347 – An Insider’s Look at Quality Control and Remembering the ’96 Fire at Heaven Hill with Tawnie Gootee

We’re always looking for veterans of the bourbon industry to bring on the show to talk about their story and career growth. Tawnie Gootee has been at Heaven Hill for nearly 30 years and has done it all. I mean, they used to have to rotate workers to give tours when a small group of people would show up. But Tawnie has excelled in her career and worked with Mike Sonne and other Heaven Hill elites to become one of the most respected palates in the industry and she gives us the low down on the quality control process at Heaven Hill. This episode is also very significant because this year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1996 fire at Heaven Hill. Tawnie remembers the first phone calls and what it was like in the days following the aftermath. It’s a true testament to how the bourbon industry really works together.

Show Notes:

  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about the taste of bourbon.
  • Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Heaven Hill.
  • What was the tour experience like 30 years ago?
  • How did you hone your tasting skills?
  • What happens when you find a barrel that’s not acceptable?
  • Explain what reading the tank means.
  • How often do you get complaints?
  • How long do you keep samples?
  • Talk about cork taint.
  • What’s your high end inspection?
  • Talk about the process of creating limited edition products.
  • Can you tell us about the fire of 1996?
  • @heavenhilldistillery
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

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