Master Distiller Podcasts

Podcasts done by Master Distillers

132 – Kentucky’s Bourbon Boom: Economics Panel at the University of Louisville

What happens when you get Bill Samuels, Mike VeachReid Mitenbuler, and Susan Reigler in front of an economics class? You talk about the growth of bourbon, the economic impact of it, and how to get jumpstarted into a career. Thanks to the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at the College of Business, University of Louisville for hosting and allowing us to record. This event is just one of a series of events on the bourbon industry in the college this semester . The bourbon theme included an economics reading group which read and met to discuss Reid’s book. They also took field trips to Buffalo Trace and Peerless distilling. In addition, the economics senior capstone class is focused on the economic history and importance of the industry. Students in the class are writing a variety of research papers on the bourbon industry for their senior projects.

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Show Notes:

  • We will first attempt to wrap our heads around the size of the boom
  • What consumer and federal or state-level regulatory trends might be facilitating the recent resurgence.
  • We will be considering the economic impact on KY, including investment, job creation, tourism, and exports. I’ll have the panelists dwell on the recent investment announcements by BBC, Lux Row, Stoli, and Heaven Hill plus the revival of whiskey row (Old Forester, Michter’s, and, by extension, Peerless, Angel’s Envy, Rabbit Hole, and so on).
  • What about the marketing strategy of old brands and distilleries being brought back from the dead (Peerless, Kentucky Owl, and Old Taylor/Castle & Key).
  • Given it is fall release season, discuss the surging popularity of the boutique brands from the big distillers and the associated retail price increases, shortages, production timelines, and the “ethics” of the secondary market.
  • What is your opinion on the future? Can the boom last and what opportunities are out there for UofL students interested in the industry?


130 – Ask a Master Distiller with Shane Baker of Wilderness Trail Distillery

You may remember of Dr. Pat Heist of Ferm-Solutions back on episode 121 talking about the science of yeast. This episode feature his counterpart Shane Baker, Master Distiller of Wilderness Trail Distillery, as he answers all the questions you ever wanted to know from a Master Distiller. These guys are very well known in the bourbon world amongst distillers who know what they are doing. We take a deeper dive into grains and how this distillery has been aging product for almost 4 years and still hasn’t released a bourbon yet.

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Show Notes:

  • Tell us a bit about Wilderness Trail?
  • Where are you located?
  • Do you use the same yeast strain in all your different mash bills?
  • Adam Kessell I’d like the hear about all crop yield, and the agricultural footprint of bourbon/whiskey and what safe guards we take for the long term success of the product.
  • Can you continue to keep it local?
  • How often do you turn away grains?
  • What do you think about the bourbon boom from a craft standpoint. what needs to be done to maintain this momentum?
  • Aged stock vs making money. where’s that balance?
  • What advice to give to other craft distillers?
  • What in your opinion is the biggest factor in distilling/aging? Mash?,distillation temperature?, entry proof?, barrel type or aging location?
  • Chris Scott I want to hear more about sourcing grains. We already heard Jimmy Russell say he must source rye from Europe. That blew my mind.
  • Dustin Charles Herr Discuss year to year variation of crops affect on flavors.
  • Steven Granger Discuss how sourcing grains from different parts of the world makes a difference in the finished product.
128 – Overnight Bourbon using TerrePURE with Jacob Call of O.Z. Tyler Distillery

It’s a controversial topic amongst bourbon purists. Can you replicate all the effects Mother Nature and Father Time add to the bourbon that rests inside a barrel? Jacob Call, Master Distiller at O.Z. Tyler, comes from a long family lineage of distillers and decided to do take on an industry with Terressentia using TerrePURE technology. Learn about the growth of this startup and small bit about the technology in this episode.


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Show Notes:

  • How did you get involved with bourbon and got you here today?
  • Do you have any good stories with being around Booker and Fred?
  • Tell us a bit about the property here in Owensboro
  • How bad of shape was this Old Medley Distillery when you got here?
  • I was surprised at the size, it seems like you’re pumping out a bunch of product
  • What is creating all this expansion especially when you are so new?
  • Explain the TerrePURE process because you’re expediting the aging
  • So it’s not just marketing BS?
  • Do you worry about bourbon purists not enjoying this when you talk about age statements and the like?
  • If it works so well, why wouldn’t the big boys want to license this?
  • Talk a bit about the O.Z. Tyler Brand
  • Will there be other brands to come out?
  • So it has to be barreled for at least a year to be labeled Kentucky bourbon
  • I was blown away by the taste. It actually tastes like a 4 year old bourbon.
  • Where is Terressentia focused for the future?
108 – Denny Potter, Master Distiller at Heaven Hill

Denny Potter, Master Distiller and VP of Operations at Heaven Hill, talks about his past handling dangerous chemicals, answers if bourbon production is green, touches on age statement removals and the market for higher age statements.

Show Notes:

  • Thanks to Linden Ferguson for being the guest co-host
  • The man behind many of the famous brands we talk about on the show like Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Henry McKenna, Larceny and much more. Former Master Distiller and now VP of Operations at Heaven Hill, Denny Potter
  • Talk about your history and how you came to Heaven Hill
  • Talk about your old jobs dealing with dangerous chemicals.
  • Talk about the environmental impact of bourbon production.
  • So you have a history of rum. What do you think about this newborn uptick in Rum interest?
  • How many barrels is Heaven Hill producing per day?
  • What once was impossible to get rid of and now HH has been known for their high aged premium products by whiskey geeks. From Martin Mills 24 to EC18 and 23 and WHH 14 and 15 years, do you anticipate the future whiskey drinkers 10 years from now to still be wanting higher aged products?
  • There’s a little known gem here in KY and that’s the 6 year BIB white label. When you travel do people ask you about how they can get their hands on some?
  • What are some of those labels people are always wanting to know more about or how they can get their hands on?
105 – Behind a Russell’s Reserve Barrel Pick with Cork N Bottle, Reid & Emerald, and more at Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Barrel Selection Exclusive with Ed Bley of Cork N Bottle, Reid and Emerald of 1789b, Nick Dikeos of The Bourbon Mafia, and Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey. Get an inside look at how these connoisseurs of bourbon choose barrels while Jimmy is rattling off more information and history than we knew before. This is a Bourbon Pursuit first, bringing you inside on a private barrel selection.

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  • Everyone introduce themselves
  • Ed, what’s your mentality going into a barrel pick?
  • Jimmy, what hasn’t been tried in this business?
  • Jimmy, you said Wild Turkey doesn’t produce anything outside of their own brands but what about Old Ripy and Bond and Lilliard?
  • Emerald, what’s bourbon like in Arizona?
  • Jimmy, talk about Chill Filtering
  • Ed, do you feel like we could be choosing barrels that have been passed on by others?
  • Jimmy talks about MGP, Schenley, and more
  • Nick, talk about off-profile picks and why they are desired
  • Emerald, how has barrel picking changed since bourbon has become so popular because you can’t get things like private ETL?
  • Reid, talk about the differences between choosing barrels at Four Roses
  • Jimmy, talk about the oak that goes into making the barrels
  • Jimmy, when it comes to local farmers, does farm to bottle really mean anything?
  • Jimmy, how did you get in trouble with the Wild Turkey pewter tops?
  • Ed, Reid, and Nick, what do you think collaborations of different stores and groups coming together to make something special?
  • Jimmy, talk about Parker Beam from Heaven Hill
  • These bottles will be in stores very soon!
104 – 10 Interviews from WhiskyLive Louisville 2017

A combination of 10 interviews all done at WhiskeyLive in Louisville. This podcast features Fred Noe and Beth Burrows of Jim Beam, Joe Beatrice of Barrell Bourbon, Brian Gelfo of Rabbit Hole, John Foster of Smooth Ambler, Josh Hollifield of Barton 1792, Kelly Ramsey of Art Eatables, Winston Edwards of Balcones, Greg Roshkowski of Cooper’s Craft, and we wrap it up with Bill Thomas of Jack Rose.

103 – Drew Mayville, Master Blender at Buffalo Trace / Sazerac

Drew Mayville, Master Blender at Buffalo Trace / Sazerac, has one of the most important jobs and that’s making sure the blended products meet a flavor profile. We dive into the differences between tanked and non-tank Sazerac 18 year and even talk about his involvement with the Old Rip 25 year.

– Talk about your past because I did some LinkedIn sleuthing last night and come to find out you’re no spring chicken.
– Talk about what it means to be a master blender because we talk to master distillers all the time but we don’t get to see this side very often
– talk about the panel and the process
– would you say blenders are under appreciated in this business?
– talk about some of the labels you are blending for
– lets take Eagle Rare as an example, what are some of the characteristics you are looking for to have it’s consistency?
– are you using a previous batch or set of samples and comparing that to new samples?
– Did i read somewhere that BT’s Buffalo Cream is your baby?
– what else are you or your team responsible for?
– fireball?
– Harlen has his vodka. If you have your way, what sort of spirit do you want your name across?
– Everyone knows that warehouse X is part of the experimentation projects. Do you have some of your own things over there as well?
– Don’t you think experimentation of everything has been done already? Many consumers are just looking for good bourbon from a good distillery with a rich history.
– Personally, the EHT 4 Grain was a way to build the EH Taylor hype but, of BT knew the 4grain bourbon was better than 3, then all bourbons would have been 4grain from the beginning. am i wrong?
– Is the single barrel, barrel proof explosion going to put you out of business?

102 – Brent Elliott, Creating Al Young’s 50th Anniversary Bourbon for Four Roses at WhiskyLive

Brent Elliott, Master Distiller at Four Roses, takes us through the creation of Al Young’s 50th Anniversary bourbon at an exclusive session during WhiskyLive.


100 – Charlie Downs, Artisanal Distillery Manager at Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Charlie Downs, Artisanal Distillery Manager at Evan Williams Bourbon Experience (a part of Heaven Hill Brands) talks about the operations, his mentorship with Parker Beam, and the recollection of events that took place at the Heaven Hill fire of 1996.

087 – Brent Elliott, Master Distiller at Four Roses

Brent Elliott, Master Distiller at Four Roses, talks about how he never owned a bottle of Four Roses until he interviewed and how the conversation went when he was tapped to be the new Master Distiller.

079 – John Little, VP and Head Distiller at Smooth Ambler

John Little, VP and Head Distiller at Smooth Ambler, talks about the how the whole operation started from a note his father-in-law gave him from Time magazine. John dives into the roots of his current distillation and the single barrels seen on the market.

077 – Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller and Legend at Wild Turkey

Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller and Legend at Wild Turkey, sits down to tell his story. He thinks he’s “Plain Ol’ Jimmy” but once you hear his stories about childhood, befriending the likeness of greats in the industry, and sharing his wealth of knowledge you will see he really is an icon.

074 – Eddie Russell, Master Distiller at Wild Turkey

Eddie Russell, Master Distiller at Wild Turkey, joins the show to discuss growing up around the distillery, apprenticeship, and what tradition has taught him about the business.

063 – Trey Zoeller, Founder and Master Blender of Jefferson’s Bourbon

Trey Zoeller, Founder and Master Blender of Jefferson’s Bourbon, shares his story with some new information about a new Presidential special release.

061 – Mark Coffman, Master Distiller for Town Branch at Alltech Brewing

Mark Coffman, Master Distiller at Alltech Brewing, which is the home of Town Branch bourbon, talks about being a Brewmaster as well as a Master Distiller.

047 – Andrea Wilson, VP and GM of Michter’s Distillery

Andrea Wilson, Vice President and General Manager of Michter’s Distillery, gives us the history of Michter’s, her rich history influencing the bourbon industry behind the scenes, and hints at a new 20 year bourbon release and potential Celebration.

045 – Chris Morris, Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve

Chris Morris, Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve, gives an insight into the historic grounds and the $1000 Mint Julep in time for Derby.

044 – Fred Noe, Master Distiller at Jim Beam

Fred Noe, Global Ambassador and Master Distiller at Jim Beam, talks about the history of Jim Beam, his celebrity encounters and the new Booker’s Rye release.

033 – Greg Davis, Master Distiller Maker’s Mark

Greg Davis, Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark, talks about how is continuing the tradition that has been set and more about day to day operations. (more…)

027 – Dixon Dedman, Partner in Kentucky Owl Bourbon

Dixon Dedman, Owner Operator of Beaumont Inn & Partner in Kentucky Owl, joins us to talk about his family history and how they revitalized a brand that died during prohibition. (more…)

021 – Brent Goodin, Master Distiller at Boundary Oak

Brent Goodin, Master Distiller at Boundary Oak Distillery, discusses his new startup distillery and how his first bottle of bourbon off the line sold for $28,000. (more…)

018 – Marianne Barnes, Master Distiller of former Old Taylor Distillery

Marianne Barnes, Master Distiller at The Distillery Formally Known as Old Taylor, discusses her new role, what everyone can expect coming from this revitalization, and insights into what it takes to be a master distiller. (more…)

012- Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller Four Roses (Part 2)

Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller at Four Roses, joins us for Part 2 of this 2-Part podcast and discusses his travels, limited edition releases, one floor warehouses, and how he’s shaping their future. (more…)

011 – Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller Four Roses (Part 1)

Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller at Four Roses, joins us for Part 1 of this 2-Part podcast and talks about his education, job history, his love for bowling, and how he brought Four Roses straight bourbon back to the US.

006 – Wes Henderson, Angels Envy Chief Innovation Officer

Wes Henderson, Chief Innovation Officer of Angel’s Envy, joins us to talk about the start of this brand, his father’s heritage, and more

002 – Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller Buffalo Trace

Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace, joins us we discuss multiple facets of his history and life at the famed Buffalo Trace Distillary (Read Show Notes)