This weekend's Forecastle Festival was so fun, y'all. In addition to the musical lineup, the Bourbon Lodge featured some rockstars of the spirits industry. On Saturday, Bob and I took in the Bourbon Family Icons Fireside Charm, which was moderated by author Fred Minnick, and which featured Fred Noe, the great-grandson of Jim Beam and the current Master Distiller at his family's whiskey company, as well as Bruce Russell, the grandson of legendary Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell.
Now, I've spent the majority of the last year interviewing and researching folks in the bourbon industry for my book. I still get extremely starstruck when I'm in the room with Mr. Noe or Bill Samuels Jr of Maker's Mark and I know it would be the same if I had the opportunity to meet Jimmy Russell. These old-school bourbon guys -- the ones who don't try to speak corporate lingo and for whom the family bourbon label is a source of heritage and pride -- well, they're just the best of Kentucky.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the bourbon industry is, as Mr. Noe mentioned during the Fireside Chat, that many of the historical bourbon producing families are friends. In fact, many times during this session, Mr. Noe referenced his own friendship with Bruce Russell's father, Eddie. Both men referenced drinking the other's whiskeys. It's one of my favorite aspects I've seen in researching the bourbon industry: there really is a camaraderie and a sense that it's better if they all succeed.
Oh, and one more fun fact from the Fireside Chat: Mr. Noe name-checked his buddy Bobby Ritchie, better known to the rest of us as Jim Beam aficionado Kid Rock. It was at once surreal and hilarious.
Here's to a great experience in the Forecastle Bourbon Lodge. I can't wait to check out next year's lineup!