Starting out at Jim Beam
Holmes, now 64, is no stranger to bourbon. Rickhouses, or whiskey aging warehouses, dotted the rolling hills in central Kentucky where she was raised and were as much a part of the landscape as tobacco and horse barns. Holiday dishes included bourbon fudge, bourbon pudding, and bourbon balls with pecans. Summers brought glasses of iced sweet tea with bourbon.
Holmes entered the industry in 1990. Self-employed as a home remodeler, Holmes also owned a 30-acre farm with a lake and was considering raising catfish. She learned that the late Booker Noe, former master distiller of Jim Beam and the sixth generation of the Beam family to make bourbon, wanted to experiment with using the dried grain that was a byproduct of distillation as fish food. If it worked, he could boost company revenue.
Noe purchased 1,000 catfish fingerlings and, because of her shared interest in