Ecosystem Podcasts

413 – How To Make a Whiskey RTD with Flavorman

You hear Ryan and I talk about RTDs or Ready To Drink canned cocktails on This Week in Bourbon all the time and here’s the reason why. Most of us got our start into bourbon by mixing it with coke or ginger ale. The modern day drinker is finding their path through cocktails. And now that the seltzer craze has hit, getting your first taste of bourbon through a RTD can be the new gateway. There is one company based in Louisville that has been the go-to company for every drinks company across the country for creating flavored whiskeys, energy drinks, and even RTDs, and that’s Flavorman. Brad Nichols and Jordan Plappert from Flavorman join the show as we get a deep-dive into how flavors are developed and how do we begin creating a bourbon-based RTD. It’s a fascinating show about conception of ideas, how we can keep sugar volume in check, and how big your pocket book needs to be to get started.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about growing older and your senses.
  • How did you progress into the drinks business?
  • What’s the general overview of Flavorman?
  • How do you create or discover new flavors?
  • Where do you start when creating a spirit-based RTD?
  • What does conception look like for a bourbon-based RTD?
  • What difference goes into creating a RTD vs a flavored whiskey?
  • Can explain the difference in the type of can used based on the metal or material?
  • Why are whiskey based RTDs higher in alcohol versus seltzer based?
  • Is malt based cheaper versus spirit based?
  • How do you reduce sugar volume for those that are health conscious?
  • How do you choose a product that is ready to pour in a bottle versus in a can?
  • How do you stabilize an ingredient so it doesn’t separate and the shelf life?
  • What can you offer to customers to get products on shelves sooner?
  • What’s the initial cost to just start the conversation?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

411 – The Most Traveled Man in Whiskey with Drew Hannush of Whiskey Lore

How many distillery tours have you been on? 2? 5? Maybe 20? Well, you can’t even touch our guest today. Drew Hannush is the author of multiple books including Experiencing Kentucky Bourbon, Experiencing Irish Whiskey, and new one coming soon on Tennessee. He has his own whiskey podcast called Whiskey Lore but, he has also visited over 250 distilleries across the world. That’s a ton of miles traveled. We dig into his passion and why he continues to visit distilleries and even re-visit some. Then we discuss how he doesn’t get fatigued because sometimes it’s a lot of the same process and story told over and over again. Then we dive into some hidden gems across Kentucky and even talk about the boom of craft distilleries and if he plans on hitting every single one.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about barrel shortage.
  • What got you into the deep-dive of whiskey?
  • How do you not get fatigued listening to a similar story every time?
  • Did you find out where the name bourbon came from?
  • What stands out when visiting Kentucky distilleries?
  • How are some distilleries rewarding drivers versus those who are traveling to try a bunch of whiskey?
  • How are you approaching all the different whiskeys with an open mind?
  • How many brands outside of American Whiskey are sourcing whiskey?
  • What keeps you interested to keep going back and revisiting distilleries?
  • What are the hidden gems that people don’t know about?
  • Now that all these craft distilleries are popping up across the US is the goal to hit them all?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

410 – Lessons Learned From Building The Biggest Bourbon Bar with Josh Howes and Tommy Craggs of Watch Hill Proper

The dream of owning a bourbon bar. That sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it? In this episode, we get to hear Watch Hill Proper’s journey. Joshua Howes and Tommy Craggs join the show to talk about the initial concept of the bar and the challenges they faced not coming from a restaurant background. We dive into the finer details of the business such as staff training, retainment, and revenue between food and beverage. But for us whiskey geeks, we talk about building a collection of unicorns that are proudly on display but also available by the pour.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about why Maker’s Mark doesn’t use age statements.
  • How did you get into bourbon and what’s your bourbon journey?
  • Did you know what the concept of the bar was going to be before you started?
  • What challenges did you face since you don’t come from a restaurant background?
  • How did you come to the design and the feel of the space?
  • What percentage of your revenue is food vs beverage?
  • How did you procure the unicorns in the collection?
  • How do you train the staff on how to be knowledgable on all the whiskeys?
  • What was your business plan and how many drinks you have to sell to keep the doors open?
  • Can you talk about how membership communication backfired?
  • How did the name Watch Hill Proper come to be?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

409 – Are Cask Finishes Going to Follow The Craft Beer Craze?

Where did it all go wrong? Or maybe it’s not even wrong, but secondary cask finished bourbons seems to all the rage. What used to be a means of innovation has turned into a chase to find the most exotic woods and multi-cask finishes to keep fans asking, what’s next? In this episode, Ryan, Fred, and myself dive into the history of cask finishes and question whether double oaked bourbons are still considered pure bourbon. We wonder why don’t consumers ask more questions to hold companies responsible about the finishing processes and potential quality drops. Lastly, I drop a bomb about SKU sprawl and what will happen when larger companies create more finishes that will squeeze out shelf space for smaller brands.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about buying dusty bourbon
  • What’s your fascination with Liquid Death?
  • Where did cask finishes really begin?
  • How can you trust what a brand does with their whiskey behind the scenes?
  • Why don’t consumers question the process?
  • Are double oaked bourbons still considered pure bourbon?
  • Is it the producer or the consumer problem because there is a chase for the next thing?
  • Is barrel finishing the only way to differentiate yourself from other brands?
  • Is the quality going to drop soon because of the distillate being used?
  • What happens when companies with large stocks create more SKUs and take over more shelf space?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

408 – Single Rickhouse Bottlings and Fixing Single Barrel Saturation on Bourbon Community Roundtable #80

We’ve got two juicy topics to tackle so here’s what we’ve got. Last year we saw the release of Russell’s Reserve Single Rickhouse limited edition offering. That sparked a Vine Pair article that asked if single rickhouse bottlings will be the next big thing? I wanted to challenge that a bit and figure out if we really think there are varied flavor profiles based on rickhouses or are they cherry-picking barrels to make another marketing angle. In the second half of the show we discuss the current state of single barrels. They are flooded on shelves across the nation and they aren’t selling like they used to. How will this get fixed or is this a side-effect of the COVID buying frenzy?

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about entry proof.
  • Are single rickhouse bottlings going to be the next big thing?
  • Do different rickhouses provide different flavor profiles or is this a marketing angle?
  • How will we fix the abundance of single barrel offerings on the shelves across the nation?
  • Is this a side effect of the covid buying frenzy?
  • @breakingbourbon @fredminnick @drinkseelbachs @bourbonr @sippncorn
  • Support this podcast on Patreon


407 – More Mind Blowing Stave Science on Bourbon Aging with Andrew Wiehebrink of ISC

How much influence does the barrel have on the whiskey you drink? If you talk to a lot of people in the industry you will get a rough estimate of 70% or more flavor gets extracted from the barrel. We’ve had a few coopers on the show to talk about process, and even today’s guest was back on Episode 346. We were so amazed at some of his research we wanted him to come back on the show to talk about more mind blowing stave science. Andrew Wiehebrink is the Director of Spirits Research and Innovation for Independent Stave Company. That means he leads up all the cool advancements on where barrel trends are heading. We talk about the current barrel shortage and if toasted products are the reason to blame, where the future of oak alternatives are heading, and why there is a trend of distilleries moving tog Char 1 vs Char 4.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about warming up your palate.
  • Can you give us a refreshed on how you got into whiskey?
  • How is ISC looking at the current barrel shortage crisis?
  • Is wood growth a problem in getting new barrels?
  • Is there a labor shortage in cooperages?
  • How much has toasted barrels lead to a barrel shortage?
  • Can you explain the seasoning process once again and how that effects the overall flavor?
  • Are you all experimenting with oak alternatives?
  • Why does French Oak have more peaks and valleys for the maturation process?
  • Maker’s really pioneered the custom staves but is anyone else doing anything to that level?
  • Why is there a trend of moving towards Char 1 vs Char 4?
  • Does your research show an optimal time of the year to pull barrels?
  • Is there a trend of using smoked barrels?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

406 – Chasing A Passion of BBQ with Matt Pittman of Meat Church

If you google for anything BBQ related on YouTube, I can guarantee you will see a video pop-up of our guest. Matt Pittman is the founder of Meat Church, he’s one of the most well-known BBQ personalities in the industry. But Matt wasn’t always talking about brisket and ribs with his infamous Holy Cow rub, that was his passion project. In this episode we talk about his career and what it took to make a pivot from a comfy position in IT to going all-in with Meat Church. But this isn’t all about BBQ. Matt is turning his sights into another discovered passion, bourbon. He discusses how is eyes were opened during a bottle share and with the help of the Dallas Bourbon Club, he is starting to build out his very own collection.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about tasting mats.
  • Where did you grow up and how did you get into tech?
  • Did you have any pit master idols or people you looked up to?
  • Were you accepted by people in the industry or did they just look at you as a YouTuber?
  • Why did you choose to not open a restaurant?
  • Did the product or the media and education come first?
  • What was the tipping point when you could leave your career to chase after BBQ?
  • What tactics did you use to grow the business when you went full time?
  • How did the idea of cooking classes start?
  • Where did the name Meat Church come from?
  • At what point did bourbon start making an influence on you?
  • Bourbon producers have generations of distillers, does that exist in BBQ as well?
  • Who bestowed upon you the title of pit master?
  • @meatchurch
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

404 – RNDC Responds To Sazerac’s Lawsuit and When Will We See More Anti-Counterfeit Seals? on Bourbon Community Roundtable #79

It’s everyone’s monthly favorite, the bourbon community roundtable where we invite some of the brightest minds in bourbon media to come on and go deep on some topics. And up first is the story that keeps on giving. Earlier this year Sazerac came out of the gate putting a $38.6M lawsuit in front of Republic National Distributing Company (known as RNDC). Now here we are a few weeks later and we get RNDC’s response where they are countersuing for Sazerac’s attempts at undermining the three-tier system and claiming over $10M in damages. In the second half of the show we dig into the increase of counterfeit bourbon bottles on the market and these bottles aren’t even super rare. We’re talking Four Roses Single Barrels and Weller Full Proof. Should distilleries step up and have more tamper-proof seals or is this a buyer beware type of situation? We’ve said it a million times on the show before, if you want to help combat the spread of these fakes, throw away your bottles by putting sharpie on the label or even go as far as breaking them. Don’t be that person selling empties on eBay.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about single barrel programs.
  • What impact will the Sazerac/RNDC lawsuit have on the bourbon industry?
  • When will we see more anti-counterfeit seals?
  • Who is responsible for preventing counterfeits?
  • @breakingbourbon @fredminnick @drinkseelbachs @bourbonr @sippncorn
  • Support this podcast on Patreon


403 – Where Coffee and Bourbon Collide with Brian Beyke of Quills

If you’ve listened to our show long enough you would know that it’s Kenny versus Fred and Ryan when it comes to coffee. Kenny isn’t not much of a coffee drinker but those guys can’t live without. But I’m sure there are lots of other coffee and bourbon drinkers out there and you see things like “barrel aged” coffee and immediately gravitate towards it. I mean, how could you not? We should be barrel-aging everything! But there are more correlations between coffee and bourbon that I never knew of so that’s why we invited Brian Beyke on the show. He’s the Director of Coffee for Quills in Louisville and has been all-in on coffee and bourbon for a long time. In this episode, we scratch an itch to ask all the questions about coffee that we’ve always wanted to know such as the difference in beans from small versus large scale producers, the “rare” coffee scene, buzzwords to watch out for, and Brian gives us the low-down if barrel-aging is a gimmick.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about palette fatigue.
  • How did you find your path into coffee?
  • Do you need to spit coffee while tasting?
  • What notes in coffee are you looking for when tasting?
  • Is there a three-tier system with coffee?
  • What’s the difference in the beans that you get versus the big name brands?
  • Is there a “rare” coffee scene?
  • What are the buzzwords in coffee that you need to watch out for?
  • If bourbon is synonymous to Kentucky then what is the coffee equivalent?
  • What’s the professional consensus of Keurig?
  • Does roasting line up with toasting or charring of barrels?
  • What’s best method for barrel-aging coffee?
  • How do you adapt the coffee for a cold brew or nitro?
  • Is there a secondary market for rare coffee?
  • Is the coffee flavor wheel different than the bourbon flavor wheel?
  • @abandoncoffee @abandonbourbon
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

402 – What is Bourbon’s Biggest Threat?

Bourbon’s rise in popularity has been a monumental shift in consumer behavior, but the reality is that it could all come crashing down really quick. Ryan, Fred, and Kenny spend some time on this episode and think about what are those threats to bourbon? We all have ideas on why it became so popular but what are those outside influences that we have no control over? Fred gives a brief history on the bourbon glut era and that starts spurring other ideas that could hurt bourbon’s popularity such as overzealous health advocates, new spirits on the rise, government taxes, or the next generation of consumers?

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about heritage brands.
  • Is there an issue with grains, raw material, and barrel shortages?
  • How has the lack of staffing in the service industry impacted bourbon?
  • What caused the first glut and what can we do to prevent that?
  • Did tariffs make an impact on bourbon or was it not really hindered?
  • Are health reports becoming a scare tactic to reduce alcohol consumption?
  • Is there any spirits that could be the next rise of vodka and kill whiskey?
  • Could taxes be a big burden on stifling bourbon?
  • Could the next generation just not like bourbon and kill it off?
  • What happens if bourbon producers have too much greed or there is consumer fatigue?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon