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.


Anonymous said...

Great post.
The back story on this one is fantastic and perfectly illustrates the kind of folks who make American bourbon- they're the real deal kind of people.
Booker and Jimmy and Elmer were fantastic ambassadors of this excellent American product whose popularity is growing explosively thanks, in large part, to the foundations that they created.
Bourbon is not just about what's in the bottle.
Well done, all 'round.

Red_Dog_in_VA said...

We have a 2G in our family. She's named after her two Grandmothers. Perhaps the same with Toogie.

Anonymous said...

What I don't quite understand by looking at that ticket, is what any of this has to do with bourbon. You would think Booker should have known that before he signed it.

Anonymous said...

Come on, you're killing me. You don't get why this isn't Bourbon :) ?

Chuck Cowdery said...

By all means, enlighten us.

Anonymous said...

It jumped out the minute I saw it.

There is no such thing as 129 Proof Bourbon. You can not place the distillate in a new charred barrel above 125 Proof, to make it into bourbon. Bourbon is not "bourbon" until it has completed the process of mash, distillation, and maturation, all of which are set by law. Because you can not mature at over 125 proof and can't blend with higher proof whisky, it can not exist as shown.

This reminds me of the moment in My Cousin Vinnie when Marisa Torme' realized that the car had "positraction".

Chuck Cowdery said...

Although bourbon must go into the barrel at 62.5% ABV (125° proof) or less, the ABV can and usually does go up during aging. Many Booker's bottlings have been above 62.5% ABV. George T. Stagg from Buffalo Trace is another example.

Matt Hursh said...

Picked up Toogie's invitation a couple of weeks ago. It is so good. Tons of flavor with some heat at the end. At 129 proof, it's definitely not for starters. But I cannot recommend Booker's enough. Speaking with local liquor store, it's hard for sellers to distinguish b/w Booker's batches because they have the same SKU. Sounds like Booker's is changing that. I think this brand is underserved.

Chuck - thank you for your blog - always appreciate your insight and knowledge.

Warm regards,

Phil T said...

Just saw Toogie's Invitation at the local, and am going to pick up a bottle based on your info. Your headline reads "Toggie's Invitation"