223 – From Liquor Store to Distillery with Ken Lewis of New Riff

New Riff is a name that has become synonymous with bourbon lovers. You may have recalled our conversation with Jay Erisman, Vice President, back on Episode 072, but this time we get to speak with Owner, Ken Lewis, who drives a bunch of the decision making behind the company. It feels like an episode of How I Built This as we get to hear Ken’s story. From owning and hustling liquor stores to eventually selling all that to start a distillery, hiring some great people, and having a few strokes of good luck to put him in the position where he is today. Then we also get to hear about his thoughts on stickers and some future plans he has in store for New Riff as well.

Show Notes:

  • Jim Beam’s Historic Kentucky Home on Airbnb: https://www.travelandleisure.com/hotels-resorts/vacation-rentals/jim-beam-bourbon-historic-kentucky-home-airbnb
  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about the top 5 states for bourbon besides Kentucky.
  • What is your title?
  • Tell us about your entrepreneurial spirit.
  • How did you get into the alcohol business?
  • How did you end up in Northern Kentucky?
  • Do you have any regrets getting rid of your stores?
  • How did you decide to sell Party Source and start a distillery?
  • How did you get interested in bourbon?
  • When was your first taste of bourbon?
  • How did you find the team to get the business off the ground?
  • How did you chose the mash bills?
  • Tell us about the O.K.I. days.
  • Do you still do contract distilling?
  • So why did you release the bourbon at 4 years?
  • How is such a young product so good?
  • How did you get such a great location?
  • What are your future plans for the bourbon?
  • Tells us about the balboa rye.
  • What do you think of the single barrel stickers?


Everybody Are you interested in looking at the distilling process and pairing that with key business knowledge such as finance, marketing and operations, then you should check out the online distilled spirits business certificate from the University of Louisville. It’s an online program. It can be completed in as little as 15 weeks. It’s taught by both of you have all business faculty and corporate fellows. So you’re getting real experience from real experts at the most renowned distilleries, companies and startups in the distilling industry. all that’s required is a bachelor’s degree, go to U of l.me. Slash pursue spirits.

I thought, you know, this could be almost like semi retirement because once you start distilling, I mean, you just kind of sit around and watch barrels age, right? That’s what I assumed would happen. You know, I’d wander in, you know, at noon or something and

get myself a glass. Hey, you

know, how hard can it be? You know, you’re just gonna watch these barrels. Get old

What’s going on everybody? It is Episode 223 of bourbon pursuit. I’m Kenny, one of your host, and it’s time for the bourbon news so let’s get to it. Woodford Reserve is releasing their fall 2019 Masters collection is a chocolate malted rye bourbon, this limited edition and one time release is offering a different flavoring technique where they toast the ride grain just long enough that it begins to taste like chocolate. This bourbon will have a suggested retail price of 129 99. It has hints of guests that dark chocolate as well as spice coming in and at 90.4 proof. The completed mash bill will be 70% corn 15% of the chocolate malted rye in 15% of distillers malt. Baker’s bourbon is getting a facelift and a rebranding as well as a new limited edition offering. This one sort of flew under the radar for a lot of people. It was first picked up almost a year ago by ski Through the TTP just kind of trolling through the website, but now people are starting to find it on the shelves. The Baker’s bottles with the black wax that we once knew is going away but there’s going to be an upgraded packaging and a slightly higher price tag coming in as well. It is now changing from a small batch 107 proof to a single barrel but still at 107 proof like keeping a seven year age statement. There’s also going to be a limited edition 13 year addition of bakers that will have an adorning a metallic inspired label as well as a metal neck charm. We’ve seen pictures of them already out there so keep your eyes peeled when you’re going to the liquor stores. Travel and Leisure magazine has reported that starting on Monday, October 21 you will be able to rent Jim beam’s historic home on Airbnb being Suntory will release a limited number of one night stays available for booking through the end of 2019 and each day is priced at just a mere $23 and this marks the same exact price as a bottle of Jim Beam black bourbon. The only catch is that you have to be 21 years or older to stay inside the home. But inside this store home, you’re going to have three bedrooms as well as two and a half bathrooms and it overlooks the beautiful ever bought lake. And it comes stocked with a full bar of Jim Beam Bourbons. You can read more about it with the link in our show notes. New riff is a name that’s become synonymous with bourbon lovers. And you may recall our conversation with JS man who’s the Vice President and back on episode 72. But this time we get to speak with Ken Lewis who drives a bunch of the decision making behind the company. It almost feels like an episode of how I built this as we get to hear Ken’s story of owning and hustling liquor stores to eventually selling out a lot of that and to start a distillery hiring some great people. And as most of these stories go, it’s just a few strokes and good luck to put them in the position where he is today. Then we wrap it up by getting Be Here some of the future plans he has in store for new riff as well. All right, now let’s get to it. Here’s Joe from barrel bourbon. And then you’ve got Fred Minnick with above the char.

Hey everyone, Joe here again. In 2013. I launched barrell craft spirits without a distillery and defied conventional wisdom. To this day, my team and I sourcing blend exceptional barrels from established producers and bottle strength. Find out more at barrell bourbon com.

I’m Fred minnick, and this is above the char. This week’s idea comes from Patreon supporter bill now, Bill asked give me an overview of the production and other states who is making their own juice. When did they start? Is Kentucky bourbon better? pick five states and highlight the top distiller in each one? Well, I think it makes most sense to take a look at the states that are bordering Kentucky. The states that are bordering Kentucky have the ability to actually pluck talent from the distilling capital of the United States. Isn’t that that is Kentucky. There’s no question about that. You also have access to the still makers and the and the training and, you know, places that are close to Kentucky can, you know quickly drive down here and learn from the likes of Vendome or independent stave, etc, etc, etc. to the access to talent that puts Indiana right up there. And of course Indiana has the MVP ingredients distillery that has, you know, goes back to the 1800s. It’s in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, former seniors plant and I dare say you know, their bourbon rivals Kentucky’s on a regular basis. Indiana is also home to you know, upstarts like Cardinal spirits that are very exciting. So Indiana is definitely on that top five list for me, Tennessee. Obviously it’s known for jack daniels but we can’t under look like some of the other great whiskey coming out there. Whether you like the style or not George decal is putting a lot of bourbon out onto the market, either through you know source purveyors or under their own label. And it’s getting a lot of attention winning a lot of awards. You also have Charlie Nelson’s Greenbrier distillery uncle nearest is coming on Coursera is in Tennessee so Tennessee is a state that is a no brainer to put on this top five. Now when you get outside of the states that really border Kentucky and are really growing on, you know, distilling wise, Texas stands out to me in a big, big way. Texas is a state that really they support anything from Texas. Texans are very proud of their state. And so if there’s a Texas whiskey, it’s selling out on those local stores, whether it’s good or not, it’s got that brand of Texas on it and people want that. That said I think about Connie’s kind of stands out as the best from a from a quality perspective, garrison brothers does really well in blind tastings too. So Texas is one to keep your eye on. The one problem with Texas is they sometimes struggle with you know, water resources. So here’s the hope and they get a lot of good rain. They can apply that to making good whiskey. I think Colorado is another one of those states. That’s fascinating. Colorado really didn’t come on until, you know, until the last decade. You’ve got Breckenridge there but a distillery that’s really fascinating to me is to 91 to 90 was ran by this guy named Michael Myers. No affiliation with, you know, the Halloween guy, but he’s a former fashion photographer. And he went from having a whiskey on the market that was just kind of so so to really improving it. So he’s one of the most improved distillers that I’ve tasted in my career. And so he’s done a nice nice job of building that brand in in Colorado and he finishes in Aspen stage and I tell you what, it’s a fascinating flavor. So I think to 91 is an exciting story. I’m from from point A to point B. So I’m excited to see where they where they go next. Now rounding out this list, I’m going to have to say I’m going to pluck into the historical database of my brain in some ways, and say that New York is an extremely, extremely important state for the growth and rise of craft distilling period, when Tuttle town hit the scene in the early 2000s with Hudson baby bourbon, nobody really understood bourbon. It was not a time it’s not like today or we had all these forums and people are talking about it or podcasts and everything. This was a time when people still thought bourbon had to be made in Kentucky. So what Hudson baby bourbon did for the conversation of bourbon just in general, is it allowed people to talk about well wait, bourbon doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky, it can be made in New York can be made in Colorado can be made anywhere in the United States. And so that Hudson baby bourbon and New York open a lot of doors for people. So that’s my list bill, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, Colorado, New York. And if you guys have have an idea for above the char hit me up on Patreon that’s at bourbon pursuit on Patreon or on Instagram or Twitter at Fred Minnick. That’s at Frederick. Until next week. Cheers.

Welcome back to the episode of bourbon pursuit, the official podcast of bourbon. Kenny riding solo today coming to Northern Kentucky in the Covington area with a brand owner that, you know, this is this is one of the brands that have really started to garner a lot of national attention. They were once known for Okay, I, we had a few other people on the podcast. I think it was like two years ago now. And I’m now coming back because this this brand is starting to blow up so much. And it’s amazing that the the national attention has been getting at just a four year product. And we’re going to talk about that a lot more in depth because today on the show, we have the owner Ken Lewis. So Ken, welcome to the show. Thank you very

much can I appreciate it? So what do you go by You wouldn’t just go by owner the entrepreneur the, you know when the head man in charge

Yeah, I’ll check writer that’s my main function it seems like founder, you know owner Yeah.

So you’ve been you’re you’re kind of a serial entrepreneur serial owner. So this isn’t your first venture into not only just the the liquor business, but you’ve done something. I mean, let’s talk about before sure party source, like was there was there a time before then where you’re doing sort of entrepreneurial things? Absolutely.

Well, I started in, in the alcohol business and and I sort of hate to date myself, but it’s a fact in 1975, so I was 25 years old. So been around the business my entire career. I fell into it at that time. But I found that I really enjoyed entrepreneurship and the alcohol industry in general, and I just kept growing with it because that’s kind of what I like to do is grow a brand or grow a business and taking some side steps, but they’ve always been an alcoholic beverages.

So What was that that first venture into the alcohol? Well,

I the story real quickly because it’s a cute story but a true story is I was actually an English teacher in high school for two years out of graduate school. And my wife wanted to go to medical school and we didn’t have the money and but that was okay too. And I was not living. I’m a native Lily Valium, but I wasn’t living and loyal at the time I was in, in the Detroit area in the suburbs. So my father and brought his brother to loyal and had been successful at what was the predecessors of discount department stores, you know, Walmart before there was Walmart, there was a chain in every city my dad had gone from World War Two and surplus military and had then gone into discount department store anyway, he had a very excellent location. And it was alcohol was fair traded the state set the prices It was kind of a no brainer. Businesses just sort of showed up and if you had a good location, it was pretty easy so

people drink when good times and bad good

times and bad. And and and you just needed a good location. So he set up my uncle, he’s trying to help him out with this wonderful location for a real small liquor store. And my uncle turned out to be a drunk, a thief. He was a womanizer, and he was definitely a gambler. So his idea of running a business was the show. I

think he hit every single one of the Cardinals. Well,

yeah, he was good at that. And he was an all around jerk, too. So anyway, he, his idea of running a business was to come in in the morning at like 630 in the morning, take whatever cash he could out of the cash register and a bottle for the day and then disappear. Well. Needless to say, after about no matter how easy the businesses with that kind of approach. After eight or nine months, the business it failed, and it was shuttered and my dad said, you know, this is a no brainer. Why don’t you come to town? Quit teaching for one year, take over this liquor store. I’m sure you can make enough money maybe to say Your wife to medical school. And you know, you can go back to teaching you know that you can do this as a side gig. So we didn’t use Word gig. That was that’s definitely not a 1975 word. But anyway, I did it. And I said, why not. And so he loved me enough to get started. And I really enjoyed it. I love. I love the people part of it. I love retailing. It was it was in the West End, African American area of blue collar area of loyal. I loved learning, you know, just about people and what they were doing. It was before urban renewal, so the very intact communities and I felt that they made me feel a part of the community. I just, I feel like it was my street education and I was there for seven or eight years. I paid my dad back after one year I was so proud and I never went back to teaching and just stayed in the alcohol industry. So that’s my creation myth.

And so your dad was the store owner at the time and he told you to run it is that what

no he owned the discount department store okay, right next door, the generated The traffic guy made it such a great location. But we were right on the corner, you know, with our own independent little store. And it was like 1500 square feet. So tiny little store and I just kept going. And then without trying to be too boring here. This is

how I built Well,

after seven or eight years, Kentucky eliminated fair trade it was eliminated through a court case, because the state was actually setting prices for private enterprise so it was thrown out and no one knew what to do. So I said what the heck I’ll I’ll do something. So at that time that the trend in retail was big box stores and you know, maybe there are a few of your older listeners that will remember that, you know, it’s just cut cases by cheap by NDO cut the cases, no frills and let the consumer just come in and save money and it was a big trend. And I said, well, let’s try that with alcohol and no one else is doing anything Kentucky sigh I found this old AMP and Shively, another blue collar area of low evil and I rented the whole place and I started this started like in September and it was not going so well I mean I was doing okay but was wasn’t gaining much traction my all everybody was interested in the industry and what I was doing and not very happy because you know people want to keep preserved the past and they didn’t like this young upstart with new ideas for the alcohol industry so everybody is watching me like a hawk. And we also had the first PC and the small business that I knew of in loyal and in order to because we had a fair number of skews even even for the you know, even compared to today, we still had a fair number of skews so the computer was the only way at retail to manage them and I was doing all the data input and everything I was working you know, 18 hours a day and we had a law in Kentucky and I’m sure it’s still is that you cannot sell below cost. Accidentally I was so tired sometimes I made mistakes. And I would sell you know I would actually put into the computer the cost instead of the price or something. Yeah, so accidentally I was selling a few items below cost

me like a like a consumer is like perfect, perfect storm.

Yeah, you can come in, you know talking about looking for destinies you can just come in and looking for deal. So anyway, its competitors are watching me they noticed that they turned me into the state ABC board and this is a magical story and it’s absolutely true story. So the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the courier journal, the big newspaper of Louisville was doing a story I’m sure it was going to end up on, you know, right next to the obituaries or something, nothing story, but they were in the building with a photographer. And just at that moment, on a Saturday morning, the state ABC showed up with three armed officers. And while the photographer and the courier Journal reporter were there, they literally arrested me and handcuffed me for selling alcohol below cost. And this ended up on the Sunday before Thanksgiving on the front page of the courier journal was some headline like young entrepreneur blows away the liquor industry selling products to cheeky

arrest. It’s amazing that you get arrested for that

well and it was ridiculous because you know, within one hour they they you know somebody the supervisor was apologizing and they let me go and it ended up like three months later I paid like a $50 fine and you know, it was no problem but it put me on the front page of the newspaper and then of course all the suburbanites couldn’t get there fast enough and it was Thanksgiving and we were we were a success from that point.

It tell me you gave that newspaper like frame somewhere in your

Yeah, I think that actually I don’t have it on a wall and I’ve actually tried to research and I have to be more diligent But anyway, it’s a it’s a true story we got started and then that grew into a chain at one point of six discount liquor stores in the state of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky and for two up here and for loyal. It was a big chain and just to conclude the story about died lose track of time and maybe 1214 years ago, I was really very tired of being a corporate person. I’m not born to do that. I like being on the street. I like being in a register. I like You know being in the in the trenches and I wasn’t happy I had like 350 employees and you know a lot of debt a lot that’s a lot to manage it was a lot to manage to cities and and and you know, so it’s dealing the lawyers and bankers and all the problems personnel problems that got big and blown up, got to my desk and I wasn’t doing I was unhappy. And so I I like to express it as I jumped off the capitalist trade. And I sold five of the six stores because I really liked running a store and I kept the party source in Bellevue Newport right next to Cincinnati. And it was was

the reason for that was it because it was a very high traffic high volume or was it because you’re like, I need to get a change at a level what was the

precisely very pressing on your on your part because that’s exactly the two reasons so I felt it had the best future because Ohio still 25 years ago had state stores. So and so it was a no brainer if you were very, very close and we were at the first exit of the main main interstate interstate of The East End of Cincinnati and we are doing extremely well and I thought it could grow and be even greater store so I wanted to focus on it. And secondly was 100 miles from a local side stop working seven days a week, because I had a family had children. So those are the two reasons that I kept it and I love that store. And the party source today I’m happy to say is the week say that we believe it to be the largest single store in the United States alcoholic beverage store physically and as today about $48 million in business but of course, I had to divest it five years ago in order to become a distiller but it’s I sold it to my employees I’m very proud of that. And they’re doing very well today and have paid me back and and it’s it’s moving forward it’s still a great store.

So while you were still on the retail side, was there ever a point where you had any mild regrets or saying like what if if I didn’t get rid of these these five locations like could have grown bigger Could I have gotten a Because if you think of today of what’s happening, you’ve got the total lines of the world that kind of buy up people like is there is there ever that kind of what if scenario in your head

no because and that just gets into personal philosophy, you know, the point of life to me is that just become rich. I think I think that’s a root of a lot of problems today in corporate America and and and with our society in general there’s too much greed and and it’s all about me. So I enjoyed the entrepreneurial challenge and I liked working with people, a young team of employees as well as the customers and I love the freedom of owning my own store at that point you know, selling five of them I was debt free, so I could do what I wanted to do in the store and not have to do any short term thinking and so never looked back I have I’m happy to say I’ve always had a you know, very nice upper middle class lifestyle and by God that’s enough. I mean, having some control over your life and and feeling that you’re doing some good and that you’re sharing enjoying some lives of your employees and being a good community member and caring about the environment and you know, having some balance in life and purpose and meeting, not just trying to make money and get bigger and bigger and bigger and die rich that never had any attraction to me.

So you’re you’re running one of the states not only just the state because you’re here as you said, You’re the first exit off of the coming off from Cincinnati in Kentucky. And it was it for a lot of people. It’s it’s a destination, it is a destiny, retail location. And at the same time, you’re also like I said, it’s huge. You’re competing with the liquor barns in Louisville at this time. What was what was the determining factor to say I’m ready to hang this up and move to something new

well, and the liquor barns in Louisville were the original four of them were three of them were my my stores. Okay, so there we go. You know, so I mean that the circle goes around, but and they’re good customer today and a valued customer of us today. The motivation Kenny was just Sometimes we do things and unconsciously our subconscious takes over. And just as whatever was 12 1415 years ago, I was just not happy and I call it my 71 aha moment because 70 one’s the road between Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky and loyal and I was on it a lot. And then you know, had a lot of time to think and, you know, it just I wasn’t happy and I wanted to make a change and I think subconsciously I knew that I was a little bit of a burnout I had been doing it at that point, retailing which is a very, very, very hard work and it is six, seven days a week and you know, all the holidays and so forth. So and fairly repetitious. You know, I was a buyer, I was a spirits buyer as well as the owner. And it’s just the drill and it’s, you know, as wonderful drill and I loved it, but it’s intense and deals are coming at you and there’s a lot of paperwork and and it’s a routine that goes on and on and on. So I think subconsciously I was a little bit of a burnout at that point. I didn’t want to retire. I love working and I feel that it’s healthy for the mind. And I think retirement is like, announcing to your body that you’re ready to die or something. So I really do believe that and so I was not at all interested in any of that. So,

you know, most people just get a Porsche. That’s usually what,

you know, everybody thinks. I mean, when I sold the you have no idea what people said to me and what I know what they were not saying to me. You know, they were completely astonished and befuddled that a guy would take the party source doing $40 million a year debt free, you know, just a gravy train and not just like retire to a beach and on Florida or something and let a manager run it at least but to sell it, you know, sell it to the employees, you know, and take that risk on top of everything else was going to the spirits business, build a distillery madness, absolute madness, but anyway, JS men is my wonderful, fantastic well known a lot of your folks listeners will know who jr Smith is. So he’s my co founder. I like to Thinking that way, although he’s not an ownership, and Jay was my fine spirits buyer, the specialty spirits buyer at the party source. So he’s worked for me for many years. And jokingly say, you know, can we’re both watching this brown goods revolution happening and resurgence and resurrection. right under our nose. We see it at the party source every day of our allies. This thing’s got legs. So, I credit Jay with, you know, why don’t we open a distillery? Yeah, that’s a great idea. Oh, it’s funny.

Because they’re not

any more good ones. You know, here we are running the party source, you know, you know, tracking money to the bank. Oh, that’s a great idea. Jay. Well, along the way, it became a little more serious. So I do credit Jay and not myself with the idea for starting new Earth distilling. But it was it just appealed to my entrepreneurial side of me and the challenge aspect to get back into the game and and see what I could create and what my lifetime of experience in alcoholic beverages could do. And I love The idea of the challenge of starting from the ground up and building a team of young people, which has occurred and they’re fantastic, and I just really wanted to have a second act in my life. And I actually and I’ll tell you honestly, I thought, you know, this could be almost like semi retirement because once you start distilling, I mean, you just kind of sit around and watch barrels age, right? That’s what I assumed would happen. You know, I’d wander in you know, noon or something and

get myself a glass Hey, you

know, how hard can it be you know, you’re just gonna watch these barrels get old. So of course, it’s proven to be way more challenging way more dynamic way more interesting than any of that. But that was the impetus was being at the party source seeing it happen. Realizing that why not Northern Kentucky all the action, the limited action there was seven or eight years ago was all in central Kentucky and just starting and loyal. You know, why not Northern Kentucky because we’re right next to a city that’s more than twice as large as local, very wealthy city and a sophisticated city. And, you know and the party source have done so well right next to Cincinnati, why wouldn’t a distillery so we arrived decided to go ahead and take on the challenge and sell the party source and get back out there on the on the interest position where I just feel comfortable in a way that most people don’t.

So you decide to sell the party source. Was this because you needed the funds to be able to start the distillery or is that is there another motivating factor? Well,

the main reason is in the three tier system, you cannot be a distiller or manufacturer, and a retail or wholesale or the that’s what the three tier means I came across you can’t be both.

I’ve also heard you could probably put your wife’s name under the contract. I know you can get around. You mean that’s another legal hurdle but yeah,

but but it’s not true in Kentucky. And it is true in some other states, for instance, New York as a one store law and there’s plenty of families that have four or five stores. But that is not true in Kentucky and we are way too big and way too visible to play any shitty shenanigans with the ABC and Too much is way too much as invested in it risk to take any of that on So, and I thought it was a great thing selling the store to the employees. And, you know, I take you know, when all of a sudden done I’ll be very very very pleased with the success and the reputation and the great whiskey of new roof but I also will be proud that I’ve changed 100 or 200 lives and giving themselves some pride and some self some control over their lives as employees and an employee owned company, and a little nest egg. You know, I said when I retired when I sold the store, and my general manager john styles is a fantastic guy took a took it over. So we had an experience management team. I said there’s only one thing I want, as long as I’m alive. When someone retires and they’re getting like a six figure check. Even if it’s just one of those big checks, you know for show. I want to him hand the check to that employee. That’s what I want out of this deal because we’re talking about you know, 15 $16 an hour employees. Maybe some Someday things go well and they seem to be after 20 years, some of them might be handing them a six figure retirement, you know, for people that are living paycheck to paycheck and I want to be, I want to be when that magic there when that magic moment happens.

Yeah, I mean, I think you’re you’re really wrapping up the epitome of what it is to be a better than, than most of the entrepreneurs that are out there that are after chasing that that big paycheck or chasing that big payday. Your personality is really showing through that it’s a you’re one of the good spirited people that are out there and, and trying to build something that’s that’s ultimately bigger than yourself.

So many other people. And I don’t want to get on a tangent, but there’s a big movement in the United States, called a lot of things. But there’s chapters all over the United States called conscious capitalism, you know, then again, I don’t want to get into a tangent. I’m not talking about bourbon. But the idea that capitalism doesn’t have to be as raw and just ingredients selfish that you can care about the community and care about your employees. You can care about the environment. That the bottom line should involve all those stakeholders not just ownership so let’s let’s get back to bourbon let’s

let’s definitely get back to bourbon kind of talk about your, your introduction to it as well because I think we need to capture that because, you know, you had this very entrepreneurial mind going into it, Jay said, hey, there’s this brown water revolution. But was there a point when you said like, you know, like, I’m from Kentucky, I enjoy bourbon. I like bourbon. You’ve worked in the stores. We’re pushing bourbon to people or people to bourbon, like, kind of talk about your gravitation just towards the product itself.

Sure. And I’ll be dead honest about all this. First of all, Jay and I are great pair and that is cofounders. Because Jay is a Trump has a tremendous palate. And he’s also a tremendous historian of alcoholic beverages around the world. And he was the fine spirits buyer and he would sleuth out things that, you know, people in the Midwest certainly other than the two coasts had never heard of him brought in so he knew he has a network of people he knows about. around the world. So, Jay brings to new riff, the great depth and honest depth of knowledge and a profound palette, and, and sophistication about alcoholic beverages to, to our company. I don’t bring any of that. You know, I mean, at the party source, we are phenomenal wine store, and I’m a knowledgeable amateur. That’s my extent of it. So I feel I’m a knowledgeable amateur about brown goods. But no expert do not have a refined palette. I know my place and that’s good too. So that’s what I bring to the team, of course, the founder of the financial aspect and the team building and the long term strategy and perspective of where the industry is going and so forth. So we’re very good team together. So I think that’s been a core of how we’ve, you know, started new ref and where we want it to go with it. Can you remember your first taste of bourbon? My first taste of bourbon was probably like a lot of lot of your listeners It was and I do remember, unfortunately, I was in the backseat of a car when I haven’t seen y’all know where this is going. Yeah, all bad. And it was I’ll never forget it was JW dat in a pint bottle and drank it straight. And you know what happened in the backseat of that car, which I spent about three hours terribly drunk, and a happy cleaning up before I turned it back to my day. So hoping he would never know Chris, he knew instantly. But that was my first experience. Like, I’m sure many of your listeners.

Absolutely, absolutely. So let’s talk about, you know, the breaking of the ground and trying to build the team here. I know you’ve talked about JA and bringing him in, but what does it take to find? The still the distillers, everything like that to actually start getting the business off the ground and as well as sourcing because I know you had source products that are beginning to

well, the wonderful, yes, I mean, again, we Jay and I are good team and I think in some ways, I’m a good leader and founder be I know my own weaknesses. And I know what I don’t know, which is a famous line from the past know what you don’t know. And so when we started, we decided to approach this as a very serious enterprise. We decided to approach it a scale, that we would command the presence of Greater Cincinnati, and tend to preclude competition from coming in. Our goal from the very beginning was to be one of the great small distilleries of the world. Knowing that would take decades perhaps to accomplish and who knows, it’ll be a self congratulatory thing, no one’s going to notice that but to play in the sand lot of some of the greatest stories of the world small ones, is our goal and remains to this day our goal. And so in order to do that, we wanted to do everything extremely well, right from the beginning and put the resources which I felt we had with the selling of the party source, to work to to wait as long as we needed to for Five years to start bringing out whiskey and to just go for it in terms of quality in our and to find a leadership position as a small distillery the United States. So knowing that we went out or I went out and found some great people to get started Kentucky’s a wonderful resource, the best thing that I did, I did two great things. One is one of my very first hires after Jay was the person who would maintain our plant manager so that he was involved with the construction and every aspect of planning and knew where every pipe was going. And I think that’s something that’s overlooked by a lot of people is is is you know, is the the guts and the fabric and the the core and the maintenance of your of a very complex manufacturing plant. I knew enough to know to hire a great person who’s with us Dean today and he does a super job.

Dean was actually helping us earlier trying to get the AC turned off.

He knows that he knows everything. He knows where all the skeletons are, but I mean he knows where every valve is in every pipe and he was part of the construction crew for the year and a half and the whole thing was money very well spent. Second thing I did was found Larry Ebersole, who’s the maybe the most important distiller of American history that many people have never heard of. And Larry was the plant manager at Sega drums as you well know, Kenny, for 25 plus years, the head distiller I misspoke, the head distiller at sea drums, and he’s the guy that invented the famous 95 five, right recipe that, you know, right? I know what it is, but it used to be, it’s more of what is seen on the shelf, and it’s wonderful juice and Larry is a brand bread distiller and a wonderful human being. I count him as a good friend, and he was newly retired and living in Hebrew one which is near the Cincinnati airport, which is in Kentucky, and so he’s only like 20 miles away, and was kind of pointing it turned out being a consultant. So didn’t know how to get started at it is in his backyard it was Yeah, as easy for eight. And so we are a wonderful thing. So he really threw himself into it. best thing I ever did. And with Larry being involved from the very beginning, we knew we would construct and we did construct a very efficient a very, very well thought through distillery and not make some of the mistakes that are easy to make. And secondly, and perhaps in the long run more definitely more important in the long run with Larry on board as our consulting master distiller he would train my Distilling Team which gave me the freedom to pick with his approval, who would be on that steering team and I very deliberately with Jays advice in this regard to we did not go to Maker’s Mark or heaven hill or four roses and higher way and assistant Stiller, which is the standard procedure because in the end, distillers do the same thing day after day and forgive me I don’t mean to ruffle any feathers traditionally, at least they don’t tend to be a very imaginative lot.

Don’t get me Don’t break. What’s more, don’t don’t fix what’s not broken.

People want to you want Maker’s Mark, you don’t want Maker’s Mark with cream cheese on it, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s appropriate and it’s what they’re the corporation’s want. So if we hired someone from Maker’s Mark, we’d end up with Maker’s Mark north. And in truth, that’s what happens, you know, when, when folks go from disorder to story, so what I knew and with Jace help, I knew I wouldn’t have known this on my own. And Larry to fermentation is the key and distillers tend to poo poo. Traditional distillers tend to poo poo poo, fermentation, they don’t pay that much attention to it. But fermentation if you don’t have a great fermentation, you’re not going to end up with great whiskey in the end. The people the folks that really understand this are brewers

absolutely their people, they know what they’re Do they know. So

we deliberately went out and hired a fantastic Brewer in this case. It was pretty Ryan sprints who will absolutely be known if he’s not already to so many people as a great young distiller and will truly be in the Hall of Fame someday. And Brian had been a small, small Brewer with a microbrewery in Cincinnati and for about eight years had worked at Sam Adams and I’m not sure how many people know that Sam Adams is brewed in Cincinnati not in Boston.

Obviously I’m learning something today and

it is it’s the old beautiful plant and 95% of Sam Adams is burden sensing that

now that name I’ve heard of the beautiful because it’s like a Northern Kentucky kind of

well Cincinnati Cincinnati kind of it but but the plant was closed and And anyway, so Sam Adams owns it. So he worked for Sam Adams over there and a serious industrial plant. So he brought to us when I hired him and he wanted out because he’s not a corporate kind of guy and he wanted to get back into you know, brewing so to speak, or, you know, the guts of doing it not just the big industrial and it was a unionized plan is to this day, unionized by anyone at different scale. So we found, you know, we know so many people in Kentucky and Cincinnati we found Brian and recruited him one very hard, eager to come in here to take the challenge when he saw how real we were, and to be part of a startup. And he just brought that fantastic imagination and knowledge of fermentation and an understanding of grains and malts that traditional distillers are just very linear and very blinders on

dance. So get your percentages, you’re throwing your yeast.

Yeah, see you in a few days. Let’s see. Yeah, well, every day do it every day and they make some great whiskey at all these heritage distilleries Believe me, I’m totally understand that. But we wanted to do a little riff or our own little tweaks and things. And with Larry able to train. It gave us the freedom to assemble that team, so no one in the distillery other than Larry had ever worked into this story before, but with Larry there, we did it as a team and we have a fantastic group of Six distillers today they’re all career. They’re all doing a super job. And Larry is he trained them, he stepped back. And that’s just he’s he was. He’s our founding father in many ways. And Larry was very, is obviously very rice centric. It was the 95 five, right? He’s so proud of and so and we happen to fit our tastes as well. So New Earth is truly a rice centric distillery. And I will, I’ve said this many times, we make fantastic bourbon. But I think our long term reputation becoming one of the great small distilleries of the world will have a lot to do with, with rise and rise of fence, interesting niche that I think we can play in that sandlot very, very well and be extremely well known around the world for our rye. And maybe stay a little bit away from the great heritage global distilleries you know in the future because you’re we’re all going to need a niche.

So did Larry help you out with choosing the mash bills as well for everything you’re doing or is that more of a consensus from the group? There are more craft distilleries popping up around the country now more than ever. So how do you find out the best stories and the best flavors? Rock house whiskey club, it’s a whiskey the Month Club and they are on a mission to uncover the best flavors and stories that craft distilleries across the US have to offer rock houses box shipped out every two months to 40 states and rackhouse’s October box there featuring a distillery with an interesting ingredient water from the Bull Run watershed that has been protected by Congress since the 1870s. Rock house whiskey club is shipping up two bottles for the Bull Run distilling company out of Portland, Oregon, including a Pino North finished American whiskey, go to rock house whiskey club com to check it out, and try some for yourself. Use code pursuit for $25 off your first box. To 91 Colorado whiskey aims to create a one of a kind bold and beautiful Colorado whiskey rugged refined, rebellious distillery to 91 is an award winning small batch whiskey distillery, located in Colorado Springs Colorado. Nestled in the shadow of Pikes Peak, owner and founding distiller Michael Myers grew up on the family farms in Georgia and Tennessee, across the country side defined by rolling hills, horses and whiskey. He set out to create a flagship whiskey that evoke the Wild West. A cowboy walk into a bar saying, Give me a whiskey and the bartender slamming down a bottle, a bottle of 291 Colorado whiskey, find a bottle near you at 291 Colorado whiskey calm. Write it like you stole it, drink it like you own it. Live fast. Drink responsibly. So did Larry help you out with choosing the mash bills as well for everything you’re doing? Or is that more of a consensus from the group?

Larry was the leader of making those decisions, but it was it was part of the education of the Distilling Team to with jasmine. So yes, very much our Leader of the committee, if you will, that originally picked our Nashville’s now. It’s taken over by our Distilling Team and Brian now galera likes to come and taste and and offer some thoughts if we run into something new every now and then that’s really past our abilities. We call her and he, you know, he really thinks very fondly of us. And we were his first client and, and I think he’s enjoying our growth and, and is very optimistic about our future. So

well before we start talking about you know a lot about your bourbon because I know you’re doing crazy stuff with barrels and types of grains and malts and stuff like that. Let’s talk about the okay, because I know you’re sourcing at one point, what was the what was the gist? I mean, that’s the thought process that a lot of startups go through and they think, Okay, well, let’s get money rolling in. We’ll buy some barrels will bottle it up. And that’ll be a way to kind of build some revenue. Is that was that your thought process going into it as well? No. So least you’re frank about.

Always be frank. I mean, the nice thing is you’re dealing with The owner I don’t have any, anybody I have to answer to and I’m getting older. So I’m pretty, pretty straightforward. Know, the answer was we were going for quality and we knew I mean, remember I you know, I own the largest liquor store in the United States I was the spirits buyer, I, I saw the cannery I saw the dishonesty of the, of the brown goods business I, I hated all of it and saw it from the beginning that the not disclosing not disclosing your source charging too much, you know, in a pretty perfume bottle for one year old whiskey and, and, you know, hurting the reputation of all craft distilleries, I saw all the bad things that have happened and continue to happen in this industry. So we wanted no part of it. That’s not how you build a great small the story of the world. So from the beginning, we were always going to be transparent and incredibly open with everyone about everything we did. I had fortuitously bought a J’s urging 350 barrels From MCP years couple years before we even thought about the distillery concept Oh, wow. So I had I hit Yeah, let’s just you know, we’ll bottle this someday for the party source. And so I you know, I wish of course I bought thousands. I hate to tell you they were like, I really hate to say this, they were like $375 a barrel. Oh

man. And you know, we’ve seen a in the price list now,

thousands and thousands of dollars if you could even get them and they were already like three years old when I bought them. So, fortuitously I had those barrels and we never bought any other barrels. So it’s only 350 and the idea of having those barrels and okay i, we deliberately released it very, very slowly. The idea was just to have some bourbon in the distillery a good bourbon, because it’s it’s marketing and brand building. People come to this story, like new f1 it’s two years old. They know intellectually that were too young to have great whiskey, but they still want to taste great whiskey. They still think you should have a final bourbon sitting around. So we did. And we were very clear it was okay i that we sourced, it wasn’t ours, we just bottled it, dumped it and bottled it. And we deliberately rationed it out to last until our bourbon was available. And then we always intended and we did kill the brand because we we don’t want to have anything to do with source goods. So it served its purpose extremely well. And then as you well know, Kenny, in the end, when it was 12 years old, it was a terrific value. And when people heard that it was ending, you know, became a cult item and they went crazy about it and it’s still a little bit of one of those legendary things, but the purpose is never to have any source goods and that the sales of 300 or so barrels you know, for the size of new riff never moved the needle as far as helping us to survive. We we survived on my proceeds from the party source and on contract is still in for until we had our own whiskey to sell

Yeah, absolutely. So contract distilling is it’s still a part of what your your daily businesses diminishing

all the time that the idea of the contract is still in was to survive. Until we became till whiskey could be four or five years old, serve that purpose, it was maybe about 45% of our budget and allowed us to be completely full which distillery in production, the story is much better when it’s running, you know, at full steam, then turn it on and turn it off the equipment and so forth. So it serves that purpose. And gradually we’re we’re getting out of the, as we can afford to we’re getting out of the contract distilling and taking back all those barrels for our own. You know, stock

your own aging and everything like that.

Yeah, we’re doing a little bit and we’ll do less every year.

So four years was kind of your your mark, when when new riffs started coming out. Was it for because you felt like it was ready? Or was it for because you said I think this is to the point where we don’t have to worry about like, at this point, we don’t to worry about putting age statements on the bottle. By TTD law so what was the what was the idea on for there? And were you nervous?

Yes, I was nervous. Of course.

JS man is the answer. JA again as our co founder and fantastic and brings that knowledge and Jays idea which I bought into and the rest of the team did from the beginning was let’s not release any whiskey till it can be bottled in bond Jays, a historian and he’s a lover things past very, very smart about the future too, of course, and, and current distilling, but felt that the, you know, years ago he felt that the bottled in Bond was was right for revival and that the original, the first federal law about food and drug purity United States was about alcohol in 1897, the bottled in Bond Act and Jay felt that the incipient incipient revival bottled in Bond was a fantastic movement and we wanted to be very much a family Remember that so we always intended to wait to be at least four years old. And then along the way we were very, very pleased with Larry results helped to, to be tasting things as you go along and things were moving Well, we liked our juice. We liked the way it was aging. So along the way we realized that getting to be at least four years ago, we were going to have a very credible whiskey out there. And I wanted to and I made sure that it was at a very credible and easygoing price because again, as a retailer, I understood marketing and sales and pricing, and wanted our whiskey to come out at a premium level and pricing, which you deserve this and also is a brand marker, but wanted to always make it an appropriate fair price. One, one click above the the global heritage companies, but not not at the kind of pricing that I’ve always found repugnant as a retailer and I certainly did as a consumer as well.

And not only that, as I mean, you come out with this the four year old product in right away. It started It’s like kind of taking over a lot of the bourbon culture and the bourbon. mindshare, because everybody’s amazed at the taste of a four year old product I don’t think there’s a lot of or really there’s any other product out there today that can really say that it it competes of what new roof does at its at its age, like is there something that you can say that you can attribute that to? Sure or weapon of their sprinkled dust that you’re putting?

sprinkle dust is the water? Yeah, it really is Kenny and and that’s a nice story too. Because we first started when we plan and we’re very close to breaking ground on the distillery we didn’t know about our water source, our water source turned out to be an aquifer the high river aquifer 100 feet under under the distillery property and we didn’t know about it when we first started planning but along the way someone said something to Jay you know you know there’s there’s a lot of water you guys gonna do a well and Jay ran with it. He’s smart enough to listen and think you know and that’s Jays personality. I mean he’s a scientist and interested in everything and he thought I’m going to find out what the heck’s under us. And we did we did we ran a test well, and then worked with the University of Kentucky to to analyze and understand what was going on underneath us. So geologically, it was just turned out to be a bonanza. Because the the aquifer and brief and I’m no stem person myself, so forgive me. But the aquifer essentially is a almost inexhaustible pool of water under the far northern part of Northern Kentucky, and it’s created because the glacier stopped and created the Ohio River and created the hills of Cincinnati. That geologic force continues to the state of pump want to push water under the Ohio River, and it’s going through sand silt, and guess what limestone and then Northern Kentucky from our site right on the river. You go straight up hills to go into southern can lucky to get away from Northern Kentucky. So as you go south, it’s going up here. So we’re in a bowl and all and as you look and you see the highways and the Brock along the highways, where they do the cuts and the passes and so forth, it’s all limestone rock. So it’s all coming from two directions and settling. And it’s under us in this magnificent huge aquifer under our feet. And it turned out we did all the testing, and it came in and it’s magnificent limestone filter, naturally filtered water. It’s it had no lead, which is you know, the great thing. It’s high calcium from the limestone, very high mineral content, water, and it’s 58 degrees year round. So we don’t have to have a cooling tower. We’re a very environmentally healthy and successful distillery and that water that putting that mineral water right into our mash bill, and you can drink it, we’ve all drunk it’s just hard water. hard water tastes like crap. But it’s great for to still it. And I would contend and obviously if someone’s going to jump up out of this microphone Want to choke me but I believe it or not, Northern Kentucky new roof has the best water in Kentucky for distilling because the fact of the matter that the marketing people don’t want you to know is that almost every other and perhaps every other significantly sized distillery in the state of Kentucky uses city water or river water and then they filter the hell out of it turned it into our water so they’re putting into their mash bills whatever they’re tell showing you in your advertising,

you know, whether it’s coming from some sort of wheel that’s spinning in

a lake or something absolutely in this wonderful spring and all that which long ago they outgrew you know the whole thing. But you know mean Buffalo Trace Polson the Kentucky River you know, the brown Forman polls for local municipal water I can go on and on and on and i’m not i’m not slamming them in any way they make fantastic whiskey. But we are bringing a natural high mineral content, awesome water into our message. Bill and God, darn it, I think that’s when you only have like three ingredients going into your mash bill and one of them changes dramatically. That means something and then you layer on that Kenny, you know the the fact that we’re all about quality at every turn and you know the the corn comes from a family farm the same one that for roses uses in Indiana and we can go on and on and on we we come off the still at less than the maximum we go into the barrel at 110. Instead of the legal maximum 125 we use 18 and 24 months aged in oak staves instead of the standard, you know, barrel at $100 more a barrel than other people. We go on and on and on. It’s all about quality at every turn. But it starts with that water. So there are very good reasons. It’s not by chance that our four year old thank you for saying so i think is a very good product. And you’re going to want to get to this it’s going to be fantastic when it’s seven eight and 10

Oh yeah, that’s what we’ll save that here for a second because I kind of want to know your your plans for the future with that, but You know, back to this, you know, let’s let’s rewind it back another 1520 years or maybe 25 years, when you bought the location of the party source was it? You look at it now like just dumb luck.

Yeah, we bought the land and the distillery for your listeners that don’t know, the distillery is right in front of the party source and we’re right on right on the river. Across from Cincinnati, you can’t get any closer to Cincinnati. But that was the point of the retail store, because Ohio had state stores and 80% or more of our customers came from Ohio. And that’s why the party source grew to be such a large store. It’s a it’s a natural for Northern Kentucky but it’s because we had all of Cincinnati coming to us so and then when I wanted to do the distillery the original plan was just Gee, this is a nice, I own I own some property. And that’s another story too. I actually had to take out a levee and build a wall, a flood wall and so forth. million dollar flood wall in order to get more property. But the point was, I thought it’d be a great location. Very well known right in front of the source and there was a symbiotic symbiotic relationship you know people could come on a tour to see us and then walk into this fantastic whiskey store and shop and it’s turned out to be like that but dumb luck in terms of the water absolutely dumb luck

it’s just like being in Texas and somebody knock on your door me like oil in your backyard we’d

like to buy your land Yeah, and you just scratch under your armpits and go all the way down

so let’s talk a bit about like the little bit of future state right because Sure, today we there’s a lot of stuff out there it’s a lot of for your product. There’s people like myself we go we do barrel pics here. It’s a four year product. I know that a lot of people we love it as is. However there’s always this can’t wait until it’s six it’s eight to 10 years so kind of talk about what your your future plans are to kind of stocks in these barrels. Sure.

Yeah, it’s been it’s been a but but first of all, it is a great ride and the four year of the bottle and bond is a wonderful product and will never release any plans. product from our distillery any whiskey that’s less than bottled in bond for a year. And, and, and, and hundred proof and or it’ll be barrel proof every one of the two. So, and that’s why we’ve been and that’s why we’re always be because we think that’s, we think that’s the highest quality expression and that’s what we’re all about to, to hopefully become one of the great small distilleries of the world. Which by the way, even if we fall short, hey, it’s great. I mean, life should be about lofty goals and and trying your damn this and, you know, if we fall short, and you know, we’re not quite there. It still is a worthy endeavor. But signs are decent that we might, we’ve taken a few steps in that direction and we might just get there and 10 or 12 years in some form of recognition from the public and writers in our own self assessment, but

you really don’t want to retire. Do you?

Know I actually, I’d like to stick around. honest truth is I’d like to stick around long enough in an extremely active role will stay a family business by In the business, everybody here is career we’re not selling out, we’re not going, we have no interest in one of the big boys buying a minority share, we’re surviving. We’re getting through the roughest part right now, economically, and we’re going to stay 100% independent, because that’s really the only way you can really achieve greatness is having incredibly long term thinking, and just be totally disinterested in short term results. So, and having that freedom of without any corporate decision making because whatever anyone says, nothing will change, we’re going to buy you out and nothing’s going to change. None of your people are going to change everything to say, everything’s different a year later. We all know it. It’s just it’s a fact out there. So we’re going to stay independent. And, and that’s very important. So we’ve taken some steps. I mean, I think the fact Kenny, that I’m sure you’re aware, we went out to our very first competition we ever went to, because again, why go to all these little county fairs or whatever, just so you can say, award winning, nobody. It doesn’t mean anything to the like your listeners. And there’s the People that we really care about that will establish our reputation. So we waited. We think like a lot of people that the San Francisco International spirits competition is the main spirits competition. It’s an arguable issue but certainly one of the top couple we think it’s the

you came on with a few medals from

it. Well, the thing is, we submitted all five of the products, we make three whiskeys and two gins and all five of them one double goal. You know, it’s unheard of.

It’s It’s like going to the Olympics and just like it’s

crazy. I mean, let’s put it in context. And, and I’ll abstract this real fast and backpedal. But you know, this year factually, Buffalo Trace submitted 21 entries and got seven double goals, numerous submitted five inches and got five double gold. We are not the equivalent above Buffalo Trace far better to story. You know, and they are, in my opinion, the best in the business. But the thing is, we’ve taken a step toward that goal. We you know, so We feel very encouraged to have some exterior validation. And it’s so we’re not just in a circle, you know, talking to each other about these things. So anyway, we started to take a step now to get back and sorry that sometimes I run on but it’s a very passionate subject. We know to put up the very best whiskey that we can and to really have a very high world reputation as good as our four year old is and it’s fairly priced as we will always keep it. We have to have older whiskey. So we’ve this year, I mean, it’s all it gets back to a matrix of economics. Our first year of release, we held back only we held back 20% of everything we make to get older. Next year, we’re budgeted for 33 a full third of everything we make, to get older. And what I will say now, which is actually the first time I’ve ever seen this public So it’s a credit to the the reach that that that you guys have and the the interest in the students of your listeners, we’re actually going to do a small expansion of the distillery. And we’ll get back to that if you want. But the point that I want to make right now is the only purpose of that expansion is not to make more four year old or not to make some more money in the short run. It’s to have older whiskey and a lot of it. So we are going to make a stand toward older whiskeys will always have a great four year old bottled in bond product at an extremely fair price. It may not go up in price for 10 years, stay at $40 fine with me. And then eventually we’ll have a very fairly priced will have older whiskies and personally we’ll see if things change. I’m all for age statements. I think again and and this is really where the future of new roof is going to be his older whiskies a great entry level that is fantastic. For cocktails and it’s just fantastic for for sipping on without talking about it. But it’ll be the seven year old eight year old, maybe 10 year old and whatever in very in everything that we make getting older that will put us on the map and will really I think make us proud and I think your listeners are going to really want to have someday we’re going to try and have enough of it that it’s not this high cult high scarcity kind of item I’m not saying that it’ll be on a shelf but we want to have a lot more out there you know thousands of cases of older whiskey and not just dribble it out to people

makes more people are makes more sense people to start joining the Rangers program then so they get those was inside.

The Rangers program is ended

but the whistle as it I didn’t know that.

Yeah, we we ended the Rangers program and we brought out whiskey it was. So if you’re in you’re grandfathered in, and that’s great, but we do have a whiskey club that’s joining whiskey club will give people early notification but people will find our product and as we start releasing some of these older things within a couple of years.

Well, why don’t we start wrapping this up? I know you brought something with us to try and taste and I’ve kind of got one more kind of like fun question for you too, while we while we start talking this, but also kind of tell me what we are going to be drinking. Yeah, well,

the background is just in very briefly. We’re cautiously and carefully doing some really interesting things. So we’re focused right now on our on our bourbon and rye, we think we make phenomenal products. We have some really interesting things Kenny in the barrel. And as they start coming out in the next few years, and then we’ll keep a lot to get older. These will go a long way to establish our racial reputation to now having said that, we do not want to be Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. You know, we are kind of purists and we’re, we’ve got it, we want to do a new riff on the old tradition, but we believe in that old tradition. So we’re not going to get far afield. You’re not going to get a You know, you’re not going to get a lollipop whiskey out of us. We’re not going to throw it we’re not particularly fond of we think it’s gone. The industry’s got overboard on on second on second barrel lanes, and there is an issue going on, you know, and it can cover up it can mask, you know, traditional flavors and we’re not big on it and we’re not going to really do that. But we have some really interesting things and what we have so look for look for those coming down the pike. But this is what I wanted to share with you. This will be part of the whiskey club in the fall in November. And this is a bow bow arrived. So Bow Bow.

Bow Bow is that’s that’s the first part

yeah bow bow bow. And again, I’m not the expert we should spend here and Kenny you know a lot more about this than I do. But bow bow is what heirloom okay a variation of rye and our rye is made from European rod because at the moment we think that’s still the best that there is, comes from Sweden or comes from Germany. And but this is a ride that’s made by our farmer, the Charles Fogg family in Indiana about 120 miles from here. And he’s always grown a little bit of it as a cover crop. Well, right, five years ago, four years ago, he provides us our corn and we talked to him and he agreed to start making to grow in some more bubble arrived because we wanted to do an heirloom right and so every year we’ve done more because as we’re tasting this in the barrel, everybody’s just super pumped about it.

I mean, it’s it doesn’t have a typical right carrot carrot sticks of like, dill or spearmint or anything like that. I mean, it’s, it’s it’s orange zest, you get some little bit like cow or chocolate notes with it. It’s It’s unlike any other kind of right.

And you know, you’re tasting it. This is 110 or 111 proof it doesn’t even have it on our sample bottle but it’s, there’s no water on this you can try would actually suggest trying just a little hint of purified water.

I can do a little bit of water and it You say,

Yeah, kind of it really it opens it up, you know, there’s a thermal reaction. And it’s, it’s very important to taste a lot more to it, than to try a little than to try and try it with a little purified water or water. But I think this is a really exciting product. And it’s, it’s interesting too, because your listeners well know, terroir is a big deal in our industry. And, you know, having arrived from Indiana, and it’s an heirloom grain, and then putting this down and trying it against, for instance, our regular rye of the same age is there’s astonishing difference. Yeah. And it’s really exciting. So again, I think New Earth is going to be known, particularly for our Ryan or rye expressions. And this is the first of more to come out of the barrel that will be different ways of expressing rye. And I think people are going to be really, really excited to try them as the years go on.

I think you’re right. I mean that you’re you’re definitely hitting a home run here. There’s something new. It’s very It doesn’t have a typical right profile. Absolutely, it’s good so

why don’t we can take that home

even better I’m not gonna say no to that.

I’ll do

it for the bucks I know

there is a lot of work that goes into it that’s

for sure desert.

So kind of last question as we wrap this up kind of fun wonder, you know, a lot of people do these single barrel pics, and I know you see him you get the stickers that come out. You’ve got rafal mania. You’ve got Ken Griffey Jr, the Riddler there’s all these kind of like fun plays with the word riff and it like what what’s your kind of thought on the sticker sticker game with the new risk?

You know, we’re going to conclude on a controversial subject. You’ve got sophisticated listeners that are used to this. This is actually a topic a hot topic of discussion in the industry. I will tell you exactly our position let the chips fall where they will. On the one hand, I certainly understand once someone or clubs or retail Ours have purchased our product. they own it. It’s theirs. On the that’s so I understand there can be adulteration to our packaging. On the other hand, our position is, we’ve gone to tremendous lengths and tremendous expense. And by the way, I hope you like our packaging, we, we think we’ve really hit a home run on it,

you don’t see a whole lot of gradient bottles out there. Yeah,

I think it’s just beautiful. And of course, I’m obviously, you know, have a perspective about that. But, you know, our position is we’ve done a huge amount and our brand and our market marketing. And our public image is everything to us. We’re trying to be one of the great small the stories of the world. So as our packaging is adulterated in the marketplace and maybe a less savvy consumer than your listeners looks at it, they may not know that we didn’t do that. And there’s a copyright infringement going on. There’s a Off color kinds of things being done with stickers and so forth. So the position a new roof, and I’m sure many others, and I know we’re going to sound like Fuddy duddies on me, it’s quite alright and

me coming from the brand side. There’s a lot of time that

yes it is we’re so we’re not happy about it. But at the other hand, we understand that we don’t have a particular troll over. And we just hope we’re glad people are excited about whiskey. And we hope that people will understand that we didn’t do it.

Absolutely, I mean, it’s good to get that take because I know that it’s from from the enthusiast point of view, you always want something that differentiates it or something that kind of like puts that own little to it. And you all actually do that already with your single girls. You can get your logo put on the side, you can you can actually put whatever it is that you want in there. You can put the tasting notes you can put whatever it is that you want to call it on the side. So you’ve gone ahead and done a lot of that branding we

have but it’s very, very brand. It’s on brand We allow it to be done to our bottle. And a lot of what’s out there is very clever and vivid and very enjoyable on one perspective. But if you’re you know, if you own a brand and you’re building a brand you can see where it would be irksome and we, we you know, but again, we don’t have control over and we’re glad for the enthusiasm. Absolutely. And if there’s a choice between putting some some sticker on a on a bottle, you know or not, we just send it was a I guess, I suppose out of talking about two sides of my mouth. I’m glad you want to do it on a new roof.

It’s enough of a salesman, you know, the guy that has to pay the bills to say that

absolutely. So again, I want to say thank you so much again for coming on the show. sharing your story sharing really like how I built this kind of thing because, you know, for a lot of people out there they listen the show, there’s a lot of entrepreneurial spirit to and understanding, you know, the ups and downs that you went through the lucky breaks, awkward for all that sort of stuff. How It all really came together to really build, you know, what you what you’re currently building. And it’s good to see that you’re not just going to be resting on your laurels, you’ve gotten big plans for the future. And we’re all excited to kind of see what this is going to do. And

and and just to finish on that note, and sorry if this is a little self aggrandizement, but tastes, the world we live in, I think, honestly, I can say and transparently, I can say, there’s a purity, purity of the motivation, of everybody, including, particularly myself, for what new roof is about, if it was only about money, I never would have sold the party source. We’re trying to achieve something else here. And I think we’re trying to be one of the greatest of all the stories of world we will not be one of the most profitable, the stories of the world. They don’t go hand in hand. And I’m proud of that.

Well, I mean, that’s, that’s fantastic. And I’m like I said it, it really shows to the character of what this is. And if you haven’t had a chance yet I know that the expansion of getting new reference to more status is continually happening. I know that you’ve got partners that are based in Washington DC now, so they can get them in other states that don’t necessarily have distribution. So it’s good to see that this is starting to really make its way out there into the market. So congratulations so far in your success, and all the best for the future. If there’s any way that you want to kind of wrap this up people to you know, give a location of the distillery like where should they go to kind of check out more information stuff like

Oh, sure, thank you for that. I mean, we’re right here in Newport next to Cincinnati. So a couple of things real quick is, you know, if you’re visiting Kentucky, a real smart way to do it is to go in or out of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, the airport’s actually in Kentucky and then loyal or Lexington for that matter. So you instead of making a circle, you just make us you know you start one place and ended another so Cincinnati is a great destination. The party sources a great whiskey store. And then local Of course in Lexington have wonderful whiskey tourism aspects, so visit us But you know as you’re visiting Central Kentucky and visiting loyal and then all I can say is that we really look forward to having a lot of older product out there. And keep on working with people like your listeners to keep building, you know, the reputation a new roof and and doing things the right way and supporting all the distilleries that are coming along, including the heritage guys that are I think are fantastic. That are doing things the right way.

Absolutely. Well, fantastic. Thank you so much. And I know that new roof is all over the social media channels too. So go check them out on the Twitter and the Facebook and all its places to also make sure you’re following bourbon pursuit everywhere. If you do like what you hear makes you support the show patreon.com slash bourbon pursuit. So Kim, thank you so much, again for joining us and we’ll see everybody next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

2 thoughts on “223 – From Liquor Store to Distillery with Ken Lewis of New Riff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *