Ecosystem Podcasts

441 – Engineering a Rickhouse with Buzick Construction

We’ve all been driving through bourbon country and been amazed at the rickhouses that paint the country side. But what goes into building and engineering those? Buzick Construction has a long family history in the whiskey business, with their family building multiple rickhouses for Jack Daniel’s. Today, the average size of a rickhouse is 50,000 barrels, presenting engineering challenges compared to older 20,000 barrel ones in terms of weight load, airflow, and temperature control. We brought their President, Donald Blincoe, and chief engineer, Kevin Aldred, on the show to talk about what goes into building a rickhouse. We talk about different wood types, exterior materials, precise airflow design needs and humidity considerations. We also dive into the costs because a rickhouse run into the millions these days. Overall, Buzick has been the name in construction around Bardstown and has a reputation in these time-honored warehouses.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about food and whiskey pairing
  • Talk about the history of Buzick Construction
  • How many rickhouses did your great grandfather build for Jack Daniel’s?
  • Do you have a patent on the ricking system?
  • What’s the average size of rickhouse today?
  • How did the engineering change when going from 20,000 to 50,000 barrel rickhouses?
  • Do you have to defend your plans to local governments and municipalities?
  • What options do you have when building such as wood types?
  • What’s the usual cost for building a rickhouse?
  • How do you design for airflow?
  • Do you have to go into older buildings and modernize them?
  • What is the preferred exterior material to use now?
  • Does creating a heat controlled warehouse interfere with natural flow?
  • Have there been any crazy requests for rickhouses like a smart rickhouse?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

440 – Why Don’t Acquired Brands Get Consumer Blowback and 2023 Predictions Review on Bourbon Community Roundtable #88

It’s the final Bourbon Community Roundtable of the year it’s number 88. In typical fashion we have two topics. First is wondering why there isn’t a consumer blowback when a brand gets acquired. It happens all the time in beer when a small craft brand is gobbled up by a large corporation and there is a small piece that dies. In the second half of the show we revisit our 2023 predictions to see who got it right and who got it wrong.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about the expiration date of whiskey
  • Why is there never consumer blowback when a bourbon brand get acquired?
  • Let’s review our 2023 predictions
  • Support this podcast on Patreon


438 – What is Over, Under, and Properly Rated?

We rate bourbons all the time. But we’ve never really rated things that surround the product and the bourbon culture. In this episode, Ryan, Fred, and myself look at a bunch of subjects and ask whether it’s under rated, over rated, or properly rated. From single barrel picks to bourbon-themed weddings, there’s a lot to cover. We’ll break down whether booker’s boxes and wax dipping are gimmicks or genuinely enhance the experience. And what about all those whiskey influencers on YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok – are they spreading valuable knowledge or just hype? We’ll also discuss whether tasting notes and bottled-in-bond really mean anything and if the Fred Minnick effect is real.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about taters and hype around allocated products.
  • Under rated? Over Rated? Or Properly Rated?
  • Single Barrel picks
  • A single barrel bottle from a brand
  • Spirit awards
  • Booker’s boxes
  • Wax
  • Whiskey YouTube’rs
  • Instagram and TikTok
  • Bourbon tattoos
  • Distillery weddings
  • Bourbon barrel furniture
  • Cooking with bourbon
  • bottled in bond
  • Tasting notes
  • The Fred Minnick Effect
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

437 – How To Build A Non-Legacy Brand with Johnathan Crocker of Frank August

Let’s say you want to start a new bourbon brand but you don’t have generations of family heritage or an existing legacy to promote. So how do you get consumers to try something new instead of reverting to something like putting horses or barns on the labels? Branding today seems to require more storytelling than focusing just on the whiskey. One modern brand trying to break that mold is Frank August. I invited their CEO and Co-Founder, Johnathan Crocker on the show to talk about navigating this challenge and how they are reinventing branding in a crowded bourbon market without relying on a legacy. They’re focused on creating an authentic modern brand that resonates with consumers. It’s an interesting case study on building a bourbon brand from scratch in today’s industry.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about will the bourbon boom ever end?
  • How did you get tied into whiskey and with Drew at Willett?
  • Why create a new bourbon brand during COVID?
  • How do you see yourself and brand fitting into this industry?
  • What does the name Frank August mean?
  • At what point does it feel like overthinking vs simple strategy?
  • Would a consumer just like to buy a bottle with a horse on it instead of new labels?
  • Does a brand have to speak directly to a specific demographic or can brands adapt?
  • Historical brands like Old Forester and Heaven Hill sourced their whiskey at first so how did they adapt?
  • Can you change the mindset of a whiskey drinker away from the staples like a horse or a barn?
  • Do you have to talk about the story instead of the whiskey?
  • Are any legacy brands that have successfully pivoted to tell a new story?
  • @thefrankaugust
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

436 – Is Big Bourbon Just Better? on Bourbon Community Roundtable #87

It’s Bourbon Community Roundtable #87 and this one dives into a single topic that has perplexed me over the past few months. It seems that there are only a handful of brands people talk about yet there are over 2000 distilleries across the US. I would like to think the stigma of craft is changing but my newsfeed is always talking about the same select few.  What makes us always gravitate to the big 6 or perhaps we should refer to as the big 7 now? Is it accessibility because it’s on the shelf or could be on your shelf pending allocation? Is it marketing and the big brands can throw their weight around at the distributor level? Or is Big Bourbon just better than craft?

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about mocktails
  • Is big bourbon just better than everything else?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon


435 – Sourcing Exotic Barrels with Jessica Ann of H&A Barrel Management

The trend of cask finished whiskey is here to stay. It’s run rampant over the past few years to the point that every single company has one. But how are barrels sourced? How many times can a barrel be used before it longer gives off those different flavors? To answer these questions and a lot more, I’ve invited Jessica Ann from H&A Barrel Management on the show. We’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jessica for many years. She recently got herself into the market of brokering barrels for different cask finishes. Jessica gives us the low-down on wine and exotic oak finishes and how difficult they can be to attain. There’s a lot to break down such as types of oak, toast level, and if cooperage reputation has any prestige. With the wide variety available, we’re going to see even more trends hit the market soon.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks if Pappy is a NDP.
  • How did you and Fred connect?
  • How many times can a barrel be used for wine aging?
  • Why is French Oak the preferred type for wine?
  • If I need barrels, what do you have readily available?
  • What does STR mean?
  • How are different barrels valued?
  • How many times can those barrels be re-used?
  • In the used barrel market are there cooperages that have more prestige?
  • What are some of the newest barrels people want that aren’t common?
  • Do customer’s ever request different toast and char levels?
  • How do you properly read a wine barrel?
  • Talk about your barrel leasing program.
  • How do you find out about the various oak species available?
  • @bourboninsider
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

434 – Creating Legal and Sustainable Bourbon Charity Raffles with Give270

Bourbon and charity go hand-in-hand. There has been millions of dollars raised thanks to donations and the willingness of others to purchase for a good cause. However, doing it legally is not an easy task. I invited Eric Clements and Kenny Rambo of Give 270 on the show to talk about being legit. They started Give270 by raffling rare bourbons in Elizabethtown, Kentucky to raise money for local charities. Their mission is to make participation affordable and fun through bourbon raffles. This model has proven successful, but required getting licensed for charitable gaming. The founders discuss how they transitioned from a 501C3 nonprofit to operating legally, as well as how they source rare bourbons, select beneficiary charities, do real paper raffles, and handle taxes. While rewarding, they note challenges in navigating regulations and finding inventory amidst secondary market demand.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about single barrels not being regulated.
  • Why did you all want to start doing alcohol reform in Elizabethtown, KY?
  • What was the mission behind Give270?
  • Do you feel the success of raffles are because of the secondary market?
  • How did you move from a 501C3 to getting a charitable gaming license?
  • Does the pool get bigger by having a raffle versus an auction?
  • Do you really cut up names on a piece of paper and put them in a tumbler?
  • Has there ever been a situation where you are underwater on a raffle?
  • How do you discover and choose the charities you work with?
  • What are the biggest challenges of trying to do all this the legal way?
  • Are people letting you buy from their private collections?
  • What sort of taxes are involved?
  • Is there anything about the current system you would change?
  • @give270
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

433 – Lessons in Building an E-Commerce Bourbon Business with Blake Riber of Seelbach’s

Today’s guest is no stranger to the show. We’ve had the privelege of knowing Blake Riber of Seelbach’s for many years. However, before he had Seelbach’s he was a past guest on episode 007 when he was running one of the premier bourbon blogs on the internet called bourbonr. I wanted to invite Blake on the show to talk about the past few years because building an e-commerce business on bourbon, is no easy task. We talk about legal licensing, his first Purchase orders, and being scrappy by growing into his warehouses. Now he helps kickstart brands’ success by giving them an online presence. He finds new customers through content marketing and builds loyalty through customer service. It’s a story about passion, knowledge, and a little bit of luck.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) asks if barrel proof will last in the bottle over time
  • Are you going to give us an updated shirtless picture we can use on our website?
  • What opportunity presented itself to go from a blogger to a whiskey e-commerce business?
  • What was some of those early hurdle of getting people to order online?
  • How are you finding new customers?
  • What legal hurdles have been the toughest to overcome?
  • Can you share what your warehousing situation was like versus today?
  • Is it gratifying to look back and think about what’s like to help kickstart some brand’s success?
  • How do you figure out inventory management and the challenges of doing this on e-commerce versus brick and morter?
  • Were you searching for brands or are brands coming to you now to have that online retail presence?
  • How are you trying to connect the brands and the consumers?
  • How are you building customer loyalty?
  • Can you share your initial investment to get your licenses and first POs to get your first sales?
  • Are you see a trade down with de-premiumization and how consumers are shifting?
  • What does growth look like now?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

432 – Is the Daily Drinker Dead? on Bourbon Community Roundtable #86

Is the daily drinker dead? I take this roundtable into the direction of deep thoughts once again. At some point in our bourbon journey, someone has asked you “what’s your go to?” and maybe you had an answer, but today you may be uncertain about it. I ask everyone on the roundtable if we’re living in the golden age of american whiskey and if they feel there’s too many options on the shelf to be living in the bubble of only a few bottles.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about bourbon legislation.
  • Is the daily drinker dead?
  • Are we living in the golden age of American Whiskey?
  • How do you break away from the daily drinker?
  • @breakingbourbon @fredminnick @drinkseelbachs
  • Support this podcast on Patreon


430 – Has the Bourbon Glut Arrived? with Jeremy Dever

At this point, if you’ve been listening to the show then you know there is a whole world of investor barrels and there is plenty of talk about a bourbon bubble burst and market saturation. For that reason, I’ve invited Jeremy Dever on the show. I’ve known Jeremy for a few years and he’s a wealth of knowledge and has a pulse on the market. He got his start working with Steve Thompson at Kentucky Artisan Distillery and transitioned to brokering barrels for investors without brands. We discuss barrel values, overproduction issues, and if now is a good time to launch a new brand or if it’s too late. It’s a reality check for many people because the modern day bourbon glut may have arrived.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about leading a quick bourbon tasting.
  • How did you meet Steve Thompson and get into the spirits business?
  • What was your role at Kentucky Artisan Distillery?
  • At what point did you get into the barrel brokering market?
  • What do investors with barrels do when they don’t have brands?
  • What is the benchmark for barrels when figuring out the value?
  • Should investors think about acquiring brands to sell the barrels?
  • Now are investor barrels being held on to wait for higher ages?
  • What are we going to do with overproduction and all the stillage?
  • Is the best time or the worst time to start a bourbon brand?
  • When will see the open barrel market start to level out?
  • Support this podcast on Patreon