Whiskey Matters: On the Future of Bourbon

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I’m not a connoisseur, but I enjoy a cigar, especially with a nice glass of whiskey. So in 5-10 years, what would be the ideal situation for you to see in the Bourbon industry? I would like to see Bourbon, have as much attention on primetime TV as food.
That’s what I would like to see… I want there to be an interest in Bourbon, in Kentucky, in Bourbon around the country, as much as there is on Top Chef.
That’s my goal. Yeah, for me, I’d like to see more and more folks learn and understand more of what Bourbon is and learn about the range of different types of Bourbon and American Whiskey that’s there, that’s what I’m looking for… The distillers are telling their own story so much better than they ever have before and that is why I think that American Whiskey is on a trajectory of a continued 20-year climb because they are telling their story better today and they also have a have a tourism component. I mean Rabbit Hole, for God’s Sake, that thing is beautiful. You know, you go in there and have a James Beard level dinner in an event there, and smoke cigars on the rooftop and it’s one of the best places to do it in all of Louisville. You know the other thing for me along those lines, in terms of the future and what’s exciting right now is that there’s a lot of pride in Bourbon in a way that I don’t think was there a generation ago. You know this, Fred, better than I do, that back in the day there was what? 250-300 distilleries here in Kentucky alone with just as many different types of recipes and I think what’s exciting is that we are going back in the direction of a range of different types of recipes and offerings out there be it blends, grains, so on and so forth. We’re just really touching the tip of the iceberg in terms of the recipes that people used to do, and of course, we’re always having to catch up from what prohibition did to us.
I mean, you’re a retailer you have the hardest job in the entire industry, in my opinion. Because you’re having to deal with a lot of 1930’s laws still on the books, so I’m curious from you, what’s the future of Bourbon retailing as you start to see like Amazon come into it, you start to see people try to disrupt the space. The most valuable relationship is between you as the creator of that product that is consumed, so I see subscription being a big part of the future of retail, where it’s either a barrel of the month club or it’s something where you have access, but you’re willing to pay for that access, because you think it’s valuable. Not just the product, but all the information about the product. How it was produced, where it was produced, the mash bill the distiller. Everything about it. I think the trajectory… the parallels are there to beer and wine. Look what happened the last 2-3 decades with wine and beer. Wine in California, late 70’s early 80’s, people were drinking and ordering White, Red, and Rosé. Look what’s happened now, the level of sophistication in consumers is just amazing when it comes to this wine and then been and now I think what’s happening is the same thing with Whiskey, and what’s exciting for me is that folks like Fred, suppliers like us, retailers like you are interfacing with consumers and are able to educate them in our own way and they’re able to now have access to so mych more information before than can slowly cultivate their own palates and make their own decisions. I think that’s what’s exciting about it, there’s more and more offering. To me, it’s encouraging, that others see it and others believe in it. Because we’re not even back to where we were in
1959, 1962 I see where we were, and I hope we can get back to it, and it will take guts to get there, and we’re on a 20 climb, I believe. So to that, cheers to the future of American Whiskey. This was fun guys.

 

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