All our podcasts featuring bourbon Bloggers and published Authors
Bourbon and whiskey runs deep in Central Kentucky, but so did one of the largest marijuana manufacturing and trade rings in history. Cornbread Mafia tells the story of how of how Johnny Boone, Bobby Joe Shoemaker, and many others created one of the most highly sophisticated marijuana trades that ran right through Bardstown, KY, the heart of bourbon country. Jim Higdon is the author of the book and he joins the show talk about how this cultural phenomenon really had a very big tie back to the whiskey industry during prohibition. Many got into the illegal distilling business because that’s what they knew how to do and was the only means of providing for their families. We talk more about the bourbon connection and how that eventually turned into marijuana territory which opened the door to elaborate plans to evade law enforcement and even had the DEA swarming with helicopters around Bardstown. This story has also put Jim on the path for being an advocate of legalization and he’s even started his own CBD gummy business called Cornbread Hemp. If you enjoy stories like these, I would highly recommend reading or listening on Audible to The Cornbread Mafia.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about infinity bottles.
- Moonshining was really how this all got started
- George Remus was a real gangster and had a big role into bootlegging as well.
- Talk about the history of Basil Hayden.
- Why was Central KY known as the “Ft. Lauderdale of KY”?
- Talk about the outlaw side of your family.
- How important was L&N Railroad to bourbon at the time?
- Was Lebanon affected by The Temperance Movement?
- I read during prohibition people were using stills that can produce 1000 gallons a day.
- Give a background of Johnny Boone and Bobby Joe Shoemaker.
- Why were they smuggling marijuana from Belize?
- Talk about one of the biggest marijuana busts.
- In your research, did you find any fighting between government agencies?
- Was there any violence involved with The Cornbread Mafia?
- There was a common thread of “no one talks”.
- How did you feel about how the media portrayed The Cornbread Mafia?
- What was it like being indicted to find Johnny Boone and almost go to jail?
- Today, would someone be sentenced to 20 years in prison for marijuana?
- Talk about your new venture of Cornbred Hemp.
- Why isn’t Cornbread Mafia a movie?
- Support this podcast on Patreon
Clay Risen somehow narrowly escaped being a guest on the podcast, but we got him. We talk about some of his past work and his newest book, The Impossible Collection Of Whiskey: The 100 Most Exceptional And Collectible Bottles, that will be coming out in October 2020. So of course, we talk about chasing unicorns and our early bourbon regrets.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about unity in bourbon.
- Tell us about your books.
- If you could be best friends with any celebrity, who would it be?
- Do you feel like books need to be refreshed constantly?
- Talk about the different kinds of rye.
- What are your favorite ryes?
- How did you become the whiskey guy?
- What year did you get into whiskey?
- What is one of your favorite pieces you’ve wrote?
- Tell us about your new book.
- How do you have time to venture out to all different kinds of whiskies?
- Did you include specific vintages in your new book?
- What about exports created for the Japanese market?
- How hard would it be for you to open a rare whiskey?
- Now that you are covering politics, are you drinking more whiskey?
In this special bonus podcast, we take a moment to talk to Aaron Goldfarb, whiskey and cocktail journalist and the author of Hacking Whiskey. We talk about his origins and how he got into journalism. The state of NYC at the moment during COVID-19. Then we talk about what led him into covering spirits, his thoughts on the secondary market crackdowns, some of his favorite articles, and where inspiration strikes.
Is he the biggest Wild Turkey super fan out there? Without a doubt. David Jennings goes by the alter ego RareBird101. In this episode we explore his obsession with older dusty Wild Turkey and even some of the newest Russell’s Reserve offerings. We also spend some time speculating on our theories on what has changed over the years and if Wild Turkey is headed in the right direction with premium offerings.
- Before we dive right in, what’s your bourbon story?
- What got you into Wild Turkey?
- What keeps you interested in Wild Turkey?
- Talk about your blog for a minute and what you do at Rarebird101
- Think about some of those reviews you’ve done, because I’ve seen some real turkey unicorns in there from tradition to split labels to Christmas Rye. Do you have any standout favorites?
- What is it about cheesy gold foil?
- Jimmy says nothing has changed. But Be honest, do you think dusty Wild Turkey is better than today?
- Since you’ve tasted almost everything in the turkey lineup, any thoughts on recreating that dusty flavor profile?
- We posted on Instagram a while back about waiting in line for a Weller107 store pick because people like us are dumb. You were playing the angle that if everyone focused their attention on Russell’s Reserve picks you wouldn’t have to stand in line. I know you have an article on the 10 reasons why you should be buying Russell’s Reserve picks, what are some of those favorite reasons of yours?
- How many different Russell’s Reserve picks do you have?
- It seems that Wild Turkey limited releases don’t get many accolades. From Diamond to Master’s Keep. What’s you honest opinion? Do you feel they don’t deserve the high dollar or do you?
- Did you sleep on Russell’s Reserve 1998 like I did?
- When are you getting your chance to meet Matt McConaughey?
- Support RareBird101 on Patreon
He might be the angriest man in bourbon and ruffles a lot of feathers along the way, but he’s been enjoying the spirit longer than most of us. Bourbon Truth, or known as Lloyd Christmas on twitter, is well known for his jabs at the industry. In this episode, we talk about his disdain for shelf trophies, if the current market is overinflated, his opinion on how spirit awards are rigged, and even touch on apple brandy. He’s back with another no non-sense episode about the harsh reality we often overlook.
- Also appeared on Episode 094
- How has bourbon changed since we last talked?
- How dumb are people getting that they are buying partial bottles?
- What are your thoughts on WhistlePig and their pricing strategy?
- What bottles are collectibles for you?
- You said that you hate people that buy bottles as investments but it actually worked out for you.
- Do you think you sold your collection too early?
- Are prices just at the top ?
- Are unicorns going to go up?
- What are some of those bottles you would sell already open?
- You mentioned KY Owl and it’s pricing, do you see that as a long term investment for that particular brand after their Stoli funding?
- Why do you think people feel the need to sell half-open bottles?
- You had a funny tweet that said “Reviewers have so many different ways of saying ‘the booze sucks'”
- The Whiskey Advocate changed their whiskey review system with their original score and panel score so it’s flawed.
- Are those spirit awards just BS now? Because the most favorited spirits don’t enter anymore
- Is the problem that they are sending single barrels or limited expressions most people won’t have access to?
- What do you see as the movement of craft? Are bad ones ruining the reputation for the majority of them?
- Are you jumping on the rum train too?
- We haven’t heard people talk about brandy much
- How bad has Van Winkle quality gone down in recent years?
- Allocations are becoming very scandalous
132 – Kentucky’s Bourbon Boom: Economics Panel at the University of Louisville with Bill Samuels, Mike Veach, Reid Mitenbuler, and Susan Reigler
What happens when you get Bill Samuels, Mike Veach, Reid 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.
- 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?
Is the madness ever going to end? Are those unicorn bottles going to continue to climb in price for the future? How did we end up here? Past guest Chuck Cowdery, a bourbon authority, enlightens us to how the history of bourbon being an unwanted commodity created stocks of well aged whiskey that led us to the market we see today.
- Let’s talk about the past and the bourbon, crisis, was it an overall understanding that bourbon might be extinct?
- At what point did you come in to see some of this first hand?
- How did advertising work for bourbon? How did you get it into the hands of elders?
- How did no one see this coming? Like literally no one.
- You talk about the resurgence of bourbon was partly because of the lack of drinkers because it led to the unintentional benefit of very well-aged whiskey
- What were distillers doing with this better aged whiskey?
- Do you think exports are the biggest benefactor?
- What were bourbon brands doing at the time to appeal to the Japanese and European markets?
- So people are buying whiskey again, how are distillers ramping up production?
- Was there a surge of more NDPs and independent bottlers buying sourced whiskey?
- Why do you call this a “not so attractive” trend?
- At what point did we start seeing the “shortage”? or is there really a shortage?
- Have NDPs died off because they can’t source or contract distill now?
- Will craft distillers put a dent in the market or are they just looking for their piece of the pie?
- Do you think any of these companies will be “under water” on their investments when the bourbon matures for sales in 4-12 years? Especially when they have to compete with the big boys as they are expanding.
- Do you think we are going to see people drop off because we don’t have a lot of well-aged whiskey now? We have distillers and craft distillers removing age statements. How will that effect the future?
- What’s the key to making this trend last?
Fred Minnick, multi-appearance guest on the show and author of the new book Rum Curious, educates us bourbon drinkers on why rum isn’t so bad and how the rum industry needs the passion of the bourbon community.
- Back in February you had a article named “For Rum’s Sake”, an open letter to bourbon drinkers. Was it a plea?
- Why rum? There’s lots of other spirits
- Name a few brands that are accessible in parts of the US that are trustworthy.
- So what’s wrong with Captain Morgan and those typical ones we all think of?
- We know bourbon has 3 main ingredients, but what are some of the main ones going into rum?
- We also have corn whiskey, rye whiskey, etc, any variants?
- So people want to learn more about rum, besides your book, where are the rum fanatics?
- Talk about the laws and labels for rum producers
- What do you think about those companies that say they can create an aged rum in less than 7 days using technology?
- Thanks to Emmet Klocker that sent us some samples from Lemon Hart, Havana Club, and 1931/
099 – Is Experimentation with Bourbon a Gimmick? New Vintage Spirit Laws with Fred Minnick, Bourbon Author, Pundit and Expert
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Fred Minnick, Bourbon Author, Pundit, and Expert, joins us to discuss the San Francisco Spirits Competition, asking if bourbon is just a gimmick when it comes to experimentation, how the new vintage spirits law will effect Louisville, and if pricing has gone out of whack!
- So what’s new since the last time we chatted?
- What are you doing for the Bourbon and Beyond Festival?
- I hear there is a Bourbon Cruise?
- You’re also going to be at Forecastle
- Let’s talk about the new Dusty law
- So lets talk about San Francisco. Lets talk about the upsets.
- Who doesn’t get a golden medal or a star?
- Is bourbon turning into a gimmick for releases?
- Can we stop it with the experimentation? At what point does it go to far?
- Pricing is out of whack. How do we as consumers fix this?
094 – No One Is Safe: Non-sense Marketing, Price Increases, and Hoarders with Bourbon Truth, Blogger
Bourbon Truth, the infamous blogger and twitter persona known as Lloyd Christmas, gives a Bourbon Pursuit exclusive where no one is safe. He tells it like it is and let’s you know not everything smells like roses.
- What made you start blogging? (spoiler alert, he has bone to pick with the Van Winkles)
- Let’s talk about distilleries and their non-sense tactics. Which ones stand out the most and why?
- Your latest blog post talked about the issues behind private barrel picks. Let’s talk because people are moving to these as the limited edition market is now flooded with people.
- Let’s talk about marketing over the value of the bottles. What do you see consumers continually falling for?
- Distillers are continually pushing the envelope of cost. Bottles are increasing in price and even limited editions that were once $50 are now $350 at retail. These were always 15 year bourbons. What’s the long-term effect?
- Should a person that never drank Bourbon before 2017 take the precious bottles from those drinking it for 5 or 10 years? Are they worthy?
- Is there a problem with people “collecting” bourbon?
- Does Craft Whiskey stand a chance?