The Bourbon Ecosystem: Wild Turkey Toasts Our Partners in Honor of Bourbon Heritage Month

Bourbon: It provides jobs to grain farmers, forests owners, loggers, coopers, distillers, warehousemen and more. No other spirit can boast such contributions to the vitality of America’s economy. But who are the people fueling this Bourbon ecosystem? In part, they are people like Wild Turkey’s legendary Master Distillers, Jimmy and Eddie Russell.  However, there are numerous others fueling “The Great American Spirit.”

In honor of Bourbon Heritage Month, we sat down with some of Wild Turkey’s key partners who help make our products possible. We spoke to Brad Boswell, President of the Independent Stave Company who crafts our custom-made barrels, Charlie Jeffries, VP and General Manager at Bagdad Roller Mills where we source our non-GMO corn, and Clayton Livingston, Beverage Director at a Louisville bar who educates countless bar patrons about the beauties and nuances of Wild Turkey products.

Like Jimmy and Eddie, these three share a commitment to doing things the right way – instead of the easy way – and to continuing the strong bourbon tradition of the United States.  Here’s what they had to say about their businesses, industry trends and, of course, how they take their bourbon.


Brad Boswell
President
 at the Independent Stave Company

  1. Brad Boswell photoJimmy and Eddie Russell are committed to doing things the right way, and not choosing the easy way out, in their craft of Wild Turkey bourbon.  How do you apply that same ethos to your craft?

The Boswell family and many members of ISC’s team have long-standing, personal relationships with Jimmy and Eddie Russell. We understand their commitment to doing things right, and we understand exactly what they want in a barrel. These relationships have certainly facilitated this understanding. To meet Jimmy’s and Eddie’s expectations, we start by selecting the finest cooperage-quality white oak logs available. Cooperage-quality logs are from slower-growth trees, have very few defects and are generally from the base of the tree. Next, we mill these high quality logs at our own stave mills, where we have complete control over the quality of each stave we use to make Wild Turkey’s barrels. At our cooperages, each Wild Turkey barrel is “made to order.” We craft the staves into barrels meeting Wild Turkey’s unique specifications, which includes a deep #4 alligator char. This char unlocks the vanilla and caramel from deep within the wood and provides the richness and dark color found in Wild Turkey Bourbon.    

  1. Bourbon Heritage Month is a celebration of the long history of bourbon in this country.  How does this heritage impact how you do business today?

The impact bourbon has had on this country since its founding is noteworthy. Since the time of our founding fathers, bourbon has provided jobs to farmers of grain, owners of forests, loggers, stave millers, coopers, distillers and warehousemen. What other spirit can boast of making such a contribution to the vitality of the country’s economy? It is “The Great American Spirit.” It has been great for many American farmers and workers. Because of this, ISC’s stakeholders take great pride in being a part of bourbon’s heritage. Our family, our associates and our suppliers are all proud of our affiliation with the industry and its history. Bourbon’s storied past inspires us to craft the highest quality barrels today and continue playing our role in assuring bourbon’s great history continues.

  1. Looking towards the future, what is the biggest change you expect to see in your piece of the bourbon industry in the next 10 years?

The bourbon industry continues down the road of premiumization. Of course, an example is Wild Turkey’s growing range of ultra-premium bourbons. ISC has moved with the industry and expanded the range of high quality bourbon barrels in our portfolio. I expect we will continue diversifying our portfolio by providing new and often custom combinations of oak species and origin, wood seasoning regimes and toasting/charring profiles. ISC’s diverse offering of barrels will complement our customers’ growing range of ultra-premium bourbons.

  1. And finally, how do you take your bourbon?

I take my bourbon on the rocks.


Charlie Jeffries
Vice President and General Manager at Bagdad Roller Mills

  1. Badad MillsJimmy and Eddie Russell are committed to doing things the right way, and not choosing the easy way out, in their craft of Wild Turkey bourbon.  How do you apply that same ethos to your craft?

Bagdad Roller Mills is a small independent business, which means we have complete control over the quality of our product. We have the ability to not only test the corn for GMOs, but also do a thorough inspection paying a premium for high quality corn. We know our growers, who take pride in the fact that they grow for Wild Turkey. In fact, approximately 80% of the corn for Wild Turkey comes from right here in Shelby Country with the remaining 20% coming from surrounding counties.

  1. Bourbon Heritage Month is a celebration of the long history of bourbon in this country.  How does this heritage impact how you do business today?

The mill dates back to 1884. In the early 20th century, the Harrison family bought the mill and still owns the majority of the business, so heritage is very important to us. The Harrisons incorporated with two other families in the 1950s. As a family business, we are about a quality product, fair pricing and excellent service and that hasn’t changed.

  1. Looking towards the future, what is the biggest change you expect to see in your piece of the bourbon industry in the next 10 years?

With the uptick in the interest in Bourbon and the pace of growth of the category, we anticipate growing along with the Bourbon industry together with our local growers to create a quality product.

  1. And finally, how do you take your bourbon?

Generally, I would say ‘Neat.’ In the cooler months, I like Russell’s Reserve at room temperature and in the warmer months, I like American Honey chilled.


Clayton Livingston
Beverage Director in Louisville, KY

  1. 20150828_174859Jimmy and Eddie Russell are committed to doing things the right way, and not choosing the easy way out, in their craft of Wild Turkey bourbon.  How do you apply that same ethos to your craft?

At our bar we handmake every ingredient we possibly can. We do this so that we present to our guests the best and freshest product possible. This can be seen from our freshly squeezed juices to our house made bourbon cream, black walnut orgeat, and cinnamon syrup for whiskey shots. I have many talented people who work with me, and together we are able to create many wonderful things that most bars would buy prepackaged.  We also hand craft each of our cocktails, using only products that we deem the best for our guests’ tastes.

  1. Bourbon Heritage Month is a celebration of the long history of bourbon in this country.  How does this heritage impact how you do business today?

I think Bourbon Heritage Month is an excellent reason to celebrate the long history of bourbon that makes the products we implement what they are today. I believe in order to keep in line with our predecessors of this craft, we too should be ever seeking the best possible way to use and present our product, rather than cutting quality for the sake or ease of quantity. We want to be able to present these wonderful products in a light that they deserve as America’s Spirit. 

  1. Looking towards the future, what is the biggest change you expect to see in your piece of the bourbon industry in the next 10 years?

There are many changes I see coming about already in the bourbon industry.  The innovation and technique in handling bourbon has been changing in many ways all across the world.  As I very much encourage individual creativity and promotion for our product, my biggest goal is in education.  There are many fine products that our guests have simply not tried, or haven’t felt the need to try.  And in the absence of and bourbon education, why would they?  Perhaps if they were aware that their Manhattan could shine if made with Wild Turkey 101, because the sweetness of the vermouth and the spicy of the bourbon combine into a much more balanced flavor, that is what they would ask for.  Wild Turkey Diamond is a great example of the elegance of aging in bourbon, becoming more rounded, balanced and complex with age.  If the public were aware of the vast differences there are from product to product, they would be able to make a more educated decision about what they think they would get the most enjoyment out of.  My hand-picked staff is trained not only about the products they are selling, but also about ways to bring the integrity of these products out, to present them in ways the lay-bourbon drinker would be more apt to understand.

  1. And finally, how do you take your bourbon?

Neat


All photos are courtesy of The Independent Stave Company, Bagdad Roller Mills and Clayton Livingston.

Date published:


Brands:
Wild Turkey® Straight Kentucky Bourbon

Share