Complete interview with David Meier… Owner and distiller at Glenns Creek Distillery

Transcript

welcome back behind the label uh today we have a special guest the owner of glen creek distillery david meyer and he has been gracious not the last uses what are you calling nice the nice air conditioner yes we actually call this the qt room quicker tasting okay so you know we get a number of visitors here who have 20 minutes or so that you know want to do something quick and so this is a nice little intimate spot we can do that and they don’t want the tour so they don’t really know so let’s just come straight but you said that john did all the work and you did the painting on the well yeah three people pretty much did the work john did about two-thirds i did about an eighth and another guy did whatever the remain i have right now we distill three bourbons that we have for sale we have two that are in the works so we’ll have five bourbons total that we distill we source a bourbon from mgp it’s quite good you source resource derived from mgp it’s also quite good then we have malt whiskey we have rum we have a couple specialty spirits i mean we just do a lot of different things here so so that’s your primary one up there the ocd’s you know that’s from day one we distilled that for about a year and a half and then we started thinking about doing some other things the next thing we actually did was run interestingly enough and then then we got the idea for cafe olay and so we started producing that and of course you know i can look at it now and say well we distilled that three four years ago and and try to remember you know we’d steal it put it away and then wait for a while and then come back later and decide when to bottle it so yeah we got lots of different things and then premiums premiums we only have every now and then they’re kind of a special deal this is only barrel three of that one ever and probably won’t have another one for six months so you own it yeah cool so what made you go into it uh she didn’t really have an experience in distilling before zero um well maybe okay you know this is the darndest business because you know i tell people i said you can’t you can’t learn it on your own so if you want to be a chef you can cook at home you can go to chef school you can do something now you can do distilling classes you know there’s different places but when i started it it didn’t seem to be anything um but but it might have started in the garage you know just saying maybe who knows allegedly um and it just started kind of as a as a as an accident really somebody asked me to build him a still and i i don’t know the first thing about it still i knew absolutely nothing and so why would they why would they ask you to build in the state oh this guy is like oh i want to make sugar sign you know apple pie what background did you have welding so that’s what i said i said okay so what makes you think i can build a steel is you can weld right yeah but i mean that that’s i’d say yo-yo ma should be able to play the tuba i mean i don’t see the connection but but he kind of persisted and he showed me some information and i realized you know a pot still is a pretty simple thing it’s a it’s a tank so this bottle represents like a pot still you have to have a way to fill it you have to have a way to drain it and you have to have a way for the steam to come out and you know pretty straightforward device so so i hooked it up for him and uh and he never used it so you know a couple of years went by and i didn’t think much about it and finally one day i was at his house and said what are you going to do with that give it back to me so now i got the same like i don’t have the first clue what to do with it i you know i made it but i don’t know how to use it and so um you know i googled a little and did a little research and uh and i thought you know sugar shine just seems boring you know pour some sugar in water for a minute you know whatever and uh so i thought well i should maybe i should make bourbon which it wasn’t if you’re going in your garage it’s technically not bourbon but um you know so i had to do a little research and you you go there and you see the 51 corn rule and you see all the other criteria and okay well that’s pretty straightforward so um i i like to experiment and so i did just hundreds of different experiments just kind of goofing around different recipes different grains different you know all the different things and uh so that that went on for a while and and um and then this guy i knew he says i know where this cool facility is for sale it’s not a small place yeah no i moved to kentucky 1980 from florida okay so you know but the truth matter is prior to that i had only had five bourbons ever in my life i mean people think i must have loved bourbon it was a lifelong dream that it was you know something that was like no that’s how that if i look at my past it’s kind of how it happens like i get interested in something like oh let me try that and then you know get more interested pretty soon my hobbies get out of control and expensive and this one got the most out of control yet well you just bought a place that was 30 years oh they’ve been sitting no no abandon 30. distillery is 1878. the boilers are 1935. this building is 1940s um so it was it was left unattended for right i remember driving down through here i guess i was a med collection in the 90s this was all just i like ivy and all kinds it still is covered in everything yeah poison ivy um so yeah i mean i don’t know that’s just kind of i i’d say like like a guy i you know drove up and i just squinted my eyes you know a little pressure washing some paint that i got clean right up and you know a million hours or so later then you go oh yeah it’s still got a lot to go in in hinds site i think there’s an advantage of starting with ground and building a building a design for a distillery this was a bottling building it wasn’t a distillery so it doesn’t have some things that are kind of useful in the distillery like i don’t know drains you know where you can wash things down and and clean and so forth um but uh you know it’s got the history and certainly we’re in a prime location here midway between buffalo trace and woodford and attract a lot of attention and it’s historic i mean the old pro distillery you know people know old crow and they they asked me still it’s old pro still made is the engine b that’s a product called old pro you know they own the sign that says oh crow and we own the building that says oprah so how many buildings do you actually use you know um this this compound these buildings are all interconnected there’s a shipping building here this was a bottling facility the two adjacent spaces were bottling facilities so they’re the only ones on the property that still have electricity okay that was the main thing to choose this i i you know there’s a great building back here that was the cistern room that was where they filled barrels and it’s a nice big tall space and kind of cool old and is that the building that has the uh no that’s the distillery yeah the sister room is the building where this photo was taken this is inside the building taking the picture out through the door at that time so so the previous owners in the salvage business you know knock the wall down to get strap out equipment so there’s equipment inside that building and so that’s a photo taken from the inside and we thought it’s kind of cool because it looks like a bottle yeah but it’s the yellow building back there so you know but it didn’t have electricity and and this is near the gate you know and so when you drive up this is the first thing you see and if we were back there would be a little bit more complicated it’s hard enough for people to find this door let alone let alone back there so anyway um you know that was that was a choice and i think there’s trade-offs in everything you know there’s no optimal solution what’s your plans for like the rest of the of the property well i’m really hoping that one of your viewers can wrestle up 20 million [Music] so you know i sat down and i’m a consultant and i consult with companies and businesses and talk about these things so so i sat down and did a business plan like you’re supposed to and i and i try to be as thorough as possible but one thing i always tell my clients about a plan is it’s always wrong the plan is wrong it’s just a matter of how wrong you’re you’re projecting into the future or something and you’re trying to anticipate things of course which you have no idea just look at the situation we’re in right now with kovit it’s like when are people going to come back and how many are going to come back and you know you don’t know but you can make a plan and you can say well if this if this is the situation we’ll try this and this so so the plan was a three-phase plan and it said first production create products create brands you know get get it out there second really my desire is preservation of the buildings you know stop the damage put roofs on where they need to be put on you know keep the water out because that’s your biggest enemy and so on and then finally phase three was restoration and and trying to bring it back to something okay at that time the only real vision for that i had was what what happened at woodford i mean they went through the same thing back in the 90s it had been abandoned for quite a long time brown foreman came in and brought it to life and you know you see it today but really that’s decades after that so you gotta really you gotta really look long term um so now we have castle and key down the road and they bought old taylor which was in as bad or worse condition here and and kind of i followed along with that and i have a little different vision than what they’ve done but to me i you know i have the vision of the scottish distillery with copper pot still sort of like the woodford but maybe more of them and and we’ve got a big that building has just a great big grand open space with with skylights in the season it’s really beautiful and you know the building was built to last it’s stone and steel and concrete uh the place where we’ve had issues is where there’s wood and tar paper roofs and wood like on the rick houses here so um you know if i had my druggers it’s what what we’ve always said is that we want to respect the legacy of old crow we want to respect the history of it we don’t want to turn it into some glitzy glamour you know place which would be hard to do i mean it is it is an old building and it has that old building a charm and feel to it so you know i can picture that in my mind and then we’ve got additional buildings that were like the scale house and what they call the paint shop and the garage and you know i can envision some artisan village or something maybe you’ve got a pottery shop over there in the woodshop over there you walk down there we actually showed you the spring house yeah it’s a great little structure um and and then that green space right around there you know you can have the events and things [Music] about six and a half years ago and so we we don’t lack ideas john’s an idea guy after anybody there’s other people coming and you know we’ve got a fellow who helped with the labels as an architect so it’s not a shortage of ideas it’s the sort of sign of money you know but you do all this by yourself me and john all the stuff might have said john and we between john and myself who pretty much made everything here like i said another fellow helped with part of this room but the rest of that out there it’s been john and me that’s what we were discussing earlier in the in the episode kind of plugging you guys and you know talking about the experience when you come here as a like you know for a tour or something that you guys are but you know you’re doing very hands-on it’s not like you’re sitting in an air-conditioned office where i am right now now that we’ve got the cute team people but you’re literally out there you know making the whiskey then you’re doing the tours and sweating and freezing in the winter sweating in the summer so yeah it’s a really great experience you know both john and myself um i think both of us like making things i mean there’s a certain satisfaction about when you do something and at the end of it you can stand back and see what you’ve accomplished one of the you know that’s one of the drawbacks in the consulting industry when i started consulting is you know you go in and you help someone and you can see the progress and you can see that but but it’s slow it’s gradual you know so so for me my hobbies have always been about making things i did pottery eddie glass blowing i did metal working and woodworking and and so i i just enjoy making things and and you know sometimes i i wonder because it’s hard work you know and there’s easier ways to do this and there’s there’s folks out there and i don’t knock them that they’re sensible create a brand and then you know source stuff and uh but you know but again i realized long ago that that’s what i enjoy and so i’m not going to complain about the fact that we have to work hard and there’s only three of you there’s only three of us and you know joe it takes it’s it literally it takes one person to to do the operations part during the day so we we switch it up sometimes sometimes i have to do part of it sometimes john does part of it joe usually carries that load during the week but then you know something’s always breaking something always needs to be repaired something you know pumps we go through pumps and we go through equipment and we have to so so there’s that kind of stuff on the side that i have to do and the nice thing about coming here like you go to the woofer reserve which we left one two and a half little crazy but you get like three or four products that you do at the tasting right and they’re all products that you can buy most of the time on the show when you come here you get like this whole line of stuff yeah we don’t we don’t get chintzy we give you we have a small cup but we do several yeah i mean it’s a lot of stuff that you won’t find in the liquor store yeah you’ve been commenting before like i’m over here last week you’re like hey we don’t even sell this yet and try that you know so you don’t get that anywhere else this is this is a unique experience we don’t want everybody we uh you know i mean we’ve been we’ve been fortunate um and i don’t know i don’t know if it’s a sensible strategy we haven’t marketed i got zero marketing budget i mean part of the issue in the beginning was um you know when i did my business plan i said oh here’s how much money for marketing here’s how much for bathrooms and here’s how much for this and then when i went to get the loan they said here’s how much we’re actually going to give you and it was considerably less and so it’s like okay well we’ll have to do without that and bathrooms was you know one of those things and it’s like um oh marketing well never mind i will just do social media people who come and shoot shoot for free and uh but i think the benefit of that is for the most part people who come here are more interested and interesting and they really want to understand they appreciate what we do and they want to understand it more and we can you know we can take them right up close and tell the visitors that we don’t have tour guides you know whoever shows you around me john joe stewart we do the work we build the stuff we can explain it you have a question you can’t get answers somewhere else we can probably answer it because we you know we did it and we’re self-taught everything that we’ve done sort of learned through experience and trial and error and not done wood it’s worked for the most part oh it has i mean like i said we brought a group last year the american battlefield trust was in it’s like 30 some people and we did our carmel taylor tour and of course we visited buffalo trace and castle key but the most positive reviews we got were you you know you doing the tour here i mean you know we like to have fun we cut up you know sometimes i joke people i said look the the [Music] non-facetious tour is twenty dollars if you want the facetious tour now that’s only eight bucks which you’re gonna get some sarcasm and you’re gonna get some folks and you know um but but that we just like to have fun with it and so you know if somebody doesn’t like bourbon i’ll pick on them a little bit and have some fun but you have something over here what products do you have i know i see the ocd number these are all the bourbons right here that we have right now instead we’ve got two more we’re doing a wheat bourbon and we we have 100 corn bourbon uh we’ve been distilling those for almost a year now so they’re still aging we we just released the malt whiskey so that’s 100 percent malted barley so that would basically be scotch it would if we were in the shoe in scotland scotty make me up uh we did the kentucky prohibition rum we distill that here you know something a little different people are surprised sometimes i was coming surprised kentucky and ceo romney oh you’re right you use like locally uh sugarcane no it’s molasses and it shipped up from the south uh unfortunately molasses is the most expensive way to ship you know something up but but it seems a little heavy it is it’s heavy in the shipping as well you’re an ajax bourbon barrel we do and that’s h and they used bourbon barrel and uh you know we’ve got these these are these confuse people because this is referred to as a specialty spirit the silk spirit specialty and the reason is we use part grain and part sugar on that one and it’s kind of a hybrid and um you know there’s a little idea that we can we need to steal sugar i learned later after my sugar shine friend and when you ferment sugar you don’t get any flavor from the distillate it’s pretty neutral right so you put a little grain in there you put some sugar in there you get a little grain flavor and then in this case we use that chocolate bar that’s in our cafeteria and you can you can make that flavor more pronounced so by backing backing off on the graininess right so we give the yeast sugar to make alcohol and then we back off the graininess and make the flavor pronounced and then the hamilton smoke we do the same thing except we use the peated barley which is a smoked barley which is the same that we use in our whiskey to give it a smoky flavor so these are specialty spirits which you know your brain what does that mean and that’s why you have to taste it to understand but you’re using peeps like they do it’s hot this is peat smoke yeah but it’s not a whiskey because it’s it’s got sugar in it this one is actually a whiskey it is it’s 100 grain these are part sugar parchment so that was kind of an experiment um based on an idea john had it he thought if we use sugar then our cost would be less because you don’t have to cook sugar so you have to cook rain well trouble is it turns out that pound-for-pound sugar costs more than grains and so it’s offset but hamilton’s on the ten dollar bill so he thought we could make the bottle and sell it for ten dollars that’s how we got the name hamilton and then then i gave john a little history lesson i said you know hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury to establish the united states treasury impact and uh he’s the guy who told george hey hey george you know what we’re broke that revolutionary war thing was expensive just put a little tax on them yeah it’s a good thing so so we didn’t put hamilton on here out of respect we put his face on there more of a little dick yeah hey dude um we don’t like you but so so and and legend has it you know i don’t know how this is true i saw the play by the way recently in new york i did too and it was pretty good the play is great you know about hamilton himself but um he he theoretically was kind of pro big business jefferson was kind of pro small business and so we think that being a small distillery with his face on there would be upsetting to him but hey maybe if he was alive today be a little more you know a little chill that’s the thing like i said you go to the big steelers you might get those three that’s all you’re going to taste but you have all these yeah you know and i i just think yeah that perplexes me sometimes is why people clamor to go there and sample the stuff they can buy anywhere and um you know so so i tell people i said you’re not going to go somewhere and they’re not going to pour you their best burden but i’m here if i have a premium for sale i’m going to pour you a sip so what went all into this one i mean this is your premium um story on the back of the label and it’s one of those things that’s hard part two it’s not hard to explain but because we’ve learned on our own i think we’ve had some i call happy accidents and serendipitous discoveries and so when we got ready to bottle the very first ocd some years ago uh you know the question is what the heck how are we going to get this 500 some pound barrel empty and and process through a filter to get the char out and into a bottle so the bottling machine will will has suction but only from a tank it won’t like pull it from a barrel through a filter and everything so we were coming up like guys do with all these kind of crazy ideas and you know lifting barrels up and you know and you’ve been out we don’t have a whole lot of space and the bottling line is pretty small and uh actually it was john’s dad came in and he looked at it for about two seconds and he says you know why don’t you just pressurize the barrel and push the alcohol out i thought well that that’s rather brilliant so so we got a a oilless compressor and rigged up something that would be cooking the bung hole with a pickup tube that will go down in the barrel and we pressurize the barrel and the alcohol goes out to the tube pretty simple um but what what i found out right away is there’s a lot of tar down in that barrel and it clogs up the filters a lot and that’s a pain in the neck to change the filters and so uh we really said hey you know what next time let’s roll the barrel over there the day before let this charge settle out in there all that dust and so forth and then let’s not put the tube all the way down into that so that we’re not sucking all that up right so the result was there’s a little bit left in the bottom of the barrel and being well if i go back to my garage days one of my secrets was i just poured through coffee filter to get the chunks out of it and then maybe drink it myself so so i thought well i’m not going to waste that stuff you know so so i poured it out and as i was pouring it out i thought that just smells awesome and and so i tasted that i kind of you know i just stood there all day bottling this stuff and it just smells better for some reason and i i still do this they don’t understand why other than maybe it’s just the char i mean it’s literally when you pour it out it’s like sludge it’s just a lot lots and lots of chart so so i i don’t like to take just my own opinion so i i gave the sample to john i said you try this and he says that’s really good what is that that’s that sludge i poured out of that barrel yesterday slug number five and all i had to do then i say something then he has the idea well we should make that i said the trouble is we don’t make it it’s the leftovers it’s the drags it’s the bottom of the barrel so he’s well maybe if we pour that back into a barrel and we every time we bottle we just keep pouring that remainder back in there and so we did we filled up that barrel and we put it back on the on the rack for another year or so so how many barrels would it take though that’s what i was making it’s somewhere between 15 and 20. this is we’ve we’ve bottled 57 barrels of ocd so far and we have uh this is barrel three and i have two more over there so that would be five so and we’ve tried this yeah this is this is good it’s good and this is just a little bit older than your regular it is so it’s a little bit older now nowadays it’s getting and and when people ask me holidays so let’s see the trouble is that six months worth of production so it costs six months it’s six months worth of barrels that get added up in there and so the age the minimum age in this right now is four i know that much but it’s between four and four and a half ish but then we put it back so so the barrels that we emptied they’re already we’re four years old but now we put that back for for even longer time so um and you know of course the rule says as long as it’s four years old you don’t need an aid statement so this this label still has an age statement because i bought a bunch of labels and they’re still useful [Laughter] we’re cheap around here we don’t waste anything we you know and so i tried to tell people i said look you come in here and taste it you like it you don’t care what the label says in terms of age ages are is mostly irrelevant it’s it’s taste we don’t bottle any of it based on age we bottle based on taste and we ask visitors sometimes when i pull samples from a barrel to say give me your feedback to see whether you like it or not because if enough people like it then it’s worth bottling and they don’t normally do that [Laughter] um well you know that’s the advantage of being smaller and more intimate you know people come in here a few at a time we’re not getting thousands of people passing through and so you know it doesn’t happen all the time it’s it’s it’s rare um you know and it’s it’s it’s not like i give out gallons of it or something it’s just trying to see because i mean i i think one of the things that that worries me and concerns me a bit is you know when i taste it i’m like a lot i like that but it but it’s i’m not an expert i haven’t been drinking bourbon and you know i don’t have have 40 years of experience or something like i said 10 years ago i tried five bourbons i tried quite a bit more now but market research exactly yep um see what’s out there and kind of see where it fits and so um well it brings up a question when you when you let’s say you go out and try someone else’s product and you say oh i really like that didn’t you do you try to emulate that in yours do you know anything or no no so so you know when i started and this is this was 2015 when we started distilling here um know i thought well okay we’re going to do a single barrel barrel strength this is a single barrel barrel stream this is actually multiple barrels with barrel strength okay that’s about small batteries yeah this is a small batch technically the remains of many barrels okay so i went out and i thought well let me try to find other products just to see what what’s out there and you could find a single barrel product but not a barrel strength and you can find a braille strength but not a single barrel nowadays there’s some options but five years ago i just really couldn’t find anything um and i wasn’t i wasn’t getting something to try to copy it i was just trying to see where where did we kind of fit in that and um you know just curious to see what else was out there and and where we might fit those barrel strength is something i actually kind of knew in it relatively yeah yeah i mean black because before yeah and it’s you know i think i think there’s been a tremendous shift in the industry i think it’s good all the way around you know 20 30 years ago if you went in the store that’s why i only tried five burpees because there was only about five right everybody had one you know there was one maker’s mark there was one jim bean or one male you know and um so now you go and there’s just just a whole variety of things from you know a to z and that’s a good thing i think that’s good for everyone so we you know this this was this was a recipe i sort of concocted you know in the garage after after several experiments but look you know i i was explaining this to somebody earlier and i said look because everybody everybody asks about the match build you know let me explain some to you so so bourbon we know has a minimum 51 corn okay but but here’s the economic side of it corn as a grain is half the price of your next grain which is wheater rye and it’s a fourth the price of barley malt okay now if you’re thinking about it first of all the price of corn is less the taste is good and you get more fermentable sugars which means more alcohol per pound so wouldn’t you think that you would have a relatively high percentage of corn [Music] and the answer is all the big distilleries have 70 some plus or minus percent corn okay now on the other side of the scale you need barley for the enzyme action to break starches down into fermentable sugars and you need a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 most go with about 10 because they want complete conversion and it’s it’s safer to have 10 percent to get complete conversion of starches and sugar so here you go you get this corn over here where you’re probably going to have 70 plus percent and you got barley over here at 10. so what do you have in the middle per hour wait why are we right so this one old pro it was a 70 2010 i mean it’s a pretty standard sort of recipe but i explained to people what i learned by doing it many many many experiments is if you go from eight percent right to 10 right you’ll never really notice the difference okay if you go from eight percent to 20 there’s a distinct difference okay so you know this cafe lay we use that chocolate barley instead of a standard distiller’s barbie it’s got a heavily roasted flavor so it doesn’t take much to make a big difference so depending on what you’re working with you know you can make a distinct flavor and one thing that’s different about us from the big distilleries big distilleries typically have one maybe two match bills every single product we have is a different match build completely different from ground up okay this is 70 20 10. these two share the same proportions of grain but this uses chocolate barley this is a standard distillery party we’re doing 100 corn okay we’re doing a weeded bourbon it’s the same proportions as our ocd so whereas other big distilleries create a new brand bite by mixing certain barrels or picking 12 year old barrels for this one or a single barrel over here they’ve got you know they’ve got a million barrels to go pick from and say you know what i can take this this but all these vegetables aren’t the same but the mash goes the same whereas yours all the vegetables are different so your whiskeys are actually completely different they are they’re clear different products different from the ground up now we use the same yeast we use the same stills you know our aging process is similar um so so our differences was from the beginning and then because they’re single barrel we don’t and we don’t mix and match [Music] and we have for certain people done that but typically it’s wonder woman so yours is all about the matchbill we’re like buffalo trace it’s about the placement in the warehouse there’s a placement and we get some of that too i mean we don’t have as much variation in replacement but but uh we’ve noticed that certain places tend to do a little bit different i mean barrels are different the wood the trees that it came from i mean there’s so many variables that affect the final outcome that to think you’re somehow controlling those variables is really kind of crazy i i estimate tell people probably a billion variables when you look at possibilities and i’m not kidding i mean when you just start with the grains the only limitation on bourbon is 100 grain in 51 corn right other than that you’ve got a lot to play with and there’s quinoa there’s rice and there’s oats and there’s wheat and there’s you know there’s all these other sorghum is it going and so you know there’s plenty of possibilities and then there’s a hundred thousand identified species of yeast on the planet so you know if i got a hundred thousand options here times a hundred thousand here i’m already up in a big number and then you got distillation which there’s unlimited ways to distill in techniques and how you make the cuts and all these other things and then you’ve got the barrel itself and the variables in the barrel and where the wood came from and how was the wood dried how long was it dried before it’s turning to barrel and on and on and on and then you’ve got aging and post aging and what you do when it comes out of the barrel to cut it mix it blend it whatever so when you think about all those options it’s really limitless and that’s one thing i like and so we try to tell people i said look there’s so many there’s so many variables that we have no control over don’t even pretend like you have control over them you don’t and then some people want to say oh well you know we grow our own grain okay but you don’t have to go over the weather while it’s growing you don’t have to you have to store it you have to control the conditions during storage and there’s just a lot of things and so um i realized early on don’t kill yourself trying to make them all taste the same try to make them all taste good so this goal is simple just try to make them all taste good and uh you know the the most interesting thing to me i think when we do that so if i pull samples from four barrels and we’re trying to decide which one of those should we put in a bottle and the first question is or any of them good enough to go into the bottle not which one do we like best but which one of those is is should be uh ocd okay and usually it’s kind of interesting usually john and i have a similar palette and we’ll probably pick the same one joe tastes that he’ll pick a different one and if we let visitors taste it we’ll get split decision and that’s a good thing so if i have four samples and usually when if i pull four samples from quarter barrels one of them you know kind of clearly isn’t ready okay that that’s easy now we got these three and it’s a split decision it’s a toss-up and and uh one visitor one day the best answer he said he said look he said if i bought any and these are assuming these are all ocd he said if i bought any of those three i’d be happy he said i like this one better but but uh sorry it’s hard that’s why you got to go do some work time right yeah we got to let you get back to work well no i just had to go check the stills and change the jug they’re running tails right now which is the easy part you have to change out the jugs um so so that’s the reality you know and right now we have we have for example barrel some some barrel 56 and some 57 and so if i let people try both you know part of those people say oh i really like 56 and part of them say i really like 57. they’re a little different they’re not the same but they’re both good and that’s really the goal and as long as none of them tastes horrible we’re happy with that and uh you know people i’ve had people come in one one young lady came in one day really kind of funny she says do you have any of that girl 19 anymore i’m sorry working girl 28 19 is long ago it’s a long line she might got a tear in her eyes i said well you know what hold on a minute um we have to keep samples when we bottle you know we have to keep some samples and incidentally i’ve been packing those up and storing them and i realized we had three bottles of 19. we usually we have to keep two and i just recalled and i said hey wait a minute so i went back around and when i grabbed her bottle and you thought i’d give her a pot of gold man she was just like oh my god i can’t believe it i got no better okay trying to tell people i said look if you really love that one you better buy it because that’s it that’s the last one i actually like that about that because that was there’s some magic in that you know it’s a very limited supply i really like this and that’s it that’s the only yeah it’s not it’s not limited on purpose it’s just a single barrel and it means one barrel and that’s barrel 56 and when we sell out of 56 we go to 57. that’s the cool thing though when people come here they’re trying all this stuff and they’re meeting you and you don’t do that at a normal tour you’re not getting that a buffalo trade well you won’t get that for long here because you know with all this attention you’re giving the only beast i’ll be too important what we’re doing let’s go spend that 20 million yeah now do you have any of the old stuff from your alleged garage days is it like in a back back barrel somewhere that’s just sitting there [Music] [Laughter] you know here’s the thing you do is it any is good as a matter of fact um you know here’s the thing i learned there’s a thing i learned in my garage i i’ve never been a big drinker i mean when i was in my 20s i didn’t party and i didn’t i went to korea college in dry county and i was fine with that so so like i said i tried five literally i mean i’m not kidding tried five bourbons in my life i the only room i’d ever had was in a pina colada or something i had never tasted rye whiskey i didn’t even know what rye whiskey was my interest in scotch at that time i tried a couple times and i thought it was horrible so i was really really really green and so you know when you have a steel and you can produce a gallon and a half of distillate in a run which is a 15 gallon steel you can make more than you can drink and so yeah there was sample i had samples all over the place it was just a big laboratory it really was and you know a lot of people think incorrectly i just want to clarify this home distillation is totally illegal regardless not if you sell it doesn’t matter if you don’t sell it you can’t distill a single drop in the united states law says you as an american citizen can own a still you can’t use it you can’t have a still mere fermented liquid you can’t have a steel hooked up to a heat source if you get caught it’s serious punishment if they come in and just sitting there in your living room away from everything yeah like the one out in the in the lobby the the one i bought because it’s historic handmade from probably prohibition days if you have that in your mantle it’s fine if you had it in your garage with a propane burner under it you’re in trouble so you know i’m not an outlaw i wasn’t wasn’t doing it because of that it was just as i said i like making things and it seemed intriguing and never ever i mean i’d never fermented the thing i’d never distilled the thing i remember any of it and but i like to learn new things i like to try things and so and experiment so i had i mean i had cabinets of all these experiments with notes and things on them about what what went into it and i tried all different kinds of yeasts i tried you know wine yeast and beer yeast and all these things and you know i had when i when i started legitimate business then uh met some experts in the field who started telling me things like oh you well you can’t do this oddly enough that’s what i’ve been doing and it seems to work just fine uh or you have to do this and i’m like huh i hadn’t been doing that but it seems to work fine and so so i learned that there’s just all these let’s take small barrels as an example everyone in this industry is going to tell you that you need a 53 gallon barrel to make good whiskey that’s what everybody’s going to tell you i’m going to tell you that’s wrong okay not everybody’s going to tell you because a lot of craft facilities are using small barrels back in the day people don’t understand most distilleries like this one had a cooperage they’ve made their own barrels and everybody had a different size they didn’t have a standard 53 gallon standards relatively new okay they used to make 48 calories here right so they had to modify the rick houses when they went to 53s because 40 53s wouldn’t fit so they had to do some cutting so the fact of the matter is you can’t treat a small barrel like a 53 you can’t leave it for the same amount of time you can’t do this it ages faster that is true so so i we’ve used 23 gallon barrels we’ve used tens and fives economically they don’t make sense i was paying more than double for a 25 gallon barrel and i paid for because nobody makes the small ones right everybody’s making the big ones so economically it just doesn’t make sense it didn’t make better whiskey bourbon it but it didn’t make worse it made it was fine we used 25 several of them um you know oh you can’t make good whiskey fast what’s fast well it’s not four years old four years old is an arbitrary number that came to pass with bottom and bond and that was to protect the industry from outsiders you know if you if you have to age your product four years before you can sell it you’ve got to have a lot of money to start this business but there’s no minimum age for bourbon there is no minimum age for bourbon so the question is when does it taste good and some people like well you can’t do it fast that’s some stuff three months old tastes pretty good that’s pretty good right and i’m not the one deciding i’m letting people try and they’re telling me it tastes pretty good so so there’s all these myths and disbeliefs and people keep passing them around and it’s like you know what here’s the reality here’s here’s the trouble people have they go somewhere some craft distillery somewhere and they try the bourbon and it’s two years old and it doesn’t taste good and they’re using small barrels and so they say well small barrels don’t work or two years isn’t old enough and that’s not the case that’s not the reality just because you experienced that and that was the situation doesn’t mean that’s the rule okay and so i had i had a number of people you know deep in this industry tell me you know small barrels don’t work well that’s weird because i’ve been using them small and they seem to be fine our failing company livestone brands they all use the small bear yeah they’re just expensive they cost more what was the advantage of just the faster aging is well sure if you look at the surface area of wood to the ratio of liquid you get more contact with the wood so we said you know what huh if you take a if you take a barrel and you think about a barrel sitting on a rack and that barrel is evaporating angel’s here you’ve got a good portion of the wood that after a bit of time isn’t touching alcohol anymore but you know what we put a silicone bung in with a strap on it that can turn that girl upside down see there’s more ways to think about this but if i’m making a thousand barrels a day i’ll be down if i’m gonna go in the warehouse and roll them over but when you make a barrel every other day you can do different things so you’re taking them account of your what’s your experiments from your home days maybe and because the legitimacy applied to a larger scale now well yeah and then we’ve experimented and tried things along the way i mean that’s what we can do we the advantage of being small is you’re flexible the disadvantage of being large is you can’t be flexible but you can be efficient we’re much less efficient are still energy consumption and all kinds of things the big stills are just way more efficient you know as you grow and i’m sure you have plans to expand as you get bigger or do you want to try to continue to incorporate innovations like that and experimentation or do you think you will then be overwhelmed well there’s no one in heaven you know i i spent 10 years at toyota and there’s a concept called kaizen or continuous improvement and so we try to use that concept here i think most people do in life you know you want to make things better but but to your question you know there’s there’s trade-offs in everything and that’s what i try to tell people see the pot still is much less efficient but it produces a different flavor profile ethanol is the same ethanol’s ethanol is a molecule but the other things that come through the steel that give flavor are different for the pot still than they are continuous still and it doesn’t make one better than the other it just makes them different continuous steel is hugely more efficient you can produce a lot more product but the flavor profile tends to be a little bit more narrow in the way it operates and so if you’re distilling on a continuous deal and your output is at 140 proof and you have to cut it to 125 to go into a barrel you start with less flavor you add water to it and you have even less flavor you have to spend more time in a barrel to get a flavorful product you start with a flavorful white dog that tastes really nice and is pleasant you put that in a barrel it doesn’t take as long you leave it at barrel strength you don’t cut it with water afterwards you don’t have to have it in the barrel as long it’s simple you know if i’m gonna add if i put it in a barrel at 125 and i put in a bottle at 80 you have to add a significant amount of water to that product which is going to cut it so we say look you can add water to this if you like it that way i was drinking mine on the rocks because i like it that way um but if you start with an 80 proof product you can’t make it 120 if you start at 120 you can you can make it 80. you can adjust it to your liking so so those are the variables that that people need to understand to say the age is less significant than those other variables we don’t put water in it after it comes out of the steel you don’t put water in when it goes into a bottle with the exception of this one this one is a recreational grow so we did something different with it but on our other products it’s out of the steel and into the barrel that’s the way the stills are designed to produce uh the aggregate average of the run is right about 120 food we can go straight into barrel [Music] thank you i mean like i said just getting to come out and try all these products and getting to meet you you don’t do that on a normal tour so that’s why we like bringing people out here we love coming out here well we like it for making it so we like talking about it john too i mean we’re proud of that john just built a new still we just launched it during the coveted pandemic thing and we named it murica [Laughter] america um but but no i mean that you know when when you i tell you that you know when i built that first deal and the first time you run it and some drops come out of it it’s like an exciting time because it’s like oh it worked um and so that that’s kind of how we feel about it is we we look at and go oh you know what we used to have a cooker and we could cook a hundred gallons at a time and i said you know what we need a bigger cooker so here let me create a plan i mean spend time and build it and then it’s okay well we need to make this still bigger so we have more capacity or we need there’s always there’s always some constraint in the process that limits your your capacity and everybody else faces the same thing and you know it’s either cooking it’s fermenting or it’s distilling or it’s aging how much aging storage space you have so there’s always some limitation in that process that you have to deal with so yeah we’ll continue innovating and trying new things deliver it i know some people you know are frustrated by allocations and things like that we we don’t limit the supply on purpose because that’s all we can make and when you’re making five different bourbons we rotate through those bourbons on a weekly basis and we’re distilling them but then they have to age i mean it takes time so the cafe lay was in limited supply this is the very first barrel of puerto we’ve got more now in the pipeline and so at some point we’ll be able to put that into the starting distribution in kentucky for example and then expanding from there so that’s the plan anyway and we have to remember what we said about a plan but the best band was actually to come here it is right when people come here we get to talk about it you get to try it and i think for me personally one of the things i i thought about struggled with in the beginning was at a 60 price point of a bourbon in a store if i haven’t tasted it i’m a little skeptical because i have purchased products from unknown places or places i’m not had and been somewhat disappointed sometimes so people come here if they appreciate it enjoy it they’re willing to buy it and it’s helpful to to get a taste and you’re not only right if you like it great if you don’t try something else and and sometimes you know people don’t find me coming here would be one of the draws to find it would be just like what we’re doing right now the discussion the history the interaction you know because when i’m drinking this i’m like oh yeah i know how they made this that’s that’s kind of a for me that’s an interesting point that’s worth my entertainment you can see it up close you can see the whole process cooking and fermenting it distilling it pour some in a barrel and make bourbon that’s something that we do that’s really unique so so yeah if people are interested in something different uh you know we get a number of people who come in and go we’ve been on all the tours we don’t want a tour so well you’re not gonna get that tour here you know that’s good because we don’t do that yeah you know and just it it won’t take long but we’ll show you and if you have an interest we can explain things because you know frankly after you’ve heard the regular routine once or twice or ten times so that that we’re getting a lot of that kind of visitor now and people that say hey we’ve done the whole thing we’ve been all the distilleries now we want to try something different and look for the smaller ones and so on and that’s where we come in there’s lots of great distilleries we tell them there’s plenty of nice places to go you can go to buffalo wood for a lot of turkey and for roses and it’s great you know go over to wild turkey and get lucky and see jimmy russell and he’ll sign a bottle for you and he’s a great guy but you get that experience and then you can work this experience we’re different places we’re different and to that day not better or worse different man that’s what we say we’re a little different a lot better that’s our so they can see scale at those places and you come here and i didn’t see small scouts i mean that’s yeah that’s you know it’s the cool thing about coming here is you get to see a small scale you know way of making burp you’re not seeing it let’s talk to me or john yeah let’s try it yeah yeah yeah one thing we realized here is that i’m short everybody else is gigantic so it wasn’t on purpose yes coincidence so well thank you very much you’re welcome hey guys thank you thanks for the information down another beer and i hate to go straddle that fence

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