Friday, July 29, 2016

"Toggie's Invitation" Is a Tribute to Friendship



Booker Noe, Jim Beam Master Distiller and Jim Beam's grandson, had thousands of friends all over the world. He was that kind of guy. As is the way in Kentucky's bourbon country, Booker's closest friends were with him from childhood. They were guys like Donald Dick, a basketball buddy from St. Joe's.

Both men married in their early 20s. Soon it was Booker and Annis, and Donald and Marilyn, who everybody called "Toogie" (for reasons unknown or, at least, not revealed).

One night after a few bourbons, Booker and Donald made a pledge, as newly-married best friends sometimes do, that if anything happened to one of them the survivor would look out for the other guy's family.

It was a pledge Booker took seriously when Donald died a few years later. Annis and Toogie were already best friends, so she and her five children became even closer to the Noe family.

Then and now, Toogie's family owned a Bardstown restaurant, Kurtz's, a local favorite. Toogie is a great cook. When Booker began to travel the world as a bourbon ambassador, both Annis and Toogie traveled with him. Booker was not into exotic foods, so Annis and Toogie made sure he always had a home-cooked meal.

With Toogie in attendance to tell the tale, the selection of the "Toogie's Invitation" edition of Booker's Bourbon took place at Kurtz's a few months ago. The Booker's Roundtable was presented with three samples, from which one was selected. This was followed by a dinner of Toogie's famous fried chicken, and country ham from Booker's smokehouse. Booker's son, Fred; grandson Freddy; and other Beam folks were also there.

Every Booker's selection fits the Booker's profile but there are subtle differences. "Toogie's Invitation" is a caramel and vanilla bomb, with the tiniest bit of astringency from the barrel tannins, very easy to drink with a splash of water added. Goes well with fried chicken and country ham.

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