Whisky Magazine Issue 12
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Charles Maclean talks to the General Manger of America's oldest (and youngest) distillery.
CM What was the background to the idea?
BC Well, we felt that American distillers had not done all they could to develop connoisseurship amongst their consumers. You only have to look at what Robert Mondavi has done for Californian wines, or the Scotch malt distillers - and we have been closely interested in this through our involvement with Glenmorangie since the late 1980s - to see the huge interest out there in premium products and the story behind them.
CM How long did it take you to come up with Woodford Reserve?
BC Six of us with backgrounds in production and marketing, led by a very senior manager, were locked away in a hotel for three days to discuss how to get into the category. We established three principles. First, we needed a home-place for the brand and an authentic home-place, not Disneyland. Second, we identified an opportunity to educate and inform about Bourbon. Third, we stressed that it must be a long-term commitment. We had the full support of the top brass at Brown-Forman, including Bill Street, President of Beverages, and Owsley Brown, our Chairman and CEO.
Then we hired an architecture student and told him to find us a site in Kentucky which had plenty of heritage and a good story to tell. After seven months he came up with the Labrot & Graham Distillery, in Woodford County, about an hour from Louisville, where Brown-Forman's HQ is located.
CM I am surprised it took him so long. The Labrot & Graham
Distillery is one of the oldest in the States, and wa...