During my transition from my last distillery to my current one, and when I started living with my wife, there were two periods where I had the most personal growth. During this time, I became a professional distiller, implemented my own protocols, overcame trepidation and worked hard to make it successful. Transcript: "So what characterized the period of your life where you experienced the most personal growth? Well it was in between my last distillery in this one and then during the setup and the initial years of this distillery. So in that same time period I moved in with my wife Kimberly Marie Bishop, my now wife, and she got pregnant. I became a daddy. I was going from a brand new distiller in the industry even though I've been distilling at home for many many years to a professional distiller captured at a job previously that I did not much care for working for people that I didn't necessarily much care for and I was getting an opportunity to come to a new place, implement my own distillation program, my own distillation protocols, my own yeast protocols, my own mash bills etc. And so that caused me to step up a little bit. There's a little trepidation though in there too because you know I didn't know if I was really cut out to be in this industry or not after being in it for a couple years in Louisville Kentucky and seeing how things really worked on the legal side of distillation and so there was a lot of what-ifs and ands or buts etc as there currently are right now in my life but those are generally the time periods where I learned the most. I really put my nose to the grindstone. I get after it. I do the things I need to do and I make it successful and I stick to it until it gets where it needs to go. All I need is a tall ship and a star to sail or bye guys. That's what I got."
My advice to my younger self would be to not be so arrogant and to trust myself more, but also to take criticism and check my answers when I'm not sure. Transcript: "If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? Two-fold. It wouldn't be just one piece, it'd be two-fold. It'd be, A, don't be such a dick. You don't know as much as what you think you currently do and there will come a time when you're able to look back on yourself and go, yeah, well, you were wrong about that, weren't you? In the same breath, I would say, try to be as sure of yourself as what you possibly can because you're gonna be right more often than you're wrong and there's gonna be a lot of people that try to convince you that they're wrong for their very own reasons and their very own agenda that has nothing to do with your benefit, either personal, financial, spiritual, etc. And so therefore you're gonna have to stick to your own road while kind of killing your ego back just a little bit. Let that ego die just a little bit and just be sure of yourself and when you're not sure yourself, be able to check your answers and take some criticism from time to time because it's important and it's valid, even from those that you may not otherwise think it might be valid from. Those are really the two biggest pieces of advice that I'd ever be able to go back in time and give to myself that I think would help me out a little bit with my career. Otherwise, I'm pretty happy with how everything has worked out for me in the world of distillation. I can't complain. I'm still here, still running the stills, and I'm still getting a paycheck."
The biggest decision I've made in my life is to trust and invest in myself, believe in my gut feeling, and be able to ego-check myself. This has helped me more than I can put into words and will continue to do what I do as I move forward. Transcript: "What's the most significant decision I've made in my life so far? Well there's a lot of big ones that I can think of. A lot of them that would seem very, very obvious, but honestly the biggest decision in my life that I've made in the entirety of my life is to believe in myself, trust myself, and invest in myself. Understand that my gut feeling often is the one that I should go with. It's the one that's the most educated, even more so than I necessarily may gather information later on, you know, from practical experience. But to believe in myself, but to also be able to ego check myself to some greater degree, right? I will always lean into whatever I think is the right thing to do, what I'm passionate about, what I love. I will go deep down the rabbit hole. I will continue to chase goals that I haven't even set for myself yet. I just do things, guys. That's what I do. And the decision to lean into that, you have to ignore the background noise. I'm in an active distillery. The decision to lean into that has helped me with my life more than I could possibly ever put into words, and is by far the single greatest decision that I've ever made in my life. I will continue to do what I do, as I do, into the future, maybe with some surprising results. We'll just have to see."
My career objective is to restart the distilling tradition of the Black Forest of Southern Indiana, which has Washington, Orange, Lawrence, Crawford, Harrison and Perry counties, that was active between 1858 and 1914. My personal objective is to be a good father, husband, brother, son, and person. Transcript: "What are the one career objective and the one personal objective that I want to accomplish before I die? Well, the career objective I've already started. That is restarting the distilling tradition of the Black Forest of Southern Indiana, which is Washington, Orange, Lawrence, Crawford, Harrison, and Perry Counties, where between 1858 and 1914 there were 150 plus legal operating distilleries, and it was known as the Apple Brandy Capital of the World to the extent that we're actually exporting Apple Brandy that went into Normandy. So that's pretty special, right? But that died out because of Prohibition, because of the Temperance Movement, and because of some other organizations that were involved. I have gotten us into USA Today, best U.S. craft brandy distillery in the United States competition for three years. We won it last year. That's a big deal. We just pulled in two new golds from the Denver International Spirits Competition on our Apple Brandy, and I started to help start the first distillery in the Black Forest region since before Prohibition, which is pretty special to me. So that's all well and good and easy and on its way. I'm not done yet. I've got a lot more to do. On the personal side, just be a good father, a good husband, a good brother, and a good son. A good person, if I can be, where I can."
The contrarian opinion that has benefited me the most in my life is that I prefer working on smaller, more innovative projects than large industrialized ones. This has allowed me to focus on craft distilling and pot still distillation, and to be part of rebuilding the history of distilling in the Midwest region. Transcript: "What contrarian opinion you've held has benefited you the most in your life? By far, the idea that I would rather be on the chase than have already caught something, right? So, I like the underdog. I like being the underdog. I like playing in the minor leagues. That's why I work in craft distilling and not large industrialized distilling. I pass on large industrialized distilling jobs just about every single week because, to me, it wouldn't be that much fun. The goal is already attained. It's already there. It's already at hand. You're doing somebody else's work. You're not doing anything that new, that innovative, that different. For me, it's a lot more fun to have to work on the fly, to be able to turn on a dime, to be able to do things in a very different way, all the way down to focusing specifically on pot still distillation. I think that pot still distillation makes a better spirit, a more rounded spirit, a fattier spirit, a spirit more representative of the person who's working the stills and the fermenters, as well as the agrarian side of distillation in general, than what a column still will ever possibly make. So, I'm the exact opposite of most distillers in the Midwest and the Kentuckiana region in general, in that I would much rather be on the Hoosier side of the river, rebuilding our history over here. I'd much rather be working on pot still distillery. I don't need the big, shiny, squirrely copper stuff, and I don't need the limelight that comes with working for one of those huge distilleries. It does not interest me at all, and I'm doing just fine."
Yeast plays a major role in the flavor and aroma of whiskey, as it produces long chain fatty acids, as well as other compounds like SO2, H2S, acetaldehyde, and ethyl acetate. It can also have an impact on the head scratching cut. Yeast is very important to many distillation philosophies, and should be given a lot of attention when making whiskey. Transcript: "So what role do yeast strains play in the flavor and aroma of whiskey? Well this is something I've been playing around with for a long time. Yeast does not get talked about nearly enough in the United States or even in Scotland where it's considered a utility device in order to turn starch and well not turn starch into sugar but to convert sugar into CO2 and ethanol. Right the the more efficient it is the better it is for alcohol production but not necessarily for a pot still distiller. Yeast has just as much of an effect on flavor as what any of the small grains such as rye or wheat will have on flavor in particular when mixed into a mash bill and differing percentages. You talk to a lot of traditional you know Kentucky style distillers at the big factories and they're gonna tell you that yeast you know maybe off of the still it's gonna have five or ten percent impact but once it goes into the barrel it's gonna be negligible. That is not true at all not in my experience. I can tell you right now ten to fifteen percent even post maturation is pretty common for the yeast strains that we're playing around with and it has everything to do with long chain fatty acids that are being produced during fermentation as well as whether or not a yeast might be you know able to create some interesting off flavors or if it creates some SO2 or H2S that acetyl aldehyde and ethyl acetate can bond to or it does not produce those compounds giving you a smaller heads fraction or heads cut in general. Yeast is very important to my distillation philosophy in fact I would put it right up there at the height of importance with anything else that might go into a product. Sorry about the noise guys active working distillery here."