Inside the Jim Beam Vanilla launch party in New York City, you could see acrobats swinging from hoops attached to the ceiling, with lights dimmed giving off an almost neo-noir atmosphere. One feminine acrobat in white turned upside-down to pour me a half-full glass of bourbon. Liquor was served freely to the live crowd enjoying the occasion and listening in to Wild Belle playing their latest hit onstage. World-famous actress and party host Mila Kunis even appeared to talk about the product.
But before I walked towards the area of light and sound, I was brought to a longue with a nearby bar. I sat down and was greeted by the seventh generation Master Distiller of Jim Beam, Fred Noe. We spoke about his family’s bourbon, and the legacy of Jim Beam dating back 200 years.
Even though, Noe’s family business involved bourbon, his father instructed him to put partying aside and focus on his education. “It wasn’t like my dad was letting me taste whisky while I was kid,” says Noe. “He really pushed me away from it, and wanted me to finish college before I even considered working for Jim Beam.”
Fred Noe also mentioned hanging out with rock superstars such as Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock, and his Nascar sponsorship. “I met a lot of good people, when I was much younger, hanging out with Hank Williams, Jr, drinking a little bourbon with Hank while he sang “Family Tradition” on stage.”
Brian & Danny Dunlop/COED – Photo of Mila Kunis & Fred Noe
Noe reflected upon his company’s partnership with Kid Rock and Nascar. He said that it was very fun hanging out with Kid Rock at Nascar races. He says that the Jim Beam car hasn’t won much, but either way, he’s had a lot of fun hanging around the races.
I mentioned to Noe that Kid Rock is throwing his name in the hat to run for Senate in Michigan. Noe said he hasn’t heard directly from Rock about his senate announcement, but said that the musician is a “straight shooter” and will help rebuild Detroit. “I think the folks of Michigan, if they pick him, he’ll do a great job. He’s a straight shooter, he’s done a lot to help Detroit rebound. And who knows? Maybe he’ll help bring things together in Michigan, and represent them well in the Senate.”
Brian & Danny Dunlop/COED – Photo of Wild Belle
But back to the bourbon. Noe thinks that the public will respond well to the new vanilla flavor of Jim Beam. “I think they’ll love it once they taste it. Once people put it in their mouths, it does the trick.”
After the interview, I walked out to greet my brother Danny sitting at the bar. I brought him along as my plus-one guest, and he was already having fun with a Jim Beam and coke in his hand. I looked around and took some nice pictures of acrobats and the encompassing atmosphere of crowds enjoying bourbon, talking and listening to live music.
The host of the event Mila Kunis came out towards the end, while this “responsible” journalist was visiting the bathroom. I rushed out of the restroom and looked for my brother, who had the camera-phone. I eventually found him and was glad that he captured a few photos of “the goddess” in person. Kunis didn’t converse with anyone in the crowd. She stood onstage and talked about Jim Beam. Well, she is the host of their launch party after all…
I definitely had an awesome time at the Jim Beam Vanilla Launch Party. An endless string of free cocktails and drinks. The most baller event in NYC this year. Plus, how could I not feel it the next day? This guy is getting old…
Any regrets? None! Well, maybe a few more shots of Mila would help…
Photo of Brian Dunlop/COED