’s sentiments and paid homage to the Beams and Noes saying, “We have to thank seven generations of unreasonable men and women for all this.”
Fred Noe took the stage with an impassioned speech about how connected the Beam family is with Jim Beam Bourbon. [Watch Fred Noe’s complete American Stillhouse speech]. “I’ve had uncles and aunts and cousins who have lived here.” The theme of family echoed through Fred’s speech as he reiterated his famous line about Jim Beam: “You come here as a friend and leave here as family.”
After the speeches, a special barrel of bourbon was opened to toast the opening of the American Stillhouse. Another commemorative barrel was signed by the opening day crowd, including the entire board of directors of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark head distiller Rob Samuels, Jim Beam COO Kevin Smith, country music star Eddie Montgomery, Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe, and his son Freddie Noe (who is expected to join his father in the business in January).
Read our complete Behind The Scenes of Jim Beam and the American Stillhouse.