Podcasts done by Master Distillers
Today’s guest needs no introduction. He is one the most iconic living figures in bourbon today. He’s been on episodes 77, 105, and 175. He’s even got his own personalized scooter to get him around the distillery and that is Jimmy Russell. This podcast touches on his early years and how he was selected to become the next master distiller. He talks about the changes he saw at the distillery as it exchanged hands throughout the years. Also, we get to hear the story on the birth of Rare Breed and his opinion on chill filtering vs non-chill filtering debate.
- The history of JW Dant and Log Still Distillery – https://www.distillerytrail.com/blog/j-w-dant-investing-12-million-to-restart-historic-distillery-in-the-bourbon-capital-of-the-world/
- Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled in Bond Launch – https://www.facebook.com/bourbonpursuit/posts/2640636035998401?__tn__=K-R
- Leave us a review! https://link.chtbl.com/LeaveAReview
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about speaking at a Total Wine event in Atlanta.
- Does limestone water make a difference in bourbon?
- How long does it take to cook bourbon?
- Can you burn the mash?
- When did you start at the distillery?
- What roles have you had at the distillery?
- What Master Distiller trained you?
- How did he decide he wanted to train you?
- What were the early years like?
- Was there anything from prohibition that affected the distillery operations when you started?
- Will you all need to increase capacity soon?
- What was it like when you first started traveling to talk about Wild Turkey?
- What were your biggest challenges on the road?
- Were you nervous when you first went out on the road?
- Were you happy traveling and talking to the consumers?
- What was the name of the distillery before Wild Turkey?
- What was it like to distill then ship the bourbon away?
- Tell us about the other former Lawrenceburg distilleries.
- What was it like when you were out on the road? Do you think it helped grow the brand?
- Do you prefer to travel or be at the distillery?
- Tell us about Kentucky Spirit and Rare Breed.
- How often are you going through and sampling barrels?
- Do you have a favorite warehouse?
- Do you have a favorite floor?
- Why do you only have 7 floors?
- What innovations have you seen throughout your time in the bourbon industry?
- Talk about your rye mashbill.
- What do you think of non-distilling producers?
- Tell us about the inception of Rare Breed.
- Do you like the barrel char flavor?
- What do you think of chill vs. non-chill filtered?
- What kind of steak do you like?
- How much time do you spend at the visitor’s center?
- What do you drive most of the time?
- Are you excited to have Bruce at the distillery?
- Did you ever want to own the distillery?
- Why do whiskey consumers get enthralled with age statements?
- Any life advice for younger generations?
Starting a new bourbon brand is tough, especially when you are in the backyard of the biggest dogs in the industry. However, Kaveh Zamanian saw a hole in the market where he could bring new mash bills and new experiences to bourbon drinkers. As the founder of Rabbit Hole Distillery, he has faced some criticism but is taking it head on in this episode. We talk about the startup hustle, contract distilling, pricing strategies, their 5 year roadmap and more.
- San Francisco World Spirits Competition – https://bourbonpursuit.com/2018/04/12/144-judging-san-francisco-world-spirits-competition-anthony-dias-blue/
- “Bourbon & Thoroughbred Infused” Lean Management Training Certification Course from April 22-23, 2019. http://solarity.com/lean
- Pursuit Spirits on ModernThirst.com. https://modernthirst.com/2019/03/22/pursuit-spirits-video-tasting-with-kenny-of-bourbon-pursuit/
- The week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about Bourbon BBQ potato chips.
- Let’s start from the beginning. Talk about your introduction to bourbon.
- When you first met your wife, were you intimidated?
- What made you want to go down the path of opening a distillery?
- What did you want to change when you got in the bourbon industry?
- How did you get the ball rolling?
- Did everyone think you were crazy?
- How do you outline expectations to investors?
- Do you think it is challenging for someone from outside of Kentucky to build a distillery in Kentucky?
- What was your motivation for building the distillery vs. sourcing?
- Can you disclose who was contract distilling for you?
- How did you come up with your recipe?
- Can you explain the difference between malted grain and a regular grain source?
- How do you know your mash bill will be good years down the road?
- Talk about being added to the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
- Do you think you are beyond being a craft distiller now?
- Do you want to see TTB define the term small batch?
- What are you all doing differently that would entice visitors to come check our Rabbit Hole?
- When people see the name Kaveh Zamanian, do you think the general public has an unfair bias?
- How hard is it to build a brand or story when you had no connection to the industry until recently?
- Since you have a psychology background, can you give us a breakdown of the bourbon consumer?
- Who are your early adopters?
- How do you deal with negative feedback?
- Talk about your pricing strategy?
- How old is most of your whiskey?
- What keeps you from putting the age statement on the bottle?
- How do your products stand out in a crowded market?
- Talk about your relationship with Death & Co.
- Do you think there is any confusion among whiskey geeks about your product being for cocktails vs. sipping neat?
- What story do you want consumer to know when they see your product?
- What are your long term goals for the brand? Any intentions of selling it off?
- Tell us about your roadmap. What is going to be happening with the brand in 5 years?
- What can visitors expect when they visit Rabbit Hole?
- What is your connection with cigars?
- How did you come up with the name Rabbit Hole?
Charbay is changing things up. To be a Master Distiller in the Karakasevic family, you must meet or exceed your predecessors ability. Marko decided to try to make whiskey with a brewer’s key ingredient, hops! However, some folks in the whiskey world don’t think it should classify as one. This podcast digs into his history and what types of beer styles can turn into delicious whiskey.
- The week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- How did your family get started in this business?
- Did you have a choice to not be a distiller?
- What’s an eau de vie?
- Do you clog the still up with hops?
- Is there a breakdown of grains you use in your beer?
- Have you done any experiments with other beers?
- Why do you age in stainless?
- What is the formula approval process like with TTB?
- How many styles are you going to do?
- What is your go to beer style?
- What is your response to people who say Charbay isn’t a true whiskey?
- What do you have aging now?
- What justifies the high price point for you releases?
- Any business growth plans?
- Where does the name Charbay come from?
- Where are you distributed?
Trey Zoeller makes his return and we are also joined by his father, Chet Zoeller. We go back in time, before Jefferson’s Bourbon was established, to see how the Co-Founders sourced whiskey. We look at the current landscape to see if they feel pressure as sourcing becomes much harder when distilleries want to hang on to current stocks and people with deeper pockets enter the industry. We delve into Chet’s past by talking about prohibition era whiskey and ask if he thinks Jefferson’s Ocean is a gimmick. Trey and Chet provide knowledge behind growing a business and making pivots to find new opportunities.
- Join Bourbon Pursuit on March 16th at The Louisville Bourbon Society meeting – http://www.thebourbonsociety.org/
- The week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about getting caught up in the moment.
- Talk about growing up around bourbon.
- What made you think getting into bourbon was going to work?
- Does 25 year old Irish Whiskey take on as much oak as bourbon in the US?
- How did you go about sourcing barrels?
- Chet, talk about your books and how you are a historian.
- Did you think Jefferson’s would be as successful as it is today?
- What roadblocks did you hit?
- Did you feel like you were pricing it too high at first?
- What’s the next big hurdle for bourbon to take over scotch?
- Are many brands underselling themselves today?
- What flavor profile were you aiming for when you started Jefferson’s?
- Did you start off selling in Kentucky only?
- Talk about the first blending experience.
- How did you name Old Iron Skillet?
- Do you have any tips on blending?
- If you tap into a barrel that isn’t good, how can you know it will be better in a few years?
- Tell us about all the moving parts of sourcing whiskey.
- Do you have a turf war problem when sourcing?
- What did you think of Trey’s Ocean experiment. Was it a gimmick?
- Tell us about the double barrel and twin oak.
- Do you think there is an opportunity for line extensions?
- How did the New Orleans experiment turn out?
- Talk about your pet sharks.
Eddie Russell from Wild Turkey needs no introduction. He’s one of the most honest Master Distillers in the industry and tells it like it is. This episode digs into the nuances of the Wild Turkey line up to see if we can figure out what could change. The biggest answer we all want to know is when will there be a barrel proof Russell’s Reserve? Tune in to find out.
- The week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about value whiskey.
- How often are you going to Jimmy with questions?
- Do you feel like you have the job down?
- When you retire do you think you will hang around the distillery like Jimmy?
- Do you feel like you have to work at the distillery?
- Since you travel so much, what airline are you loyal to?
- When you travel, do you wear Wild Turkey gear?
- Are there any travel destinations that have stood out to you?
- Do you get to have any fun when you travel?
- Are there any plans for changing barrel proof entry?
- How can you not get 101 proof out of bourbon that goes in a 110?
- What is the thought process behind where in the rickhouse you place the barrels to age?
- Is 108 your target for Rare Breed?
- How many barrels are being dumped into Rare Breed?
- Talk about the warehouses. Do you see a difference in the whiskey coming out of the brick warehouses?
- How often do you get the chance to take a gamble?
- Do you see 81 still being prevalent in the market place?
- How many more derivatives do you think you can do?
- Are you wanting to bring in another recipe?
- Will we ever see a barrel strength Russell’s Reserve?
- Do you enjoy picking barrels with consumers?
- Talk about the proof difference between Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit and Russell’s Reserve.
- Tell us about the partnership with Matthew McConaughey.
- Is it a goal to bring back the 8-year-old age statement?
We have both Masters from Michter’s today. Andrea Wilson was a guest back on Episode 47, and she makes her return with a new role as Master of Maturation. We dig into chemical compounds and wood effects on their bourbon. In addition, we have Pam Heilmann, the current Master Distiller, and we talk about her past at the Booker Noe plant and what they are doing at Michter’s. We touch on the new Fort Nelson Distillery and dive into the topics the whiskey geeks care about like limited high age expressions, barrel proof releases, and if could we ever expect to see a single barrel program? Listen to all of our Michter’s podcasts at https://bourbonpursuit.com/michters-podcasts/
- Buffalo Trace’s Virtual Reality Tour
- Conor O’Driscoll Joins Heaven Hill Distillery as Fifth Master Distiller
- Pursuit Series Episodes 3 through 7 are available for purchase. Visit https://pursuitspirits.com/episodes/
- The week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about Bourbon and teething.
- What does Master of Maturation mean?
- How did you get into whiskey?
- What’s a relief supervisor?
- Can you train your palate or is it a natural ability?
- Is the tasting panel the best job?
- What are the engineers bringing to the table?
- How much still time do you have?
- Is Willie Pratt still in the picture?
- What does toasted mean?
- Why don’t you make barrel strength bourbon all the time?
- Why hasn’t Michter’s started a single barrel program?
- How long have you been distilling here?
- What is your plan for your distillate?
- Was there some fine tuning performed on the still?
- Are you just making Bourbon? Or are you making Rye, Malt, anything else?
- Tell us about the Shenk’s and Bomberger’s lines.
- Are you all looking forward to the new visitor experience?
Jim Rutledge is a household name in bourbon because his wealth of knowledge is unsurpassed and famed history of reviving Four Roses. We talk about those days and ask him why he really left something so great. But, there’s a new chapter to write! This week his TTB label for a revival of an old brand, Cream of Kentucky, was approved. We talk about this bourbon, where it’s headed, as well as the entire industry on this new exclusive episode.
This weeks Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about the importance of social media and online forums by whiskey geeks.
New TTB Laws wrap-up by Sku on K&L wines blog. https://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2018/12/3/ttb-proposes-new-regulations-modernizing-alcohol-labeling
Rewind us back to your retirement because it seemed like you didn’t want to stay retired for long
What’s your involvement at Castle and key?
Whatever happened to that rye?
Did you see a different passion at Castle & Key while it was building vs Four Roses that was a well-oiled engine?
What sort of corners were being cut at Seagrams at the time when you were trying to turn it around?
Talk about rebuilding the brand of Four Roses through acquisition, fighting, and more.
Be straight. Why did you leave Four Roses?
Did you stand up a lot to upper management?
It sounded like Four Roses was family. So why leave?
Is it hard to work at a distillery where you’re only filling 3 barrels a day?
Did you hire Brent Elliott?
What was your relationship with Brent while at Four Roses?
How does one go about becoming your #2?
Talk about funding and how to raise money to build a distillery?
Talk about Cream of Kentucky and the history of the label
Cream of Kentucky TTB filing – https://www.ttbonline.gov/colasonline/viewColaDetails.do?action=publicFormDisplay&ttbid=18325001000092
Where is the growth going to be for this particular label?
Where do you see the American whiskey category trending over the next 5 years?
175 – Turkey Family Tradition with Jimmy Russell, Eddie Russell, Bruce Russell, and JoAnn Street of Wild Turkey
- Our first barrel pick for 2019 is going to be Buffalo Trace. View all of our barrel picks at https://www.patreon.com/bourbonpursuit
- Fred published his article in Forbes for the 2018 best American Whiskey every day sipper.
- Fred does Instagram Live for Best of 2018
- Fred talks about his holiday gift guide on Forbes and why it was really hard to coming up new pairings in this week’s Above the Char – https://www.forbes.com/sites/fredminnick/2018/11/13/holiday-gift-guide-2018-the-most-money-minded-bourbons/
- Bruce, they are really pressuring you to move back soon
- Bruce, remember that panel we were on together?
- Are you excited to have Bruce back Eddie?
- Jimmy, how old were you when you started at the distillery?
- What has changed from the operations standpoint from when you first started?
- Have you all done recently to certify your warehouses or check them out after the Barton incident?
- Jimmy when you were coming up the ranks, federal government would check everything. Not so much anymore
- Do you think the distilling industry misses the oversight of the government?
- What does “Master Distiller” mean to you, Eddie?
- What about the flip side that a “Master Distiller” is just a marketer now?
- You did have to change the entry proof at one time. Was that corporate pressure?
- Why does some proof go down vs go up in some warehouses?
- When people come in for a visit, do they want that level of detail?
- Do you read your Yelp reviews?
- Is the bartending community the gate to your future?
- What’s the worst part about signing bottles?
- Where do you see barrel finishes in the Wild Turkey line since the last Master’s Keep was finished?
- It seems like a lot of flavored whiskeys have died down over time
- Why are we still not experimenting with different mashes?
- Bruce, you’re trying to revive the rye. talk about that.
- Are you a scotch person?
- Jimmy, what have you learned by the younger generations?
- From RareBird101, what’s your honest opinion on the new Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit bottle?
- So why isn’t the top level listening to you?
- Choose an individual and take one word that embodies the person
- View all Wild Turkey Podcasts
167 – EXCLUSIVE: 2018 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame featuring Freddie Johnson, Matt Shattock, Pearse Lyons, and Max Shapira
- This week’s Above the Char has Fred Minnick discussing friendships and choosing that right bottle to celebrate
- The show starts off interviewing Fred Noe, Freddie Noe, and Matt Shattock of Jim Beam on the red carpet
- Transitions to the ceremony where Eric Gregory, President of the KDA, introduces everyone
- Louisville Mayor, Greg Fisher, gives an introduction of Matt Shattock
- Matt’s speech is delivered unedited
- We transition back out to the red carpet to interview Freddie Johnson
- The ceremony then kicks off with Eric Gregory talking about Freddie’s history
- A.J. Hochhalter, Film Producer of NEAT, introduces Freddie
- Freddie delivers his speech and talks about his dad and family – completely unedited
- The red carpet is alive once again talking to Mark Coffman, Master Distiller at Town Branch
- The ceremony resumes with Eric Gregory giving a history of Dr. Pearse Lyons of Alltech
- A short story from Jerry Summers, HOF 2017 inductee, about Pearse Lyons
- The final red carpet appearance features Andy Shapira talking about his father Max, as well as Larry Kass with a brief history of Rittenhouse 21-25 year single barrels
- The ceremony begins the wrap up with Eric Gregory giving Max Shapira’s resume
- Donn Lux, Chairman and President of Luxco, shares some funny stories of Max’s attention to the bottom line
- Max Shapira talks about his family, the history of Heaven Hill, and that growth will continue
- Listen to all of our Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Town Branch, and Beam podcasts
Why there is an extra L in Barrell Bourbon? Well, today we find out. Joe Beatrice and Tripp Stimson join us to talk about all things Barrell and how this brand is really one for the bourbon geeks with unfiltered barrel proof expressions. We then dive into the newest releases of the Infinite Barrel Project and talk about their plans for sourcing, distilling and blending as they have made Louisville KY their headquarters.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about sexism with Master Distillers.
- Do you remember you first bottle of bourbon or first memory with it?
- Talk about the history of Barrell. Why did you want to start it?
- What is it about barrel proof that consumers like over 90 or 100 proof?
- Would you rather blend than distill?
- What’s the size of a Barrell batch?
- Which do you think is harder because we’ve had both master distillers and master blenders on the show?
- How does scale play into this bringing in more barrels?
- What’s the release schedule and idea about numbering the batches?
- Why is there an extra L?
- Give us a run down of the line up products you offer
- Why rum?
- New year edition. Let’s talk about what this is all about.
- The Infinite Barrel Project is super unique.
- Why keep doing new ideas and not sticking with the staples?
- Tripp are there any ideas that Joe comes up with and you’re like “this is never going to work”?
- What’s a rejected idea?
- Are you able to continually able to source good whiskey and are you able to turn it away?
- Talk about the operation now. Are are you contract distilling? straight sourcing? bottling?
- So are you itching to start distilling?
- Why distill when you haven’t had a problem getting barrels before?
- Would you take your own distillate and mix from sourced goods?
- Why build a distillery that’s a pure factory that doesn’t look at making it a tourist destination?
- Why Louisville? You can build a distillery anywhere.
- What about storage? I know you’re at Castle and Key right now but where can you go?
- Do you think you started a revolution of brands following suit?