Kentucky has its share of bourbon distilleries and stories. \u00a0Any story of bourbon must include Jim Beam. \u00a0The brand and lessons from the producer\u2019s humble beginnings are highlighted in Beam, Straight Up: The Bold Story of the First Family of Bourbon. \u00a0It's the story of a successful family business that has thrived through multiple generations. The author, Fred Noe (co-authored by Jim Kokoris), is a 7th generation Beam Master Distiller, and the great-grandson of Jim Beam. \u00a0I picked up the ebook browsing NetGallery, looking for a book that shares family history with business history. Straight Up fits the bill as a great business teacher, similar in scope to Guitar Lessons. But it\u2019s also fun because of its subject matter.\u00a0 Food, in general, brings out the best in people. \u00a0We socialize around it, be it casual or the stereotypical business lunch and alcohol was always meant to keep people relaxed. Noe also notes that impression. \u201cWhen I first started traveling, I thought the world was a big place\u2026. The food may be different, the customs, the clothes, but in the end, people are people.\u00a0 Bourbon helps. It\u2019s a common language, everyone understands it, no matter where they\u2019re from.\u201d In noting that, Noe immerses the reader comfortably into his world. He explains the family history and his place, including a chapter on his father Booker, and the story of how Noe came into the business.\u00a0 Nice twists occur with touches upon the imagined cultural milestones along the way, like prohibition.\u00a0 During that time, Noe says Jim Beam: \u201c. . .did a lot of things to stay afloat, but one thing he didn\u2019t do was go to jail.\u201d Beam ran a coal mine and rock quarry to replace the shut down distillery, though he was not as successful: \u201cHeart was not in it, and it showed in the bottom line.\u201d Entrepreneurs may identify with various aspects of Beam family character towards the business: Single-minded purpose Simplicity in manners Strong sensibility of what works Direct And with some interesting quirks. \u00a0Such as carrying a family heirloom, a jar of yeast used in bourbon distilling, in the front seat of Jim Beam\u2019s Cadillac: \u201cYou see, you have to use the same yeast to keep your whiskey consistent and tasting, and he wasn\u2019t about to let it out of his sight. My great-grandmother Mary\u2026 said the yeast stunk up the house, said it smelled like old socks, but Jim didn\u2019t care\u2026. That yeast was gold; it made his whiskey special and it smelled just fine to him.\u201d Readers also get the factoids that make nice life-of-the-party topics. Guess what color whiskey starts out as?\u00a0 Clear as water, adopting a brown color from caramelized sugars in the aging process. Interesting facts like that get woven into more compelling retelling, such as the robberies of stored liquor during the prohibition period. \u00a0\u00a0Distilleries had warehoused stock, and plenty of it \u2013 they were still caught flatfooted by the outlawing of liquor.\u00a0 Thieves would break into the temporary storage for whiskey, replacing whiskey they\u2019d steal with water.\u00a0 Another prohibition outcome was the use of bourbon for medicinal purposes: \u201cThat\u2019s right, during prohibition bourbon suddenly became government approved medicine. A handful of distilleries stayed alive by getting permits to sell their whiskey to drugstores that could then turn around and sell it to people who had a doctor\u2019s prescription\u2026. I may be wrong, but I don\u2019t think anyone made much money doing that, but every dime helped back then.\u201d And Noe explains the timeline with Kentucky flair, such as his imagery for Jim Beams\u2019 retirement: \u201cIn Kentucky, people don\u2019t ride off into the sunset, don\u2019t head out to pasture. They sit on the front porch. He had one of the best front porches in Kentucky. Wide and sturdy, overlooking North Third Street, Bardstown\u2019s main drag.\u201d The most direct chapter that speaks to small business is Chapter 10: How to Build a Company That Lasts.\u00a0 This approach contrasts Guitar Lessons, another historical look at a specific industry.\u00a0 But this also speaks with authority \u2013 after all you don\u2019t get to be 7th\u00a0generation anything without a lesson or two passed along. \u00a0A family tree dating to 1770 lets you know how far along the lessons have come. The nuggets are common sense ideas, such as knowing your customer, ensuring quality, and consistency.\u00a0 Others are refreshed ideas that Noe personalizes, enough to compliment any business process book, such as having pride and passion \u2013 Noe gets a lump in his throat from seeing a Beam truck deliver bourbon, but he also does so as a muse for the quality and consistency he advocates. If you pick up this book, delve into Chapter 9, which details the distillery\u2019s response to decreasing bourbon sales in the 1970s. \u00a0You will learn what innovation means, with an eye for balancing family tradition and marketplace shifts. A few images of the family history appendage at the book\u2019s end, as well as a small segment of Beam-based drinks and recipes.\u00a0 These are well done and festive in tone (I really liked the hangover cure!). The book makes for a good gift for the business owner who appreciates business history or who just needs a step back from a process or technical book. Noe writes in the prologue he had some reservations in writing a book. I am glad he chose otherwise.