All of our episodes featuring Woodford, Old Forester and everything else tied to Brown-Forman
405 – What Does It Take To Be A Master Taster? with Melissa Rift of Old Forester
Master Taster. It just sounds like a really cool job. But what does it take to become a Master Taster? Old Forester is a brand that has a history of hiring people for this role and their newest is Melissa Rift. Ryan and I have had the pleasure of getting to know Melissa over the years but it was in different roles she held in the industry. Yet, thanks to notifications on indeed.com, she was able to apply and land this role. We talk about her history and career in the industry and then we dive into the position and what it takes to be a Master Taster. We also dive into consumer demand and where she sees trends changing over time.
- Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about water contamination.
- What is your background and how you got into the industry?
- How do you stay invigorated when you have to give the same tour over and over again?
- Do you feel tours are an entry point into the industry?
- Tell the story of the stolen catalytic converters
- How involved were you with quality control and single barrels at Bulliet?
- How did you find out about the Master Taster position after Jackie left?
- What were the pre-requisites for this position?
- Did you feel confident going into this role or was it scary when it became real?
- When the press release was announced it highlighted your personal life being openly gay. Was this your idea?
- Did you taste through all product offerings so you can pick them all out?
- Do you think consumers will change their opinion on proof?
- Do you have some ideas on how you will change things to meet consumer demand?
- How does your wife feel about the amount of travel that will now be involved?
- Support this podcast on Patreon
270 – Birthdays, Barrel Proof, and Presidents at Old Forester with Master Taster Jackie Zykan
Old Forester is really starting to win over bourbon lovers. We are joined by our returning guest, Master Taster at Old Forester, Jackie Zykan, to chat about the 2020 Birthday Bourbon, the new barrel proof offering on the single barrel program, the story behind President’s Choice, and much more. Have you tried an Old Forester 1915? Well, if you’ve never heard of it, get ready to start blending.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about labor strikes.
- If you had a time machine would you go back in time or to the future?
- Let’s talk about 1915.
- Tell us about working with Chris Morris and Birthday Bourbon.
- How hard was it to get the single barrel program to be barrel proof?
- What age barrels are going into the Whiskey Row Series?
- How do the barrel picks work?
- Tell us about President’s Choice.
Support this Podcast on Patreon
247 – Castles, Concerts, and Whiskey with Alex Conyngham of Slane Irish Whiskey
We started off the year talking about Scotch… and now…we’re talking Irish Whiskey? It’s not another April Fool’s joke. We had the opportunity to sit down and capture one of the most interesting stories in Irish Whiskey with Alex Conyngham, co-founder of Slane Irish Whiskey. We talk castles and rock concerts because that’s one big aspect of his history. Then we get into the dynamics of Irish whiskey and if there are commonalities between bourbon like sourcing, regulation, and financing a distillery. Then we discuss the role Brown-Forman plays and how they are trying to appeal to both bourbon and Irish Whiskey consumers.
- DISCUS hand sanitizer portal: https://www.distilledspirits.org/distillers-responding-to-covid-19/distilleries-producing-hand-sanitizer/
- Less than 100 bottles left from 3 different barrels of Pursuit Series left on Seelbachs: https://seelbachs.com/search?q=pursuit
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about drinking bourbon during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Where did you grow up and how did you get into whiskey?
- Tell us about your rock concerts.
- How did you decide to do the concerts?
- What is a good Irish cocktail?
- Where is Slane?
- What makes Irish whiskey unique?
- Do people source Irish whiskey?
- What is the process?
- How did you decide to start the distillery?
- Did you use a consultant to get started?
- What’s glamping?
- Tell us about your dad.
- How did you finance the distillery?
- What was it like to work with Brown-Forman?
- How big is the distillery?
- What age can you sell Irish whiskey?
- Tell us about the whiskey?
- Do you have your own yeast?
- What’s the typical Irish whiskey proof?
- How long are you aging?
- Tell us about your packaging.
- Would bourbon drinkers like Slane Irish whiskey?
- Tell us about the ultra premium Irish whiskey category.
- What is the price point?
234 – Scotch Pursuit with Dr. Rachel Barrie
New for 2020, it’s Scotch Pursuit! Ok, not really. But what better way to start the new year by trying something new and having Dr. Rachel Barrie, the master blender for The GlenDronach, BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh of Brown-Forman, come and show us the ropes. We talk about malting, peat, Glens and Bens, rules and regulations to be considered a scotch, the temperatures and more. This is a fantastic 101 to the scotch world and even made us, not so much scotch curious, but more single malt curious. Since this recording, we’ve tried numerous single malts and found some great ones. If you have an “entry Scotch” for bourbon drinkers, drop it here in the comments.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about Al Young.
- Why all the Glens and Bens?
- Does the altitude affect the whiskey?
- Talk about growing up around scotch.
- Tell us about your doctorate.
- Tell us about the the brands.
- What is an old school malt?
- How do you keep malts consistent?
- What is malting?
- What is the process for making scotch?
- What kind of stills do you use?
- What is your favorite cask?
- How do you make a blend?
- How old does scotch have to be legally?
- Is there a lot of evaporation loss in the barrel?
- What proof does BenRiach come out of the barrel?
- How many barrels are in a typical batch?
- Do you have a team helping you blend?
- Is there a limit to the number of times you can use a barrel?
- Tell us about the special releases.
214 – Jack & Jim: What’s the Difference?
What happens when you get master distillers from two largest rivaling brands together? Actually, some pretty good jokes. Fred Noe, Master Distiller at Jim Beam, and Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller at Jack Daniel’s, take the stage at Bourbon and Beyond to field questions asked by Fred Minnick. They talk about BBQ, celebrities, mash bills, the Lincoln County Process, and if Jack Daniels is actually a bourbon. Bourbon and Beyond 2019 will take place September 20th through the 22nd so if you want to be there in person to hear sessions like today’s podcast, go get yours at BourbonandBeyond.com.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about drinking in moderation.
- What kind of music have your brands been part of?
- What is your BBQ connection?
- What is the history of your distillery?
- What is your mash bill?
- What is your proof point off the still?
- What do you think of the Lincoln County process?
- How do you train your tour guides?
- Tell us about Gentleman Jack.
- Tell us about Jim Beam.
- Is Jack Daniels a bourbon?
- Do you ever feel competitive against each other?
- What does your average day look like?
- What was it like to hang out with Mila Kunis?
- What celebrities are connected to Jack Daniels?
- How often do you introduce new products?
211 – The Woodford Masters, with Chris Morris and Elizabeth McCall
Chris Morris and Elizabeth McCall are no strangers to the show so we’re excited to have them back on again. This time, we explore the controversial topic of “what is a master distiller?”. How is a title like that earned through years of service? How is Brown-Forman laying the foundation for Elizabeth to take over when Chris is ready to retire? We also talk about barrels from their cooperage, the influence of char on their whiskey, and this week’s Whiskey Quickie, the King of Kentucky.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about rapid aging.
- Lawsuit challenges out-of-state retailers’ ability to sell, deliver and ship alcohol to Kentucky consumers – https://www.wdrb.com/news/lawsuit-challenges-out-of-state-retailers-ability-to-sell-deliver/article_4881080e-acc4-11e9-9dbc-8b443dc97b9e.html
- Join us on barrel selections and see what other perks await. Support the podcast at https://www.patreon.com/bourbonpursuit
- Come drink some beer with us at 3rd Turn Brewing on July 26th from 4-7pm https://www.facebook.com/events/327452114804983/
- Elizabeth, tell us about your role.
- Do different Master Distiller’s have different styles?
- Is there a Master Distiller training manual?
- What do you think of everyday people becoming Master Distillers without significant training?
- What is a Master Distiller today?
- How do you know a bourbon will be good once it’s aged?
- What flavors or notes do you consider defects?
- Are we going to see more single malts come out of Brown-Forman?
- Why is there such a fascination with making malts work?
- Tell us about the latest Distiller’s Select?
- Are there two different char levels on the double double oaked?
- Talk about owning your own cooperage.
- Tell us about King of Kentucky.
- Why did you chose this label?
- Is there any pressure on Elizabeth to live up to Chris?
- How did you feel when you became a Master Distiller?
- Recorded live at Down One Bourbon Bar in Louisville, KY.
201 – Old Forester’s State of the Union with Campbell Brown, President of Old Forester
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Campbell Brown, President and Managing Director of Old Forester is back on the show. If you’ve been a long time listener, you may have remembered him back on Episode 98. As the President of Old Forester, he oversees a lot of the brands momentum and strategy. We get his take on bourbon tariffs with international expansion along with his hope for future movie partnerships. Anyone interested in a business background, you’re going to find this one entertaining.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about Marianne Eaves.
- Talk about the Brown influence on our city because you’ve got the Brown Hotel, The Brown Theatre, the Hot Brown, etc.
- Is there pressure to keep the Brown tradition going?
- How did you work your way up at Brown-Forman?
- What got you into the Old Forester category?
- Talk about the building and distillery.
- What about the fire in 2014?
- What chapter are we in right now in Old Forester history?
- Let’s talk about international markets and tariffs.
- What was the international growth plans for Old Forester prior to all the tariffs? Did they change or are they staying the same?
- Where do you see the Old Forester brand?
- What are you doing to elevate the Old Forester brand into a premium category?
- Talk about your team and what goes into the bottle.
- Do you take a Bill Samuels approach about not interfering with what goes in the bottle?
- Is there a brand rivalry in the company?
- Do you have to fight Woodford for barrels?
- Will you ever have 100% of production here?
- What impact did the Kingsman movie have on Old Forester business?
- Do you have a strategy to do more than Statemans?
- If you could do a movie tie in, which movie past or present would you do?
- How far down the gene pool are you to George Garvin Brown?
177 – Palate Training and Whiskey Row History with Jackie Zykan, Master Taster at Old Forester
The Whiskey Row series of Old Forester represent pivotal dates in history for the brand. Deciding how to make them coincide with flavor profiles takes a Master Taster. Jackie Zykan returns to the show as we discuss sensory training and how to sniff out binders at our local stores before diving into the Whiskey Row series and trying 1910 Old Fine Whiskey. We wrap up the show talking about President’s Choice and if dusties inspire or not.
- Do you have a new title now?
- Talk about the sensory training
- What’s different about going through this process versus just drinking bourbon everyday?
- What tips can you give to someone about learning to nose?
- How do you know when a barrel ready to be pulled?
- How much time are you spending at the distillery vs bottling vs anywhere else for tasting?
- Talk about why you dilute so low for tasting?
- So you have this really cool story about Old Forester 86 and 100 history
- Talk about the Whiskey Row series
- The dates all mean something
- What was the idea to make permanent line extensions instead of doing the money grab on limited releases?
- So in a time when people say there is a bourbon shortage, what’s your response to that?
- Talk about 1910 and what happened that year
- Do you pay attention to the Facebook and bourbon forums out there?
- Why not have a 2014 series to commemorate the new distillery?
- Talk about President’s Choice and your integral part in it
- What’s your ideal bourbon profile?
- What’s the oldest Brown-Forman product you’ve tried?
150 – Is Jack Daniel’s a Bourbon? The Truth with Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller at Jack Daniel’s Distillery
Is Jack Daniel’s a bourbon? It’s a question that has been asked thousands of times over and there never really seems to be a good answer. It’s about time you hear it from the man himself, the one who helps make every drop of that charcoal mellowed goodness, Jeff Arnett, the Master Distiller at Jack Daniel’s Distillery. We talk about the Lincoln County Process and if that changes the terminology from “Bourbon” to “Tennessee Whiskey” or if it can even be replicated in other parts of the country. If you’ve ever snuffed your nose at Jack thinking it’s not bourbon, perhaps you should listen to this episode and you might end up buying a bottle at the end.
- Talk about your background
- Did Pringles really start because they couldn’t get rid of the tennis ball cans?
- When did you start there?
- We are pretty unfamiliar with Jack Daniel’s history. Was there an actual man named Jack Daniels?
- Jack Daniels like to categorize itself as a Tennessee Whiskey and not a bourbon so we are going to look at all the information in front of us and put it to rest
- So lets talk about the mash bill being the first checkbox… Does it use at least 51% of corn?
- What is it about your yeast and water that make Jack so unique?
- So lets talk about the distillation process of Jack Daniels because it’s in the United States which hits a check box. It follows pretty much every other bourbon law if i’m not mistaken, meaning that you aren’t adding flavoring agents, distilling at no more than 160 proof and entering the barrel at no more than 125 proof
- Give me an idea of what the Lincoln County process is?
- So you’re really just trying to one up Kentucky Bourbon then?
- You use new charred oak barrels, yes?
- In 2014, legislation was introduced in the Tennessee legislature that would modify the 2013 law to allow the reuse of oak barrels in the Tennessee whiskey aging process. But you opposed the legislation, why? is it because you secretly love bourbon?
- And it’s bottled at 80 proof which is also another checkbox.
- So by in large it follows the all the laws of being a bourbon… but it doesn’t want to be.
- Do you believe this is a major influence on the flavor or “charcoal mellowing” of Jack Daniels?
- Why do you think the general public cares if it’s a bourbon or tennessee whiskey? Is it because we have too much time on our hands?
- Do you start hearing of people from Kentucky who tell stories about disowning their sons when they bring a bottle of Jack to christmas because “it’s not bourbon”?
- Does it go the other way that Tennesseans don’t want to be associated to Kentucky bourbon?
- But it’s funny because Jack Daniels is a part of Brown-Forman, the same family as Woodford Reserve and Old Forester but it’s a substantial portion of the portfolio.
- Fred Minnick goes as far as saying that the federal government needs to define Tennessee Whiskey so this will be ended once and for all.
- So I think we’ve hit on a lot but I want to give our snobby listeners out there a taste of what’s beyond the signature black label. If someone out there wants to get into the other expressions where do they start?
104 – Jim Beam, Barrell, Rabbit Hole, Smooth Ambler, 1792, Art Eatables, Balcones, Cooper’s Craft and Jack Rose in 10 Interviews from WhiskyLive Louisville 2017
A combination of 10 interviews all done at WhiskeyLive in Louisville. This podcast features Fred Noe and Beth Burrows of Jim Beam, Joe Beatrice of Barrell Bourbon, Brian Gelfo of Rabbit Hole, John Foster of Smooth Ambler, Josh Hollifield of Barton 1792, Kelly Ramsey of Art Eatables, Winston Edwards of Balcones, Greg Roshkowski of Cooper’s Craft, and we wrap it up with Bill Thomas of Jack Rose.
- Thanks to WhiskyLive during the Bourbon Affair for letting us come and record these interviews. Make sure you attend a future WhiskyLive event.