Ep. 86 - The Historic William Tarr Brand to the New Western Kentucky Distillery
CHRIS TETTERTON // RD1 Spirits
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So much to chat about today as I talk with Chris Tetterton, VP of Marketing with RD1 Spirits - a Lexington, Kentucky brand that came out of the gate with the historic William Tarr brand. Chris will talk about the historic reference of their name RD1 Spirits and we'll get the scoop on a new distillery. Cheers!
Welcome to Whiskey Lore, the interviews. I'm your host, Drew Hannush, the Amazon bestselling author of Whiskey Lores Travel Guide to Experiencing Kentucky Bourbon and also experiencing Irish Whiskey. Both of those currently available for gift giving and stocking stuffing. And today I have as my special guest, the VP of Marketing of Lexington, Kentucky based whiskey brand, which is r d one Spirits. And we'll talk a little bit about distilling coming up here in a moment. But it's the home of RD one and William Tar. And my guest is Chris Tetterton, who is from RD one Spirits. Welcome to the show, Chris.
I appreciate you. Thanks for having me
On. Sure, sure. So my first interaction with your whiskey was the William Tar brand, which my friend Jerry of Stone Fences tours. We get into these history discussions and we're diving in deep into all these new brands that are showing up and sometimes the new brands of the old brands. And so anything that has some kind of a historical element to it is always going to make my antenna go up and draw me in. And it's been interesting because I've lately been working on research on another brand Chicken Cock, which during the time that name evolved, William Tar was actually purchasing the distillery that made it in Paris, Kentucky. But he didn't stay there very long, and then he kind of went off in his own direction and I guess he was involved in the railroads. The railroads were big back then. And then what's interesting is in right before the Whiskey Trust came in and bought up the distillery in Paris Kentucky, the old owner of that who had partnered with William Tar ends up going to try to buy the distillery Ashland, which is a distillery that William Tarr owned at that time.
And George White was the man's name, and he was outbid by a dollar by the Whiskey Trusts. It was like $60,001 is what they won the bid on that distillery. So I mean, it's absolutely fascinating history and it shows you how Kentucky whiskey, that there's a lot of relationships that went between these distilleries and all these names that we see, and all of a sudden they're like okay, well what does that name mean? Because how many whiskeys had somebody's last name on them and they were called old this or old that. So talk a little bit about, because you guys are, didn't actually, you weren't with the company when it first came up with the William Tar brand. You kind of come in a little bit after that. So talk about the evolution of William Tar from where it started to where you're at right now.
Yeah, absolutely. So William Tar, the brand was always a part of a company, a bigger company called RD one Bourbon, RD One Spirits that was kinda the company's name. It only had this one brand and William Tar was that brand. It was a startup in 2020. So it's like the best year to start any business. We all live through 2020, can't pick a better time. So my family and I, we have a small investment firm, just a private little investment firm here in Lexington, Kentucky. And we knew the startup founders of this brand, William Tarr. And they brought us in along with UK head football coach Mark Stoops, cuz they knew him as well and said, Hey, we wanna start this brand. It's called RD one, the brand that we're really going to be pushing the bottles can be, it is called William Tarr and we wanna know if you guys wanna get involved.
And we kind of liked what they were pitching and wanted to see if we could help. So us along with Stoops, put up that seed money to help them get up underway. There's a few other smaller investors in there as well. So by the end of 2020, they had bottles, they had liquid, they had branding, they had labels, and they launched. And it was a really fantastic launch. But again, with 2020 and all the different variables that go into starting a company especially a heavily consumer based company like Bourbon, there were some different issues and we wanted to see how we could help. So around end of first quarter, beginning of second quarter, somewhere around April of 2021 we kind of got involved a little bit more and took over the marketing and sales and finance just to help make it a little bit more of that company and see what could we really do with this thing.
So that's kind of how it started. The name William Tar, as you were kind of talking about it really, they came up with that because we were near, we're in Lexington and we kind of wanted to look at Lexington's history and William Tar was this entrepreneur in the Lexington area back in the 18 hundreds and kind of represented the spirit of starting something or taking something over and seeing what you could do. And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But when we took it over as we transitioned, we wanted to see how do we expand beyond just William Tar? How do we tell Lexington's story? And that's kind of where the name RD one became our focal point.
And RD one is actually in reference to the Ashland Distillery, correct?
Yeah. So RD one stands for Registered Distillery number one. So back after the Civil War the government really needed to raise revenue all spent all the revenue on the war efforts. So the government essentially made every distillery they broke Kentucky out into different districts and they made every distillery registered their distillery in the Lexington District. This brand, this distillery was the first one. So that's kind of where RD one comes from. Now, eventually we got into DSPs and all the kind of stuff that go into that, but we wanted to link ourselves back to, well, wait a minute, there's a history that Lexington has to tell in the bourbon and the whiskey world. Louisville gets a lot of that attention. Different parts of Kentucky obviously do, but Lexington's kind of been on the back burner with that history. So we really wanted to dig in and see there's a story that Lexington has, and even modern Lexington, there's this culture that Lexington brings that we wanted to kind of bring to life.
Well, and it's interesting to me to see and I'm going to have to look further into this because there was a time period where they went from the RD numbers to the DSPs. And I'm not a hundred percent sure where that comes in, but it's really interesting that you see these companies now going back and fighting for their original DSPs if they can get them. But when we think of D S P number one, that's Heaven Hill, right? But in reality, they never would've had D S P number one unless they had had that fire in 1997, which caused them to buy the Bernheim Distillery, which is the distillery that had D S P number one. But whenever you're going through, there's a website called Pre-Pro Men, which is one that I reference quite often because this guy's done amazing research in terms of trying to tell some of these old legend stories. And you get very used to seeing R D R D R D on a lot of those distilleries. So it would be interesting to know where that actual shift happened. But do we know where the Ashland Distillery was in Lexington? Is there any bit of it left?
Yeah, there's a small bit, or at least we know where the land is. Okay. It was on Manchester Street and if you're from the Lexington area, if you ever visit the Lexington area and do some tourism area stuff in Lexington, there's a location called the Distillery District. And that's right now where our tasting room is housed, and it's about probably quarter of a mile down, closer towards downtown is the plot of land that the distillery was now since has been torn down and rebuilt up into modern buildings and stuff. But yeah, it was on Manchester Street, which is kind of one of the reasons why when we came out with this William Tar Bottle, Manchester Reserve was kind of that piece that we wanted to pay homage to us where we linked it because that street had had that history to
It. So this was where I heard Now for people who have been to Lexington, they'll know that that's the James Z Pepper complex and there's a bunch a lot of stuff in there. I mean you can
The distillery ion, yeah, it's where James Z Pepper had their whole stuff and yeah, there's a hopping place. Really, really cool place.
So what are you guys doing in that area? Is it tasting room, some kind of experience beyond that? Sure.
Yeah. So we've got a long, long tasting bar fits about 20 people. So it's specifically a tasting bar it's a retail shop, so get all your shirts and barware, all kinds of really cool things. And then an event space too. So we house tons of events, corporate events, private events, parties, all kinds of things. And it's kind of just a really unique location cuz you got Ricks and barrels all over the place and that amazing bourbon smell. Yeah. So yeah, it's just a really cool location that we've got right now.
Well it gives you a chance to go get food while you're there and I mean you can really make a whole day of it if you wanted to. Just going from one spot to the next. Yeah,
There's some other distilleries over there, some small brands and yeah, it's just kind of been a really cool old school hipster style location that you can get dinner and do a tasting bourbon tasting right after. So
Yeah. So I hear too that you are looking at or are already in the process of building a distillery?
Yeah, so r d one has a small bit of ownership and has some stake in a distillery that's being built out in western Kentucky. So that actually has been announced and we're going to come out with a press release in about the next 30 days. But you guys can have the first public announcements, so that's
Kind of cool. Nice. So
It's the Western Kentucky distillery and so we've gone in with partnership with them. So it's kind of an ownership, but also partnership with them cuz we want the best. And the cool thing is Jacob Call, who's a fantastic master distiller, has led that effort and built that up and is running that. So we've been partnering with him and he's going to be the master distiller out there. So we get to lean on a lot of his experience and his history of experience. I think he's like seventh generation, something crazy, just a wealth of knowledge. So it's been cool to have that out there and that should be up and running here in the next couple months. So we're really excited about
That. And he's coming from Green River? Green River, yeah. Which is a great distiller. I always tell people when they go out to western Kentucky, that's a spot to visit because when I first started doing the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, I looked at it and I went, okay, you got all these big distilleries, they're all kind of centered here. And then western Kentucky, you got one distillery and you're going to go all the way out there for the one distillery. So I never really made the effort to go out. It was a while later after now there's a bunch of distilleries out, Bard is right down the road from there, and then if you head south you've got the little state line tour of MB Roland and all that. So it's become much more worthwhile to head out in that direction. But they had basically taken this old distillery and turned it into just they're doing a lot of sourcing out of there. I know I've talked with Broken Barrel out in Los Angeles and he says, we get our whiskey from Owensboro and they're making some really good stuff. I love the rye whiskey they're producing out of there.
I think Jacob kind of specializes in Rye cuz everything he does the rye is this consistent note that he knows how to make it work. Because you get a lot of people that either really like Ry or they don't like Ry, right. There's not a whole lot of in the middle. And how he works with it is just really, really cool. And how he makes, even people who don't like that rye note in the bourbon that he makes is fantastic. So yeah, they're doing tons of stuff. They rebuilt that place and turned it around and he was really excited. I know about doing all that work and I know he's incredibly excited about starting this new venture. So we are happy to be able to partner with him and see what the future holds.
Yeah. So do you think that that'll be a distillery that will at some point beyond the bourbon trail? Or is that probably going to be a working facility?
Yeah, I think definitely the plans as of right now are to start it up as a working facility. That's the primary goal. It doesn't make sense for a distillery to have visitors if it can't really actually produce things. So I know his and our goal is to get it up and running and get it producing as quickly as possible and producing the highest quality of bourbon that they can. But yeah, I think down the road it's definitely there's already plans on if we were to make it a tour and bring people in, how would that work? So I'm not sure exactly when that could happen, but yeah, that's always obviously on the horizon.
Yeah, it's funny, I was talking with Joseph and Joseph Architects who have built so many of the distilleries across Kentucky and they said I was asking them about Victors not the downtown camp Nelson, but their main production facility. And while I was talking to him, I was like, well this was probably easier for you cuz you didn't have to think about tours going through. And he said, we build them for tours one way or the other because sooner or later likely these places are going to want visitors to come in and see them.
Yeah. And why would you not? That's been so, such a big part of the bourbon industry is unlike so many other industries. I mean people want to see under the hood, they wanna see how it's made. There's an experience. And I think that's because bourbon is such an experiential, sorry, experience based activity. You want to pour a glass with a friend and you wanna see the notes and the flavorings and the tasting notes and you want to, it just brings you back to how it's made and links you to the pioneers that came before and create this spirit. So yeah, I think everybody wants to have that tour and that experience and allow people to come in and see and touch and taste and all that kind of stuff. And what we're looking at in our location, our gift shop and our tasting bar here in Lexington is expanding that even further. So finishing is starting to be something that we're really getting into experimental different finishing, rare finishing, how do we do something that people aren't doing? And then also how do we bring in the consumer, how do we bring in someone who's off the street who doesn't know a lot and how do we link them to what's actually being finished? So we've got some really cool things that we're going to be working on as well.
This has gotta be an exciting time too, because as I understand, you're the whiskeys that you've worked with so far. Obviously you don't have a distillery, so you're sourcing that liquid, but this is really kind of your chance to create your own distillate. So have you been in discussions about that already and do you feel like you want to edge towards something that you already have or maybe carve out a new space in terms of where you're going with flavor since you wanna do finishing?
Yeah, yeah, we've definitely talked with Jacob and that team of what we're looking for and how we wanna move into the future. But the thing about our brand is we are all about what's really good, what's just what, what's tastes good, right? Because that's all that matters really to us is does it taste good, yes or no? And do people like it? So we're open to experimenting with different mash bills and different versions of what we've got and how do you accentuate one finish versus another and is there a certain yeas strand that, is there a certain composition of the mash build that does that? So we've been in contact with, we're about to launch, I think we were talking about earlier our straight Kentucky bourbon and then our French Oak finished. We're about to launch those two products in New Glass, our new custom glass bottle here in probably the end of February. And then we're bringing on two more variations right after that or right in that time as well. And we've already been talking about one of these finishes could be really good if we add a little bit of the weed in there. So yeah, we're always experimenting, always testing things out, always trying new risk and trying stuff. And I think that's what kind of whiskey's all about is taking a little risk and seeing what works.
It's so different from where bourbon was. Bourbon was just the tried and true. And you had your brand and your brand probably had one or two different variations at most, but most people probably drank their gym beam and they didn't care that now all of a sudden you've got so many different variations, you've got cast strength, you've got going down to finishing barrels now, which is a whole new direction that has really been kicking up in the world of bourbon. So what was your whiskey experience prior to owning a whiskey brand? Were you a bourbon fan, were you a Scotch fan? Did you have influences that you wanted to bring into this whiskey?
Sure. So I grew up in North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, and moved here around high school age. But as soon as you get into Lexington and get into Kentucky, bourbon is now a part of your vocabulary. You somehow have to have experienced it in one way or another. And so got thrown into the deep end with friends as you go into college and outta college and everyone's getting into that. So no was our first when we got involved with the business, this is our first spirit business that we've owned. We've owned 37 other different businesses. This is the first one in the alcohol and spirits industry. But I think what really focused me and what we were looking for was the average bourbon drinker has become so much more educated over the past 20 years past 10 years even in what they're tasting and where it comes from and everything that they know about it and which is really, really cool.
It's really cool to see people be able to do blind tests and tell there's differences and maybe even pick up a characteristic from a certain brand and be able to guess that brand. And I think that's one of the things that I really wanted to bring as we were focusing on this brand was how do we bring that experience, that tasting, no experience where you can pick up those flavors even though we all know there's no vanilla, there's no caramel and bourbon, but you still taste those, which is amazing. How do we allow the average drinker or the novice drinker to be able to experience that too? In the past you're talking about the old traditional bourbon, it kind of became this bourbon aficionado pretentiousness and a little bit of what wine has at times of I taste this and if don't, why can't you taste this?
Is it almost is intimidating to the average or novice drinker. And I think there's a lot of brands that are trying to break that and I know we're really trying to do that as well of let's sit down, let's actually taste it. Let's look at a flavor wheel, pair it with a dark chocolate, now it's pair it with a date, let's pair it with different things. And can it accentuate, can you see those notes that come out and what's that memory that it links back in your childhood of that leather or hay or whatever it is. Bourbon is just a really cool thing that it allows you to get your memory from something you didn't even realize and experience it all over again, which is kind of cool.
Yeah. Well one of the challenges that I had, cuz when I came into drinking whiskey my nose was not tuned to anything. I mean, it had to hit me. You had to hit me with a hammer, with a smell, and I had to be seeing the object that was making the smell to be able to tell you what it smelled and taste was pretty much the same. I mean, I was just used to eating bland food. I just ate and I was done. Now if I had something really good, I would know that I ate something really good. But when you talk about this, and I think about that novice coming in to try to experience a whiskey, do you feel like in a way when you're presenting something to them that you need to avoid complexity and really have a flavor stand out? Or do you feel like you people will get it if there is an element of this that is a little bit more out front than something else?
I think what we try to do and what I personally like to do is I don't wanna lead anybody down the road. I want to go down the road that they're going and simply help them notice certain things. So to answer your question of do we try to make it less complex or do we try to parrot down, not specifically in the whiskey, not in the bourbon. I mean you've tasted the Manchester Reserve, the William Tar, that's an incredibly complex whiskey the blend of seven year bourbon, eight year rye, especially at the one 14 proof bottle that we've got. I mean that's just a rollercoaster of different flavors of the rye kicking up and the bourbon notes. It's incredible. And what we've found is even the novice drinker who doesn't typically like bourbon, loves that because there's flavor there. And if you can get past the alcohol piece that kind of burns you can taste a lot of flavor, which is why we always tell everybody it's the third sip.
You take the first sip, just barely let it touch the second, barely let it touch, and then the third sip get a little more and it starts to dull those receptors. So now you can taste the flavors. So no, we don't try to reduce the complexity as far as the whiskey itself. What we try to do is when we reduce the complexity, it's more in what are we trying to allow them or how do we help them communicate what they're experiencing. Now, one way we're doing that is with one of the new versions that we're coming out, we are coming out with a one that's a little bit more of a certain note forward, which is really, really cool. But one of the other four that we're coming out with is a whole new animal and well, I mean we can talk about those if you want, of what those four are.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Yeah. So again, we've got the straight bourbon whiskey or the straight Kentucky bourbon in that blue, that blue bottle, and it's going to be in a new glass. We've got the French oak which is just, it rounds it off. It's a little bit more elegant, it adds this, it's a visual thing for me. It just rounds it all together. But it's a completely different experience. And we've got a new bottle that we're coming out with I can show you at that
Okay, so this is the custom bottle. So we're going from this to this and what we've got is that we've got that kind of iconic Kentucky horse fence is embossed into the glass all the way around. It's just kind of a cool thing that we really wanted to bring that legendary fence that you see, that four plank HOKs fence. We wanted to bring that to life Kentucky born and raised right in the glass. And it's actually designed based off one of the original William Tar bottles. So it's kind of, again, a little bit of an homage to history. I was going to say. So we're really
Excited about this. I was going to say, when I saw that, I was thinking of that drive between Lexington and Paris and all the fences that you passed by and how many times since William Tarr lived in Paris, how many times did he go that route and exactly. See fences just like that. It's probably where he got that experience from.
And if you're in Kentucky or every drive-through you, if they're all over the place and it's just, it's that staple of Kentucky life and there's that little bit of that we call it bluegrass glory or that southern charm that we like. So we've got that. And then the two new products that we're coming out with are a Brazilian AANA finish really, which we're really, really excited about, is a certain kind of timber that is primarily found in South America Brazil, Uruguay. And it adds, this is one that just goes outside. It takes bourbon to a whole nother level. It's an evergreen mint an experience is all I'll say. So
What I'm loving about what you're talking about right now is when I went to Ireland and I did the trip through and went to all the different distilleries there, Ireland's rules allow them to use any type of wood, they don't just have to use oak. And that opens up a whole world. Of course the issue that you're going to run into with that is that if you're putting it in a barrel and it's, it's just a wood that naturally is porous and is going to be leaky, then you have a problem. But I'm assuming what you're doing with your finishing is probably using staves in the barrel rather than
Yeah, yeah. For the amber onna specifically. Yeah. That was staves in the barrel. Yeah, using certain, you're exactly right. Using certain kind of woods. They're just not made to really be barrels and holes and liquid in the container like that. So you have to get creative. But we found with within three weeks of finishing the whole flavor profile changes, and it's quickly been my favorite one that we have, I, if anyone's wanting to see what else can bar bourbon do? Yeah, this is what bourbon can do. It's really cool. It takes it into that scotch world a little bit of just, they say scotch and Irish whiskey's way up here in the range of what flavors can do. Bourbon gets a little more narrower if you do weeded bourbon, it gets a little more narrower. But this one just explodes boundaries. Really, really
Cool. So I had heard you made that, you make that comment on another interview that I heard that you did. Yeah. And I thought that's why I asked you at the beginning whether your experienced before bourbon was, yeah. And being in Kentucky was that maybe you drank scotch. Because there's this misconception I think about scotch, that scotch is harsh and it is that it it's all smokey. And to me, what what's fascinating about scotch, just like rye whiskey, and this goes into that complexity discussion as well, is that to me rye is very complex. It's got a lot of stuff going on. So in a way it reminds me of scotch. And if you're doing high rye bourbons, I find those tend to get old. Forester 100 to me is a more complex bourbon than it adds Absolutely. So much more interest to
Experience. Yeah, I never actually got into scotch until after we got into the bourbon business. Just trying it out and obviously doing what a lot of people do is listening to different people on YouTube and different podcasts and it's like, okay, I'll try this scotch thing. And you're absolutely right. There's scotch that is super smoky and super kind of harsh and sea air and all that. And then you've got some that's just like apple juice. It's just the sweetness. So yeah, we want to see what bourbon can do. Cuz we think in scotch, in wine blending is also really big. And that's why with the William Tar line, it's a blend of rye and bourbon and we think we got really lucky with exactly what we had because it was just this symphony of flavor. So we loved it. Now the fourth product I was talking about is a it's double finish in oak and maple and it, it's got this wonderful forward and maple note and that's that it wasn't done actually intentionally of kind of what we were talking about originally of are we trying to lead people to a simplified flavor profile to let them pick things out?
That was never our intention. Our intention was literally, let's try something, let's try this, does this work? And when we taste it, we realized there's this forward maple note which is really cool because the novice drinker of someone who's just getting into it, a lot of times you hear them. And my family's, some of my family's like that. They go, I taste alcohol. Yeah, but what else do you taste? Right? Yeah, yeah, alcohol, that's what I taste. But when they taste this, they go, wait a minute. Maple, maple, maple syrup, maple pancakes. I get that. Yeah. And it's a really exciting thing when you have someone who goes, ah, I taste alcohol to go, wait a minute, I get this note, I really can smell it. I can taste it. So it's really cool to have them go from that to a more complex like this, the William Tar, like the French Oak, and then they start picking up more. So it's really cool just this line that we've got these four core products that we'll have. There's really something for everybody from the complex and I want something new to, I just want this really, really good bourbon, maybe even a French oak, just that classic with a little elegance on it too, with that french oak to gimme something that I can at least taste a note in that maple, which is also really, really good.
It's funny that you bring up Maple too, because that's one of the notes that I picked out of when I did a little pre nosing and tasting on the straight bourbon.
Is that the one you've got now?
That's the one I've got right now. Yeah.
It's open a little
Bit. We were talking before we started recording the fun of our jobs that we get to drink in the middle of the afternoon just as part of our occupation.
What's funny is it is it's actually a lot of work at times when you're doing proofing work or sampling work to try and figure out single barrels or anything like that at 10 30 in the morning after a while, it is definitely work.
Yeah. What's interesting about this is that I pick up almost like a meaty character to it and almost like a barbecue kind of a note to
It. Yeah. The barbecue's one that I definitely got with this, and again, we're talking the straight Kentucky bourbon 98 proof campfire. There's this good kind of old fashioned campfire. It's not that sweet smoke, but there's, like you said, there's a meaty rich smoke almost in there.
It's a challenge too, because when I talk about scotch and we talk about scotch being smokey, and then you use the word smokey in terms of a bourbon and it throws people off. And usually what I feel like I'm picking up is a char note, but this isn't really, I think this is more like I say it, it's a beefy little note in there that is really interesting. I can't nail it down.
It's definitely not, when I say smokey specifically with your traditional scotch, like a certain Johnny Walker or whatever, to me the first thing that comes to my mind is James Bond in 1960s in an airport, that kind of leather seat, smokey bar kind of thing. And I get that a lot from scotch or at least from some scotch. Yeah. This is more marshmallows and a campfire y. Instead of smelling the smoke up front, you're tasting some of the finishing almost in your throat, which are really cool. It's completely different obviously, but yeah, it's hard to explain. How do you explain flavor, right?
Yeah. How did you go about discovering this? Now you're sourcing it, so was it something that was kind of suggested you had a selection to go through and try that to figure out which one you were going to go with?
Yeah, a little bit. It's a little bit through that. It's a little bit through partnerships of okay, obviously we're a growing brand. Currently right now we're only available in Kentucky, but come next year, 2023 we're going to be launching in Indiana we're looking at Michigan shortly after or right around that time as well. And we've got sites on a number of other states to be launching almost. I think we're going to be, the plan is to be at nine or 10 states by the end of next year. Part of that's also making sure that we've got a proper liquid strategy. Too many. That's kind of the inside of the bourbon business is a lot of these craft brands, when they launch, they struggle with the liquid strategy in turning over and getting that cash flow to make sure that there's enough barrels to feed that demand to get the supply.
So a lot of smaller brands unfortunately go under because they just don't have the inventory to feed it. So that's part of it as well. We wanna make sure that if we can put something out there, it can be consistent that we can finish it. Well, if that's something we want to do that we can, how do we put our staple on it and how do we make sure that it's something consistent that we're going into for the future as well? The distillery out with Jacob call in Western Kentucky, so how do we make sure that there's something that can go right into it? And it's not this shock because we changed anything. So there's a number of different variables, but we found one that we really like and we feel that will also age really well. I'm excited. My goal is to get a really nice age product out there in that 8, 9, 10 year, just because that's gone off the shelves recently in the last five years, you can't find that anymore cuz the demand is so high that brands are just putting out there as quick as possible because they can. So you see some of those older brands and those older age statements start to go away a little bit or at least get very hard to find. So we wanna be able to bring some of that back too.
So also on the palette, I get kind of a mixture, peppery, gingery kind of a note and it warms all the way down, but it's not overly aggressive, which tells me it's probably more of a high ride. How much corn do you have and rye in your mashbill on that?
Yeah, it's a 70 corn, 21 rye, nine malted barley. Okay, so 70 21 9. So not an overly high rye. Yeah, no, we're not in the 36 or anything like that. But enough rye where it stands up, like you said, rye is rye adds a lot of character to bourbon and when you proof it down it gets really spicy and it can really still pop you and when you keep it up it opens up into a number different areas. So we wanted to keep our stuff around that 98 or above. And like you said, the French oak is 1 0 1 and some of the other stuff is going to be higher. So
Yeah, I think it's interesting that just in the time that I've been working on writing about bourbon and the rest that I used to be, the high-rise bourbon was like 17%. Yeah, it's like 17% rye. Okay, that's getting intense now do we want to go by, but I think what we're finding is that with the release of all of these rye whiskeys that people are finding that rye isn't really as harsh in a higher proportion. And so my feeling has been that it's actually when there's more corn with that, that high, with that highrise. So if it's a 17% and there's a lot of corn in it, that's what's going to start getting you that aggressive burn going down your throat where this is just kind of a nice pleasant warmth that comes through which is nice.
I kind of like to say Ry ry is just a little bit of that attitude in the bourbon. You know, want a little spiciness and pic not in jalapeno or even sometimes black pepper, sometimes that spices, clove and nutmeg and all spice baking spices. So yeah, rye gives a little bit of attitude and makes it have a little bit of that personality. But you're absolutely right, a super high corn content can even up 76% as low as that. It can still have kind of have to then look at how are you aging the barrels and how well can they age? That takes on a whole nother variable for it.
Yeah, absolutely. So the first whiskey that I tried when I got my two bottles in, you would think I would go and try to taste the straight bourbon first to get a baseline and then move to, no, I jumped right into the French Oak cuz I just was curious as to what this was going to be. I have to tell you that as soon as I tasted it my head spun around, what is this? I hope that's a good thing. Yeah. I was like, this is not what I expected it. I don't know how long you're keeping the whiskey, the oak staves in there, but they have a lot of influence on this whiskey because it was sweeter and fruitier than I was. I was kind of expanding then as I was tasting it was evolving. I was starting to get into some almonds and chocolate coming in there as well. So it's really, really interesting. So what made you decide on French Oak staves and how long do you keep them in those barrels?
Sure. So when we went through our initial finishing process where we said we think that that's something that we can bring to bourbon drinkers, to whiskey lovers we want to, there's room there for let's try some finishes and there's plenty of people that do some amazing finishes, whether it's in rum cast or pork, ruby wine or sherry cast, all kinds of stuff. There's a few French oak, there's a few double oak, all kinds of stuff. But we wanted to see, again, being risk takers and new and D bourbon, we think let's try things that people say are even taboo if need be let's open it up. And so we tried a number of different finishes. In fact, a lot of those finishes that we've tried may never make it to an official label like this, but we open that up to, that's kind of how we feed our private barrel selection.
So if liquor stores or total wine Kroger or any other liquor store, even if private buyers, just anybody off the street wants to buy a barrel they come in and they can get a finish of something that will never hit the store, at least maybe from our line. And you maybe never see, we've done stuff like Red Oak that's out available in a private select on shelves now. We've done yellow birch, we've done cherry wood, we've done sassafras all kinds of different stuff. So we tried a number of 'em. The French Oaks stood out to us. It was amazing. We've had some high quality bourbon influencers and experts in the world including people like Peggy, no Stevens and Dixon Deadman. And they've, they're tremendous people and fantastic friends. So I've gotten talk and spend some good time with them and taste different things and they both like this French oak as well.
So it just stood out to us. And again, when I said earlier, our kind of foundation, is it good? Yeah, is this good? Do people it, will this bring people together? If it is perfect, then how do we get it out to people? And we felt the French Oak did that. In fact, if anybody stopped by our tasting room over the past summer part of our tastings we were giving out were allowing people to taste directly out of one of the barrels that we were finishing with French Oak. And we let that one just keep finishing and it just got better and better and better. Unbelievable. So to answer your question about how long we finish it for the French oak, the amber needed doesn't need much time to really take hold. Same with that double finish in the oak and maple. That one doesn't need too much time. The French two to three months is kind of what we're looking at. That's when we start to really see it takes on that personality and that we're wanting. But again, every barrel is to taste. If a barrel's not where we want it we're not just looking to blend it with everything else. We wanna make sure every barrel's up to the standard that we want and it's good. And then we will, we'll see how we small batch 'em from there. But yeah, usually the French oak is about two to three months.
And is it Virgin Oak or is it something Okay,
Yeah, yeah, Virgin Oak.
Really interesting. Yeah. Now after coming back to it, it's so funny that when I do tastings, before I either do my whiskey parlor YouTube videos or I'm on an interview, this, my attention is sort of either drawn to something else. And so it's kind of like I stopped trying to search for flavors and then flavors just hit me. And it's really interesting because when I tasted these two side by side, the first time I could not find the elements that I was finding in the Kentucky Bourbon in the French Oak. But now I'm like, oh, there's that meaty character. I'm getting a little bit of that and it's even on the pallet actually a little bit. And then that almond is really on the nose for me when I nose that whiskey I'm pulling a lot of that in. And that's spun about being able to have the ability to have both is to be able to say, okay, here's what the baseline is. Now all of a sudden when we add another element to it I was almost pick, I'm picking up almost like a cherry note that's coming in on the pallet on this, which is not something that I was tasting.
Yeah, it's not on the straight bourbon at all. Yeah,
Dark chocolate almonds is what we found is kind of the signature note of this French oak. And again, it doesn't make it delicate, but again, the best way I describe it is it rounds it out and it just adds this elegance to it. It accentuates it and it, it's amazing how one thing, like you said, now two to three months is still a good amount of time, but all we've done is taken the exact same bourbon and added French oak into one and allow it to do its natural mother nature process of just sitting and how it completely changes the flavor profile. So it's just a really cool process.
So what happens with the William Tar brand? Does it continue on or is it going to fade at some point?
Yeah, so the Williams Tar brand was always a limited release when the company started and that was the first line that came out. Obviously launching a brand, you either have to make some bourbon and sit on it for a couple years and then you launch it and that's a big investment or you go out and source it. And we've always been as open and honest as we can that the William Tar brand was absolutely sourced. It's a very unique source. So it's not just one where everybody can go grab it and you know, see it on the shelves everywhere. We had a very unique deal of how we got that and we put the mash bill in the back. We signed an nda so we can't legally say, but if you're a mash bills, we wanted to be as transparent as possible. We feel like transparency's very, very, very important.
But yeah, the William Tar line was always a limited release. So when it's gone, it's gone. Unfortunately right now for a lot of people, the inheritance was that 12 year, let's see, right there, this tall 12 year bottle that has since sold out of stores. I don't really know of any stores that still have it now. We still have the single barrels in our location, so if anybody's wanting a single barrel of 12 year straight Kentucky bourbon, it's available and it's really good. It's actually the one that made coach decide he wanted to invest, he tastes. Oh nice. And he's like, yep, I'm in. As far as the Manchester Reserve there's some still on shelves, but as soon as they're out we've run through our inventory of what's going out in the market. So yeah, come this holiday season, hopefully people pick it up because it'll be gone before too long.
It's going to be a collector.
We've still got some in the gift shop but yeah, that line was always limited release.
Okay. Yeah, I mean you put the word out now you'll start seeing thousand dollars bottles of your whiskey going through the secondary market cuz it's like, okay, they're not making anymore, it's scarce. Good
Luck. I mean is it's scarce, it's not being made anymore and it's got great age on it, seven and eight years a blend. It's unique. How many rye bourbons are out there? How many even fewer out there that are aged at seven and eight years and how many fewer have won? I think we got double platinum with Fred Minnich and the Ascot Awards and multiple gold medals. So that one 14 has been a really, really unique a line for us. So we've been excited for
It. Now this just flashed across my brain, but I seem to recall something about a picture with the Pope.
What was that all about?
Yeah, absolutely. A lot of people think that that's Photoshop and it is a thousand percent accurate is not Photoshop. So every couple years, I think some of the priest here in the local area in Lexington, Kentucky they do a trip over to the Vatican and one of them happens to be friends with coach. And this priest always likes to bring different bottles of bourbon from Kentucky to the Pope as kind of a gift. And the coach signed a Citrus Bowl bottle. So we did a special run of our William Tar line back in February after the UK won the Citrus Bowl. So we did a limited release of those and coach signed it and gave it to the priest who gave it to the Pope. And that picture was the Pope literally holding Kentucky Bourbon and of William Tarr. So <laugh>, one of our sales guys had a fun thing was, I think he said something like The Vatican is out of wine wine for communion, so we're going to use Kentucky Bourbon. So
Just a cool thing that ended up happening and we were excited
About it. It sounds like the William Tar brand needs to come back for one more bottle and that bottle will be something finished in an Italian wine barrel. Yeah,
I like it. I like it. What, there's always an opportunity for something like that, small enough as a company to make quick adjustments, but big enough to put something behind it. So yeah, there's always possibility. I
Like that idea. Not everybody gets the endorsement of the Pope. Exactly. Although it's just in his hands. But hopefully he, apparently he likes bourbon. If they keep bringing in bottles,
I mean, maybe we could be one of the only brands that is an official blessed bottle
Of whiskey. There you go. Then you'll have Holy Water William Tar <laugh>. Exactly. Nice. Well Chris, thank you so much for spending time and introducing us to the brand and going through everything and wish you luck moving forward with the distillery and I appreciate it getting your own mash bill up and running and it's it's going to be fun to see how things develop for you. If people want to find out more about the brand, where can they go?
Sure. Follow us on Instagram. RD one, spirits on Instagram is a great place that we've got a lot of information and always doing a lot of fun things. Right now we're doing a 12 days of Christmas giveaway, so we're giving away apparel, we're giving away ware we're giving away UK basketball tickets if you follow and tag people for all 12 days. We're giving away two tickets to the Music City Bowl. So there's that. Our website, obviously RD one Spirits is up and we've got a calendar under events that always shows kind of different tastings that we're doing throughout the state. And if looking for bottles, we're all over the place in Kentucky right now and soon to be Indianapolis and Indiana Michigan. And you can buy online and get shipped there as well. So great Christmas stuff and like you said, going away. So yeah, limited release, you gotta kid
It, get it while you can. Very good. Yeah. Well thank you Chris. I appreciate it.
I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Cheers to you
And a huge thank you to you here at Whiskey. Lord, we had another great year and it's all thanks to your listening and support. And if you can't get enough whiskey lore and whiskey history, I'll be telling stories and doing tastings throughout the holidays at youtube.com/whiskey. And since I'm also doing a lot of additional history research these days, I've added a new feature for our Patreon members where I'll be doing short videos with some insider whiskey information. So make sure to join patreon.com/whiskey if that interests you. And don't forget the Whiskey LO's Travel Guide to experiencing Irish Whiskey and experiencing Kentucky Bourbon are both available on Amazon or at whiskey-lore.com/shop. Here's wishing you the best of holidays and please be safe. I'm your host, drew Hamish, and until next year, or on YouTube, until next time, cheers and SL JVA Whiskey Lords of Production of Travel Fuel's Life, L L C.