EP. 20 - Corn & Bourbon: Powering Partnerships and Kentucky’s Economic Revival

May 12, 2021

EP. 20 - Corn & Bourbon: Powering Partnerships and Kentucky’s Economic Revival

May 12, 2021

The Kentucky Corn Growers Association and Green River Distilling have teamed up to produce a locally sourced bourbon that supports corn research.

 

With a grain content of at least 51% corn, bourbon is a drink that’s near and dear to every grower’s heart.

 

But in the heart of bourbon country, there’s a really neat partnership taking root between the Kentucky Corn Growers Association and the producers of Yellow Banks bourbon, who source their corn from local growers and donate a portion of their profits to support corn research.

 

In this episode, we’re back at the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in Louisville for part two of our discussion about bourbon, as 8th generation master distiller Jacob Call from Green River Distilling talks about the partnerships… and the relationships… that make Yellow Banks possible.

 

Plus, Frazier Kentucky History Museum president and CEO Andy Treinen talks about how bourbon tourism is helping people reconnect with life on the farm.

 

And Laura Knoth and Adam Andrews from the Kentucky Corn Growers Association discuss how strongly rooted bourbon and corn are in Kentucky’s economy and culture.

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Jacob Call:

We touch agriculture in so many ways in the bourbon industry; everything from the grain, obviously, to the barrels. And it's just important for us to recognize that and to help tell that story. And if we can help tell the corn story, along with Kentucky and bourbon, then it's a win for everyone.

 

Dusty Weis:

Hello, and welcome to Wherever Jon May Roam, the National Corn Growers Association podcast. This is where leaders, growers, and stakeholders in the corn industry can turn for big picture conversations about the state of the industry and its future.

 

Dusty Weis:

I'm Dusty Weis, and I'll be introducing your host, Association CEO, Jon Doggett. You can join Jon every month as he travels the country on a mission to advocate for America's corn farmers. From the fields of the Corn Belt, to the DC Beltway, we'll make sure the growers who feed America have a say in the issues that are important to them; with the key leaders who are shaping the future of agriculture.

 

Dusty Weis:

With a grain content at least 51% corn, bourbon is a drink that's near and dear to every grower's heart. But in the heart of bourbon country, there's a really neat partnership taking root between the Kentucky Corn Growers Association and the producers of Yellow Banks Bourbon, who source their corn from local growers and donate a portion of their profits to support corn research.

 

Dusty Weis:

In this episode, we're back at the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in Louisville for part two of our discussion on bourbon. But if you haven't yet, make sure you're subscribed to this podcast in your favorite app. Also make sure you follow the NCGA on Twitter at National Corn. And sign up for the National Corn Growers Association newsletter at ncga.com.

 

Dusty Weis:

And with that, it's time to, once again, introduce Jon. Jon Doggett, the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. Jon, we're picking up where we left off in episode 19, continuing our discussion on bourbon, here at the start of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in Louisville.

 

Jon Doggett:

You know, Dusty, we're really lucky. We're joined by some of the world's foremost experts on bourbon. So we have Andy Treinen, he's the President and CEO here at the Frazier Museum. He programs and leads much of the museum's bourbon themed programming.

 

Jon Doggett:

And in case there's any doubt after the last episode, Andy's more than comfortable behind a microphone. Prior to joining the museum, I understand you had a 25 year career in television?

 

Andy Treinen:

That's right. I started working in television in my hometown, Cincinnati. Spent three years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Dusty lives. And then the last nine here in Louisville, Kentucky, at the ABC Affiliate. And people were always like, "How did you go from a career in television to being a president of the museum?" I was originally marketing director here, and then vice president, and then president.

 

Andy Treinen:

And it's really simple. And if you think about it, we tell stories, right? I told stories every day that kind of went off into space after they were told when I worked in television. And now we tell stories that are longer lasting, sometimes a six month run, 12 month run. And in the case of our Spirit of Kentucky bourbon exhibition, it's a permanent run because this is a permanent exhibit here at the Frazier History Museum, telling stories about great Kentucky agriculture, and the limestone shelf, and the titans in the industry that have made Kentucky the home of bourbon.

 

Jon Doggett:

Okay.

 

Jon Doggett:

And Jacob Call, he's the Master Distiller at Green River Distilling in Owensboro, Kentucky; an eighth generation distiller. And Jacob, both your dad and your grandfather worked at one of the more recognizable names in bourbon, Jim Beam.

 

Jacob Call:

Yes, that's right. Yeah, my family dates back to 1791. Samuel Call was making a little bourbon whiskey in Bourbon County back then. And my grandfather worked at Jim Beam, my father worked at Jim Beam. So yeah, I'm just really excited to get to carry on that family legacy.

 

Jon Doggett:

And we're also joined by Laura Knoth, who is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Corn Growers Association. And Adam Andrews, who is the Program Director at Kentucky Corn.

 

Jon Doggett:

Welcome to both of you, thanks for being on this episode.

 

Laura Knoth:

Thank you, Jon. We're excited to be here in the Kentucky Frazier History Museum. And Kentucky Corn Growers helped with this exhibit that we're sitting in today. Our growers saw the benefit of using some of our checkoff dollars to invest in this exhibit that shows the hundreds of thousands of visitors that you'll have over time about Kentucky agriculture, and especially about Kentucky corn and the products that the corn are going into, the bourbon products of our state. And so we were excited to be a part of this project.

 

Jon Doggett:

Okay. So we ended the last episode talking about that strong relationship between the corn grower and the distiller, absolutely essential. So want to pick up on that theme, Laura, that you just mentioned, about partnership. And the one in this building and in this museum that is just so really neat. And when we walked in this morning, I just thought, "God, this is really cool stuff."

 

Laura Knoth:

This has been great fun, working with the bourbon industry, for multiple reasons, as you can imagine. But we've got a great relationship, collaboration going with the Green River Distilling Company, and working with Jacob and his team to develop Yellow Banks Bourbon. So it has their logo and they produce it, but we've put our logo on it because it's one of those that, during the last episode we talked about, it has a high corn mash bill.

 

Laura Knoth:

And Jacob has created an outstanding bourbon, Yellow Banks. And what's great about it is not only does he get to tell the story of Kentucky corn as he produces it, but we also get some of the proceeds, a percentage of that, proceeds from the sale of that bourbon come back for sustainable agriculture research. His distillery, as well as the majority of distilleries in our state, are so great about wanting to make sure that we produce corn in this state for generations to come. And sustainable ag research, those dollars are going to be used to make sure that that happens.

 

Jon Doggett:

And Jacob, you and I talked, your company wants to do three things. What are those three things?

 

Jacob Call:

Yep. So when we create a brand, we want it to look good, taste good, and then do good. So this definitely checks off our do good initiative, 5% of the sales go back to sustainable farm research that Laura was talking about.

 

Jacob Call:

So we touch agriculture in so many ways in the bourbon industry; everything from the grain, obviously, to the barrels. And it's just important for us to recognize that and to help tell that story. And if we can help tell the corn story, along with Kentucky and bourbon, then it's a win for everyone.

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, thank you so much. And thanks to your company for doing that. You folks have put your money where your mouth is and we greatly appreciate it.

 

Jon Doggett:

So Adam, we auctioned off some Yellow Banks Bourbon for the pack a couple months ago. Tell us about that.

 

Adam Andrews:

Laura and I were both pleased to get one of the first bottles out of the run. Still sitting on my desk-

 

Laura Knoth:

Don't ask him if it's full.

 

Adam Andrews:

It's not full. It's not full. I broke the seal on the signed bottle that came off on one of the first runs.

 

Adam Andrews:

But yes, we've always given a six pack, I think, of bourbon to the pack. And this year it was Yellow Banks. Previous years, I think we've done Woodford, we've done some Elijah Craig, Knob Creek. I think we'll stick with Yellow Banks now since it's got our logo on it, which yeah, absolutely, we've enjoyed participating in the pack. I don't know if Jacob would sell it for what it sold for if he knew how much he'd brought at the packs, but ...

 

Jon Doggett:

You haven't told him yet, have you?

 

Adam Andrews:

I have not told him yet. But Jacob has done a great job with us, it's been so productive for telling corn's story. Their tasting room has a salon, a corner of it that has a Kentucky Corn Growers dedicated to that theme. Once we get things back moving after COVID completely goes away, we've got a lot of great things in the pipeline for telling corn's story through this very popular product.

 

Dusty Weis:

Jon, question for you, you travel around the United States of America, and you'll come across lots of different regions where there's a specific beverage or a specific food product that's unique to that area. But you don't see a lot of partnerships like you have here with Yellow Banks and the State Corn Growers of Kentucky; a) how unique is that, in your experience? And b) what does it mean to the Corn Growers of Kentucky to be able to pick up a bottle of bourbon and look at it and say, "This is my grain right here?"

 

Jon Doggett:

I see occasional, in real small regions maybe, a connection between farmers and a particular ranch or something, but nothing like this, nothing that goes from the seed in the ground to the whiskey in the glass like this place does. It's truly remarkable. And it's something I think we ought to take a look at, are there other opportunities in other parts of the country where we can connect what a corn farmer does on the farm to something that ends up in a glass, or on your plate, or whatever? It's just such a unique thing, and it's certainly one that we ought to try to find ways to replicate because it has been a real boom for this state.

 

Andy Treinen:

Jon, it's a gracious industry. And that's something that we tapped into with this exhibit, Spirit of Kentucky, very early on. In fact, if you go into the next chapter of this exhibit that we're sitting in ... we call it the Gracious room, and it's a huge dining room table; because it's a gracious industry and everybody's welcome at the table.

 

Andy Treinen:

It's actually a multimillion dollar tactile table where you can call up stories and everybody is represented on there. But some of the stories that you'll see that represent that are when there's a lightning strike and a fire out at Jim Beam, every other distiller starts coming and contributing product, and contributing barrels, and contributing corn. They never lost a day of production when there was that fire out at Heaven Hill in 1994, I think it was, Jacob, is that right?

 

Jacob Call:

Yeah.

 

Andy Treinen:

And so this industry, they compete on the shelf like every other industry, they want to sell a little bit more than the other guy. But we partner all the time. That's why these relationships with the Kentucky Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association are so important, because this is an $8.6 billion industry in the state of Kentucky. Brings $8.6 billion each and every year. And with that comes an awful lot of jobs; jobs in agriculture, jobs in production, in bourbon.

 

Andy Treinen:

So this partnership with the Kentucky Corn Growers is really about bringing students through here. We bring 20,000 students through here every year in field trips and camps. And they can learn about the industry, not as consumers of the product, but as people who can eventually work in the industry.

 

Jon Doggett:

So, Jacob Call, you have mentioned that you're an eighth generation distiller. You talked about your father and your grandfather. There might've been an ancestor right before that one. Talk about prohibition and how did that work in this state? Because we know that production didn't stop. We certainly know that the consumption didn't stop. How did the industry get through from the Volstead Act to repeal what happened?

 

Jacob Call:

Yeah, so prohibition was definitely a dark age in the state of Kentucky and the bourbon industry. And was about a 13 year failed experiment, 1920 to 1933. And a lot of distilleries went out of business. The Green River Distillery dates back to 1885, but it was closed. Actually a fire got it right before prohibition. Maybe a coincidence, who knows? But there was a lot of unscrupulous actors during prohibition, a lot of just bad whisky was produced. Which led to some regulation and some changes with the Bottled-in-Bond Act, things like that, to really protect bourbon and the industry itself.

 

Jacob Call:

And that's where a lot of the larger brand's marketing started coming about after prohibition. And now I think we're kind of back in the golden age of bourbon, people have rediscovered how great and versatile bourbon is. I think a lot of that has to do with the cocktail culture. Could be Mad Men, the TV series, that has brought bourbon back into the mainstay. But we don't really care how you drink bourbon, just as long as you drink it.

 

Jon Doggett:

So talking about that and the evolution of the cocktail culture, how have generations used that evolution? What was the evolution in the last 15, 20 years, even in the last 10 years? It's evolved a lot, hasn't it?

 

Jacob Call:

So vodka was the drink of choice for a lot of people, say, 20 years ago, 15 years ago.

 

Andy Treinen:

What were they thinking?

 

Jacob Call:

I don't know what they were thinking. There's nothing to it. I just think that people didn't want to drink what their parents were drinking. People wanted to drink something with a little more character, something that they could learn about and research where their product was coming from. And with all of the rules and regulations around bourbon, they kind of fit right in to the rediscovering where your food and where your drinks come from. And also that cocktail culture that we talked about, the Manhattans and the Old Fashions, what's old is new again.

 

Laura Knoth:

And what's great is that Jacob has tapped into this market around the world. It has been impressive to hear where he's sending our Kentucky bourbon.

 

Jon Doggett:

How many countries are you selling bourbon in?

 

Jacob Call:

Yeah. I don't have the exact number, but we ship large ISO tankers, in bulk, of bourbon all around the world in Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Italy. And that'll be bottled, maybe, under their own label.

 

Laura Knoth:

It was great to be with the U.S. Meat Export Federation on a trip to Japan, talking about how our corn going into red meat that's going into the Japanese market. And go to a grocery store and not only see steak that was probably grown right here in the United States with our corn, but also to see bourbon in a can, like a soda pop, being sold in the grocery store.

 

Andy Treinen:

Bourbon in a can?

 

Laura Knoth:

Bourbon in a can. It was great. I kept looking to make sure it had a Kentucky logo on it, and it did.

 

Jon Doggett:

Oh, okay.

 

Jon Doggett:

Jacob Call, you are an eighth generation master distiller. We've said that several times throughout the podcast. What is a master distiller?

 

Jacob Call:

Now, that may be the question that I get the most. People, when they come on tours, want to know that. So there's no official designation, no school, no title, no test that you have to take. I actually tell people that it's a lot like being a farmer. A lot of that is just passed down from generation to generation, all of that knowledge and know-how.

 

Andy Treinen:

So the prerequisites are to call yourself a master distiller and then not get called out by anybody for not being one?

 

Jacob Call:

I don't know about that.

 

Jon Doggett:

Andy Treinen, tell us about the Bourbon Trail. I mean, where is it?

 

Andy Treinen:

Great segue, Jon, you must be a professional.

 

Jon Doggett:

No, but I play one.

 

Andy Treinen:

What they're talking about there, this trend that ... I get asked the question all the time, "Are you worried that there's going to be another downward trend and bourbon's not going to be popular again and vodka is going to regain popularity, or some other spirit?" And I really don't. And I know that there are people far smarter than me forecasting 25, 30, 40 years out.

 

Andy Treinen:

But the difference right now is that bourbon tourism is alive and well. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is alive and well. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail went from 700,000 people visiting Kentucky, to 900,000 people visiting Kentucky, to 1.2 million, 1.4 million, 1.6 million. And then the pandemic hit and we had a little backward slide last year, but those numbers will continue. And there are so many people out there telling the Kentucky bourbon story. And there are tourists who want to come to the state and learn about the authenticity of this brand. I think it's going to continue to grow and there's no room for a backward slide anytime soon.

 

Andy Treinen:

All of these distilleries have created guest experiences for people to come, enjoy the bourbon, learn a little bit about the story. And the distillers do a great job of telling people how bourbon is made and showing them the nuances that makes their bourbon very special. Here at the Frazier History Museum, in our Spirit of Kentucky exhibition, it's about the category of bourbon and why Kentucky is the home. So it starts with the water, it starts with, there were more navigable waterways in the state of Kentucky than any state, other than Alaska. And the limestone shelf here is very unique to this area. There are two other areas in the world that have a similar limestone shelf, and that's Scotland and Ireland. So that filters out the iron and makes it much easier for master distillers, like Jacob, to do their job. The change of seasons that we talked about is perfect for bourbon production here. And, of course, the great agriculture and the corn growers that give us the primary ingredient in the product.

 

Jon Doggett:

So if I come to Kentucky and I want to go on the Bourbon Trail, what do I do?

 

Andy Treinen:

You contact the Frazier History Museum, what a great question. But actually, if you call the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, if you go to the website and call that number, our people answer down in the Welcome Center, that is our Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center. And they will ask you questions about your preferences. Where are you going to end your day? Do you need a lunch somewhere? What are your favorite brands? Do you like wheated bourbon? Do you like a more spicy bourbon? And they will help you curate your guest experience in the state of Kentucky.

 

Andy Treinen:

It used to be a simple trail, "Oh, I'm going to go to these 11 different locations and complete the task." Well, now, there are 19 heritage brands, there are 18 craft brands, and it would take you two weeks to complete the trail. Have at it, we welcome you to do it. But it's more of an experience along the way than it is completing a finite start here and end here.

 

Jon Doggett:

So you don't give anybody a roadmap and say, "Okay, stop one, stop two, stop three?"

 

Andy Treinen:

We do. Yeah, those are available. There is actually a book that you can get that'll take you through each one and give you some fine points about what makes them unique, their points of differentiation. And you can check those off as you go.

 

Andy Treinen:

When the trail was much smaller, it was, if you complete the trail, you get a glass or a t-shirt. But now it's so big, and it covers so many miles, and the expansion is happening so fast, that we're just curating that regionally and helping people with how they manage their trips and helping them to book their trips as well, if they need help with that.

 

Jon Doggett:

Okay.

 

Jon Doggett:

Laura, talk a little bit more about your relationship with the museum and how you got started with the museum, and what has happened since then?

 

Laura Knoth:

We've got a great relationship with the Frazier History Museum. They contacted us and said they were putting together an agriculture exhibit and wanted to focus on America's native spirits, and obviously bourbon and the whole story. And what we have appreciated so much about working with the Frazier, is you come in and you see all about bourbon, you see all about Kentucky, you see all about agriculture, and you can look on the exhibits and you can see the old tools, which are always fascinating to see, is how we started production with hand tools. And then you look at the videos and the Gracious Table, as Andy was describing, and you see today's operations. What I appreciated was they brought you through the whole thing and they're not afraid to show you the whole story of agriculture, and especially the sustainable agriculture story of corn production. And we appreciated that very much.

 

Laura Knoth:

And then they tell the personal stories. We've got pictures of our farmer leaders in this book, old pictures. We've got a great picture, I was so glad that he shared it. One of our board members, he's got a bottle in his mouth. His mom's holding him while they were picking corn back in the day. And it was going to one of the local distilleries. I mean, that is a neat story.

 

Jon Doggett:

It was a bottle of milk though? He was a little baby. I'm sorry, we want to make sure that-

 

Laura Knoth:

It was a bottle of milk, yes. That's all right. It was a baby bottle, let me make that point clear. Yes, absolutely. But that just shows you just how ingrained, how long this story has been a part of our Kentucky culture.

 

Jon Doggett:

Nothing's more compelling than people telling their own personal story through whatever venue. And it's not only important to the person who's hearing that story but, for your growers, it has to be really important that they see their story told? Because I think, all too often, we don't get a good opportunity to do that.

 

Laura Knoth:

Absolutely. And like I said, that's why we were so proud to partner with these folks because they wanted to tell the real story.

 

Jon Doggett:

Certainly, just my quick tour of the museum, it's fascinating. There's hardly a square inch here that doesn't somehow tie back to Kentucky agriculture; whether it's the corn or the oak or whatever. It's just a really neat tie that is constant.

 

Laura Knoth:

Absolutely. And the distilleries, so many of them, as Andy and Jacob have said, have tasting rooms. And they are proud of that story and they tell it, and they talk about the farmers that matter in their production. Jacob's facility, the Green River Distillery, has got a salon, a display area, that is all about Kentucky agriculture that we got to work with them to develop, to tell that story, and they wanted to make sure that it was accurate.

 

Laura Knoth:

And we just find that is a wonderful outreach to the consumers. As we've all talked about, every farmer will say, "People just don't understand agriculture." Well, this is a way for us to help explain it.

 

Jon Doggett:

Jacob, what is the question you get from customers of yours about agriculture that startles you; as not only a distiller, but as a farmer and a farm kid?

 

Jacob Call:

I think it's just surprise. I think that there's no really one question that I get. I think they're in awe when they see our grain bins. And it kind of just puts the puzzle piece back together for them. At Green River Distillery, we're a Heritage member on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. We have people from around the world, that they've probably never been on a farm, come to our distillery.

 

Jacob Call:

And, as Laura mentioned, we've created this salon or area inside of our Welcome Center. And it's dedicated to, not only the Yellow Banks Bourbon brand, but also we have videos of combines and farmers out in the fields, we have drone footage, we have a big Kentucky Corn Growers sign going up on one of our grain bins. So, we're all in when it comes to Kentucky agriculture, the Kentucky farmer.

 

Jacob Call:

And in our gift shop, people can buy a bottle of Yellow Banks that helps support Kentucky agriculture. Now, in Kentucky, you can also buy it online. We can ship it around the state, and to 10 or 12 other states. So I think that it's important for us to be able to help convey that message to the public.

 

Jon Doggett:

I think one of the things that, as I look at it through, certainly, a different prism, you look at the exhibits here, it ties back to an individual farmer. They're real people. I mean, that's the thing that has struck me about this whole conversation, is we're talking about real people all the way through the whole process. And that's really pretty cool.

 

Adam Andrews:

Yeah. And they're seeing those farms as they travel the Bourbon Trail. It's all through these hills and hollers of corn production and weight production through central Kentucky, where most of the bourbon distilleries on the trail are. They're seeing these farms, they're seeing these grain legs and bins, and seeing the equipment on the road, and things like that.

 

Andy Treinen:

Yeah. And we're happy to bring the names of those farmers into the story because people are familiar with the brand names. Well, most of those brand names, many of the master distillers or production specialists at the very beginning, and you talk about Elijah Craig, and George T. Stagg, James E. Pepper. And then the next wave, Jimmy Russell and Bill Samuels, Booker Noe, Parker Beam, Jim Rutledge, Jacob Call. That next generation and that resurgence of bourbon that came, really, through more of the craft type brands, it's authentic and it starts with the farmers. Because that's where the production starts, with the growing of the corn, that makes us a Kentucky story.

 

Jon Doggett:

Jacob, your company, what are you seeing for the bourbon industry going down the road 10, 15 years from now? More of just continuing to have high-quality product? What opportunities do you see for your industry going forward to expand what you're doing?

 

Jacob Call:

Well for so many years, bourbon has been very traditional. And that's the way we make our bourbon, our bourbon starts out very traditionally produced. Much like my grandfather and father did, very similar. But I think now we're starting to see a lot of barrel finish expressions. You'll finish a barrel maybe in a sherry barrel, or a wine barrel, or something like that. Really just to give it a different character, maybe a sweeter profile. So I think that's really where we're going next. There's a lot of different barrel expressions out on the market now. Got some that we're working on.

 

Jacob Call:

But Green River, were always going to be tradition first. We have a brand. We've actually resurrected the Green River Bourbon brand, it's been out of existence for a long time. We're going to be launching that this fall, and it's going to be a bottled-in-bond Green River bourbon whiskey that we're going to be excited to share with the world.

 

Jon Doggett:

That sounds pretty cool. So you talked about ... and I've heard this expression other places ... finishing it in a sherry barrel. But Andy said you have to put it in a new barrel. So do you take it out of the new barrel and put it in another barrel? Is that what you do with the barrels?

 

Jacob Call:

Yes. So, you have to put that on the label. Anytime you finish it in a sherry barrel, port barrel, wine barrel, you just have to clearly state that on the label. But it always has to start out in a brand new charred oak barrel, to start.

 

Jon Doggett:

So how long will the bourbon be in the new barrel before it goes to the other barrel?

 

Jacob Call:

Well, it depends. It could be as little as two years, could be four years. That's really up to the distiller. As long as you disclose it on the label, what you're doing.

 

Jon Doggett:

That's one of the interesting things that's just so cool about your industry, is you talk about short periods of time being two or four years. The bourbon that you're distilling today, how many years will it be before that bourbon you're distilling today will be in somebody's glass?

 

Jacob Call:

Well, the Green River brand that's going to launch this fall, that'll be about four and a half years old. It makes planning very difficult. Forecasting is very challenging in the bourbon industry.

 

Jon Doggett:

One of the most rewarding things our growers see is when their product goes into somebody else's product, and to see people that really put their hearts in producing the basic product or the product that comes after that. And that's why I think bourbon and corn have such a compelling story to tell about that relationship.

 

Jon Doggett:

So, you folks all work in this industry in this state. What do you love about it? What motivates you to come to work every morning?

 

Jon Doggett:

Adam, we're going to start with you first.

 

Adam Andrews:

Now, Jacob's bottle of Yellow Banks motivates me and everyone.

 

Jon Doggett:

Or there's that [inaudible 00:27:10], there's-

 

Adam Andrews:

... [crosstalk 00:27:11] right around the policy call.

 

Jon Doggett:

We didn't know that that was a fringe benefit of Kentucky corn. But yeah, you're going to get a lot of resumes now.

 

Adam Andrews:

It's the people, that's probably going to be the answer you get all around the table, largely. But it's the people, it's the purpose. It's knowing that we're working and advocating for meaningful industry, corn particularly. Meaningful industry, meaningful people and families.

 

Jon Doggett:

Laura, how about you?

 

Laura Knoth:

Well, Adam hit it. It's about the people that we get to work for and represent, and the opportunities. We are so excited to see that bourbon is growing and that more people are discovering our fabulous product around the world. And we just see a great future for it and for the growers of this state. And that's our job, is to make sure that it's here for the longterm.

 

Jon Doggett:

Okay.

 

Jon Doggett:

Jacob?

 

Jacob Call:

Yeah, it is the people, it's the relationships. It's getting to come to work every day and know that you're creating a product that's going to bring a memory or a great life experience to somebody around the world. And we're representing this great state of Kentucky. There's a lot of us, few of us master distillers out here, and we take our job very seriously to get to share Kentucky's story with the world. And if we can help tell corn's story while we're doing it, I think that's even better.

 

Jon Doggett:

Andy?

 

Andy Treinen:

Yeah. I mean, I started this episode talking about how we tell stories. And I love to tell stories about this great Kentucky brand and Kentucky bourbon. But when I go home and my wife asks me, "How was your day? What did you do today?" I tell her stories about the people that I spent the day with. So today that's Dusty, and Jon, and Laura, and Adam, and Jacob. And I'll tell how this is how I started my day. My days vary a great deal, and they're good and they're more rich because of the people I get to spend time with every day.

 

Andy Treinen:

So it's definitely about the people and the stories that are told. In this case, on the podcast, but often cases when the podcast isn't rolling.

 

Jon Doggett:

It's all about telling the stories. And that's why we do this podcast, is it's one way to tell the stories. But what we've talked about today is you all tell those stories in various places. So if you're in Louisville, the address here is?

 

Andy Treinen:

We are at 829 West Main Street, right across the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum on Main Street in downtown Louisville. Multiple distilleries here on Main Street, you can participate in tastings and tours at a handful of them. Right now, I think there are four that are open entirely. Normally there are nine right here within a walking distance of the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which is the Frazier History Museum.

 

Jon Doggett:

And that website?

 

Andy Treinen:

Fraziermuseum.org.

 

Jon Doggett:

And Frazier is spelled how?

 

Andy Treinen:

F-R-A-Z-I-E-R. Thank you very much.

 

Jon Doggett:

You bet.

 

Dusty Weis:

I want to come back to the fact that you guys do tastings at the museum too.

 

Andy Treinen:

Yep.

 

Dusty Weis:

Who says museums are boring?

 

Andy Treinen:

No kidding, right? It's actually called the Ready, Set, Go! tasting experience because you get a little education about bourbon in that and then you get your passport to go out on the trail, that you mentioned, and you get a little bourbon glass to drink it with and basically learn a little bit about the brands that you're about to go taste.

 

Andy Treinen:

The one point of differentiation that we have, which is actually nice, if you go to any particular brand, you're going to taste that brand's product. We can do cross-brand tastings here at the Frazier. So, say, these are the most three popular wheated bourbons, or these are all 9 to 12 years in the barrel bourbons. And you can taste the nuances across brands, as opposed to going to one brand and tasting that particular brand.

 

Dusty Weis:

Jon is the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. As you've walked around in this museum and looked around, what's the neatest thing you've seen here today?

 

Jon Doggett:

Oh, I don't know whether it's ... I think it might be the old bottles. I don't know, how old is the oldest bottle?

 

Andy Treinen:

1897.

 

Jon Doggett:

1897.

 

Andy Treinen:

We had to up the insurance for that room because there's some really outstanding stuff in there. And then we do have a Pappy Van Winkle gallery in the back, which is not only all of the Pappy Van Winkles that people can get today, but all of the stuff that Pappy himself distilled; the old Fitzgerald and Weller products that people are so fond of.

 

Jon Doggett:

And then there's the room with all of the bourbons made in this state.

 

Andy Treinen:

Yeah. And actually, we've got to get an update from Jacob on that. Because in that room, the concept is you can take your photograph with every bourbon currently in production in the state of Kentucky. As you might imagine, these guys are aggressive. It's changing and developing all the time. So keeping that Bottle Hall up-to-date, we try to do it quarterly, but it's a great photo opportunity.

 

Andy Treinen:

And when there's not COVID going on, we also have a little placard that you can hold. And it says: my bourbon number is ... And the intent is you're supposed to count how many of them that you've tasted and then put your bourbon number there and do your photo op. I think I'm at like 230.

 

Jon Doggett:

Adam, what's your number?

 

Adam Andrews:

73. Not 230, wow.

 

Andy Treinen:

It's my job to educate myself.

 

Jon Doggett:

It's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it, don't they?

 

Jon Doggett:

So I do have to do a shout-out, because the room with all of the bourbons made in this state, I saw two bottles that remind me of our former colleague, Sam Willett, who's a native of Kentucky. And his family was in the bourbon business for, I don't know how long, but a long, long time. I don't think, they are not now affiliated with that distillery. But certainly, Sam has regaled us with a lot of stories about Kentucky bourbon and the Willett brand, and the fun his family had in that industry for a long, long time.

 

Jon Doggett:

And talking to him just is so similar to this conversation we're having, it's about relationships, it's about agriculture, it's about consumers, touching people, all of those things. And that just what makes this conversation a real fun one.

 

Laura Knoth:

Jon, you had asked about growers' relationships with the distilleries. And one of those fun conversations, like you were talking about, is listening to the distilleries. Where we would go in and try to ask them to expand the number of farmers that they were buying from locally. And they're very careful to say they've had the buyer who worked there at the distillery who had been there for 30+ years. And they had been buying from these particular farms for over 30 years. So just great long-term family connections there for so many of them.

 

Jon Doggett:

So reminiscent of my background in the cattle business. There was a very small number of order buyers that my dad, or my uncle, or my brother would deal with. You have a relationship, you continue with the relationship. When you let somebody else sort your cattle and run them across the scale, you know you've probably got a pretty good relationship. And that's kind of the same thing I'm seeing here as well.

 

Jon Doggett:

So, it's just been a real treat. We've heard about bourbon's past, strong ties to the corn industry, the bright future it has ahead of it. Thanks again for allowing us here to set up in the beautiful Frazier Kentucky History's Museum, the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. So that's Frazier Museum President and CEO, Andy Treinen; Jacob Call, Master Distiller at Green River Distilling; Laura Knoth and Adam Andrews from Kentucky Corn Growers Association, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast.

 

Jon Doggett:

I'm Jon Doggett, I'm the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. Thanks for listening, and tune in again soon for another episode of Wherever Jon May Roam.

 

Dusty Weis:

That is going to wrap up this edition of Wherever Jon May Roam, the National Corn Growers Association podcast. New episodes arrive monthly, so make sure to subscribe in your favorite app and join us again soon. Visit ncga.com to learn more, or sign up for the Associations email newsletter.

 

Dusty Weis:

Wherever Jon May Roam is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, and produced by PodCamp media, with editing by Larry. Wherever Jon May Roam is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, with editing by Larry Kilgore III, and produced by PodCamp Media; branded podcast production for businesses, podcampmedia.com.

 

Dusty Weis:

For the National Corn Growers Association, thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weis.

 

 

 

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