What can you say, sitting down with the Noe family is always a treat. Fred Noe, Master Distiller at Jim Beam, and Freddie Noe, 8th Generation Distiller, are about as genuine and real as it comes. This show takes a bunch of turns. We talk about the new Fred B. Noe Distillery where new projects and small batch blends will take place, Legent, Little Book, and… we ask Fred Noe if he’s ready to retire. You’ll love his response.
- You can now buy Barrell Craft Spirits products online and have them shipped right to your door. Visit BarrellBourbon.com and click Buy Now.
- Receive $25 off your first order at RackHouse Whiskey Club with code “Pursuit”. Visit RackhouseWhiskeyClub.com.
- This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about Weller.
- Tell us about the property.
- What are your plans for growth?
- What are the plans for the Fred B. Noe Distillery?
- How did you get interested in blended whiskies?
- What’s the hardest part about blending?
- Fred, what was your past blending experience?
- What did you learn when creating Legent?
- How long was the creation process for Legent?
- Where did you disagree in the process?
- What kind of ideas do you have for the new distillery?
- Do you like focusing on consistency or innovating?
- Will Little Book always be a blended product?
- Did you always want to be part of the family business?
- Fred, are you ready to retire?
- Talk about the ham house.
- Any hobbies outside of bourbon?
So if we’re going to do any innovation from was putting knob Creek on it, it needs to be in that knob Creek family you can’t go off and have a run punch knob Creek. You know, who knows?
Welcome back everybody it’s Episode 254 of bourbon pursuit. I’m one of your hosts Kenny, and let’s talk about some new releases. We have touched down in Texas. Yes, our first release of pursuit series is now available in five different specs retailers across the entire state. Episode 26 is a 15 year old Tennessee bourbon, our tasting notes, our brown sugar churros with a chocolate caramel dipping sauce. It’s got me thinking about dessert already. So listen up because there’s only five stores carrying Episode 26 across Texas and it’s only expected Retailers so you’ve got Dallas at 9500 North Central expressway in Fort Worth at 2750 South keulen Street, Austin, Texas 4970 West highway 920 San Antonio at 5219 does avala and Houston at 2410 Smith Street. Happy Hunting Texans with more pursuit series news Episode 24 and 25 are now available on seal box comm if you’re looking to get your hands on another bourbon with a high h demon, Episode 24 is another 15 year old release that can be shipped nationwide. This one it’s all chocolate milk. I know many of you are looking for something super unique and we also have a weeded bourbon from Finger Lakes distilling and which is our episode 25. Our last two barrels from Finger Lakes wet quick so we’re excited to bring another one to you. So go to seal box comm search for pursuit or you can go to pursuit spirits calm and click the Buy Now button on Our website we also have some other single barrel picks coming in our 17 men to foolproof and to Buffalo Trace barrels will be landing very soon, so heads up to our Patreon community and pay attention to your emails when they start rolling in. And other release news Wild Turkey has announced that they are releasing a 17 year old bottled in bond under the Masters keep label. The Masters keep bottled and bond will be a limited release with approximately 14,400 bottles with a suggested retail price of $175. On the trade of new releases, the TTB has approved over 180,000 products over the last 12 months through April of 2020 which is about an increase of 5.1% over last year, around 8700 labels in beer there are around 42,000 products that were approved in the last 12 months. Wine 120,000 in spirits 17 point 4000 however, the one that has The biggest gainer is actually spirits because in beer, the last three months there was only 10 and a half thousand which is actually 21% less than last year. And wine there were there almost 30,000 over the last three months with is 22% less than last year, and then spirits by about 4.7 thousand over the last three months, which is an 11.3% increase over last year. Now let’s talk about some industry news. Earlier this year the Indiana alcohol and tobacco commission denied total wine a liquor license in the state because it does not meet the state’s residency minimum requirements. Under current state law, at least 60% of a company’s common stock must be owned by people who have lived in Indiana for five years. In true total wine style. The retailer promptly filed lawsuit against the agency and bit based on the Supreme Court opinions on Granholm and total wine versus Tennessee. The district court’s decision will grant to the retailer’s preliminary injunction prohibiting state from enforcing its residency requirement. This is again one more Domino to fall where we will soon see more interstate commerce law start lifting. And for today’s podcast, what can you say? sitting down with the nose, it’s always a treat Fred and Freddy note are about as genuine and as real as it comes in the show. It’s gonna take a bunch of turns. We talk about the Fred Dino distillery legend, little book blending. And we asked Fred No, catch this one. If he’s ready to retire. I think you might be shocked at his answer, and we’re not going to give it away. All right, so Joe from barrel bourbon wants you to know that it’s gotten a whole lot easier to get their unique cat strength whiskies from around the world. Just visit barrel bourbon, calm today, and click the Buy Now button. Up next we got Fred minich with above the char, so continue to stay safe and enjoy the show.
I’m Fred Minnick. And this is above the char Oh, I opened my email with excitement when I saw that headline, new welder single barrel. Oh boy have we been waiting on this one? Have we known about it for so long and wanted to see that press release and see the price on and how it would be distributed and where? how we could get it. Oh, I couldn’t wait to read about it. It was a few paragraphs long. And you know it said MSRP of 4999. Now, listen, I love weather. I love weather weather is probably I think the most successful product line and all of bourbon you got a special reserve allocated? Well our 107 antique allocated well a 12 year old allocated well our foolproof allocated, William LaRue Weller super allocated and every single one of those over the course of my career has had 90 points or higher from me and they’re all typically quite delicious and those that aren’t supremely delicious are better than Pretty much just about everything else in their category. So it’s it’s a great line of whiskey and Buffalo Trace does such an amazing job there whiskies so good. But the fact of the matter is, as soon as that gets into stores, that MSRP of 4999 will be shot all to hell by household retailers who want to mark it up for 100% by flippers who go in and buy a bottle and find somebody on the internet Who will pay two $300 for it. I know there’s no easy way to do this. And I know Buffalo Trace really, really does hope that you you the bourbon fan can be that one person who gets it for 4999 and they think that this is the way to keep everybody engaged and hope that that price keeps them coming back for more. But we got to be realistic. These SRP s For whiskey, that’s so great. So great. They’re just they’re just not. They’re just not there. I would love to be able to pay $50 for this whiskey, I really would. But the fact of the matter is, I would be willing to pay far more. And I don’t know this. I don’t know this. And the reason why I say the reason to say I’d be willing to I’d love to buy it at that SRP. Don’t get me wrong. But I wonder if if they raise the SRP, just enough to cartel the retailers from increasing it from 4999 to 100. Or if it was just enough to cut into the profit margins of a flipper. I wonder if that would stop some of it. Now, I don’t know it’s all based on consumer behavior. And right now we’re all acting very differently. So maybe this is the one time because of the virus, maybe this is the one time we will actually see a suggested retail price of a Weller be just that on the shelf. And you know, if there’s anything good come from a pandemic, which few and far between, maybe that’s at least one positive we can take out of it. Now, not even that it’s that positive, because still, we’re in a friggin pandemic. And that sucks. But I do hope that you can find it on the shelf at your local retailer for 4999. And if you do find one of those, if there’s two bottles there, grab both of them. Call me and I’ll get the other one from you. And that’s this week’s above the char. Hey, I’ve got some great news. I’m so excited about this while the pandemic has taken away 100% of my live events, I mean, bourbon and beyond gone, all these private tastings I’ve had gone. I now have a way to book me for private tastings. Go to Fred MiniK Topeka dot live. That’s Fred MiniK dot Topeka dot live and you You can book me for a private tasting. I’ve also got a regular Lecture Series setup, called bourbon revealed. The history myths and scams. So if you wanna learn about bourbon scams, go check it out. But that’s this week’s above the char Until next week, cheers.
Welcome back to episode of bourbon pursuit, the official podcast of bourbon. Kinney and Ryan headed down to Claremont, Kentucky today, sitting in an office that we’ve we’ve been familiar with before, we had an opportunity to sit with this master distiller one previous time on the podcast, but now we got him and his son on here, the next in line, hopefully to take over the throne. But, you know, this is also an opportunity that first time we’ve had one of these people on the guests or on on the podcast, but you’ve also had a history with one of our guests as well, too.
I guess you said yeah, we were. Well, we play football together basketball. went to the same high school. I’m a little older, he’s probably more mature than I
but yeah I was good sharing some funny stories about football and stuff so now I’m happy to see Friday It’s been a while so I always forget out great the view as to when we come here like I mean when Do y’all ever just walk out you’re like damn you know oh amazing but
sit on the front porch a lot. Yeah, I just want to get away from emails Squadron sit. Yeah, marinate. I see what’s going on. Because when the sun shining and it’s
nice. Yeah, so
super camera row, you’ll see a lot of photos or just random sunsets or sunrises here just because you know, sometimes you come in and you just kind of takes your breath because like you say, sometimes you take it for granted even Oh, now you know being here every day.
Well, yeah, when I grew up here, you drive to 45 Volvo and you like, Don’t even think twice about Bernheim forest or anything now I’m like looking at it’s like it’s this magical place. Go see the
So you’ve heard their voices now. So today on the show, we have Fred and Freddie no master distiller And the in training, if you will to be taken over there one day of Jim Beam. So fellas again, Fred, welcome back, Freddie. Glad to have you on back. Yeah. So yeah, I kind of want to talk about that view a little bit more too because I think it’s something that is kind of wrong. You kind of put it the best way to kind of like takes your breath away a little bit. You know, you probably it’s one of those things that it might be in your backyard. You only think about it, you know, even being in Louisville. everybody’s like, Oh, we think a slugger museum and like, I’ve probably been there since I was to grade school. Almost like you just don’t think about it when it’s in your backyard. But it’s it’s awesome to finally like come up here and you said probably after that day, you just kind of go out there. Pour soft glass and kick it in the rock or something like that.
Absolutely. It’s perfect spot and I want to set up my office up here. As I
hit that watering hole, you know, after hours.
I used to be in the basement with no windows where
maybe they figured they’d kept me in jail long enough. It was time to turn me loose.
Yes. Let you see the light When did when did that happen? One of the we’re like we’re because so anybody that’s unfamiliar with the grounds, the visitor centers.
The caddy corner to this bigger White House that you see over here. Where was the when did the move happen? Well, in 2012, we opened the steel house, and our Chief Marketing Officer at the time, I thought that I should be closer to the visitors because he’d saw my interaction with people just walking around. And he said, we need to get your work closer to the folks that are coming out of season. Why don’t we put your office in the beam house, which is kind of ironic. Baker beam, my cousin gave me a picture of me in the same room where I am where my office is, when I was two years old, sitting in my dad’s lap with my mom. So it was kind of he said, You’re coming home full circle, and I’ll come right back to where I was when I was two years old. And actually my dad sits just about where that easy chair was Booker was sitting in and we have here real close and being Baker actually lived here. This house he was the last beam family member and we turned it into offices and conference room upstairs. So in 2012 mobs came from down below the hill to the top of the hill. So
my vote would have been the knob Creek house, you know, to like get away from everyone get a
nice view when they when they redid the house up there. Yeah, I saw be my office. I said we’ll never find you.
You’re on down.
That’s the point. Yeah,
well, so I guess I don’t really know about the knob Creek house. So where is the knob Creek couser. I’m assuming it’s by knob Creek, but
no, actually, it’s on the property here at Claremont. And it’s kind of funny how we acquired it. We went into it. It was owned by the everbank family, which owned the Cadillac Dealer in Louisville back when Jim Beam was was still running the distillery and I guess they had signed a some kind of agreement that we could utilize that water source. There’s a lake back there. Use that water source when we needed it for distillation purposes and somewhere that had gotten lost and so in the was it early 90s I think is like 92 or 93. We ended up buying this property to gain access to the water. And then through purchasing it we actually found out that we already had right of use of the water. So we didn’t nearly need the property after all, but the knob Creek team put up some money to redo the house. The house was kind of falling down, because like I said, we were there for just the water. And now it’s kind of turned into kind of a little getaway place. We’ve got up on the hillside on the other Hill, we’re on one Hill. If you go back down to planting up on the other side,
it was the White House on Yeah, they’re on. They’re on Airbnb. So it’s a pretty cool place. It’s got a nice Lake there in the back. It’s up, as we say kind of up in the holler. So there’s not much. Not much going on up there. Dad’s kind of got a little funny story about some people that stayed it’s kind of good. I want her to hear this. I want her to complaint, you know and the whole time as we let Customers are coming in to purchase barrels or you know just coming to visit the client to stay there it’s a three bedroom house and there was a group from New York bar owners and went up and visited them and they got him settled in and live next morning and came to the office as How was it? I don’t know man sir. is too dark and too quiet. I
guess if you come from man had like good like sound machines have their
sleep in New York they used to yeah horns and he has a discerns and then up there there’s no streetlights Yeah, so I mean you know the dark when the sun goes down, it’s dark. I said well, we could had a lot of fun with him. We just snuck up burned picked on the wind. It’s funny say the banjo in the background or something.
Really get them scared,
right? Fair enough as it was it sounded like but
you know, I’ll have to read the review on Airbnb. Great place Lake but to quiet.
Three and a half, three and a half star
So the other thing I want to talk about the property alone, I mean, the bourbon boom is still growing. You all are still building warehouses. I mean, I used to drive by here going to Bardstown quite a bit in the past year, and you would be able to see there was you could see the skeleton growing outside of the warehouse. That was you could just see going down towards Bardstown. What are you all seeing right now with the growth in regards of like, are you able to still acquire more property around you? Or is it just kind of like hey, we’ve just got to make use of what we have right now.
We’re making use of what we have but we’re always looking with burn arm fours burner neighbor we’re kind of you know, there’s no way we’re gonna get put warehouses over there but we’re looking for joining property we can find any for possible growth in the future
with promise there’s no flat ground here. There really
isn’t a lot of waiting to get young.
I saw Yeah, I saw the you know, they’re knocking out some limestone up there. Does that for another warehouse sir.
That’s actually where the Fred B no craft distillery is gonna go. That call the new distillery is going to be going there we’re getting some dirt work moving. But you know his point of Burnham actually they bought some land behind us here as well. So we’re kind of surrounded on on two sides by Burnham which I mean you know all their conservation work so it’s great for us as for our watershed to be able to have such great neighbors but it does from time to time kinda with no I mean there’s just no land really available around us it’s all kind of you know, bought up or housing has kind of come around a little bit as well. But luckily we do have a little bit of space at Boston where we can continue to put some new warehouses so all is good for now it beam we’ll see how it goes in the future because you know, land is a very valuable commodity if we need to keep expanding warehouses.
I know it’s harder one of the things to actually plan out if somebody was in the land or like Okay, now we’re making pay top dollars, right?
real bad, right? Yeah.
Oh, yeah. That’s running here. We want it Yeah.
Nobody cared about this stuff. for 20 years now they want the this land.
Well, it is funny even you know, we talk About the price of land around here and we’re like, oh man, but the people in California, New York, they’re like, what you pay? You pay? What? For? What? Yeah.
13,000 an acre. It sounds
crazy. Yeah, that sounds it sounds too cheap. They’re like, yeah, they pay that in a mortgage for one month or something like that was some of the places some, so it kind of talks about about the Fred Urbino distillery, like what’s what’s the grand plans for it? You know, what’s the what’s the idea for it?
Yeah, I guess I’ll kind of start on that one. It was an idea that I had had, I guess really, as as I was working on little book, and really getting into kind of product development. I noticed that you know, with blending, there’s so many different aspects that you can go into, and drive different flavor through bringing these different streams together. And so as I was actually sharing the first batch of little book, coincidentally at my grandmother’s bereavement, actually, our CEO would come down and we just chat and you know, after it was over, and he says anything on your mind. I said, you know, I’d really like to have a small distillery where we could do some experimentation, whether it be through mash bill through operating parameters, different barrel lengths, things like that on a smaller on a smaller scale. And so I let him taste a little book as kind of a teaser there to say, Hey, you know, this is kind of some of the things we could maybe come up with. And so that’s kind of how it got going. And it’s kind of evolved over time as it’s been probably about a four year process of us getting kind of locked into what a where we want it down there at the bottom of the hill now. And then kind of what what it was going to serve its purpose and so we’re going to be pulling into Booker’s and bakers production. And kind of basically anything that is in our small batch or super premium category will be made in this distillery once we get it up and going, but it’s also going to serve as kind of a playground as he said a couple of times for myself and some of our r&d team to really get in there. And, and for me, it’s a lot about Learning about our current whisky even, you know, having the opportunity to get in there and put, you know, new probes and things like that, as you expand distilleries, a lot of times your your app or experimentation kind of goes to the wayside. And it’s more about production needs,
and that and consistency, and I think that
you’re exactly right quality and consistency. And so being able to kind of step back, almost kind of start at a smaller scale and be inefficient on purpose to where we can
actually screw up. Yes, right. And your work, you know,
you know, and that’s kind of how I pitched it as we kind of got into some of the meetings was Hey, you know, I could make some of these adjustments in the distillery today, but when you all get a phone call and see the amount of gallons that I’ve, you know, made an adjustment just to see what would happen, whether it’d be a good or a bad thing you know,
know that all right, this
one thing quite turn out right? We have to scrap it. What
exactly so given us a good opportunity to be able to explore a lot further as as we try to look to expand the American whiskey agree
that was actually just kind of answered my next question because I was about to ask like, Why couldn’t you just experiment with something else at this? And then you just said it’s basically because of the larger production. So if you want to change a different ratio of the corn to the rye or anything like that, then you’re not everything. Oh, yeah, you’re kind of stuck with it for the next x to the X amount of years. Right?
You’re exactly right. I think a lot of it comes down to having that smaller batch size to be able to do some of those things, whether it’s tweaking the grain, or even, you know, we have a lot of unique vessels in our distillation system. We utilize some of them, we take some of them offline for some of our products. But as you say, it is today’s time if I want to do a just that, you know, for Booker’s, we bypass a retention tank. If I wanted to bypass the retention take in something else, essentially, I haven’t been making Booker’s it’s an experiment. And we’re pretty tight on still time. As you know, bourbon is just can’t make enough of it. So really, those experiments can can be counterproductive, even if it do you do. Hit on Something good, you know, because you’re missing regular production to do these things. Yeah.
So Fred, what do you think about that? Are you like, I think it’s not broke, don’t screw it up.
What are you doing? Either you have to my dad, he was always tinkering with stuff. Yeah, over to Boston plant over there, you know, in the book or no plant. You know, it was funny watching him, you know, Chicago folks would come down, they always visited Claremont. This is where the conference rooms were, this is where the bottling was. So over there and he always kind of called them in Siberia. I can do whatever I want to do. And the people from the house of knowledge as he used to call it, they didn’t know what I was doing so he could he could tweak things and do things like Freddie’s talking, and they never knew so he could make something and ease it right in and try different things. And nobody you know, ever knew but now everything is so allocated and steel time is so tight because you know, in the 70s they shut the Boston plan down so you know, they didn’t really need the Liquid as much as we do today. Every hour is money big time. We need whatever we’re making there. Now Freddie can play and do some stuff and that’s when he took the ball and ran with it. There’s a lot of people been trying to get this craft distillery for several years. But when he brought it up to Matt Shattuck, our former CEO, Matt jumped on it immediately. Then he goes back to as I called it, the house of knowledge and said, we would like to do this and all of a sudden, all this interest became Okay, we’re gonna do it. You know,
Freddie, where did you get the interest for blended whiskies? What was that? What draw drew you to that?
It’s kind of crazy. I’ve thought about it probably 1000 over 1000 times with like, when I like it came to me. I don’t remember talking about it. Now I don’t need I was gonna say I was gonna ask you to blend in but
we won’t talk to one
whatever. You can find it the Time, right?
No, you know, I guess in reality just through learning in the distillery, you know, I don’t recall if it was even before I came to the distillery, but I know as I had an internship, right as I was probably about a year and a half before I was finishing up College, where I went around to each department in the distillery or in the facility, not just the distillery, they’re bottling and everything shipping. And it was kind of during that time that the the idea came to me because you know, I had had a beat in my head we use corn, rye and malted barley for Jim Beam. So from a very young kid, I knew those three grains were what made the liquid of Jim Beam. But so as I got into distilling and learning, I just kind of took me to if you took corn, whiskey rye whiskey and malt whiskey, individually and then blended them to those mash bill percentages. My thoughts were at four years old, what it tastes like Jim Beam or what it tastes like something not even close to bourbon, even though you’re utilizing the same grains and so we’re That’s where it kind of started thing. And so at the end of that internship went back to school. I just remember thinking about that and thinking, I’m not gonna ask anybody this question. So I don’t feel like a dumb man. Because I didn’t know you know, I mean, I was like, is this a stupid question? The hell? I wouldn’t know. Right? So I got a chance later to do an internship with our r&d team. And really, really, it was about me getting in there and learning their processes and how they affect our our day to day business. And they kind of pitched to me to come up with a couple of prototype liquids while I was there. One of them I don’t really like to talk about, but it’s kind of funny. Let’s Let’s hear it. Okay. I will go on and bring it out. The best part about it listen to these things are things that just no lighter. Yeah, right. So I tell it from time to time, but not too much. But so they said we want you to before you go back to the plant, I want you to kind of act as an r&d product developer, and pitch to us two different prototype liquids. And they gave me a couple of rules. One of them could be a bourbon or a whiskey. And the other one could not be. So I couldn’t just do to you know, I couldn’t just go get a six year old and a nine year old and say, Oh, this is two new whiskies that aren’t out on the market. And then one of them because I had been working with flavoring, you know, we at Pinnacle vodka was very popular at that time. So we were working on a lot of different flavors in that aspect. So a lot of my time was working with them as well learning what they do. So they had pitched it as one of them could be a bourbon, one of them couldn’t. And one of them needed to have some type of flavoring to it. So I went to work on which also makes sense because even like the apple and everything like that they’re very popular absolute drinks out there for a lot of the consumers. Absolutely. So I, you know, me being me, I guess I wanted to knock out both of those rules on one so I could focus on the other and do exactly what I wanted.
Fred is this is this, just another shortcut that he’s just taken? Is that what this is I get to go
back a long road versus Short road he’s gonna take it which is that’s good. It was much like his grandfather. I see a lot of booger in Freddy. It’s a It’s amazing. So you know, as a kid I liked Hawaiian Punch juicy red juice. Oh, I think everybody loved
But so i thought you know, we go to the beach every year for vacation, I thought if I could develop a liquid that I could just sip on the rocks or even if you just put it in a cooler and chilled it and just drink it neat. You know, I like fruity cocktails on the beach from time to time. It’s nice and nice and warm out. So I thought I’m going to create this. I called it rum punch and it was going to be juicy red juice flavored
romaine. I thought you’re gonna say push up.
Close, but not quite. It’s a Howard’s down drink. Yeah. So I went to work on that. And dad was there. This is where it was interesting. So as I’m getting ready, do my presentation. They’re like, Oh, we invited your dad and I think even the plant manager to come see your presentation because I was presenting the sounds like great. Not only did I work on Something with flavors and kind of rum. They invited my dad to taste the same thing. But so that one that one wasn’t very good. It didn’t taste anything like Hawaiian Punch juicy red juice. And I wouldn’t I don’t know that anybody’s even sipped I’ve still got the sample bottle at home. I don’t know if anybody’s even tried it since I
since I made it. What did it turn out to be like? What did it actually taste like?
It didn’t taste it kind of tastes like fruit punch a little bit. Just a boozy fruit. It was kind of a boozy fruit punch
wasn’t before your time like now the ready to drink category is booming right now so maybe it’s just a few years too early
to revisit exactly one of our marketing guys gives me some some shit I guess he’ll say you know because he talks about a little bit he’s like your next products going to be that that room punch I promise you we’re gonna make sure that’s the next probably you and i t shirt. Don’t give him any more. I got plenty on his own. But so that’s kind of I thought, you know, got that one out of the way. I will Walking around up there to the lab and I seen some samples of four year old corn whiskey. Obviously we had four year old rye whiskey. And that’s kind of where that thought really sparked in my head was I’m gonna try this blend that I have been thinking about, that hadn’t really talked to anybody about. And so that’s kind of how it started. I created what I call it was Jim being blended. And it was a four year old corn whiskey blended with a four year old rye whiskey and a four year old malt whiskey blended back to the percentage, the Jim Beam Asheville. It wasn’t very good either. It was very corn forward, you know, it’s organic, right? In theory that Yeah, early and today I was excited. And, you know, to be dabbling in blending. I already had a good idea, you know, with the mash bill percentages, that I was going to do the certain percentages. So it was a little bit simpler than that. And then some of my blending has become as I’ve worked on little book, but it really opened my eyes because that one wasn’t that great. But I tweaked it a little bit as I was in the lecture. Just to see if there was any differences as you change and that’s really what sparked my interest in blending was getting in there and, and traveling something that I had kind of had in my head and was really honestly a little worried to share it because I thought it might be a stupid question, you know, but I kind of come to learn that there’s there’s not a lot of stupid questions sometimes. The most simple question can lead you to some great things. What’s her
what’s kinda like the hardest part about blending that you’ve really found out? Like, is it just trying something you’re like, it’s gonna work I’ll get a bunch of wasted product like what’s what’s the hardest part you figured out about blending so far?
I guess the for me the hardest part is, or I guess the most challenging would be, you know, if you’ve got four liquids and you put them at 25% each, by doubling up on one or you know, doubling a little bit, not doubling but adding a little bit more say 10% more of another and dropping percentages. It’s not as apples to apples as the flavor being closer to the original one stream. As those liquids kind of mingled together. They really take on different For an identity, and I think that’s where I thought blending, you know, if if I like this at 20%, if I add 23%, and I’m looking to get a, say a longer finish, and I know the other two liquids I’m using or three liquids I’m using have a shorter finish. You know, sometimes you think by adding more of the one that is giving the attributes, you think it actually throws the whole blend out of balance, and has negative aspects of it. The one good thing is you get to taste a lot of samples. And when you’re blending, as I say, with with straight whiskies or straight spirits that that are phenomenal on their own, it’s, it’s kind of hard to say that it’s a bad blend, it’s just maybe not the exact direction you want to go. So I get a taste a lot of good samples. But I think the challenging part is, when you have an idea or you’re trying to hit on something, whether it be like I said, a longer finish or maybe a little more aroma on the nose. Getting to those places from where you are is a lot more challenging than just maybe adding a couple more drops of this or that and
go ahead I was gonna say After you come up with the kind of your blend and it’s like nail, you’re like this is awesome in the tube. But then like, does that always translate to a bigger batch you know, Are there times when they get bigger like this did not turn out like they always tell us every barrel is a little bit different
it is you know, and I think we do a really good job after I’ve gotten to a prototype in my my test tube there, we’ll go out and get some more samples of different barrels from the same lots that I’ll be utilizing for a little book or whatever we’re working on, just to make sure that because when we’re doing a small blend, you could go get one barrel of each liquid, and you could blend for months because you know, it’s just one barrel. So a lot of liquids there and you’re only blending in a lot of times, maybe 3753 or 750 ml sizes, so there’s a lot of whiskey. So going back and then picking different barrels from that same area or same date that it was distilled, just to make sure it’s hitting those profiles. So before I finalize, we make sure that the liquids are going to be variable Similar. And then of course, at the end, if when we’re dumping for bottling knock on wood, it hasn’t happened yet. But for the first three little books, each of them was was very similar and aligned with the profile that I was looking for. But we’ll see how that continues to go because we do keep reserved barrels just think I never tried to use every single barrel because if you want to make a little tweak, and you’ve already dumped every barrel, you’re kind of kind of pigeon holed there. So hopefully, like I said, knock on wood that our process continues to go as it does. But as you said it every barrel is a little bit different No matter if they’re side by Saturday and totally different warehouses. So it’s, it’s that’s kind of where the art comes into it a lot, for sure. And so Fred, part of this is, you know, what was your kind of like past blending experience? I mean, is it if you try to recreate something that Freddie’s doing here, have you been focused on like, production operation and stuff like that, rather than sitting here and saying, like, okay, let’s start blending a lot of different products to see if we can make something new. Well, we you know, we mingled a lot is funny. We don’t blend we mingle when Freddie got into the blending has no that was always a curse word in bourbon. Yes. You know until a little book, you know, he really crawls the path that got people thinking about blending in bourbon because, you know, when you say blended in this state, you start thinking about great neutral spirits and colors and flavors, which that’s not bourbon. But when we had the Suntory acquisition, I was tasked and it was actually after Freddie had done his first version of little book to work with Cindy the chief Blender from Suntory to bring east and west together. So we actually blended and created the product Legion, which it was essentially was doing the same thing dad did, we’re finishing bourbon in secondary barrels and then taking those fluids and putting them together. So that’s where we kind of dip my toes in, in the blending but we were tasked For the from the CEO of Suntory. And that’s what they wanted us to do to bring the two cultures together. And it was a learning experience for me. First we had to learn to be able to understand each other are
very, very different. You have a translator between you too,
like no, we used to, I guess our eyes when we tasted, you can look at each other’s eyes and tell he speaks much better English than I do Japanese.
So mostly it was Cindy trying to figure out what I was saying. And then sometimes when we get on conference calls, I didn’t have a clue what it was okay, whatever you say Sanjay and he was sent samples, and we would get together whenever he was here in the States. or whenever I was in Japan, we would sit and just taste, taste, taste, taste, taste, and it was a it was a learning experience for me, but I kind of saw what Freddie did with his little book because the variant just a little bit more of this and a little bit less than that. It can change it dramatically. Also, the mingling in the tank, just because it tastes like this today, it doesn’t mean it’s gonna taste like that tomorrow because we did sign with Legion we would taste and then the next day we taste it was wait a minute didn’t taste the same. So the mingling together after you blended the fluids, so we’ve got tanks that we built specially for this product down here and it’s got a slow row agitation in it. So that mix it up and we don’t just mix it, blend it and bottle it we make sure it sits in this tank in the tank never goes dry. Some of the techniques that Cinzia uses in Japan, which over here for four, we fill the tank with liquid, we ran it dry and then we came back and did it again. We never left heels as we called it in there and dumped it on top of them.
I mean is that the same thing as considering like the selection method, but usually people call it
in regards to that maybe a little bit but we don’t let it go. Lately driving a little bit left and he’s dumping on top, so it’s as all new and we had to train our operators here at the plant because they weren’t used to that kind of technique on production. So it was a learning curve for all of us here in Kentucky and I know it was a learning curve for Cinzia in Japan because he’d never played with Bourbons before, he was amazed the temperature here and the finishing, how quick bourbon will take on the flavor from say, red wine barrel, or Sherry cask. You know, he was thinking maybe two summers after one, we’d already picked up flavors that he was ready for. So kinda. It was like, a big learning curve just like Freddie’s learning with he is, we learned a lot for this Legion. And so it’s been it’s been fun to watch and to get involved even late in my career to get to do a little blending and play with it. And it makes me appreciate more what Fred has been doing, because I understand it’s not just dumping things together. A graduated cylinder and saying, well, I want to 20% of the 30% of that. In loans, your numbers add up to 100. And you’re good, not. That’s not how it works, you know, it’s trial and error. And then what strength Do you bottle at? I mean, there’s a lot of variables that you can change a lot by just a little bit of water maybe or your finishing times. It was a, it was a great,
great experience for me. I just realized, I’ve been saying it wrong the whole entire time. I always said legend, right. So Legion now now and I believe I’m starting to say, I don’t
know if that’s a
word or not.
It’s coming from the Gospel of you right now. So that’s what I’m gonna talk about the
gospel of Fred.
I sent you down some dark paths.
So gonna also talk about the time commitment that went into it, because I mean, you just said that there were times when either you know he was coming here. You’re going to Japan your mailing and shipping samples back and forth. Like what was the I’m assuming it was a at least had been over a year or two ago. Somebody said, Hey, we’re gonna go ahead and do this. But how long did it really take to actually start from concept to finalization? There are more craft distilleries popping up around the country now more than ever before. So how do you find the best stories and the best flavors? Well, rack house whiskey club is a whiskey of the Month Club, and they’re on a mission to uncover the best flavors and stories that craft distilleries across the US have to offer rack houses box shipped out every two months to 39 states across the US and rack houses April box there featuring a distillery that mixes Seattle craft, Texas heritage and Scottish know how rack house whiskey club is shipping out to whiskies from two bar spirits located near downtown Seattle, including their straight bourbon, go to a rack house whiskey club calm to check it out and try some for yourself. Use code pursuit for $25 off your first box.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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