Post Magazine

Sipping bourbon at six months old: Kentucky master distiller on changing tastes

How did you get into the bourbon business? "Our family is from a small town in central Kentucky [in the United States, with a population] of 10,000 people. Most of our bourbons are from that area so I grew up around bourbon, listening to Dad and his friends talk about it, but I didn't really think I was going to work there. My plan was to get a college education and move away to have my own business. But I went to Wild Turkey for a summer job in my last year of college and never left. It was home for me."

What do you like about bourbon? "I love the vanilla caramel that you get, the spiciness, the character of it. I drink a lot of water when I drink bourbon. My parents drink a lot of tea but I drink mainly water and Pepsi. Now I try not to drink Pepsi [laughs]."

Your grandfather worked at Wild Turkey, too? "He was more involved in maintenance, taking care of the equipment. He had the knowledge but he was never called the master distiller. My great-grandfather worked at a distillery called Old Joe, which is now Four Roses. So there are four generations of us who have been in the business."

10 facts you may not know about bourbon

"In the Scotch and Irish whiskey industry, there's a person who makes the whiskey, a person who ages the whiskey and a master blender who blends the products. In our industry, we do everything from start to finish. So I'm involved in the grain selection to the making of the mash, to the distilla­tion and then picking out the barrels for each of the products."

How has drinking bourbon changed? "People my Dad's age drink it neat with an ice cube or some water. These days, bartenders make mixed drinks with bourbon, like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. In the Asian market, I see bourbon with soda water, highballs. I think ginger ale goes great with bourbon as a mixer."

How bourbon got its groove back to become tipple of choice for discerning drinkers

What do you do when you're not working? "We have freshwater lakes and rivers where I live and I like to catch freshwater fish like bass and catfish, bream and crappie. I have two dogs I like to take out, so basically just relaxing and getting away from the work world. When I'm playing golf with my friends, we don't talk about business. They aren't in the bourbon industry but they want to hear about what I've been doing and about the business because it's interesting to them. I just tell them little bits."

Eddie Russell was recently in Hong Kong to promote Wild Turkey's range of bourbons.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Mehr von Post Magazine

Post Magazine3 min gelesenWorld
China Reportedly Set To Announce Its First Decline In Population Since 1949
The Chinese government is expected to announce soon that the nation's population has shrunk for the first time since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, according to a Financial Times report.  According to the FT, the latest census numbers
Post Magazine3 min gelesen
Asian-American Business Leaders Launch US$250 Million Effort To Combat Anti-Asian Hate
A new foundation formed by prominent Asian-American business leaders announced on Monday a US$250 million initiative to fund work on a range of problems affecting the community including a rise in violence and harassment tied to the coronavirus pande
Post Magazine2 min gelesenWorld
China Looks To Turkmenistan For More Gas As It Cuts Australian Supplies
China is looking to Turkmenistan to expand natural gas supplies as it cuts back on Australian energy imports. Wrapping up a meeting with his Turkmen counterpart Rashid Meredov and the country's deputy prime minister Serdar Berdymukhamedov in Xian on