CARLA CARLTON: This is Carla Carlton interviewing Jim Rutledge at Four Roses on December 16, 2013, for the Kentucky Bourbon Tales Oral History Project. Jim, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today. Um, why don't we get started, uh, by telling me just a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you came to be, uh, involved in the bourbon industry?
JIM RUTLEDGE: Well, uh, I was born in Louisville, Kentucky.Went to the University of Louisville. And after graduation, uh, I spent several months before taking a job. I had been, had been working at, uh, Sears Roebuck, uh, in Louisville for a couple of years going through school, helped pay some expenses. So I stayed on with them, looking for a career opportunity in hopefully rather than take first job offer. And, uh, I was actually offered, uh, two good positions on the same day after several months, one was with Philip Morris tobacco, one was with Seagram--to start working their research and development. And obviously, I took, uh, made the right choice I think. And, uh, I worked in Seagram's R&D. Corporate headquarters was in Louisville at the time, at the Seventh Street 1:00Road, uh, Calvert Distillery Plant. Worked there for a few months. Uh, then I was moved out into management. Worked in, uh, supervisory positions in nearly every area of the production area: bottling, finished goods, warehouses, uh, a little bit warehousing, distillery, shift supervisor a couple different times. And after eleven years, uh, at the facility in Louisville, unfortunately--at the time I thought it was unfortunately--transferred to New York, uh, Seagram's corporate headquarters. And I was, um, a chief industrial engineer. I ended up, uh, being a manager of the production division budget department, and manufan-, manufacturing planning department, which planned the distillation 2:00schedules for all distilleries, uh, in the United States. I was there for close to fifteen years. During all those years I was, uh, always asking, especially at a, at an annual review, if there's ever an opportunity to, to get back to Kentucky and to distillery operations, I'd appreciate an opportunity to, uh, to make that move if possible. And, of course, nobody in New York would--could fathom why anybody in corporate New York would want to ever go back to Kentucky and work in a distillery. And, uh, I think it was about 1990, a gentleman I worked with most of those years asked me if I'd been serious. Uh, every year I'd make this request. I said, "No, of course not. I've just been kidding you all these years." And he knew I'd been serious. And he said, "I tell you what; I'm thinking about retiring, uh, early, within the next couple years. And I will do everything I can to get you transferred back." He said, "This has worked out so well up here. So I 3:00want to do something for you if possible." And, you know, I thought, well, I knew he'd make, uh, an effort, but, uh, fortunately it came true, and I was, I had an opportunity to come back to Kentucky to Four Roses in 1992. And in 1994 I was transferred to the distillery. And in January 95 I was named Master Distiller. And I was also the Kentucky area manager at the time. And it's, uh, you know, it's, from there, uh, now, my goodness, what's it been? Over twenty years ago now, it doesn't seem like it. And when I got back, uh, Four Roses bourbon had been in export markets only for, since the late 1950s. But even when I was in New York, I had begun an effort to try to, I felt like Seagram needed a bourbon in the US market. Making some efforts, but it, but there was no passion involved. But, uh, it 4:00became a passion, uh, when I got to Kentucky, especially to the distillery, in trying to bring Four Roses bourbon back home to the US. And, uh, that went on for years and years. And, uh, most people in the production facilities were a little bit intimidated by anyone that called from New York. And I knew the people. I'd worked up there a number of years. And, and a debate went on for years and years with, uh, uh, me trying to encourage Seagram to get rid of the blended whiskey, which had nothing to do with us, but had our name on the bottle. But, like our Yellow Label bourbon, have them just make it go away, let it disappear, let us bring our bourbon back home. I knew the quality of the bourbon we produced here. I knew it would be a success. All we had to do is figure out a way to get beyond the hurdle, the very negative hurdle, of the bad reputation of the blended whiskey and have people taste our bourbon. And, uh, so, 5:00uh, you know, it's, it's history since then. We finally, unfortunately, it took Seagram going out of business at the end of 2001 to really make it happen.
CARLTON: Why the, why the passion to get back to Kentucky?Um, you know, you mentioned people couldn't believe you wanted to leave the New York corporate environment to come back to a distillery company.
RUTLEDGE: Oh, my passion to get--
CARLTON: --yeah, why, why--
RUTLEDGE: --for me personally to get back--
RUTLEDGE: --I love distillery operations. And, uh, I, it wasn'tKentucky. I opened it up to any, uh, production facility. And I was hoping it would be Ken-, Kentucky because it's my home, but, uh, if the opportunity arose at Indiana or someplace else, I would've taken that also.
CARLTON: So you wanted to be more in the hands-on productionof whiskey--
CARLTON: --as opposed to the corporate level.
CARLTON: Okay. Um, well, you mentioned, uh, you, you cameback and, and you were successful in, in bringing back, um, the bourbon to the United States. And you mentioned that you knew there'd be hurdles to get beyond with, with the perception that people 6:00had from the blended whiskey. How did you go about, um, addressing that issue?
RUTLEDGE: Uh, first this debate went on for years. And,uh, uh, I knew most of the people in marketing, or a lot of them anyway. And, uh, and sales in New York. And they knew, they got to know, I think they tried to avoid me whenever possible because they knew, uh, if I was in New York, if they were in Kentucky, or any phone conversation, no what, no matter what generating, uh, a conversation, they knew somewhere in the beginning, end, or middle of that conversation they were going to hear, "When are you gonna rid of this, uh, blended whiskey with our name on the bottle?" I wasn't that nice, but. "And bring, let us bring our bourbon back home?" And, uh, they would always counter, "You, Jim, you --------(??) 225 brands of Seagram. You're number one in many European countries. You're number one in Japan. Just because you're so passionate about the bourbon doesn't make any difference how good the bourbon may be. Seagram 7:00is not willing to spend the millions of dollars to correct a mistake that had been made by," they would say, "our predecessors in the late 1950s when the number one selling bourbon in the US at that time was pulled off the domestic market." Said, "It's just not going to happen." This never ended. I mean, there's a lot more to the debate than that but that was, uh, uh, the crux of the, uh, conversations we would have. And I would always counter with, you know, "We were number one for a reason back in the thirties, forties, and fifties. And we're so much better today than anybody could've ever dreamed of being back then. I know we can be a success." And, uh, I didn't disagree with what they were saying; the negative imagine was, was a major hurdle. So when we started back in the US, and that was with Seagram going out of business in December 2001. And at first, I had given all the bidding companies their tours of the Four Roses distillery. Uh, answered any questions. But I wasn't able to ask questions of them until 8:00the new owner was announced. And the first part of January 2002, when I, when Kirin, who had purchased Four Roses, uh, had a group of people visiting, uh, Kentucky and going to New York to negotiate contracts, visited here, and they gave me an opportunity to ask a question. My first question, of course, was, "Are you willing to make the Four Roses Blended Whiskey that is not made in Kentucky, has nothing to do with this, just take it from the market. Let us bring our bourbon back home?" And, of course, uh, the new owner wanted to really make everybody happy here, so their immediate response was, "Absolutely. We will do that." Now, so we started, and the first thing we did in mid-2002 was hire an agency to go around the US and pull every bottle that we could find off liquor store shelves of the blended whiskey." And we destroyed it. And we knew we couldn't, I didn't disagree with, uh, Seagram; I knew we couldn't focus 9:00on just our Yellow Label because of the perception. People would not take the opportunity to read that this is bourbon under those roses on the label and not, uh, the blended whiskey, said(??) Premium. And, uh, so we decided to focus on premium brands. And we went through several, uh, uh, focus group studies, uh, bottle designs, labels, everything. We decided to introduce a Single Barrel bourbon. And, uh, we used a, one of our ten recipes that we had been using over for, in Europe for Single Barrel bourbon. And we continued using that. We introduced the blended whisk--uh, the blended whiskey--(laughs)--the bourbon in, uh, uh, September 2004. And it was a difficult challenge. And at the time, uh, going back a little bit, Whiskey Magazine, uh, which is located in London, England, 10:00had a process with, uh, a competition called the "Best of the Best Whiskeys of the World" competition. And it was a two-year process. They'd go to places like Tokyo or London or Paris, Glasgow, places around the world and conduct these competitions, uh, over a two-year period. We were very, they were very near the end of the process, but I encouraged our CEO, "Let's enter our Four Roses Single Barrel," knowing it was too late to win anything, but if some of these, uh, panels, if there were writers that were sitting on the, uh, the blind taste test on the, uh, in the competitions. And if these writers, no matter what media, happen say they're looking at ten American whiskeys in front of them, blind, and they like number four, and number four, at the end of the day, they find out it's Four Roses Single Barrel, and they would write about it, that would help jumpstart our return to the US. So our CEO and, uh, myself went to London in 11:00March 2005, uh, for the, uh, recognitions and the awards. Uh, all distilleries were represented. And even though we felt like it was maybe too late, uh, in entering the competition to win anything, we didn't want to, uh, to not be present. And we went over there. And right out the gate, our Four Roses Single Barrel won the best American Whiskey of the Year, uh, under ten years age. And that helped jumpstart because there were several media. And a little bit later that year we entered one of the largest tasting competitions in Kentucky, "A Taste of the Bluegrass," held at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington. And I think it was a, I went out and talked to them. This was their twenty-second or twenty-third year of the, of this tasting event. And, uh, we decided, well, we have a reason to get in it now. We have Single Barrel. We also have our Yellow Label bourbon. We're just not putting any focus on, on that. 12:00So we took our Single Barrel out there. We made, uh, a cocktail. And I'd come up with the idea, just, uh, I went up to, to a Kroger. Got a bunch of, uh, ingredients to mix drinks and came up with something very simple. We ended up calling it a Rosarita. And we mixed that drink that night with the Yellow Label. We had our Single Barrel either on the rocks or neat. And again, right out the gate, the Four Roses Single Barrel won the best bourbon in the competition. So these two events, we knew, you know, it was just me saying, "I know we, we can really be good. And, uh, we can be a success." But now people began to realize that, uh, we had a, a quality bourbon. And that helped us get started. It took us two years to become the number one-selling single bourbon in Kentucky. And that was when we, the year September 2006, we introduced our Small Batch. I knew we were, we still, I couldn't tell 13:00you now how many thousands and thousands of times I've told the story and explained the difference in the blended whiskey and, and the bourbon. And, but I really can't, hit home, uh, in September when we introduced our Small Batch. Single Barrel had been so successful when we introduced Small Batch I was almost afraid to taste them side by side, they were so different. But we filled barrels, uh, bottles in August 2006 to get us through the end of that year. And we'd come back then in January/February of 2007 and run enough bottles again for, uh, another few months. I knew things were turning, turning around, uh, when in the third week of September we had to run again. Instead of a five- or six-month supply, we ran out in three weeks. So that gave me an idea we were on our way back. And, of course, back in those years we were only in Kentucky because when Seagram went out of business we only had the barrel inventory to support our international markets with enough barrels to go into 14:00one new market. And we could've chosen, uh, larger markets, uh, in the US. We could've chosen another country in Europe or New Zealand, Australia, both great bourbon markets. But Kirin had agreed to, let's come back to, uh, the United States. So, uh, we had the barrels to go, we could've gone in to any state. And we will, came into Kentucky not, uh, because it was our home. That was a little bit of the reason. But Kentucky is the most competitive bourbon market in the world. We wanted to see how we would stand up against the competition in Kentucky because to be a success in California, New York, or anywhere in between, we first had to be a success in Kentucky. And by 2006, when, uh, our Single Barrel had become the number one-selling Single Barrel, and our Small Batch was an immediate success that, uh, I could prove we were right; we could be 15:00a success in the US. We were growing inventories, uh, all along, uh, with plans to roll out in the US.
CARLTON: Um, could you talk a little bit about the, uh,one thing that makes Four Roses unique is the ten recipes. Um, and you combine four of those for the Small Batch and all ten for the Yellow Label. Could you talk a little bit about, um, how you arrive at those recipes and just how that works?
RUTLEDGE: Yeah, well, when I started in 1966, uh, we onlyused two grain recipes. We only had, uh, we, the same two we use today but we only had one yeast culture. And, uh, but we had five operating distilleries in Kentucky. So every distillery had its unique water source and that would generate a different flavor profile. So with two grain recipes, that's how we got to ten. Now, we've always looked--going back to the Seagram days, and we still do today--as, uh, quality as not a measure 16:00of goodness, but it conforms to standards. And, uh, uh, how can we consistently fill the same quality bourbon, the same flavor profile in a bottle, from bottling run to bottling run, when every barrel in the inventory has its own fingerprint or flavor? Uh, if we're, if we dump a hundred barrels, we have a hundred variables to work with of the same target flavor profile, so how do you achieve consistency? Well, you can't. So that was the idea behind the ten recipes or ten flavors when we were first producing them. Then in the, uh, mid/late 1960s into the seventies and up to the eighties, when Seagram began to close these distilleries for either economic or, uh, environmental reasons, we would go to Seagram R&D and select a yeast strain to replace that flavor we were using from the water source. So we ended up with one 17:00distillery with two mash builds and five yeast cultures. And that's how it started. And the purpose behind that was to achieve consistency, which still can't be done. (Carlton laughs) I mean, we're, our Four Roses Yellow Label uses all ten or there's been times I've seen nine or eight used. But we start off with a target recipe of all ten, then we're, when we're ready to make a bottling run, we will then, uh, sample the barrels. And we will tweak that formula to achieve the consistency. So it's the most consistent perhaps on the market, which really doesn't make a lot of difference, because part of the art of the industry is there will be differences. The real bonuses behind the efforts to achieve that consistency really materialize when the industry first began to introduce premium bourbons through Single Barrel bourbons, Small Batch bourbons. And we could do something that no one else could because, uh, of the ten recipes. Everything we put in a bottle, every 18:00label would be different from another label. Like our Single Barrel uses one of the recipes. The four recipes, as you mentioned, for Small Batch does not include this recipe right here. So we previously talked about, like, a whiskey magazine, uh, blind taste test, if American whiskeys, uh, were set up, and number four out of ten whiskeys, number four was Single Barrel, number five, uh, uh, was a Small Batch, an expert could not tell that they're from the same distillery, with the four recipes we use for Small Batch, and the yeast culture we use for Single Barrels, not one of the two we use in Small Batch. So that's the uniqueness of Four Roses. And then it goes beyond that. Back in 1960, to achieve consistency, again, we built, uh, single-story ware-, rock warehouses. They're unique in the industry. They're single-story warehouses now but they're palletized. As far as I know, the only single-story rock warehouses, uh, are ours. Uh, unfortunately, they're located fifty miles. 19:00But when they were built in 1960, it was like the hub of a wheel of the five distilleries. Then we began to close them. Then we ended up with one distillery at our warehouse facility fifty miles away. But it's all about consistency.
CARLTON: And those warehouses are different because, as you say, they'resingle-story as opposed to multiple-story. So how, how does that make a difference that's, that's in the consistency.
RUTLEDGE: Well, uh, in a multi-story warehouse, uh, especially in thehot summer months, you can get a temperature differential from bottom floor to thirty-five plus degrees, so the barrels in these top floors age much faster than the ones on the bottom floor. And instead of thirty-five plus degrees, we've, uh, reduced that, uh, temperature differential from the bottom tier to the sixth tier, from to five to six degrees. And that's, uh, so there's not that temperature variation, and not such a dramatic difference in the, the, uh, bourbon that's aged 20:00in, uh, a very hot part of the warehouse versus the very cool. We still get differences. Even in those, uh, six tiers of barrels, we will still get a difference from the bottom to the top but it's not as dramatic. Uh, we fill our barrels at 120 proof. Uh, the maximum's 125 in our industry. And the top tier will always gain strength, uh, percent of alcohol gain in proof. During the maturation process, the fifth tier generally will gain strength. The bottom tier will always lose strength. The second tier will lose strength. And then the middle of the tiers, third and fourth, they will, at the end of six years or eight years, ten years, whatever, they will be relatively close to 120 proof, plus or minus a little. So we get differences but not the dramatic difference.
CARLTON: Right. Now, for the Small Batch, are those alwaysthe same four recipes or can it be any four of the ten recipes that ----------(??)--
RUTLEDGE: --they're the same.
RUTLEDGE: We decided, uh, it took us over a year to,21:00uh, sampling, I mean, there is an infinite number of ways you can take ten recipes. And, uh, I was, uh, talking to a group of, uh, scientists early I think it was this year. And, uh, I said it was an infinite number ways and I see this guy--I thought he was bored with my presentation--he was working on his, uh, iPad or something. And he says, "It's actually"--and I can't remember the number he said--"this is the, uh"--I said, "Well, did you use all ten at, uh, 10 percent each? Were they all six years old, or were they all, some of them seven or eight years old? Uh, did you use some at 3 percent and some at 20 percent?" And he said, "Oh." (Carlton laughs) So there's an infinite number of ways. It took us well over a year just to come up with a recipe for these four flavors. And, uh, we had to limited ourselves because we could still be going on now. Uh, but, uh, we decided on four for no other reason than we're Four Roses. And the Small Batch did two things. The idea was to, uh, when we first came back to the 22:00US, we were, it was a struggle to get into liquor stores. Uh, we're new. The perception is, uh, of the name is bad because of the, the blended whiskey. And as we began to get in liquor stores. And, uh, we'd find one, one facing. I'd walk up and down the aisles of a liquor store and, uh, ask, uh, somebody, "Could you, do you carry Four Roses? Uh, can you tell, show me where it is?" They'd say, "Well, it's right here." And I couldn't see it. It was, it was hard to find because these Single Barrel was generally in a different area as, uh, Yellow Label. And so we wanted to get more shelf space. And that was an idea behind the unique shape, design of the, the Small Batch bottle, uh, and with the roses in the middle of the label, and, uh, and the embossed roses in the glass. So that would give us now a Single Barrel and a Small Batch, easier to find, and the Small Batch was a unique bottle. So the whole process took us an entire two years between the 23:00time we introduced, uh, the Single Barrel, the time we introduced Small Batch, bottle design, and the, uh, the four recipes we would use, uh, as a bourbon. So we're consistent with that. And, uh, then, but any other things, our Limited Edition Single Barrel bourbon introduced, uh, usually, uh, in the spring, around the 1st of April every year, prior to the Kentucky Derby, and then our Limited Edition Small Batch, which we bring out, uh, every September. Uh, they will be a combination, the Small Batch can be a combination of as many, or all, or few of the ten recipes.
CARLTON: And how do you--(laughs)--how do you, how do you choosethose? I mean it still seems impossible to me that, you know--
RUTLEDGE: --well, it's, uh, one of the things about, we donot fill barrels to, say, well, we're putting this barrel in a warehouse today and we're going to age it for fifteen years. Uh, the perception in our industry, consumers--and I've gone on record many 24:00times of, uh, saying, uh, you know, I don't agree, but that older is better. The perception is, uh, for a couple reasons. Uh, Scotch, it's not always true, but as a general rule, Scotch gets better with age. So, you know, a twelve-year-old's not as good as a fifteen-year-old, but a twenty-five-year-old's a lot better than that. And so if it's true for Scotch, it must be true for bourbon, which it's not. Bourbon generally peaks in, uh, maturity between, uh, six and eight years roughly. And, uh, we're totally different and Scotch. And the other perception is that if it's expensive, the American way, if it's expensive it's got to be good, and mostly Single Barrels are expensive. So when, when we start, uh, looking at, uh, uh, we don't, like I said, we don't put barrels in, in a warehouse just to acquire age. But when barrels are maturing slowly and getting better with time, better 25:00with age, we will pull them. We will earmark them in our inventory not to be used anywhere else. And then we, uh, will evaluate them and look at them, uh, more frequently than perhaps, uh, uh, we would have on a regular basis. We evaluate all of our inventories annually. And, uh, we will hold on to those. And so our Limited Editions will always be some of these barrels that have gotten a little bit older. And they are truly Limited Editions because we don't have a lot of inventory with a lot of age. And so, that's the first criteria. That, that, uh, defines it a little bit and reduces the number of barrels we have in inventory. We want something a little bit older. And then we look at the recipes that have this age, and then we just start, uh, it's trial and error. Because you can take a really good barrel and, uh, combine it with another really good barrel, and the result could be, well, this is okay, or not as good, or, but 26:00you can take this, this barrel's good, this barrel's good, and put them together, and wow, this is something really special. You don't know this until you try them. So it's, we go through months and months of trial and error, um, of recipes, combinations, different percentages of all the recipes we have. It, it takes us, uh, about a year, uh, to come up with, uh, with a recipe we will use. I will select, uh, and approve the recipe we use for Small Batch in 2014, September, when we introduce it, that will be selected by the end of January this year. And then we have to wait through that period of time where it's, bourbon's in a barrel seven more months and it can improve. It may not, uh, may stay the same or may, uh, uh, the quality may go down a little bit. So we've got to watch that. And then when we make a Small Batch, these, uh, go through these variations of recipes, we, we're 27:00in a lab. We're using, uh, graduated cylinders. We're precise with the percentages of each. But then when we dump barrels, we get close but it's never exact. So there's always that waiting period of seven or eight months that's, uh, that's a little difficult--(all laugh)--uh, because we, we've selected something we think is really, really good, and hope that it's still really, really good with eight months later or seven months later.
CARLTON: Well, you're obviously on the right track because your LimitedEdition Small Batch was just named American Whiskey of the Year by Whiskey Advocate. Um, so congratulations for that and that's two years in a row. Um, what does that mean to you personally and, I guess, professionally to be receiving accolades like this for this bourbon that you fought so hard to bring back to the United States?
RUTLEDGE: Uh, my goodness. It would be hard to explainhow much it means, uh, to all of us at Four Roses. And these are the, uh, the recognition we're getting right now, and it's taken time. We knew it would take time. We had to be patient. Uh, our bourbon is, uh, that's 28:00why I used to argue with, uh, uh, many years ago that I know the quality of our bourbon. It's good but it's going to take time. And, uh, and it did. Uh, we were small when we came back to the US. We didn't have the money to, uh, plaster, uh, I-95 from New England down to Florida with billboards or I-80 from New York to San Francisco. We didn't have the funds to advertise in maga-, magazines, the traditional ways you would build a bourbon, uh, or, or a new brand introduction. So, uh, we knew it had to be based on the quality of what was inside the bottle. And, uh, the way to go with our Single Barrel, for example. And we focused on our Single Barrel. Uh, that was a Small Batch. We focused on our, our Small Batch. And we had this, uh, uh, club we called, uh, Mellow Moments Club, uh, brand ambassadors, uh, that were introduced some, one way or another, 29:00through accident or whatever, uh, that became fans of Four Roses. We started off with a few people. They would spread this word. And so, through the years that we've been back, we've built this through word of mouth. And so we built, uh, we began to establish this solid foundation as we grew the brand. And it's really, it, although it's taken time, that was a good way, to me, to do it. Because we could've brought out a new brand, poured tons of money, had we had into it, but then you're building, you know, from not much of a foundation, you're building like this. We've built like this. And where we could weather some good or bad times I think. So, uh, but it's word of mouth, and, uh, and it's based on the quality of the bourbon. And then, uh, you know, the accolades, the recognition, to me, should go to, uh, all of 30:00our employees, through the, you know, their dedication, their passion, uh, and pride in which they approach their jobs, and it takes a total team efforts. It's not one person, or two, or three; it's everybody together. And being recognized for this, uh, to me, I, it just, I can't tell you how happy it makes me. And a large, uh, part of that is the fact that everybody here is so proud of what we're doing.
CARLTON: Um, you're the Master Distiller here, obviously. Um, talka little bit about how, how do you become a master distiller and who were your mentors in, in the business as you came up?
RUTLEDGE: Uh, I'm often asked that question of how to becomea Master Distiller. And I, I generally respond first with the first prerequisite: you generally have to be old to get there. (Carlton laughs) But, uh, which is not true. Some of the, uh, other distilleries, uh, uh, have brought in newer, uh, young, young people in recent years. It used to be a family tradition and, and that's why that used to be, uh, a true statement. 31:00But anyway, when, uh, uh, today I, I felt like I've been just fortunate. Very lucky, uh, in, uh, my entire career of, of a little over forty-seven years now, being in the right time, right place. Uh, there's a lot of luck in life. And then people said, "Well, you can generate your own luck, too." But whether it was, uh, you know, my early years, or, which generate, I guess, cause for me being transferred against my will--(all laugh)--to New York City. And, uh, you know, I was scared to death when I went up there. Lived all my life in Kentucky, except when I was, uh, some time in, in the Army. But, uh, I was afraid when I went to New York I'd never win, uh, I'd never see another tree again in Manhattan. (Carlton laughs) I didn't realize that I'd see more trees in, uh, Westchester County where I lived than probably in the entire state of Kentucky. But I learned to love that. And then I learned so much about the entire, uh, business, uh, 32:00corporate business of the bourbon industry and the whiskey industry. And, uh, I learned more than I would've ever learned had I just stayed in Kentucky. So, uh, and doing a job and being in the right place at the right time, again, and having an opportunity, and working with, uh, a gentleman, uh, or --------(??) gentlemen liked I'd worked at, uh, was, was, uh, felt, uh, that it just be good to let me know how happy he'd been with, uh, the relationship we'd had through all the years in New York and have an opportunity to come back to Kentucky. And, uh, so I came back, uh, I was over administrative area of all Kentucky. Uh, I was manager of the, uh, Bear(??) warehouse facility. And later had an opportunity to, again, to come to Lawrenceburg, the Four Roses distillery and become Master Distiller. I was transferred in 33:0094 and became distiller, and was named Master Distiller in January 95. But, uh, to me, there was a lot of other people in the Seagram organization that were as qualified or more qualified than me. And, uh, so I, I feel very, very fortunate. And most distillers, uh--(laughs)--we stay around forever once we get it, because it's not a job; it's something that, uh, we love. We have a passion, uh, for the industry. And, uh, you know, I've always said that I'll retire when I feel like I've got to get up some morning and say, "Oh, jeez, it's early. I got to go to work," rather than, "Oh wow, that's, let's get to work. You know, it's another day." (Carlton laughs) And, uh, but that's the way I think most of us, the distillers in, uh, with the Kentucky, uh, major distiller-, distilleries feel. It's just an honor, uh, to be in this position.
CARLTON: Did you have particular mentors along the way that you34:00would cite?
RUTLEDGE: Well, uh, you know, when I started out, uh, andI don't know what, uh, the reason, I've always felt like, uh, you know, always give a 100 percent. And I don't know what my parents did to--(laugh)--put that in me. But, uh, but I've always felt like, uh, whatever you're doing, give it a 100 percent. And if you're doing it, uh, good today, then do better tomorrow. And then, uh, but I felt like that through every, all the production areas I've had an opportunity to work in, in the Louisville distillery. Then when I went to New, uh, New York--now, this is going to be different than any, uh, question like this you've asked all the other distillers. But, uh, I think the person that has, uh, had more impact on my career with Seagram, and then now at Four Roses, uh, was the gentleman I mentioned earlier. His name is Stanley Bershaw. And, uh--(laughs)--he 35:00was, uh, over, over with all the financial there for the production division in New York. And I could be working a cost analysis. I went up as chief engineer, uh, chief industrial engineer. And, uh, but I could be working a cost analysis on some potential improvement in the process, or, uh, costing out the, uh, the product, uh, that gets into the final cost per case in, of all the Seagram brands. But I could make a mistake in the fifth decimal place and he'd catch it. (laughs) And, uh, he was a perfectionist. Artie(??) was. And, but his, uh, personality and his drive and, uh, his, uh, the way he went about his daily, uh, uh, work and, uh, his work ethics, uh, just impressed me so much that, uh, you know, you can always be better. Whatever you to do, do today, you can 36:00be better tomorrow. And having that opportunity, it wasn't, I'd been out of distillery operations for fifteen years, close to it, when I got back to Kentucky. But he saw this, uh, attitude, work ethics, and attitude in me. And, uh, our distillery in Kentucky at the time had gone through several years experiencing some, uh, difficult times. And because of that, 'Good is never good enough,' uh, uh, mentality, that's the reason I was put here more than, uh, my, uh, obviously more than my, my experience in distillery operations. And this is why, I said I felt like there was a lot more people qualified that had worked in these operations for so many years at other Seagram distilleries than myself. But that's what he, he was looking beyond just that. And, uh, so he, he's had more impact on me than anybody in my forty-seven years. 37:00And, um, I'll always appreciate, uh, uh, the drive that he put into me.
CARLTON: So a big part of when you were first here,um, was just keeping this place going, is that right? Um, you worked a lot of--
RUTLEDGE: --at first, that's right--
CARLTON: --lot of long hours at first--
RUTLEDGE: --that's right.
RUTLEDGE: That's, I generally, uh, when I got here, by, uh,November, December, and January, I was, uh, I would generally see the morning shift, uh, uh, or the midnight shift go off, I was here early enough in the morning to see the midnight shift leave. And I was here that night to see them come on board. And, uh, that was seven days a week. And, uh, but it, it took that. And, uh, and then, but the people had to learn to believe in me also. So that, that was part of it. And, uh, that I was serious about our quality of the product. And that, uh, and 38:00we started getting better and better and better, uh, pretty quick. And, uh, there were, uh, at some people in corporate New York that, uh, felt like that this distillery facility could be closed, contract the work out because we're, we're, uh, providing--most of the bourbon we were producing, at that time for, uh, Seagram, uh--well, we had the Four Roses bourbon in the international markets, but the majority of the gallons that were pro-, uh, being produced were for, uh, uh, flavored components for Seagram blended whiskeys, which Seagram was a blended whiskey company, whether it be Crown Royal or Seagram VO or Seagram 7, and a lot of the other brands. That's, uh, that's what, uh, most majority are bourbon and that can be contracted. So by the end of, by the time we shut down in, uh, that first year, in the summer--this is June 1995--uh, we had improved so much that Seagram corporate quality would not let the financial people close 39:00this distillery because it had become, uh, vital to, uh, the Seagram Company. And that's, that was, uh, an effort on all of our employees. I believed in them. They had to believe in me to make it happen. And, uh, uh, we spent a lot of time and effort, uh, to, working together to make that happen. And it's been a wonderful road ever since then.
CARLTON: Uh, well, Jim, talk a little bit, as a MasterDistiller, what, what makes a good bourbon? What are you looking for when you're making these Small Batches or these Limited Editions? What, what are you looking for in terms of taste? Quality? What makes a good bourbon?
RUTLEDGE: Uh, obviously we look for variety, uh, with the, becauseof our ten recipes, and that gives us opportunities, uh, to make something special with the ten recipes, whether we use two or three. But to be really good, whatever ends up in a bottle--to be really good in that battle, you're fighting a battle, uphill battle 40:00that can never be won, won unless you begin with the best-of-the-best raw materials. And so, uh, actually right now we're in our fifty-third year of using, sourcing our corn from the same small geographic area in Indiana. Uh, and we've always paid a premium, not to get all their crops, but to get the best of this farmer's, these farmers' crops in this area. We're still the same families, uh, of farmers, families of farmers in this area. And they work hard to, uh, uh, to acquire, achieve, and earn this bonus per bushel of grain. And they know what we need, the requirements we need. And if we don't start off with the best grains, we can, we can never put in the bottle what we want. Uh, generally, and that relates to smoothness and mellowness, as well as the flavor, but the smoothness and mellowness, in 41:00particular, are impacted by the quality of the grains. And we use more rye grain, uh, than any of the other distilleries. And, uh, we look at every rye crop brewing around the world. We've been sourcing, most of our grains, we look at Canadian rye, North American. Most rye grain can be grown in Kentucky or Indiana or Tennessee in this surrounding area but the best rye grain is grown in colder climates, uh, to be used in the bourbon process. We've been using, uh, for the last ten, fifteen years, the majority of the rye we've sourced has either come from Germany or Sweden. We've used, uh, couple two or three years, three years ago, uh, rye from Denmark. But in cold climates. And we pay the premiums to use these grains and that's relates to smoothness and mellowness. Then, uh, with the multiple yeast cultures and two, uh, grain recipes. We generate the ten recipes, and, uh, the, uh, the yeast will generate unique flavor. Every 42:00yeast will generate its own unique flavor with each of the grain recipes. So, then you fill the barrel with a distillate. My focus is always, uh, when I was working in the distillery every day, the distillate that goes into a barrel versus, uh, what comes out of a barrel--anybody can sit and analyze and, and make a Small Batch, or, uh, analyze the bourbon that's been aged in a barrel. And my philosophy was always do it right the first time. And if a distillate wasn't exactly right, we would reject that and sell it rather than put it in a barrel. We began to, uh, pay taxes day one on the first of seven taxes that are, uh, uh, assessed on, uh, what's end, ends up on, what's in a bottle, but it's an ad valorem tax, tax in Kentucky. Soon as we put that barrel in 43:00a warehouse, we begin to pay tax on that. And, uh, we pay, uh, right now close to $130 a barrel. We fill about a hundred and a--285 barrels a day at $130 per barrel. And then we're going to be taxed for whether we're in there six years, eight years, ten years. And we're taxed on what was filled into the barrel, uh, rather than taking into consideration depletion. We average losing about 4.4 percent a year. There's a lot of tax dollars. So it's better to incur those losses upfront at a distillate. Don't fill that barrel if it's not just right. And then once it gets in a barrel, about two-thirds of the total flavor of bourbon is generated in the aging process from the wood. It's the natural sugars of the wood. And, uh, so it's, it's a combination. It has to be good going in the barrel. Even though the barrel itself provides two-thirds of the flavor, if it's not good going into the barrel, it doesn't have any--(laughs)--uh, it can't make something good 44:00out of something that wasn't good to begin with. So it's, uh, the whole process. And what do I look for in a good bourbon? Uh, of course, it's the taste profile, the flavor profile we're looking for. And, you know, what's it smell like? What's it taste like? And then what's it finish? When I taste bourbon, a lot of people will, uh, even in our own quality lab, they will smell and taste and, uh, and then spit. I always swallow because no matter how good it may smell and taste, if it doesn't have a nice, long, smooth, mellow finish, I will kick the others out. And so, that's very important to me. And, uh, but when it comes to, you know, the flavor, the smoothness, the mellowness, and how I drink it, uh, my preference is, uh, neat. I, I love to smell, I could sit at home at night and just smell a glass all night long and maybe take a sip or two. 45:00And, uh, it's either neat or with a just a little bit of ice. I'm often asked, "Well, you know, how should I drink bourbon?" by consumers or other people. I say, "Drink it the way you like it." Because if somebody, I would never do, uh, mix a drink with Coke, or 7-Up or, or what, or any kind, really. But if you were to like, if that's the way you liked your bourbon, with a, with a Coke, and I'm saying, "You can't drink it with a Coke, you gotta drink it neat or with an ice cube." And you say, "Okay, I'll try." But then you wouldn't like it. So I encourage people to try it, and then, uh, nobody learns to like it and appreciate it for the flavor qualities, the aromas, and the finish, uh, when they start out. So it's gradually, uh, growing into appreciation of the bourbon. And then you get to a point where you can enjoy it neat or with just a little bit of ice. But I always tell people to start, "Drink it how you like it."
CARLTON: Well, Jim, I think, um, from what I've seen, you46:00have some of the best penmanship in the bourbon industry. Uh, when you were learning penmanship, did you ever imagine you would be using that to, to sign bottles all over the world? I mean, talk a little bit about--
RUTLEDGE: --(laughs)--absolutely not.
CARLTON: You know, you're kind of a rockstar in the industry.What is that like for you? Do you remember the first autograph that you signed?
RUTLEDGE: I sure do. It was easy. We werestill part of Seagram. And, uh, uh, of course, again, we were in an international market. So we would have Four Roses' forums two to three times a year. Uh, always two times; once in the spring, uh, once in the fall. In the fall it was--well, it wasn't quite fall; it was, uh, late summer, in September, during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. And I remember it was, uh, September 1997. And, uh, we had guests from, uh, Japan. We had one of the, it was a Kentucky Bourbon Festival event. Uh, one of those events is "Let's Talk Bourbon." And we started that, uh, it was a second, uh, that 47:00and the barrel roll contests, barrel rolling competition of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, the two events that were added the second year of the festival to go along with the bourbon dinner and tasting. And we held it here at, uh, Four Roses. We had, uh, uh, oh, fifty-five plus or minus, fifty-five or sixty people that year, many of them from Japan. And after we give a presentation, take a tour of the, uh, distillery, and then we'd have lunch for them, uh, after the tour. And, uh, so at, at lunch somebody came up and asked me to sign a bottle. And I said--and we, we give, uh, they call them a, uh, a bottle of Single Barrel Reserve, our first Single Barrel that we had, uh, in, in international markets. Most of those were sold in duty free, uh, uh, airports and places like that. But, 48:00uh, so they all had in some, uh, I remember it was a Japanese lady walked up, and she was trying, had to have a translator tell me she was wanting to, she was going, making motions with her hand, wanting me to sign a bottle. And I said, "Well, sign it with what?" (all laugh) I said, "I don't know how to sign a bottle." So, uh, I had somebody go down and get a couple, uh, Sharpies, Magic Markers to sign the bottle. The, the label was small. And so I ended up signing it with a, uh, uh, a Magic Marker on the glass. And so I just put my name. And they wanted "Master Distiller" on it, so I signed that. And, of course, I had people from, uh, our, our company up there sort of laughing in the background, saying--(laughs)--and then I looked up after signing this bottle, and I said, "Oh my goodness." And there was a line, every one of them was in line with their bottle to sign it. (all laugh) That was my first experience, I'll never forget that.
CARLTON: Do you enjoy that aspect of, of talking about FourRoses at these events and--
RUTLEDGE: --oh, absolutely. Uh, as I mentioned earlier, we were49:00built from the ground up, grassroots. Uh, and I, I enjoy going out and talking to people, signing bottles. Uh, you know, I always talk with everybody. I, I, there could be a line of people signing bottles but I have something to say to everybody. And thanking and appreciating everybody for, uh, you know, uh, purchasing a bottle of Four Roses, supporting the Four Roses brand. And, uh, to me, I consider a, an honor to, uh, for if somebody comes up and asks me to sign a bottle. It, to me, it's an honor to do that. And always, we always talk, uh, through the long line--(laughs)--chitchat a little bit, uh, with every signature.
JOANNA HAY: Can I interrupt with a little followup?
HAY: When did that first begin in the industry, that people,this awareness--yeah, want to take a sip. Um, this awareness of a Master Distiller and--
RUTLEDGE: --okay, you can--
HAY: --his role--
RUTLEDGE: --you want to ask that? Uh, because I can50:00tell you how--
RUTLEDGE: --the term "Master Distiller" got started.
HAY: And why you became so famous, and why--
HAY: --what, what--yeah.
RUTLEDGE: I have no idea about that part. I cantell you what--(Carlton and Hay laugh)--that has to do with the bourbon in the bottle, not me. So whenever you're ready, you can ask me how did the term--
CARLTON: --yeah, how did the term "Master Distiller" arise?
RUTLEDGE: Well, uh, it started with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.Uh, the first Bourbon Festival started in 1992. Uh, we had a, it was really a distillery party. About 250 people, most of them from the distilleries. We had a, a dinner under, uh, a tent and we had a tasting. We all used just, uh, popup tables, plastic glasses, and we were going around tasting each other's bourbon. We had the dinner. And, uh, then Bourbon Festival began to grow through the years. And I think it was, uh, 1995, uh, because of the, uh, the work that 51:00the distilleries put into the, uh, growing Kentucky Bourbon Festival and the master distillers. On a Sunday morning, we didn't, we weren't doing anything on Sunday morning at the time. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival, uh, in recognition of the work, started what they were calling a master distillers' breakfast, encouraging the master distillers, uh, the distillers to come out to, to breakfast and, uh, that morning, and, uh. But that's how, the first time "Master Distiller" was ever used for that. And in fact, uh, people started what, uh, that was, uh, about the time I was coming into the business, and I'd been a distiller for a while. And, uh, I thought that was just, I don't know, this glory, uh, uh, the word "Master Distiller." And I refused to, to, when you tell me the difference in what I'm doing today versus yesterday when I was a distiller, then I'll begin, you know, I'd be okay to use "Master Distiller." 52:00It was over a year before I allowed our company to, uh--Seagram--to, uh, call me, "Master Distiller." But then our marketing people came, "We're really losing because of your, uh, stubbornness." (Carlton laughs) And, uh, and I, I agreed, "Go ahead." And, uh, so it was, that's how I got a start. And, uh, you know, I was content to, to just live my life and, uh, spend it in the distillery, and with our operators. And I, I guess it was probably about the mid-fifties that the master distillers also, uh, became tools of companies' marketing plans. And that was probably started by accident when one of--and I don't know what company--when, uh, what distillery, when they found out some of us, when they'd ask a question or asked us to speak to somebody. And after a couple minutes say, "How do we shut this guy up now that he started talking about the bourbon he's making?" 53:00(Carlton laughs) And beg-, they began to realize that the distillers were so passionate about what they did. And the ones that didn't mind, uh, talking to groups of people, uh, began using them as a, a marketing term. And, uh, I was one of those that, uh, shoot, at first I was scared to death to stand up in front of people and talk. And, uh, I'd walk away with, uh, my shoes squishing because I'm--(laughs)--sweating so much. (Carlton laughs) But, you know, but then, after I realized, boy, I, I love talking about bourbon. I love talking about the process. And, uh, at first I'd be nervous and talking to five or ten people and then it doesn't make any difference of five hundred now, as long as I can talk about something that I have such a passion for, yeah, I've found it to be so easy. And so many of us do that now. In fact, I spend a lot more time now doing that than I do actually in the, in the distillery. Uh, --------(??) distilling, we have other, uh, people that can, uh, run the distillery operations. I still get involved. I still approve all the, 54:00uh, you know, the Single Barrels or Small Batch, Limited Edition, Limited Edition Single Barrel, get involved in that when I can. I, I look at as many of the distillates that are going but we have a panel of five people looking at those. And, uh, but now, uh, I spend so much of the time before I retire, I felt like the right thing to do was help, we're new back in the US. We're just getting off the ground. Uh, I felt like the last few years that, uh, in, uh, I'm working in the industry, the best thing I can do for employees is help what little one person can do is to build our brand. And I do more of that, uh, traveling around the US, uh, Europe, Japan now than, um, I'm gone more than I'm here.
CARLTON: What do you think bourbon, what does bourbon mean toKentucky, um, as an industry, as a symbol? Um, obviously it's 55:00made other places but it's, it's, uh, 95 percent of it's made here. I mean, what makes--
RUTLEDGE: --that's right. Uh, obviously it's one of our signatureindustries. We've been around since before Kentucky became--we're not a state; we're a commonwealth. Same thing, really. (laughs)
RUTLEDGE: But, uh, before we became a state, uh, when the,uh, first settlers, uh, of the western frontier, back in, uh, you know, early 1700s, or whatever, were moving to the western frontier--Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee--uh, many of them, uh, with, uh, uh, Scottish or Irish, uh, uh, descendants. Uh, they were, they were moving and settled here. And they found the water, uh, supply, uh, just plentiful and the softness of the water. Didn't know why, I guess, back then, but, uh, the limestone water in all throughout central Kentucky. Of course, that's always recognized as being one of the reasons, uh, 56:00for the good Kentucky bourbon is the availability of limestone water. And there's actually, uh, until Alaska was made a state--I think it was 1959--Kentucky had more running water than any other state in the US. So the water was plentiful. And it was good. It was soft and it was very conducive to the bourbon process. And then we also have about as many hot days as cold days during the course of a year, which is perfect for the maturation process and the white oak barrels, the charred white oak barrels. So the, uh, the climate conditions, uh, the environment here is just perfect for, uh, the bourbon process. And then, of course, uh, the bourbon was made, named after the original Bourbon County of Kentucky. And, uh, Bourbon County, back, uh, when Kentucky was first a state, comprised probably 20 percent of the state. It was subse-, subsequently divided later into about twenty-six counties, I think. 57:00So it was mostly the central Kentucky. And, uh, but bourbon, uh, when people began to ask for the, the main, uh,port of trade was New Orleans, people came for that, asked for that good whiskey made in Bourbon County, Kentucky, it acquired its name bourbon, so that it became, uh, exclusive to Kentucky, bourbon. And that was until 1964 when bourbon, uh, was by act of Congress, was declared a product distinctive to the United States of America, and, uh, America's only native distilled spirit. And now it can be made anywhere but it had its foothold in Kentucky. Uh, you know, we've been here through all these years. And, uh, like, as you said, more than 95 percent of all bourbon today is still made by, uh, the major distilleries in Kentucky. Now, originally there were hundreds and hundreds, or a couple thousand back in years and years ago, a couple hundred years ago, small distilleries in Kentucky. 58:00Now there are eight major producing distilleries in Kentucky. And, uh, we still produce, like you said, 95 percent of all the bourbon in the US.
CARLTON: One thing that a lot of distillers I've spoken tomention is the camaraderie between the brands. Um, and, I mean, obviously there's some competition but do you, do you feel that? I mean, between master distillers--
RUTLEDGE: --oh, absolutely--
CARLTON: --at these events--
RUTLEDGE: --uh, we would help each other out in the dropof a hat if somebody called and said, uh, uh, you know, "We have a, a, a broken pump, uh, something, uh, we need a new pump, uh, to pump our, uh, the beer to the still. Or a piece of equipment's damaged." Or they're experiencing a, uh, an issue with fermentation. "Have you ever seen this, uh, in fermentation?" And that's happened. Uh, and I remember one time, it happened to, uh, a distiller called me, and I said, "I'll tell you what, I'll, I'll be down there as quick 59:00as I can." And we looked at the fermenter, smelled, tasted it. And I could've called anybody and done the same thing. Uh, we'd help each other at the drop of a hat. Yes, there's, uh, competition maybe but we're friends. And that overrides the competition. And the competition really, uh, like I said, we would do anything for each other. We respect each other. We're genuine friends. Now, you get up in other levels, marketing and sales, it may be a different story. But, uh, uh, at our level we often get together for lunches. Uh, it's becoming, becoming more and more difficult with the popularity of bourbon and our travel schedules, this becomes a lot more difficult than it used to be but we used to regularly get together, oftentimes once a month for a lunch. And then occasionally we'd get together for dinner. And when we have dinner together, one of the r-requisites was we'd each bring a bottle of our bourbon. I could bring a Four Roses Single Barrel, Small Batch, or whatever. Uh, one of the others bring their brands. And the only 60:00requirement of the night, you can drink all night if you want to, as long as you have a ride home. (laughs) But, uh, you can, you can drink as much as you want that night but you cannot drink your own bourbon. And that's the relationship we have, and that's, to me, that sums it up, uh, as, as good as anything is that we have the respect for each other. We get together. We can drink. But we have to drink one of our friend's bourbon.
CARLTON: Is making bourbon, is that a science or is thatan art?
RUTLEDGE: It's both. Uh, the art is the part Ilove in the business. But, uh, we have come light years. And one of the reasons we're so much better as an industry today than years ago, uh, is the technology changes, uh, that have happened over the years. I can remember when I worked in the distillery, uh, the first, I guess, distillery shift supervisor's job, I think, was in 1969, I believe. And, uh, I remember(??), 61:00for example if, uh, just using one example, if part of the, uh, process we were having problem in the dryer house, which is the tail-end of the process, uh, we're experiencing problems there. We need to slow, uh, the front-end down. And I want to slow the still, say, from 4000 gallons an hour down to 3600 gallons an hour. We'd have, we'd adjust valves manually. And we'd have pencil marks on the stills in different, uh, spots. And then we have these charts hanging on walls, uh, beer flow to the distillers, or, or the temperature of a, uh, fermenter, a temperature rise. But there'd be all these circular, uh, charts, twenty-four hour clocks. And so it could take us two or three hours to get that flow right, just right. Now, if I want to change a beer, uh, feed rate to the beer still, put it a number in the computer. And boom! It's there. So these kind of technologies have improved the process, the grain-handling systems, the way, the mills, the, the handling systems. The entire 62:00process, uh, has improved. But yet there will always be that art. And the art of taking your yeast strain and your yeast culture and making your yeast. And using your senses of smell and taste and sight to smell that yeast or smell that fermenter. And, uh, walking around, uh, you know, at the yeast process, we inoculate a fermenter with yeast and then that yeast consuming the sugar, generating alcohol and congeners, uh, uh, CO2 and, and, uh, in the fermentation process. And then being able to walk up, and I always tell everybody I use all five senses. First I'm gonna look at the top of the, uh, fermenter. Don't want to see any, you know, two feet of foam. Don't want to see a thick crust on top but a very thin layer of the CO2, and the, the fermenter moving on top. We're not agitating. But it's, it's moving on top, just looking 63:00at the appearance of the top, sticking my hand in, and smelling it, and, and see what it smells like, putting my finger in the fermenter. I can tell about what temperature it is and tasting it. And then the other sense is, uh, hearing, and that's a play on words because I could listen to what these other senses are telling me. And I know before that fermenter ever gets to the point where it's ready to be distilled if there's an issue with it. If there is, we can then segregate it. And, but we don't want to mess something, uh, a lot of bourbon. One lot to us is eight fermenters. If I see a fermenter that's bad, we'll segregate that. And then we'll analyze it separately and then in combination with the other. And if it's okay, fine, if not, we'll get rid of it. And, uh, so the art. uh, we have technologies today. A gas chromatograph, we can measure everything, whether it be a bottle or take a sample out of a fermenter, measure everything in parts per million. But we can still smell and taste in parts per billion. We're a lot better than any instrument made. And, again, that's the art. And that's the 64:00part I love: the art of the industry.
CARLTON: Well, I think that takes care of my questions.Do we have additional questions?
BRITTANY ALLISON: A couple, but that was, that, that last answerwas really good, and--
ALLISON: --the tax, I like how you slipped in the taxstuff. That was neat(??).
RUTLEDGE: --I wanted to get that in somewhere--
ALLISON: --I appreciate that--
RUTLEDGE: --but it was also a simplified explanation, which was good.Um, I'd love to hear about, um, stories from the road, particularly, you know, any kind of international reach, if you, if you have anything interesting culturally that's happened to you. And the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, um, how you think that's impacted the industry. And then the one other thing I was, I would like to know is you were talking about being on the road and you've got this panel of individuals that are kind of doing some of the work at the distillery that, that you oversee. How are you mentoring them to make sure they carried on those premiums?
RUTLEDGE: I'm not anymore. It's done. (all laugh)
ALLISON: How did you accomplish that, I guess?65:00
RUTLEDGE: It's, uh, it's the same way I learned. It's,uh, uh.
ALLISON: Do you want to have Carla, you know--
RUTLEDGE: --well, let's see. I'm, hmm, I'm okay. (alllaughs) It's on-the-job training, uh, on-the-job training with people that know and understand the business. But you can ask me whatever.
CARLTON: Okay, let's see.
RUTLEDGE: Or however you want to do it.
CARLTON: Well, we can start with that.
ALLISON: Thank you.
CARLTON: Yeah, uh, what, what did you do or are youdoing to mentor the people who will come after you to maintain this quality tradition you've established at Four Roses?
RUTLEDGE: Well, I think, uh, whether it be the people todayor myself years ago, uh, it's largely on-the-job training. I can remember my, uh, first, uh, shift supervisor's, uh, distillery shift supervisor position. And, you know, I'm running the night shift, uh, afternoon shift to midnight shift. And, uh, they said, "Make sure you smell that distillate. And make sure it's good." I said, "What's good? I don't know!" And, uh, so, you know, we 66:00go through, uh, I'd go through to the quality lab and have samples set up. "This is good." "This is not acceptable." And in between. But it's learning to use those senses, uh, and it's a lot, again, we talked about the art of distillation. But using our senses of smell and taste. And what's right, what's wrong. Uh, having, uh, whether it be a chemistry or a biology, microbiology background helps today. And you see more and more distilleries hiring people with, uh, uh, with that kind of education because it helps, uh, with the, uh, analysis and figuring out if something's not right, what is not right, what's making it like this and how to correct it. And, uh, so that, that's why you see more and more people like that in the industry. But when they come in, it's still you can have the background, you can have the aptitude, the education, but it's still on-the-job training, and, uh, using those senses, and using the art, and combining 67:00the art with, uh, your education in the science. Uh, melding those together to become a good distiller.
ALLISON: Great. Thank you.
CARLTON: And then what, what were you interested in about the,uh.
ALLISON: Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and then stories from the road.
RUTLEDGE: Stories from the road. Oh, I don't. (laughs)That's.
ALLISON: If you don't have anything, super, but if you've gotsomething interesting that happened to you that you'd like to share--
CARLTON: --maybe some cultural experience, or.
RUTLEDGE: I don't know if interesting, but you can ask thatone. (laughter)
CARLTON: Um, well, you mentioned that you spend very little timeat the distillery now, uh, Uh, in, in your role as master distiller you're traveling all over the world. Um, do you have any interesting cultural experiences you've had, um, in that role?
RUTLEDGE: Uh, you know, I, I probably, I don't know howmany countries I've been to. Uh, a lot. Uh, I enjoy traveling in the US. But, uh, international travel, uh, I 68:00was leery. Didn't know, uh, what to expect. Uh, one of the challenges is traveling with a translator, with, you know, it could be Japan or France or Spain or Germany or, uh, Austria, wherever, uh, is working through a translator. But it always amazes me. I've, uh, for example, in Japan, and, uh, but I could be standing on a street or walking around, and having people just walk up. And, uh, ones that could speak English, and, you know, everybody's so friendly. It doesn't make any difference. Uh, you know, the governments could be having issues. I was, uh, was it? Several years ago when there was some controversy between France and the US. And, and, uh, I was going to spend a week or ten days in France, and I said, "My goodness, I wonder what this is going to be like." And, you know, people were nice as they could be. People are people. You can be friends anywhere. Make friends anywhere. Doesn't make any difference if there are language barriers. Uh, and, uh, it's unfortunate the rest of the world--(laughs)--can't, can't be, uh, 69:00like that. But, uh, I, I've always enjoyed, uh, the international travel and the cultures, the differences, uh, in the culture, architecture, and things like that. But people aren't so different. Wherever you go.
CARLTON: And then what specifically--
RUTLEDGE: --I don't know whether that was--
CARLTON: --did you want to know about the Bourbon Trail?Just--
ALLISON: --how do you feel the Kentucky Bourbon Trail--
CARLTON: --oh, okay--
ALLISON: --has impacted the industry?
CARLTON: Yeah. Um, let's see, how do I phrase that?Well, the, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has just grown so much, I think, close to half a million people, uh, touched one or more distilleries on, on the trail last year. Um, how has that impacted the bourbon industry and Four Roses, in particular?
RUTLEDGE: No, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was, uh, uh, started, uh,mid-1999--I think it was June 1999--by the Kentucky Distillers Association. And, uh, you know, there's very little fanfare, uh, back then. And 70:00it's a combination of the popularity of bourbon growing and being recognized, uh, through brand education, I think, around the world, the quality of our, our, the bourbon we put in bottles, uh, in our industry. People have begun to realize around the world that hey, there's another whiskey besides Scotch. And it's Kentucky bourbon. Uh, and then, again, so people began to realize the quality of what we are offering the consumers. And now we have this Kentucky Bourbon Trail. And, uh, the interest has just grown domestically and globally. And people are just coming to Kentucky in growing numbers year after year after year. And a lot of people now have begun to come back every year or every two or three years, uh, just to experience it again. It's, uh, you could go to a distillery tour, all the distilleries on the trail right now, and do it in two or three days. But that's, you're 71:00only getting a piece of it. So they come back and, uh, very frequently. But we're getting visitors to Kentucky now, uh, from, uh, around the world, all, all the states in the US. And it's meant, uh, just economically, just, it's meant a world to, uh, to Kentucky's economy, uh, just having all these, uh, uh, people come in. and, as you mentioned, a half million people, and probably, uh, just a few years it will top a million people, I think, because of the growing interest, the growing popularity of Kentucky bourbon. And, uh, the, uh, the other bourbons around the, the country, uh, are growing but there will never be another Kentucky, and never be another industry in a state, uh, like, like we have here in Kentucky with our bourbon distilleries.
ALLISON: That was great.72:00
RUTLEDGE: That, I messed that up.
CARLTON: (laughs) No, that was great.
ALLISON: No, actually, that was great.
HAY: I've got three quick questions. If you want, Ican ask them and then you can answer them to her. Um, one is that, Al Young mentioned, uh, well, you guys have worked together for a long, long time, because of your relationship with Seagram's. He mentioned you're sort, somewhat like brothers. Do you have any Al Young stories or anything about camaraderie and the way you work--(laughs)--together?
CARLTON: Or rivalry. (laughs)
RUTLEDGE: No, there's no rivalry, at all. Yeah, uh, youknow, when Al Young started, uh, his first job was in the bottling department, uh, at the Louisville Distillery, the Calvert-, the Seagram's Calvert Distillery. And, uh, the first person that gave him a tour of the bottling department was myself. I'd been, uh, I don't know, been with Seagram back then, uh, eight or nine months. And I'd come out of, uh, Seagram R&D. And, uh, so we've, uh, worked with each other on and off, uh, directly, indirectly 73:00through all these years. Uh, uh, he went to, uh, to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, when the Louisville distillery had closed. I'd already gone to New York. Uh, I always knew where I was working, and, uh, I'd see him on my trips when I was traveling, uh, out of corporate New York to the various distilleries. Run into him frequently. He was transferred back to Kentucky in the early nineties, I think, or maybe it was the late eighties. And then I was transferred in, uh, New York to Kentucky in 1992, so we were back together. When, at first, he was, uh, distillery shift supervisor, uh, at the distillery here, uh, I was starting, uh, down at the warehouse facility. And, uh, I was transferred to the distillery in 1994. And Al was, uh, still in a supervisory position in the distillery. And then with the, 74:00uh--(clears throat)--uh, Seagram going out of business at the end of 2001. And, uh, we all maintained our same positions at the time. But then as we began to grow our brand, uh, Al had an opportunity to do something he's always loved. He's always loved the history of the industry, uh, Four Roses and the industry itself. And, uh, he had an opportunity to come out of the production, uh, management, uh, in, uh, distillery operations, move into a brand ambassador position, because it, when we first started back to, in the US it was just me, uh, doing--(laughs)--just about everything at the time. And then we hired a, a salesperson. Then the next person that came, uh, in was Al into the sales department. And, uh, he became more passionate about, uh, what he was doing now--and I loved to see it--than he ever was, uh, probably 75:00working a distillery itself, because he, he can go out and talk to people, talk the history, the process, and, uh, do a lot of traveling. And he's, uh, become a tremendous asset and very well-known and recognized individual in our industry around the world, uh, because of these opportunities. He's also written a book on the history of Four Roses, uh, Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend. And, uh, he's very talented, uh, and passionate about our brand. And, uh, unfortunately we're both, uh, older, and we'll both be retired, leaving relatively soon. And, uh, but, uh, the two of us have been the ones that primarily have been asked to go around. Uh, I don't think Al's done any international traveling, uh, uh, from all, uh, all over the US though, uh, uh, going out, uh, to tasting events, special events of kind, have gone and just talking, promoting Four Roses, and, uh, talking about the quality of 76:00our bourbon, and the quality of the people we have here. And, uh, it's been a pleasure all these years. Uh, more than forty-seven--well, forty--less than forty-seven. I've been forty-seven. (Carlton laughs) But I, I think I started, I don't know, seven, eight months just prior to Al. So we've had that connection through all these years.
HAY: That's neat. Um, so--
RUTLEDGE: --I hope you're not hearing my stomach on this microphone.(Carlton laughs) I'm hungry.
ALLISON: ------ snacks --------(??). (laughs)
RUTLEDGE: I should've eaten a snack.
HAY: Since your return, or at around that time, um, theKentucky, the bourbon industry, in general, and, and Four Roses, specifically, has, has been sort of a rags-to-riches story in a way. Um, can you talk about that, being a uniquely American story of some kind?
RUTLEDGE: Sure. Uh, you know, our industry, uh, was actuallyon a slide from, uh, late sixties through the eighties. And 77:00I, I believe what really began to turn our industry around was the introduction of premium brands. So, we mentioned earlier premium Single Barrel bourbons, premium Small Batch bourbons. As an industry, we really didn't do anything different other than to focus, uh, on the quality of the bourbon we were putting in a bottle. For years and years, people began to--it was sort of like a, a vodka. People say, "Go ahead and buy the least expensive bourbon because it's all the same anyway," which couldn't have been further from the truth. We're all different. And even within our distilleries we, uh, we're different with the, the labels we put on the market. But the, the introduction of, uh, Single Barrel, uh, Blanton's in 1983. And then I think it was late 87 when, uh, Jim Beam introduced their Small Batch collection, uh, Booker's, Baker's, uh, Knob Creek, and Basil Hayden. And that began to, uh, just improve 78:00the quality image of Kentucky bourbon. That we all have our Single Barrel, Small Batch bourbons. And, uh, it was just, and through brand education around, uh, throughout the US and globally. And people began to understand, hey, just as I said previous, there is another whiskey in this world that is really a quality product and it's Kentucky bourbon. So, uh, we began growing. And then, uh, of course, the mid-nineties, we, early nineties, we began to slow that negative trend, and we level off. Showed some signs of growth in the middle nineties, uh, and, uh, continued to slightly grow through the rest of the nineties. And then, uh, ever since the, the new century rolled around, the, into the 2000s, uh, and it's just continued to grow and dramatically. Uh, and I think it's something that, all my years in the industry, I've either seen, 79:00uh, either in barrel inventories, either we have excess, we're short, excess, short. The only time we're in balance seems like when we're on the way up or down. And, but it's hard to plan way up, uh, because you're planning on existing trends. And now, I think that, uh, the trend we're seeing now with the growth of bourbon, uh, domestically and globally, will be sustained longer than anything we've ever seen in the history of our industry. And, uh, we're obviously here to stay. And, uh, but it's an exciting time for all of us in bourbon. Uh, and that's why you're seeing so many new craft distillers, uh, uh, around all over the US, uh, coming to the industry. And, unfortunately, they've got a--(laughs)--uh, it's a, it's a challenge to, to start, uh, the, uh, zero or negative cash flow for the first years until you get some, uh, uh, good-aged bourbon and learning the industry and carrying 80:00on traditions. They have no traditions to carry on. And a lot of what we do today is, uh, carrying on through the traditions, the product quality that were established by our predecessors. I'm talking about "our," the master distilleries. And, uh, but the bourbon industry, and then, in the last ten/fifteen years in particular, you know, people are beginning to recognize how much better, uh, bourbon is than people had really thought it, thought it was. And then social media. Uh, that's a, uh, a tribute to the extremely rapid growth of Four Roses back domestically. Uh, when people go out, uh, we, any distillery. We introduce a new, a new brand, a new label. And so to grow that brand, introduce it to the US and the world, you go through traditional magazine, newspaper advertisings, billboards, uh, advertising. And growing the brand takes several 81:00years. Now, if you'd to walk out, uh, tonight, uh, with your family or friends and try a bourbon you hadn't tried, say, "Wow, this is really good. I, what is this?" So you go home, and you write about it on the internet through a blog, or whatever, and it's known around the world the next morning. So that's, that's helped also, uh, I think dramatically grow the industry in recent years.
[End of interview.]
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: This is Carla Carlton interviewing Jim Rutledge at Four Roses on December 16th, 2013 for the Kentucky Bourbon Tales oral history project.
Segment Synopsis: Jim Rutledge talks about growing up in Louisville, and working at Sears Roebuck while in school. He talks about his first job at Seagrams after college. He talks about his transfer to New York, and his desire to return to a job at a distillery which led to his transfer to the Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky.
Keywords: Careers; Four Roses Distillery; Kentucky; Management; Master Distillers; New York; Research and development; Sears, Roebuck & Co.; Supervisors
Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky Distillers. Louisville (Ky.) Seagram Company Whiskey industry--Kentucky Working
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
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Partial Transcript: And when I got back, uh, Four Roses bourbon had been in export markets only for--since the late 1950s.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about his desire to make Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey successful in the U.S. market. He talks about the challenges that they faced, including the negative image of the Four Roses blended whiskey. He talks about the company being taken over by the Kirin Brewery Company, and finally being allowed to introduce Four Roses bourbon whiskey in the United States.
Keywords: Challenges; Domestic market; Foreign markets; Four Roses blended whiskey; Four Roses bourbon whiskey; Global market; Kentucky; Kirin Brewery Company; Negative image; Perceptions; Premium brands; Reputations; Single barrel bourbons
Subjects: Branding (Marketing) Distilleries--Kentucky Distillers. Kirin Bīru Kabushiki Kaisha Quality of products. Seagram Company Whiskey industry--Kentucky Whiskey.
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: We introduced the blended whisk, uh, blended whiskey--the bourbon in 2004.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about deciding to enter Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon into Whisky Magazine's bourbon competition. He talks about winning Best American Whiskey of the Year and the Taste of the Bluegrass competition. He talks about Four Roses Small Batch bourbons and their success on the bourbon market.
Keywords: Barrels; Best American Whiskey of the Year; Bourbon market; Competitions; Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon whiskey; Introduction; Kentucky; London (England); Mixed drinks; Sales; Small batch bourbons; Success; Taste of the Bluegrass; Taste tests; Tasting events; Whisky Magazine; Winning
Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky Fame. Marketing. Product demonstrations Quality of products. Sales promotion. Whiskey industry--Kentucky Whiskey.
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Partial Transcript: Could you talk a little bit about the, uh--one thing that makes Four Roses unique is the ten recipes.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about the ten different bourbon recipes created at the Four Roses Distillery, and how they achieve consistency by combining these recipes. He talks about how the ten recipes are made. He talks about why the Four Roses warehouses are single-story, unlike most other warehouses in the industry, and how that also helps the distillery achieve consistency in their products. Rutledge talks about how he chooses recipes for the Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon whiskey, and the limited edition bourbons the distillery produces.
Keywords: Aging; Alcohol proofs; Four Roses bourbon whiskey; Bottle design; Bourbon recipes; Consistency; Differences; Flavors; Four Roses Distillery; Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon whiskey; Limestone water sources; Limited editions; Mash bills; Single-story warehouses; Small batch bourbons; Standards; Temperatures; Ten recipes; Tiers; Unique; Variation; Yeast strains
Subjects: Distillation. Distilleries--Kentucky Quality control. Quality of products. Whiskey industry--Kentucky Whiskey.
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: And how do you--(laughs)--how do you, how do you choose those?
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about the misconceptions that higher age and cost necessarily mean a bourbon is higher quality.
Keywords: Age; Aging; Expensive; Four Roses bourbon whiskey; Maturation; Misconceptions; Perceptions; Price; Testing
Subjects: Distillation. Distilleries--Kentucky Quality control. Quality of products. Whiskey.
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: Well you're obviously on the right track because your Limited Edition Small Batch was just named American Whiskey of the Year by Whisky Advocate.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about how it feels to receive accolades and recognition for the products he has created. He talks more about when Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was first put on the U.S. market, and how it grew in success and popularity.
Keywords: Accolades; Advertising; American Whiskey of the Year; Awards; Employees; Funds; Growing brands; Proud; Recognition; Single barrel bourbons; Small batch bourbons; Time; Whisky Magazine
Subjects: Consumers. Distilleries--Kentucky Fame. Marketing. Product demonstrations Quality of products. Sales promotion. Whiskey industry--Kentucky Whiskey. Word-of-mouth advertising.
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: You're the Master Distiller here obviously. Um, talk a little bit about how, how do you become a Master Distiller and who were your mentors in, in the business as you came up?
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about how he became a Master Distiller, and describes his mentor in the industry, Stanley Bershaw. He talks about the importance of having a good work ethic.
Keywords: Bourbon industry; Business; Effort; Family traditions; Four Roses Distillery; Kentucky; Learning; Longevity; Luck; Master Distillers; Mentors; New York; Passion; Retirement; Stanley Bershaw; Work ethic; Working
Subjects: Distillers. Seagram Company Whiskey industry--Kentucky
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: So a big part of when you were first here, um, was just keeping this place going.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks more about his efforts to improve the quality of the products the Four Roses brand was producing. He talks about what makes a good bourbon, including quality ingredients, aging, and performing quality control checks at each step in the process. He talks about how he prefers to drink bourbon.
Keywords: Aging; Alcohol taxes; Appreciation; Barrels; Bourbon recipes; Corn; Distillate; Drinking bourbon; Employees; Finish; Flavors; Four Roses blended whiskey; Four Roses Distillery; Good bourbon; Grains; Ingredients; Mellowness; Neat; Rye; Smoothness; Taste profiles; Working; Yeast strains
Subjects: Alcoholic beverages. Distillation. Distilleries--Kentucky Quality control. Quality of products. Whiskey.
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: Well Jim I think, um, from what I've seen you have some of the best penmanship in the bourbon industry.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about autographing bottles, and recalls the first time he was asked to sign a bottle. He talks about how the popularity of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival has grown since it first began. He talks about when the term Master Distiller began to be used, and how he felt about it. He talks about promoting the Four Roses brand, and giving talks about bourbon to large groups of people.
Keywords: Appreciation; Bourbon industry; Four Roses forums; International markets; Japan; Kentucky Bourbon Festival; Let's Talk Bourbon; Master Distillers; Nervous; Passion; Penmanship; Signing autographs; Talking
Subjects: Branding (Marketing) Business enterprises, Foreign. Consumers. Distillers. Fame. Sales promotion. Whiskey industry--Kentucky
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Partial Transcript: What do you think bourbon--what does bourbon mean to Kentucky?
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about why many people began distilling in Kentucky after immigrating from Ireland or Scotland. He discusses the factors that make Kentucky the ideal place to produce bourbon, and talks about the number of distilleries that used to exist in the state.
Keywords: Bourbon making process; Bourbon whiskey; Climate; Immigrants; Limestone water sources; Seasons; Temperature
Subjects: Bourbon County (Ky.) Distillation. Distilleries--Kentucky Irish Americans. Quality of products. Scottish Americans Whiskey industry--Kentucky
GPS: Bourbon County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.2, -84.21
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Partial Transcript: One thing that a lot of distillers I've spoken to mention is that--the camaraderie between the brands.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about the relationships between distillers in the bourbon industry, and talks about their tradition of drinking each others' bourbon when they get together.
Keywords: Camaraderie; Competition; Drinking bourbon; Friends; Master Distillers; Relationships
Subjects: Alcoholic beverages. Distillers. Whiskey industry--Kentucky Whiskey.
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: Is making bourbon, is that a science or is that an art?
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about how bourbon-making involves both science and art. He talks about how technology has changed over the years, making the distilling process easier. He talks about how he uses his senses to ensure quality products. He talks about how he trains and mentors his successors.
Keywords: Art; Bourbon making process; Changes; Computers; Education; Fermentation; Mentoring; On-the-job training; Science; Senses; Successors; Technology; Yeast
Subjects: Distillation. Distillers. Quality control. Quality of products. Whiskey industry--Kentucky
GPS: Four Roses Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.973056, -84.897778
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: And then what, what were you interested in about the, uh--
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about traveling to other countries and meeting friendly people who are interested in bourbon. He talks about the beginning of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and how it has grown in popularity over the years. He talks about how the trail helps Kentucky's economy.
Keywords: Cultures; Economy; France; Friendly; Growing industry; International markets; KDA; Kentucky Bourbon Trail; Meeting people; Popularity; Translators; Traveling
Subjects: Business enterprises, Foreign. Consumers. Distilleries--Kentucky Distillers. Fame. Kentucky Distillers' Association Quality of products. Tourism. Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 47, 2
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Partial Transcript: I've got three quick questions.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about meeting Al Young and how they have formed a relationship throughout their years of working together. He talks about Young becoming a brand ambassador for Four Roses, promoting products, and writing books about the distillery.
Keywords: Al Young; Books; Bottling department; Brand Ambassador; Four Roses Distillery; Friends; History; Kentucky; Product promotion; Relationships; Tours; Traveling
Subjects: Quality of products. Sales promotion. Seagram Company Whiskey industry--Kentucky
GPS: Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.25, -85.766667
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript: Since your return or at around that time, um, the Kentucky--the bourbon industry in general and, and Four Roses specifically has, has been sort of a "rags to riches" story in a way.
Segment Synopsis: Rutledge talks about how the bourbon industry has become more successful over the years by introducing premium products and focusing on quality. He talks about growth and trends in the bourbon industry. He discusses how social media has affected the bourbon industry. The interview is concluded.
Keywords: Basil Hayden's bourbon whiskey; Blanton's Single Barrel bourbon whiskey; Booker's bourbon whiskey; Bourbon industry; Bourbon market; Brand education; Craft distillers; Four Roses brand; Growth; Image; Jim Beam small batch collection; Knob Creek bourbon whiskey; Planning; Premium brands; Social media; Traditions; Trends
Subjects: Economic conditions. Quality of products. Whiskey industry--Kentucky Whiskey.