Ecosystem Podcasts

152 – How Bourbon Used To Be and Adapting To a New Market with Guthrie McKay of Toddy’s Liquors

You know when people say “I miss the good ‘ol days”? Guthrie McKay is one of them. He has seen the bourbon renaissance flourish as he’s been nestled in a small little liquor store in downtown Bardstown called Toddy’s Liquors. Toddy’s has almost become a stop on its own as people visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Listen as Guthrie tells stories of taking customers to visit Booker and Parker, his run in with Bill Thomas, and how the current boom has made him adapt business.

Show Notes:

  • Talk about the store. How did you get into the liquor business?
  • Why didn’t you name it after yourself?
  • Talk about Bardstown 30 years ago and the bourbon scene and how it has changed
  • Was there a premium brand back then?
  • Did you have a hard time selling stuff like Booker’s or Maker’s Mark?
  • Talk more about those early relationships with first entrants in the market?
  • I’m sure you aren’t sending people to the Beam’s house any longer
  • Is your store becoming another stop on the bourbon trail?
  • What’s your most annoying Pappy story?
  • Talk about your history with Bill Thomas
  • How do you deal with distributor games now?
  • Are you looking forward to seeing Bardstown grow with reinvestments into infrastructure for keeping bourbon booming?
  • How do you deal with shelf space on craft brands?
  • Are you major buyers on the bourbon trail or everyday consumers?
  • So you don’t feel bad about pricing above secondary?
  • Are gift shops taking away from your bottom line?
  • What can big distilleries do to help support you?
  • Can Bardstown support any more business? Are there enough people?
  • You’ve talked about lot of gripes, but tell us what are some of the positives

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149 – The Art and Gamble of Bourbon Blending with Ed Bley of Old Baldy

Picking a single barrel out of a line up seems relatively simple when compared to blending tens or hundreds of barrels together to hit a specific bourbon taste profile. Where does that process begin? Do you start with a few and keep taste testing? Is it a math formula of X spicy barrels to Y sweet barrels? This episode features Ed Bley, blender behind the underground phenomenon known as Old Baldy. We ask Ed what it’s like to go from picking single barrels to learning how to blend multiple barrels to hit a distinct flavor spot. It’s an art form that Ed describes as trying to perfect the “witch’s hat”.

Show Notes:

  • Were you trying to make something truly unique?
  • How did you get access to the warehouse to start creating your own private label?
  • Do most blenders have a lot of this down to a science where they know what warehouses are going to yield a specific flavor profile?
  • Did you at one point think, well we may have just thrown away a bunch of barrels while waiting for it to marry in a tank?
  • Were you experimenting with finished whiskies at home to perfect this?
  • Was there a teacher that go you to this point?
  • Are people mad because they don’t have access?
  • What’s your advice to people on how they can experiment at home?
  • What are the elements of the bourbon flavor wheel are you looking for?
  • Do you think people get turned off from grain flavors?
  • What problems do you run into when you scale from a few barrels to barrels in the teens or small 20s?
  • Do you think people are a little crazy that they are paying hundreds of dollars for your blend?
  • What’s your plan for the next one?
  • Is the best way to learn to do this is to learn how to break down single barrels?
  • Do you think you are helping revive blended straight whiskey?
  • Hear all of Ed’s Podcast’s at https://bourbonpursuit.com/?s=bley

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145 – Are Bourbon Tariffs a Threat? With Economic Professors Conor Lennon and Keith Teltser

The threats of a global trade war have been looming over the past few months. Sparked by an EU attempt to lower the tariff on steel imports, they targeted American products such as peanut butter and bourbon. What sort of economic impact would a bourbon tariff have on exports to other countries? How does that trickle back into Bardstown, KY and the growing market? Does it even matter?  On this episode, we are joined by University of Louisville’s Economic Professors, Conor Lennon and Keith Teltser, to explain the intertwined global economy and the effect a tariff has from the bourbon producers to the grain suppliers.

Show Notes:

  • How did you all get into bourbon?
  • Explain what is a tariff?
  • This all started as a retaliatory effort from the EU as an opposition to the US putting tariffs on imported steel. Can you give some more information to set the scene?
  • Could this be a much ado about nothing?
  • Could something actually never happen?
  • Is big European growth even a target?
  • Does the tariff even have an effect when you look at the abundance of the excise tax?
  • When people say “Alright! More bourbon in America!” is that even a sentiment that should be encouraged? Or is that narrow-minded?
  • What protection do you not like about Bourbon from a economist’s perspective?
  • There isn’t a shortage of bourbon on the shelf. Are there other markets that haven’t been tapped?
  • Who has the biggest dog in the fight? Brown-Forman with Jack Daniels?
  • What are those other aspects we haven’t touched on that this impacts? Voters? Constituents?
  • What other countries could remove their tariffs to bring more imported goods there?
  • You all find the secondary market much more entertaining
  • The academic work on bourbon prices over the last 3-4 years is on Conor’s site under the “Research” tab (direct link: https://tinyurl.com/yau4pn34).

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144 – Judging the San Francisco World Spirits Competition with Anthony Dias Blue


What does a bourbon that receives double gold actually mean? Are the whiskies judged blind? We learn all this and more as the Executive Director of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Anthony Dias Blue, joins the show to give us an inside glimpse to the bourbons that can be entered and dispels some myths if it’s a “pay to play” atmosphere.

Show Notes:

  • What sets your competition apart from the rest?
  • How many different categories do you have at the event?
  • Are all tastings done blind?
  • Are they shelf bottles (from a standard distributor) or do distillers get to choose specific bottles they send in?
  • Why not Jack Daniels and other major selling brands?
  • How medals are awarded, and what those medals actually mean when we see them on a bottle?
  • How many judges are there and how many need to rate a bourbon as Gold for it to receive a Gold Medal?
  • Most of the time when I see a sticker on a bottle saying that this bourbon was rated as Gold or Double Gold, it doesn’t have a date on the sticker. If a bourbon is awarded a medal does it have that medal forever? Is it or can it be evaluated ever again? Does the producer have to do anything to maintain that medal?
  • Is the “same” product is entered over multiple years and judged independently each year?
  • How much weight should we consumers put on these awards when we see them on a brand we’ve never heard of or tried?
  • Why have a competition at all?
  • Is it “pay to play” and your entrance fee will automatically score you a medal?
  • Do you see cases of “bait and switch”? Products/Sellers submit “honey” barrels to the competition to get a higher award, and then using that award to promote an inferior product.

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141 – Bourbon Brain Teasers with Wade Woodard

Can you name all the distilleries in Lawrenceburg? How is it possible that a straight bourbon is only 70 proof? Wade Woodard, blogger at tater-talk.com and witty comedic relief on Facebook forums, leads us through a series of bourbon brain teasers to see if we really know our stuff. Wade is an advocate for bourbon laws and makes sure that everyone is playing by the rules so he knows them inside and out. Listen to see if we get stumped and see if you can answer the questions before we can.

Show Notes:

  • None! Because I want you to listen and try to guess the answers for yourself!

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138 – The Truth About Unicorns, Bottle Collections, and Spirit Awards with Bourbon Truth

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.

Show Notes:

  • 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

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137 – The Most Famous Name in Rickhouses, Donald Blincoe of Buzick Construction

The Rickhouse. A place where bourbon allows father time and mother nature to do its magic. Have you ever wondered who is behind all these rickhouses? Donald Blincoe, President of Buzick Construction, is carrying on his family’s legacy of being the top name in bourbon business for rickhouses. Their patented ricking system is easily identified when entering a rackhouse and Donald talks about their history and process when constructing. Donald also talks a bit about the superiority of a rickhouse versus stacking barrels on pallets.
Show Notes:
  • First let’s give an overview of the company and then we will dive into the history.
  • So do yo know about the history of storing barrels before the idea of rick houses?
  • There’s all different kinds of ways to store barrels. But you all are pretty much renowned for it. Talk about how that came to be.
  • Why wood?
  • Talk about the design of the rick itself
  • Why is your design better than pallet? More economical? Does it make it easier to move barrels in and out?
  • Is a rackhouse made to survive acts of nature?
  • What sort of maintenance is involved?
  • You also have a patented process, right?
  • Give us the basic idea of why a rick house is constructed the way it is
  • What man power is involved? I hear you all have a machine that is beginning to automate a bit?
  • How long to get one stood up?
  • What’s the sustained weight?
  • Why is there hardly ever electricity ran to these?
  • Do people ask for other amenities like running water?
  • How has the engineering of the construction changed over the years or are they just getting bigger?

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134 – Being New to Bourbon: Exploration and the Chase with Darin Mellor

Many seasoned bourbon drinkers know all too well the climate of things, but rarely ever stop to think how newcomers to this hobby view it. This episode takes an outside look in from experimenting with high rye, low rye, and wheated bourbons as well as a look into how our guest views allocated items. Darin Mellor, a spirits enthusiast, has been on the beer and tequila chase in the past and recently got into bourbon. Learn about his journey into the crazy hobby that can be very frustrating at times.

Show Notes:

  • What first attracted you to bourbon?
  • Talk about the tequila and beer chase for a bit.
  • Before you started really getting into it, was there anything that made you anxious or nervous?
  • What made you want to know more?
  • How did you start exploring high rye vs low rye vs wheated bourbon?
  • Did you even know these different kind of bourbons existed before you dove in?
  • What made you go with something barrel proof when you first started getting your few bottles?
  • Being new to the scene, what’s your take on non-distilling producers?
  • When you go to a store and see a hangtag or sticker that says “Won Double Gold”, does that influence your decision?
  • How did you come to find out about Facebook groups or reddit?
  • What was the most surprising thing you saw when you started reading more into bourbon?
  • It took me almost 6 years until I found out about limited edition bourbons. How did you find out?
  • Am I creating the problem or are new bourbon drinkers the problem when it comes to the allocation issue?
  • So talk about your first reactions when you see an acronym like WLW. Are you like what the hell are these guys talking about?
  • Now that you are getting into the bourbon scene, what’s the most frustrating part?
  • What advice can you give to seasoned veterans of bourbon when all the new people are coming into the hobby?
  • Are you surprised people are waiting in lines and lotteries for bourbon?
  • Have you found yourself sneaking bottles in the house from your significant other?
  • You can read more about Darin at mempxl and on Instagram at @mempxl

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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 VeachReid 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.

Show Notes:

  • 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?

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129 – Bourbon Trail meets Tobacco Road, Bourbon and Cigar Pairings with Jake’s Cigar Bar

Enjoying a glass of bourbon while smoking a cigar seems like an average Friday night to some people. However, pairing a bourbon and cigar can be more complicated than you think. We sit down with Jake Glancy and Jeremy Kendrick of Jake’s Cigar Bar to get a complete cigar 101 lesson on everything from cuts, types, leaf varieties, and more to understand how the unique flavor of a cigar will compliment different types of bourbon. You will want to rush outside and smoke a cigar after listening to this one!

Show Notes:

  • Let’s start from the beginning and talk about the types of cuts
  • How do you pick the ring gauge or size of cigars?
  • Talk about the wrappers and what flavors each type release
  • What’s the difference between tobacco in Nicaragua and Honduras versus in Kentucky?
  • Talk about hand-rolled versus machine-rolled.
  • Bourbon drinkers have a progression from mixing to neat, what about cigar smokers?
  • What do you mean by tasting a cigar by “thirds”?
  • It’s moving from cigars and scotch to cigars and bourbon. What’s the initiative?
  • Describe the different shapes of cigars
  • When you’re smoking a cigar do your taste buds or receptors change rather than drinking bourbon alone?
  • What’s the sweet spot for the third in your opinion?
  • I’m going to throw some bourbons at you and you tell me what cigars would pair well.
  • Talk about higher in proof bourbons like Stagg Jr and barrel proof bourbons and the cigars that pair well
  • It seems like Four Roses pairs well with any cigar
  • Talk about barrel aged cigars
  • What about something super light like 80 proof Basil Hayden
  • Rye whiskey is growing in popularity. How does rye whiskey stand up in cigar pairing?
  • How about something that’s super oaky like Elijah Craig 23?
  • How about finished bourbons like Angel’s Envy port finished bourbon?
  • The craft market is booming but what do you pair with something that has a grain forward flavor?
  • Talk about the Van Winkle Cigars. Are they good or are they hype?
  • I see a lot more Barrel aged cigars on the market and I am curious for recommendations and also some info on the technique and how it imparts the flavor from the barrel to the tobacco.
  • Are Cubans really that much better?
  • Get 15% off at Jake’s by mentioning you heard about them on Bourbon Pursuit!

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