Whisky Magazine Issue 117
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We met the man who created a Bourbon legacy
Walk into your local liquor store and look at the Bourbon shelf. Touch the bottles, read the promotional tags and imagine pouring two fingers over a thick chunk of ice. The sharp sounds of the ice cracking are music to your ears, but the aroma caroming off the glass and into the nose; that's what we live for with a good glass of Bourbon. Now, count the brands. Are there more than 50, 100, 200 or 300? Do you see signed bottles, flavoured lined extensions, T-shirts, flasks, shot glasses and other stuff? That other stuff didn't exist in 1981.
Welcome to the modern world of Bourbon, where line extensions are paramount to the financial virtues of a brand and distillers enjoy their greatest run since Prohibition, maybe ever, with Bourbon demands continuing to soar. But, the modern master distillers are a hybrid—half distiller, half marketer. They spend quite a bit of time signing bottles, travelling to bars and conducting classes. Today's Bourbon distillers have their own corporate credit card, a company car (or access to one) and a PR coach to remind them about their brand talking points. That's all new, a necessity to the growing interest in Bourbon.
Google any major master distiller's name and you'll find hundreds of interviews, photos, etc., of these folks talking Bourbon, their brands and life. Their biographies are public for all to see. They are faces of their respective brands. A generation before this era's master distillers, they weren't even called master distille...