Partial Transcript: My name is Tom Troland from the University of Kentucky.
Segment Synopsis: The interview begins with Leonard Riddle describing his family background. He talks about his parents and siblings, and his parents' work in distilleries. Ronnie Eddins also describes his family and their ancestry, and following in his father's footsteps as a farmer. They each briefly explain how they came to work at Buffalo Trace.
Keywords: Ancestry; Bottling; Brothers; Cherokee; Children; Farmers; Farming; Fathers; Frankfort (Ky.); Generations; Grandchildren; Grandmothers; Job opportunities; Mothers; Night shift; Parents; Part-time jobs; Siblings; Sisters; Wife; Work environment
Subjects: Childhood; Employment--Kentucky; Families.; Genealogy
Partial Transcript: Leonard, uh, is there a story you can think of about when you were a kid with your parents?
Segment Synopsis: Riddle tells a story from his childhood about ruining a neighbor's potato crops and how he was disciplined by his parents. Eddins also tells a story about getting in trouble as a child by running away to swim in the Kentucky River.
Keywords: Birth order; Bourbon whiskey; Brothers; Crops; Family; Grandmothers; Holidays; Kentucky River; Memories; Parents; Potatoes; Siblings; Sisters; Spanking; Swimming; Traditions; Whipping
Subjects: Childhood; Discipline of children; Families.
Partial Transcript: Let's, uh, think a little bit about or talk a little bit about, uh, the young adulthoods that you both, uh, both, uh, uh, passed through.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle talks about the jobs he held after finishing school before coming to work at Buffalo Trace. He talks about how he began working at the distillery with his uncle. Eddins also describes how he came to work at Buffalo Trace, and describes the seasonal nature of the work at that time.
Keywords: Age; Bottling houses; Construction; Contractors; Jobs; Married; Night shift; Painting; Pipe fitters; Rolling barrels; Salary; Schenley Distillers Inc.; School; Seasonal work; Second jobs; Service stations; Uncles; Wages; Warehouses; Winter; Young adulthood
Subjects: Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Employment--Kentucky; Families.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: In those early years, uh--(clears throat)--in those early years, uh, describe a typical day of work here at Buffalo Trace for you.
Segment Synopsis: Eddins talks about the many positions he has held in various departments at the distillery over the years. He talks about some of the changes that have occurred there since his early days. Riddle and Eddins discuss the government regulations that were once placed upon distilleries, including marking each barrel with serial numbers, and government locks on warehouses. They talk about the distillery employees' relationships with the government agents.
Keywords: Bottling houses; Boxcars; Cutting barrels; Day shift; Double checking; Early years; Employees; Federal agents; Government agents; Government control; Government regulations; Locks; Manuals; Night Shift; Office of the clerk; Record-keeping; Relationships; Responsibility; Rules; Shipping; Shut downs; Strict; Taxes; Team leaders; Trains; Typical day; Warehouse managers
Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Alcohol--Law and legislation; Alcohol--Taxation--United States.; Bourbon whiskey; Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Quality control.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Now--(clears throat)--the two of you have worked together for a long time so I want to explore those ideas as well as a history of the two of you.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins talk about how they met one another when Riddle saved Eddins from being electrocuted after a flood. They talk about their working relationship and how they trust one another to do their jobs well. They talk about their relationship outside of the distillery, and talk about their mutual goal of improving the distillery's products.
Keywords: Barrels; Co-workers; Communication; Departments; Electrocution; First meeting; Floods; Friendship; Holidays; Informed; Problem solving; Relationships; Retirement; Ricker; Social activities; Teamwork; Trust; Warehouses
Subjects: Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Of course, you know, I'm running sixty-six years old--be sixty-seven in a few more months--but, you know, it's kind of a place that's kindly hard to just walk off.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins describe in detail how aging whiskey in different warehouses affects the final product. They each explain which warehouses create their personal favorite flavors. They talk about changes in popularity of different types of bourbon, and trying to plan for future sales.
Keywords: Aging; Airflow; Awards; Blends; Changes; Concrete; Control; Differences; Eagle Rare bourbon whiskey; Elmer T. Lee bourbon whiskey; Favorites; Flavors; Floors; Future; Generations; Heat; Location; Past; Popularity; Products; Proof; Rackhouses; Recipes; Ricks; Rye whiskey; Spicy; Staves; Tastes; Temperature; Warehouse I; Warehouse K; Warehouse L; Warehouse M; Warehouse levels; Warehouses; Wheat whiskey; Wood
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit about, uh, wood selection.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins describe in detail how aging whiskey in different types of barrels and wood affects the final product. They talk about factors like wood grain, moisture content, and char level. They talk about their relationship with the barrel makers at Independent Stave Company.
Keywords: Aged wood; Aging; Barrels; Caramel; Changes; Char; Color; Flavors; Graders; Growth; Independent Stave Company; John Boswell; Location; Moisture content; Relationships; Requirements; Selection; Specifications (specs); Tastes; Time; Trees; Vanilla; Wood; Wood grain; Wood quality
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: So it's--you know, I think, uh, every distillery operation has got their own specifications of type of wood.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins talk more about how aging whiskey in different warehouses affects the final product, including the difference between metal, brick, and wooden warehouses.
Keywords: Aging; Bricks; Control; Heat; Metal; Products; Rick houses; Steam-heated; Sun; Temperature; Warehouses
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit about the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins discuss the creation of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. They talk about how the barrels were specifically chosen, and how they were tested to meet certain standards and profiles.
Keywords: Aging; Awards; Barrels; Buffalo Trace Antique Collection; Laboratory; Location; Noises; Premium bourbons; Premium products; Products; Profiles; Proud; Roles; Sampling; Standards; Taste testers; Tastes; Tasting; Teamwork; Testing; Warehouses; Whistles
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality control.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Speaking of that work, uh, right behind you both of course is the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins briefly discuss some of the experiments they have conducted at the distillery to create new products, including changes in proof, location, and char.
Keywords: Aging; Barrels; Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection; Char; Knowledge; Learning; Locations; Proofs; Re-barreling; Trees; Warehouses; Wine casks; Wood
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: You, uh, talked earlier, uh--(clears throat)--uh, about, uh, char.
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins describe in detail how aging whiskey in different types of barrels and wood affects the final product. In this segment they focus more on how the level of char in the barrel affects the whiskey.
Keywords: "Alligator skin"; "Toasted"; Aging; Barrels; Burning; Char; Color; Costs; Firing; Flavors; Number 3 char; Number 4 char; Proofs; Recipes; Rye whiskey; Spicy; Taste testing; Time; Wheat whiskey; Years
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: What do you think has been the most successful part of the Experimental Collection program?
Segment Synopsis: Riddle and Eddins describe in more detail some of the experiments they have conducted at the distillery to create new products. They talk about one of the surprising experiments, aging whiskey in French Oak barrels. Eddins describes an experiment he conducted on artificial aging.
Keywords: Aging; Air pressure; Artificial aging; Barometric pressure; Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection; Changes; Cold cycle; Costs; Elmer T. Lee; Expensive; French Oak barrels; Heat cycle; Independent Stave Company; John Boswell; Knowledge; Learning; Nature; Tastes; Temperature; Time; Weather; White Oak barrels; Wood
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: If, uh, somebody were to ask you for example, uh, "Leonard, what would you like to be remembered by for your, uh, time here at Buffalo Trace?"
Segment Synopsis: Riddle talks about how he would like to be remembered at Buffalo Trace for his work ethic and the products he made. Eddins says he would like to be remembered for the knowledge that was gained through his experiments. The interview is concluded.
Keywords: Accomplishments; Advancements; Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection; Contributions; Eagle Rare bourbon whiskey; Elmer T. Lee bourbon whiskey; Enjoyable; Experiments; Favorites; Improvements; Knowledge; Learning; Legacy; Proud; Remembered; Tastes; Technology; Work ethic
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Buffalo Trace Distillery.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Technological innovations; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
TROLAND: Okay, my name is Tom Troland from the University of Kentucky,and we are interviewing today Ronnie Eddins on the left and Leonard Riddle on the right, both from Buffalo Trace Distillery. This is October 16, 2008. This is part of the Buffalo Trace Oral History Project, and we are here at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. So thanks first of all to both of you for taking time out for this interview. We appreciate it very much.
EDDINS: Thank you all.
TROLAND: Let me begin with just some general questions. Leonard, forexample, just tell me a little bit about yourself.
RIDDLE: Well, I'm, been here for about forty-three, forty-four years.Came here as a--looking for a pipefitter's job when I came here. Ended up in the warehousing department. Part-time job turned into about forty-some odd years. That, you know, that's basically--it's 00:01:00been a good job for that (??). I've raised my family from that, you know; it's, it's been good to me. My wife's named Margaret. I have seven kids. I have sixteen grandkids and five great-grandkids. And I have contributed the financial end of it, I guess you would say, from, from my job that I've had here for the last forty-four years.
TROLAND: Ronnie, tell me just a little bit also about yourself, just acouple things that might be of interest.
EDDINS: Well, I, kind of like Leonard there, now, I come here withanother guy was looking for a job here, and I wasn't really--I was a farmer and living at home with my family, you know, Mother and Dad, and wasn't married at the time. So I rode up here with another guy, he put in the applications, and wind up--about a year later, I wind up coming to work here. So I come in here to work on the night shift and then thought, "Well, I'll w-, go ahead and work a few weeks with him," 00:02:00as he wanted me to come in with him. And now I still, wind up still here, naturally. I've been in several different positions throughout the older plant, and, but throughout the years when I, after I come here, about three years later, I got married. Moved to Frankfort, really wasn't satisfied living here in town, so I moved back to the country and back down where I live now in Henry County. And now, so now I've got a--had a son, and--just the one boy--and he also works here. And then I got a grandson. And so, but over a period of years, this is--anybody couldn't ask for any better place to work. You know, everything is just en-, so enjoyable, and every day is a challenge and just a loving place to be around this type of involvement around here.
TROLAND: Leonard, just tell me a little bit about your parents, sir.00:03:00You grew up down here in Frankfort, is that true, a little bit?
RIDDLE: Yeah, I grew up here in Frankfort. My mother was a, a Hall:Eunice Hall. She married my father, Leonard Riddle Sr. At a very young age, my grandmother taken me and raised me from up until my grandmother passed away. I seen my mom off and on throughout the years. My dad, he, he worked for our competitor out here, National Distillers. My mother worked here for a while back in the, I believe it was back in the forties. I have a half-sis-, two half-sisters. One 00:04:00of those are deceased, and I have three half-brothers, and one of those are deceased. Two of them are still--live here in Frankfort. And I've lived here all my life in Frankfort. That's except for about three years I lived, I was in Middletown, Ohio. That was before I came to work here. I came back here in the early sixties and been here ever since.
TROLAND: So you say your mother worked at least for some time here atBuffalo Trace.
RIDDLE: She worked, yes. I don't remember, I don't recollect howmany years she worked here, but she worked back in the forties in the bottling here.
TROLAND: I see. I see.
RIDDLE: And my father was an electrician. He was out at Jim Beam, orNational Distillers it was at that time. But my mother and father both are deceased. I have one brother and one sister that's deceased, and, but my family is mostly all from Frankfort. My mother was originally 00:05:00from Washington County, but she lived her life here in, in Frankfort until she--I guess she was probably in her late fifties when they, she moved to Middletown, Ohio. Until, stayed there until she was deceased.
TROLAND: What do you remember your mother telling you about workinghere? Was it a job that she enjoyed? Was it something that was difficult? What did she say?
RIDDLE: No, she enjoyed working here back--of course, back then, youknow, in the forties, it was, it was hard to find a job around, you know, most anywhere. And I guess it back then was O.F.C. [Old Fire Copper Distillery] or Stagg, or at that time, you know. And that and the--what they used to call the shoe factory here, Dinesco (??), I guess that was about the only two places around during that period of 00:06:00time that really there were jobs other than manual labor out, you know, on the streets or whatever at that time.
TROLAND: Ronnie, how about your, your parents? A little bit about yourupbringing?
EDDINS: Well, my parents, my dad is Goebel Eddins. He's--was a farmerall of his life. He raised cattle, lot of tobacco, corn, had hogs, chickens--anything to make a dollar, I guess, you know, back in the early days. And mainly lived on the farm and raised big gardens and made a living there on the farm. And then my mother, Lily, they--my daddy, he was born in 1911, and my mother born in 1910. And my father, he passed away in 1966. But anyway, Mom and Dad, they farmed together 00:07:00all their lives, you know. And, and so I was one of six kids and had a brother that worked in Louisville, and so we all kind of left the farms and went into public jobs, back several years ago. As time went on, each one kind of drifted out, went on their own, then we'd go back and actually help our parents out as everybody else would. And we enjoyed it, so then after I come to work here, I turn around and I ca-, oh, I took up farming myself, too. So I started raising a lot of tobacco and corn and worked here every day, and then, and then done a lot of farming, too. And so after my son was borned, then I was trying to make a little extra money for him. Of course he wanted some other things too, you know, in life, and so I continued to work here. And 00:08:00then for about twenty-five years, I've done a lot of farming; raised a lot of, rented a lot of farms. Bought farms and rented farms and anything that can pick some extra money up there. So that was a big part of my life, was my farming and working here, too, at that time. So then it finally got to a point--of course, age kind of caught up with me, too, you know, but I guess we don't really admit that. But (laughs) anyway, then I just went to working up here altogether, you know, and this, I made this my permanent place up here. But I al-, like now, I've got a son that works here. I've got a grandson that is, is eighteen years old. So, you know, that's--me and my wife, we just had the one kid, and then my, my son just had the one kid. And so, but my, most of my family is from around Henry County and--and 00:09:00Oldham County, and my mother and her parents was around from Oldham County. And, and, and really, I guess, you know, back in my earlier part of their lives, my mother, she was--well, she actually, she was a half Indian, you know, and--Cherokee. And then my daddy, he was, he was part Cherokee Indian, too. So, you know, on back through their history, that's kind of ends it. Of course Mom and Dad, neither one didn't want to talk too much about it because, you know, Mom, I think she got teased a lot in school back in those da-, or those years, you know. And so, but anyway, that's, they was, my mom just passed away, 00:10:00and she was, she was ninety-three years old when she passed away. Yeah. A few years, four years ago, I guess, five years ago.
TROLAND: Leonard, is there a story you can think of about when you werea kid with your parents, something that you remember as interesting or something that just always stuck in your mind about your growing up and dealing with your parents?
RIDDLE: (laughs) Yeah, there was probably quite a few things. I guessone of the things that stuck in my mind more than anything, I guess, was a, was a little behind-warming I got one time for--we, we got this idea about this fellow's potato crop that we, once they came up, you know, the potatoes were up five or six inches or so, and we had this 00:11:00idea of--myself, my brother and some other kids there--that we could pull these potatoes up and reset them, and being, you know, they would be, make more potatoes. You know how kids are; you know they'll do anything like that. But anyway, we pulled all of this fellow--he was named Mr., Mr. Moore--we pulled all of his potatoes up and reset them over in the other areas of the plowed ground there and they all died. Well (laughs), we almost died, too, because we got our, our, our behinds kicked pretty good (all laugh), but that's, that stands out in my mind from what my mom and my dad probably and my grandmother mostly tolds me. You know, you don't do those kind of things, you know, that was, that's not right, you know, that--I guess you, you learn from those things, things that are right and wrong. You know, you carried on your, not a--there's a lot of other things, probably, but I can't think of all the things. But that sets out in my mind more than 00:12:00anything when I was a kid. That, on that, on that side, the, I guess the things on a, on a better note would be, is the families around holiday time--Christmas, Thanksgiving time, you know--your family that- -that was one of the things that always set out in our mind; we always looked forward to that, all the kids being in, your uncles and aunts, your brothers, sisters, or, or whatever, you know. But those are two things that I can remember most when I were a kid.
TROLAND: Just out of curiosity, when you were growing up did either ofyour parents drink bourbon?
RIDDLE: My mother didn't. My mother was not a bourbon drinker. Myfather was. He drank bourbon. Of course, like I said a while ago, he wasn't a, he wasn't an Ancient Age man (laughs), or Buffalo Trace. He worked for National Distillers at that time. He wasn't a heavy drinker, 00:13:00but he, he did drink bourbon. But my mother was not a drinker.
TROLAND: So working in the bourbon industry, then, obviously, is a partof your family tradition, with your father also--
RIDDLE: Well, yes.
TROLAND: --working and, of course, your son.
RIDDLE: Yeah. Um-hm, that's correct.
TROLAND: Now, Ronnie, you, I'm sure, as a young person, were always agood boy, so the stories that (EDDINS laughs) Leonard tells, probably you wouldn't have stories like that to tell, but can you think of something you learned from your parents that was important in one way or another to your later life?
EDDINS: Something really important to them? Yeah, well, I know I was,when Riddle was talking there a few minutes ago, I remember one time that--I used to love to swim; loved to be in the water, you know. And we lived about a mile from the Kentucky River, out in this big bottom, and the house sat down in the bottom. So I would, I had a tendency, I would sneak off and go to the river and go swimming. And here I was about seven or eight years old, you know, and so, yeah, 00:14:00I remember getting a good blistering over that, you know, (laughs) because I was--they was hunting for me, and here I was. I could hear them a-hollering for me. I was down the river, but I didn't want them to know I was down there, see. I was trying to get out and get away. Get back to the house, you know, sneak up the bank. But I kind of hid behind a tree, you know, and finally they seen me, and that was too late. (laughs) So, but I loved to, really liked to go swimming. That was one of the times I'm, that always stuck in my mind, you know, as something I shouldn't have done. No wonder, you know, I think it (??) is today. You know, if Tr-, Mark had done me that way, I'd been scared to death whether they're dead or been drowneded or whatever. And, you know, a young kid, you don't think about those things. But that's something that always kindy stuck in my mind as something, you know, I'd done, you know, and that I shouldn't have been doing. Yeah.
TROLAND: So you were both young hellions, I gather.00:15:00
RIDDLE: I would say so, yeah, probably. I don't know how they survived,but anyway, they did. (laughs)
TROLAND: Now remind me, Leonard, you're, you're one of how many children?
RIDDLE: Do what now?
TROLAND: You're one of how many children in your family?
RIDDLE: Six of us total.
TROLAND: Six. I see. Okay, and where were you in the birth orderthere? Are you the youngest, the oldest?
RIDDLE: No, I'm the--I have a, I had a bro-, I had three brothers and asister that's older than I am.
RIDDLE: Yeah. That's--the youngest in the family is a, a sister.
TROLAND: I see. And Ronnie, how, how about you? You've--
TROLAND: --mentioned it earlier?
EDDINS: No, I had three, three that was older than myself and then twoyounger than me; I've got two sisters that's younger than I am. And, but I was, I'm the, as Mom always told me, you know, said I was the baby, but the baby, the boy? (laughs) So you know how that goes. So I 00:16:00was the youngest boy. There was three boys and three girls, and then I was the youngest boy to, you know, and so, yeah, that--we was all borned pretty close together, you know, and within about a year of one another. And, of course, si-, there's six of us in the family, and of course I--to my understanding, before any of us was borned, there was one baby that was borned that didn't live. Mom's first child, you know. So, but no, we, we all managed to survive up to later years, and here about a year or so ago I had, my oldest sister had passed away. About a year before that, my oldest brother had passed away, and about a year before that, then, well, my next oldest brother had passed away. But so there's still three of us still living and, and, and so we've 00:17:00got a lot to be proud for, you know. We got up in age. So many has died at a younger age, and so I think all the oldest, lot of us got to be proud of: what we've been involved with, and how that we've managed throughout the world, you know, to deal with things and, and live to be an older people, you know. Of course, I've still got, you know, another thirty or forty years to go yet, Riddle, but--(both laugh)
RIDDLE: Oh, yeah. At least.
TROLAND: At least. Let's think a little bit about or talk a little bitabout the young adulthoods that you both, both passed through. When, Leonard, when, what was the first thing you did after you completed schooling?
RIDDLE: The first thing I did after I finished school. I worked forcontractors, a fellow by the name of Strange. They was builders. I 00:18:00don't know, along in the (??) I guess probably middle, late fifties. I ran a service station over here on High Street; that's right after I got married. And I also started to work here at about that time also. I run--did both. Ran a service station there. It was an old Spur station, used to be here in Frankfort on Ohio Street. Worked here. After I come here, I worked during the day, because when we first come here, Ronnie and I, you know, the--at that time, when Schenley was in here, it--we'd probably work, what, six or seven months out of the year, maybe?
EDDINS: Yeah, we had to have a second job to get by.
RIDDLE: Yeah. I guess people that, that's, that were here a numb-, likeRonnie and myself, a number of years, and when you started back then, 00:19:00you almost had to have a second job in order to, to get enough time here. You know, you get time in as people retired out, you know, and then we got in here regular. But I never went to college. I come out of high school, and that's--went to, as I said, construction work, hod carried for bricklayers. Whatever, you know, that came along at that time until I came here, and then it seemed to be that this here--I come here as a pipefitter. My uncle I worked a lot with was a pipefitter. I worked with my uncle for quite a few months and years for him. It was in the family, and learned a lot about that, and that's why they were asking for a, wanting a pipefitter here at that time, and--when I came in here. And the guy that was retiring or whatever ------- 00:20:00---(??) at that time, and a fellow by the name of Red Perkins was in human resources here then. And he said, "If we have anything comes available, we'll get in touch with you." And, but anyway, I get back home, and I have this, my wife tells me that I have a number there to call: "There's a gentleman wants to talk to you." So I got on the phone and I called the number, and it was Mr. Perkins. He said, "We don't have anything in the pipefitting line at this time, or in maintenance," but he said, "We could probably put you on in general labor here for a period of time until maybe something does come up." Well, anyway, the pipefitter job never did come open. I mean I've been, that's where I've been, here the rest of my life. So far.
TROLAND: So what year did you come to Buffalo Trace?
RIDDLE: Nineteen sixty-four?
TROLAND: Nineteen sixty-four. And what was, then, the very first jobthat you held here at Buffalo Trace? 00:21:00
RIDDLE: The first job I held here?
TROLAND: Here, yes.
RIDDLE: In the warehousing department. Rolling barrels, doing whateverthey had you do, loading empty barrels or whatever. I worked in the--we worked there during the day. After a while, you know, we got to where we could come over here and, and work some in the shipping at night, you know. They'd have night work over here. We could work over there in the day, and a lot of times we'd come over here and work at nights in shipping. (Coughs) Back--excuse me--back in the sixties, the latter part of the sixties, I, I bid on a job here that was in the painting crew over where (??) they had a paint crew here on a lot of that time in maintenance, and I worked on that for, I don't know, two or three years. We painted most everything around here, and then I worked my time in to where I got enough time to work wherever I went 00:22:00back to the warehousing department. I've been there ever since.
TROLAND: Ronnie, how about you? When your schooling was over, what--
TROLAND: --what were your thoughts then?
TROLAND: What was your next step?
EDDINS: --I, I come here right out of high school, you know. I'd--actually, when I come to work here, see, I wasn't eighteen; I wasn't supposed to be working, you know. But (laughs) so anyway, I come to work here and kindy misrepresented my age when I come in here? But anyway, I went to work in the, in the bottling house, and so, and so I'd come to work here on the night shift, and I stayed on night shift. We worked about three months that winter, you know, and the--got to understand back then everything's in a rush deal. There are people, a lot of people was hired to run the bottling and, you know, the whiskey bottled up the, and through the winter months for Christmas and the holidays. And then it was more or less li-, each--you'd be off through 00:23:00all the summer months and stuff and then back there again in the fall of the year and the winter months, and then but did the same thing over again. So the first mon-, first year, I worked here about three months. Second year, I guess it was about five months, and then it finally got to I was working about six months a year. And then after I was here about, oh, I'd say six or seven years, then I pulled, well, went through, you know, kind of year round. But during that meantime I was working here, that's the reason I was doing so much farming and stuff, too, on the sideline is, you know, trying to make a living for the family and, and, but yet this was so interesting here that I didn't want to give this part up either. So as it come about--well, put it this way: Back in the first year, I thought about it, you know, leaving up here. I worked here about three months. Then I turned around and I had a cousin that worked in Shelbyville die-casting aluminum, so I 00:24:00went over there and I started on that, and I worked on that about six months. And then they called me back here, and then I had to make a decision on whether I was going to stay over there or come back here. So I come back here and stayed here. So, but, you know, back then, you know, I was making like fifty cents an hour over there, and I come over here, and I think it was, what, seventy-five, something like that. So it was a g-, a whole lot of money difference, you know. So it was a big difference in pay, and then plus I enjoyed the working here, too. That over there was like 130, 135 degree temperatures I was working in, and it was rough going. Had to wear the asbestos suits and just- -it was all "Get out of this situation." But I have never since I come back here to the Buffalo Trace and worked here, you know, I've never regretted it at all. Always been tickled I did come back here.
TROLAND: In those early years, in those early years, describe a typical00:25:00day of work here at Buffalo Trace for you.
EDDINS: Okay. Well, well, when I come in here in the early years, ofcourse, it's altogether different than it was now, you know. We'd-- while I was working in the bottling house. For instance, now we can run the bottling house with maybe ten or fifteen people on the line. Back then, you was looking at seventy-five or eighty people just running, operate one bottling line. And then so the bottling house, you know, we run the day shift and a night shift in the bottling house, you know, and so we had five, six lines running in the daytime, five, six at night. And you go throwing about seventy-five people into a line, so that's a lot of employees was working here during that time. And so it was all new to me when I first come here, and so I had to learn about what was going on and how to do. So I worked in the bottling house, I got real interested, and, and I bid on a job in there they call the setup job. And so I'd held that first three years I was here at the, 00:26:00here, and then the opportunity come up in shipping where to I could go to a team leader's job. And so I--naturally I was here for the money and wanted to learn all I could, too--so I took the team leader's job. And everything back then was done with boxcars. We didn't have any trucks come in and out, because everything done with trains; all their supplies come in by trains, everything went out by train. And so, you know, it was a great deal of difference by loading out the boxcars than it was the, the trucks we do nowadays. But, you know, the, naturally the trains it took longer to get there, but nowadays everything's in the fast motion you got to have the trucks traveling, so it's a--that changed with times. But after I left the--so I stayed over in the shipping department two or three years. Let's see: I think in 1967 I went to the, out over in the warehouse department. And then I went 00:27:00over there and I went in the, worked in the office of the clerk at that time, as union employees worked in the office of the clerk. So I went in there and worked a couple years as a clerk, then I come back out of there because I didn't want to be tied down to the office at that time. You know, I was, felt like I had to be out and about, so I come back out of the office and I took a job as, actually they called it "cutting barrels" in the warehouse. And what it was, you used a spinning wheel that the government required, and you cut all the numbers into the barrels. And so I had to, I went into the warehouses and I cut all these numbers into the barrels. I don't know; it's probably 450 to 500,000 barrels that I had to go back and redo all of them. So I spent two or three years doing that, and finally got, when I got that done, then that, that's when I bid permanent into the warehouse as a 00:28:00team leader. Well, I went through the steps over there far as rick machine, pumping, trying to learn every job that was to be available. And everything anybody else could do, I figured I could do it or do it better, so that's, I went through those steps. And so I always pushed myself to the limit to, to do that. So then in 1983, that's when I moved back into the warehouse office permanent. And I've been in there ever since.
TROLAND: What was the purpose of the numbers that you were putting onthe barrels?
EDDINS: Now that was, at that time that was government-required. Theyhad to be cut into the wood. Now we can stencil it on the barrel in ink, okay? If it's cut into the wood, nobody could change that number, see; that's the idea of the government requiring that. And I would put the date, what date it was that the product was made, you know, - 00:29:00---------(??), and I'd have to put the day and month and year, put that on there. The lot numbers and so on, then you had a code number, that sequence of numbers you put in there for the barrels been made that day. And so every day would actually, all that number would go back to one, you know, each individual day up till--that time we was running, what, about 800 barrels a day new production going into the warehouses, so that's how many barrels that you had to put those numbers on. So actually, then, the number I was putting on there with this spinning wheel was about that big around [holds hands approximately a foot apart]. And all the way around that, you know, it had, you know, ABCs on it, and then it had one through ten or one through zero. And so you actually spun it with your thumb, and--kind of like using a typewriter, only, you know? So you would actually hit that on the barrel. And, and of course over a period of years you don't actually, you'd get good with that, so you'd just be talking to somebody and just write right on 00:30:00the barrel what you wanted to write on it or put numbers on it. And, and it just sounded like a typewriter (imitates sound of typewriter) it just going acrosst it, and, but that's, that's kind of, but over a period of years they quit using that--government didn't require it anymore--but I think I still got the old wheel somewheres. I about wore out, hard to tell how many of them I wore out, but that was one of the requirements. And, and I had to go through, had to climb through the ricks and do those inside the warehouses. But in later years, the government didn't require that to be on there, so then that's when we done away with it.
RIDDLE: You had two sets of numbers--
RIDDLE: --on your barrel: you had a company number, and then you had--this cut number he's talking about was a, it's a government number. They kept a serial number as well, as well as I can relate.
EDDINS: Yeah. Asset numbers, they called them.
RIDDLE: Asset, asset number.
TROLAND: How did the government account for these barrels? What recordswere kept to ensure that the barrels were properly taxed and so forth? 00:31:00
RIDDLE: Well, when you, when you fill the barrels, that's just, backthen was cut number identified that barrel. And each one of those barrels at that time, they were weighed in and out. They were weighed before they come into the fill room, and then they were weighed again, and that's where they determined the tariff on the barrel by how much product was in it, how many gallons were in it. That went on your government record. Each barrel would not, then, isn't, wasn't a, didn't have like a daily average like we have now, like a sixty-six point zero or whatever. It would be, like, one maybe would be sixty- four something, and then another one might be sixty-five. It depends. The barrels weren't as uniform then as they are today.
EDDINS: That's where, like I was talking about, you know, a while ago,when I spent the, the couple years in there as a clerk. That's what I had done. Had those great big long government sheets like this [holds hands several feet apart], and I, I would fill those out, and every 00:32:00barrel I would figure out how much it weighed, what it was, how many proof count it was per barrel. Of course, back then, you've got to understand, we didn't, boy, we di-, I did not even have, naturally, no computers. I did not have no type of adding machine. All that was done by hand. And so, you know, that, it was a great big job foo-, dealing with those numbers, and that's, and so you'd, we'd complete those records. And then, of course, naturally everything about, everybody had to have a copy, so you had four or five copies deep.
EDDINS: And, but everything was kept in files on paper. In those dayswas a whole lot of recordkeeping and a whole lot of file cabinets. Every, every day's production, every month, week, everything was kept for, oh, I guess we kept it up, what, as high as twenty years.
TROLAND: I understand that some time in the past there was a government00:33:00agent who was on the premises. What was your interaction with that individual?
RIDDLE: Yeah. As a matter of fact, we had an officer where the BlantonBurke (??) room is now. They had an officer, and they probably had, what, I guess eight or ten--?
RIDDLE: --government people that, that were in there, and they alwayswas one, at least one in the re-gauging room and one in the--when they were filling--in the dump room that checked after the guys weighing the barrels, or if you were gauging the whiskey out or whatever. They used to, at one time when you, when they were dumping the product especially, you had to, you had to make two check papers: You had to have one for your employee that was here, whoever's checking your pumper or whomever your checker, plus the government also got one, and they would check those barrels off, which they come off by serial number. That's what we were talking about, the cut numbers and the 00:34:00company number. They had to match those numbers. Today it's just dumped by lot number, like whatever day's whiskey that is. They don't have a serial number on them anymore like they did. But they had probably, I'd say, eight or ten. They had some that stayed over here in the, in the bottling. They used to gauge the whiskey in the dump room, and they got what they called an estimated tax versus whatever it was when they come through the chill room after it was bottled. I think that's what it was, what the tax was paid on, and now I think it's paid through K storage (??), correct?
RIDDLE: I believe that's correct.
EDDINS: See, back then, you got to understand that government had,naturally, control over everything we had in the warehouses, all of our bourbons we had in our tanks, so if we had a lock on it, they did, too. We could take our lock off, but it didn't do any good. We couldn't get into it, because they had to remove their lock. And that was same way; all of our warehouses had two locks on them. So we'd go around every morning--I've done it many times, and I know Leonard has, too. 00:35:00We'd go around in the morning with a government guy before ti-, work time, and we'd unlock the warehouses. And we had a check-off list, we'd check the, what warehouses we unlocked, what time it was. The government man had his lock, and so we had, we'd take two locks off. And then we'd come back and, and was getting our product out. They also checked the, the whiskey as well as we did. They proofed it well as we did. They ch-, every movement of whiskey or any type of bourbon at all, any type of alcohol, the government had, brought us a (??) release to us what we could do. You know, and so everything had to be under a government regulations, even down to the samples, any little sample ----------(??), you know, of a barrel, everything is, any type of whiskey is, had to be recognized through the government, and they had to have their approval on it. We made their paperwork and our paperwork. They would constantly something come up, if they walked 00:36:00into our area or was dumping over there and something wasn't right and didn't suit them, shut us down. You know, in fact ----------(??) I been (??) over in the bottling house, and all at once he'd just walk up there and cut all the lines off. Okay. We're shutting her down. That the proof was maybe, he didn't li-, he didn't like his first check on the proof or something on the bottle. They was, they was great in one sense, you know, the big help to us. In another sense, we had a few of them that weren't the kindest sort of authority once in a while, showing us they was in charge, and they would shut us down, you know.
RIDDLE: They were pretty strict.
RIDDLE: Real strict.
EDDINS: Yeah. But they had to be; I understand that. They had to bestrict, you know. And so, but we--that's one good thing. I think that's a big advantage to Leonard and I, is we had growed up through that and went by those rules and regulations, and we've always go by 00:37:00that today. You know, those same things that we learnt under those government guys, working with them back then, we, we do that today. Oh, and one reason why we do it, because we signed the papers that we (laughs), saying that we'd represent the government anymore on this. Both of us.
RIDDLE: Yeah. If you receive it in or out, you have to sign it in orout.
EDDINS: Yeah. So when the government guys left, we took over that,their part of that, too.
TROLAND: So, I see. So you really, working as warehouse managers, then,you are taking over the--
EDDINS: Responsibility (??)--
TROLAND: --responsibility of seeing that the--
TROLAND: --whiskey is properly accounted for.
RIDDLE: Accounted for, handled correctly, yes.
EDDINS: Shipped in and out correctly. Between myself, Leonard, and acouple more here at the plant, yes, you know, that's our jobs, to take care of the government work and our work.
TROLAND: So would you describe the relationship between Buffalo Traceemployees, distillery employees, and the federal agents as being somewhat adversarial at times? How, how did you feel about working-- 00:38:00
TROLAND: --with these people in the, in the past?
RIDDLE: I never had a problem working with one of them. Most of themwere pretty nice people, you know; they were nice people, but they were just, you know, they, they went by, you had to go by the book. You know, they had, they got the manual--as a matter of fact, we still have the manuals over there that, you know, that you go by, tells you your regulations and stuff. It was--no, they were--you'd get one once in a while, you know, that might be a little bit--
EDDINS: But our, our regulations--
RIDDLE: I'm sure we were the same way (laughs), some of us hard to getalong with sometimes, too, probably.
EDDINS: Yeah. You know, our regulations that we got on manual bookslike Leonard was talking about, and we go--we went by those, and that just would have been, you know, all us has got regulations we go by, and one of them is we got, you know, every few years we got union contracts, we'd go by those regulations. And so, you know, we got to be perfectly on track with all the--of the government regulations, make certain that there is not any mess-ups, you double-check, you ------ ----(??), you know, and you che-, so we learned to do things and, and 00:39:00within a--do a stage one, two, three and a four. Most time jobs carry to (??) one and two: you do this job and you double-check it. Okay, between Riddle and I, we, we do a, like a four-stage, you know. So we check the whiskey four different times to make certain we got the right whiskey we're using, the right whiskey's been aged at the right time, so we've got a, like a four-step deal where most people go through a two-step. Because there's, we have no room for mistakes.
TROLAND: Now, the two of you have worked together for a long time, andso I want to explore those ideas as well as a history of the two of you. Leonard, when did you, when did you first meet Ronnie, and what did you think?
RIDDLE: I think the first time I really met Ronnie was when we had a00:40:00flood down here one time. (laughs)
RIDDLE: And we, at that time, I don't think Ronnie was working inthe warehouse at that time, and so we came over to help move all the equipment and stuff out of the bottling house and the shipping areas and still and whatever. Everybody was in, you know, general labor, but he got sort of lit up like a Christmas tree.
EDDINS: Yeah, sure did. (RIDDLE laughs) You saved my life. He jerkedme loose.
RIDDLE: He originally got this--this adding machine was sitting on thismetal desk, and as well as I can remember he had leather, leather-soled shoes on. I had these gumboots on, these, up, you know, almost knee high or whatever, but anyway, he reached and got this calculator, and it, man, it was [makes a shaking motion] this number. And, of course, I gave him a pretty good lick when I got him off of it, but I got him away from it. I, that's really when I guess I got to know Ro-, I knew Ronnie; I knew who Ro-, who Ronnie was at that time. I don't remember the year that was, but it's been quite some time ago. 00:41:00
EDDINS: It's been years and years ago, but yeah, I remember that timewell. I was in, done going down. I was standing in water about this deep [holds hands approximately a foot apart]. Water was coming up fast, and I was done going down. And Riddle, I think, well, as I remember, he got a hold of me, and he got jerked loosed, and then next time he really (RIDDLE laughs) knocked me plumb loose from everything, you know. And that's the only thing saved me. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't--
RIDDLE: Yeah, it was--
EDDINS: --it would have gotten me.
RIDDLE: --this thing, it was sitting on that metal desk, and of course,naturally, it was arcing to that, that water, of course, grounded him to the--
RIDDLE: --to the power on it, and of course the power wasn't off at thattime in the building, so--
EDDINS: Yeah, so--
RIDDLE: But that's what I rem-, yeah.
EDDINS: But that was the, that was the one time I was real tickled tosee Leonard be around. (both laugh)
TROLAND: Not the only time, I'm sure.
EDDINS: No. Oh, no. No. We've worked together for many years, andwe've, we've helped one another, you know, always been a team effort. And it's, you know, it's, it's always a, you know, one thing about 00:42:00it, I can always to count on Leonard to be with me at all times. It's going to be done right. There's going to be no mistakes made, so you can feel relaxed. If you've got something going on, and I, if I st-, head into a problem, I'd go to Leonard and talk to Leonard about it, or he'd do the same thing to me, and we'd talk it over. And when the outcome wouldn't come out, you know, we'd be out on top of it, and, but you are constantly hitting all types of problems through your lifetimes over here. And we've, like I say, we've spent forty-some years together, and so we've hit a lot of stumps, you know, and had to, to go over and head into things you never get into before, and, but I always found that I could go to Leonard, you know, we can sit down and talk this over, and we'd al-, we'd, between the two of us, we'll figure out a way to get this done and the best way to do it.
RIDDLE: Well, I, as you say, we always rely on one another's judgmentabout things. We, you know, and you take his judgment or vice versa, 00:43:00you know, on whatever your decision might be at that time, and so, you know, whatever. I think that's why we've had a good relationship over there, and because whatever I do, I usually try to keep him informed or vice versa, you know. One or the other guy always knows what--and I think that's the best way to operate any kind of a business, not only this here, anywhere else, is, you know, the people that's working together, you keep everybody around you informed of what's going on.
EDDINS: Yeah. A real, real close relationship.
EDDINS: If we didn't have that real close relationship with one another,I kno-, you know, just like I every, just almost any minute I can look at my watch. I know exactly what Leonard's doing; he knows exactly what I'm doing. And even though we might even be in two different buildings. But, and I know what he's thinking about he's got going on; he knows what I'm thinking about. You know, we, it's go-, that's at that point. But I've found that Leonard has been a outstandly guy to 00:44:00work with. You know, I mean, it's, it's a whole lot, having a total trust in somebody, you know. And, and I could always do that with Leonard, and I hope he has with me too, because we always--
EDDINS: --put a lot of load on each one, on each one other's shoulderslike that. So it's worked great for us. It mades our jobs a lot easier for us here.
TROLAND: When did you first start working together, and what were youdoing at that time?
RIDDLE: Back, I guess when we started working together was probably,what, middle, late sixties?
RIDDLE: --I guess? In the warehouse, he, when he came there to, he bid ajob over--then they had, like, department seniority, you know. If you were in a department, that was your department, and you had to bid from one department to the other. Of course, he was in shipping or--
RIDDLE: --or bottling at that time, whatever, and he bid over on thecutting job--
RIDDLE: --I think is what he was talking about.
EDDINS: Right. Yeah.
RIDDLE: And then I think after that job was exhausted or whatever--at,at one time they did away with that, that cutting job--we, we worked 00:45:00together on the rickers, leak hunting, whatever. Just, you know--
RIDDLE: I'd say probably around '67 or '68, somewhere sort of around inthat area, I'd say.
EDDINS: Yeah, we worked the rickers together.
EDDINS: Riddle has always been a guy that--
EDDINS: --that has, when we're running the rickers and things, "Ifanybody else can do it, I can do it twice as good," you know, no matter what job it was. So I learned a lot from Leonard on that, and, you know, well, put it this way: one time during the holiday--we ordinarily take eight hours to get our new production into the warehouse. We went over into Warehouse A on this holiday, and Leonard and I were assigned to the ricker. Riddle says, "I tell you what." Says, "If you'll hang with me," says, "we'll be--we'll have this done in four hours." And so the guys said, "Well, if you all get it done in four hours," said, "you all can just go on home, and we'll give you eight hours' pay." Well, 00:46:00you know, he like to worked you to death, but we did. He's good at it, and, and I put, I try done as much as I could to stay up with him, but he can handle those barrels so easy. And then ricking those barrels- -while I was talking about running the ricker, that's where we take the barrels, the new production, and take it up and put it into the rails; had to roll the barrels into the rails and bung them up, and you do the, like, first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth tier. And so that was the main holdup to try to get things done quick usually, if you go into the lower floor in a warehouse, was who operating the rickers for you. So anyway, that day by eleven o'clock, we, we was done and out of here. And of course, like I say, now I was tired. I know he had to be, too, but he's--
RIDDLE: Yeah, the whole key to that, handling those barrels, you letthe barrel handle itself, really. It's a little of a knack to it, you know, it, a 500-pound barrel, you're just not going to manhandle it every time. It's got a lot of, lot of act (??) to the, knowing how 00:47:00to, where to approach that barrel, how to approach it to make it work for yourself. It'll, it'll roll itself. I think that's (laughs) a lot of our young guys today, they go out here dragging, you know, they, they try to manhandle that thing. You know, you just ain't going to manhandle those barrels, or you'll get, it'll take a toll on you after a while.
EDDINS: Yeah. It'll take--
RIDDLE: But we've had some good years down here--
EDDINS: Oh, yeah.
RIDDLE: I mean, we have, and over the years, Ronnie and I, we've, we'venever had a social, I guess you'd say "events" a lot away from the place. Mostly ours has been--
EDDINS: Been right here.
RIDDLE: --been right here in the plant.
RIDDLE: And that's unusual; usually people that work together a lot likethat have a lot of social activities outside, you know, families or whatever. We've never had that over the years. Of course, he lives in, what, Henry County? And--
EDDINS: Henry County, and you live in Franklin County.
RIDDLE: Yeah, Franklin County, so--
RIDDLE: --but anyway, we've had a good relationship over the years, andI'm sure it'll continue until we both retire-- 00:48:00
EDDINS: Oh, yeah.
RIDDLE: --or whatever. So--
EDDINS: Yeah. No doubt of that. Of course, you know, I'm runningsixty-six years old--be sixty-seven in a few more months--but, you know, it's kind of a place that's kindy hard to just walk off. I had in mind I was going to retire a few years ago. You know, you got so much stuff involved here at the plant that you got another job that you're wanting to do or another experimental that you're wanting to work on, that you want to complete. There's--it just, you know, if a person lived two hundred years, he--he continually would work here. I thought all about it, and, because it's, it's not something you complete and walk off. So every day is an enjoyable day. You look for doing something better; you try to improve yourself and improve the product. Anything that's making an improvement far as quality and 00:49:00taste-wise, we're looking for it. And Riddle's the same way. We've always, we've talked and talked about it. We've looked at things, at different types of products and different places we can age in the warehouses. And, of course, he's got his favorites (??), favorite place, and I've got my favorite place, too, you know, and--favorite warehouses, favorite floors. I'm a real believer--
RIDDLE: Yeah, I've got the best two locations, then (??). (both laugh)
EDDINS: So anyway, L3, I think, is your favorite spot, and then ofcourse you--
RIDDLE: L2 and 3 and M2 and 3.
RIDDLE: I think that's the best thing, yeah.
EDDINS: --but, but the o-, you got to understand too, now, his favoritedrink is a, is a wheated whiskey, and my favorite is a, is the rye whiskey. So I like the Buffalo Trace and the Eagle Rares and E.T. Lee's, and, and Leonard, he's, his main one is, is your Weller sevens and twelves and those type of wheated whiskeys.
RIDDLE: Yeah, it's a milder whiskey.00:50:00
EDDINS: Yeah. It's a--
RIDDLE: It's a, it's not a harsher whiskey, at least. It's a, it don't have that hard bite to it, of cour-, and I think the reason being for that is because you enter it in a lower proof into the barrel, which I think has a lot to do with that: 114 versus 125. It don't get all that hard bite to it like 125 proof goes in, and when it comes out it's probably up in the, back up in the hundred and thirties or whatever when it actually ages. Probably at 114, at I'd say probably 118 or -19 is about as high up as you go back once you dump it and put it into the--
TROLAND: This is for the wheat whiskeys you're talking about.
RIDDLE: Right, right. The wheat whiskeys, what we call them.
TROLAND: What is the difference between a wheat whiskey and a rye recipewhiskey?
RIDDLE: Well, your recipe's just, what, 51 percent?
EDDINS: Yeah, fifty-one.
RIDDLE: It has to be 51 percent wheat or corn or whatever to call itrye or wheat or corn whiskey, or, or whatever. Of course, your corn whiskey is, it's just a regular recipe, goes back into a used barrel. 00:51:00And they call it corn whiskey, or it can be bourbon whiskey; you put it back in a used barrel.
EDDINS: You can use it for a blend or something.
RIDDLE: Yeah, for blends.
EDDINS: There's some products out here that uses a--
EDDINS: --small amount of blend in, you know, something for a product,but--
RIDDLE: That's what your preferred is here: It's corn plus spirits.It's a--
RIDDLE: And, of course, it's got so much, what, caramel and--
RIDDLE: --some other color that's added to it.
EDDINS: This type of mix is not a pure bourbon whiskey.
EDDINS: So, but you know, the, the thing of it is, like I was talkingabout there, one of the differences (??) between the rye and the wheat is it takes a different location in the warehouse to age that product to make for its best of aging. And L3 is a concrete warehouse, we call it; got the concrete, three foot, three foot of concrete in the floors. It don't--and it's got a fifteen-foot ceiling in it. So they're bo-, 00:52:00being made that way, the temperature change inside that house don't change as fast as one that has got a--
EDDINS: --metal siding or these other type of warehouses where it'sgot a brick on the outside and the, and the structure is wood on the inside. So the temperature in there is not going to change as fast.
RIDDLE: It's more controllable--
RIDDLE: --in those type houses, and the airflow in the, in the summermonths, too, and airflow has a lot to do with your aging of whiskey, to get airflow through it. And I, that's one reason why that I like that house there: I think it's set, the positioning of the house, of where it's at, the airflow around it, I think, is, has a lot to do with the aging of the product in that house. And, but we've had some good whiskey come out of it. Of course, now, there's some good whiskey, bourbon coming out of some of the other houses, too, but, you know, it's--
EDDINS: Yeah, it's--
RIDDLE: --depends on what your--
EDDINS: --it's, you know, we've won a lot of prizes and, and stuff overa period of years, you know, Whiskey of the Years and different ones, 00:53:00and got some very high ratings, and we take all that in consideration, you know. We remember, we know where this whiskey coming from, and so, you know, just like an E.T. Lee, you know, it's got to be a little spicy, and we know that. And so we know where that's got to, got to be aged at in the warehouses. And, and the Eagle Rares, you know, it's a li-, got a little different quality of taste to it. So, and so that's the same way with your regular wheated whiskey, with your regular straight rye whiskey: It's got places in the warehouses, in certain warehouses, it'll age better than other, other spots. So we have, over a period of years, have now learned where those spots are at, the different types of whiskey, and that's what we, that's the reason this experimentals is so interesting, because it's a never-ending situation that you learn about this.
TROLAND: Each of you, I'm told, has several favorite places--00:54:00
TROLAND: My name is Tom Troland from the University of Kentucky, andwe're talking today with Ronnie Eddins on the left and Leonard Riddle on the right, both from Buffalo Trace Distillery. This is the Buffalo Trace Oral History Project, it's October 16, 2008, and this is the second of two tapes. Let's go back to the question that I asked earlier: Each of you has certain special places in warehouses that you, you like.
RIDDLE: Yeah, that's--
TROLAND: Why? What are these places, and what are, for example, Leonard,what are these places, and what, what's good about them?
RIDDLE: Like I said earlier, you know, everybo-, everyone has adifferent taste for bourbon or whatever, and I'm sort of a, a wheat whiskey person. I like the, the Weller whiskey, the twelve-year Owsley (??) whiskey, and I feel like that the area that I, I like the most is warehouse L3 and 2, I feel like--and M3 and 2--ages that type whiskey better than it does anywhere else on the lot, just like we were ta-, 00:55:00that's, I think that's what we were just talking about: the airflow, the, to the whiskey, the control of the, con-, I think you can control the humidity, the heat, more into that hou-- that house, for that type product. Which, like some of the other products that Ronnie--it might not get that good a flavor at the, in, in that, in that area as a, as is the wheat whiskey. But that's why I like those floors. And--
TROLAND: So what is different, then, about those floors that makes themparticularly useful for--
RIDDLE: I think the airflow--
TROLAND: --wheat whiskey?
RIDDLE: --the heat control--
TROLAND: I see.
RIDDLE: --the position of the building, I guess you'd say. It, youknow, the, you know, you can sit whatever when it's built, see. I feel like that's got a lot to do with the airflow around the other buildings that come into this building or whatever; I think that's got a whole lot to do with it. And some of the other houses on the lot are the same. You know, you've got some other houses that age some good 00:56:00quality product as well, but of (??) that's, that's where my favorite product comes from.
EDDINS: Yeah, that's the--on those concrete houses like that, you'vegot, the temperature inside changes slowly, so that mellows the whiskey when it's got a slow change. Got a fast change, you're hitting high spicy, little bit warmer taste. Now, Warehouse I and K is my favorite warehouses, because that is for the Buffalo Trace, the E.T. Lees, and the Eagle Rares, those type of products. And, and, you know, you get up on about the seventh floor of I, for instance, you know, of--every morning the sun comes up, you know, and you've got a dew off the river. You know, that, that, to me that's a big plus for us; it helps age our product, so therefore it kindy dries it out every morning, and then during the day the temperature rises, you get pressure in the barrel, and it pushes the whiskey out into the wood. And by doing this vacuum 00:57:00every night and pressure in the daytime, then you actually pick up some spicy taste into your whiskey. And, like the E.T. Lee is a kind of a real spicy, got more of a spicy taste. So you're looking at something with a good flavor that don't burn a lot, but yet it's got enough to it to give it kind of a fruity, spicy taste to it. And that's kind of what I like about my bourbon, is if it's got a kind of a fruity taste, a little spicy taste to it, and it's mild and don't, you know, burn you all the way down (laughs). You know, not like it was years ago, back when I first went to (??), first come to work down here. You know, there, that was a different story. If a buy--if a person--our big seller then was also the same way. It had to be hot, fiery, high 00:58:00spicy taste, then that was a big seller. Okay? If a spate of, state of Kentucky, they would, if it was r-, older it was, the more a high fiery taste it was and higher spicy taste it was, the more they loved it. And over a period of years, the generation has changed so they want some more of a flavor to it now, nowadays. So that's, so you get to create a different type of taste from back then till now. One thing is, you know, we got to look at, is back in the 1950s and forties and early sixties, a lot of our product went into the barrel at 102 proof, 105 proof; you know, we were putting it in the barrel at a low proof. So what you was doing there is you was creating, trying to create this fiery taste by going high in the warehouse and putting it, and keep a flavor, you know, on that lower proof. And over a period of years, 00:59:00people's tastes have changed, so now that's shifted positions in the warehouse. So therefore our positions goes kind of through a wave, like Warehouse C3, C4, it's a high deal, you know, for Eagle Rare, you know, that sort of products. And so, you know, each--but that's as timely as now. You know, say it's thirty, near thirty, forty years from now, you know, as people's taste changes, then the wave might go up or down, and there could be a more of a milder taste or more of a--it's, you got to, you try to base up on what's selling now. What is it that they like about this product? Then that's what you get to developing. And what it's going to be di-, six or eight years from now, that's the big thing. You know, what we aging now, what we putting in the warehouse today, as of today, you know, I've got us purposed (??) for that eight years from now. I done got it figured out to how many barrels I need 01:00:00of this eight years from now, six years from now, you know, all that is--but you've got to do that six to eight years in advance, so that's the way we've got to store it in the warehouses.
RIDDLE: Yeah, if it's something you want to leave in there for a longperiod of time, you want her down lower, and if it's going to be in there for a short time, you want it up higher where you get a quicker aging on the whiskey when it's higher.
RIDDLE: If you're going to dump something for a four-year-old whiskey,you would probably want it up a little bit closer to the top of your building than you would at the bottom. If you want something for a ten-year-old, then you want it down somewhere--ten- or twelve-year-old- -you want it down somewhere lower in your warehouses. Keep from--
TROLAND: So the warehouse levels--
RIDDLE: --keep from over-aging it. Yeah, I guess you'd say.
TROLAND: The warehouse has a number of levels. How many levels do thewarehouses typically have?
RIDDLE: Well, you have, your concrete houses have five floors, and theyhave six ricks on each floor. And your rack, what we call rack houses, are three-high ricks, and I think I has nine and so does K, and then of 01:01:00course you've got your smaller house over there, H, which is only four floors. That's a good aging house, H, and then Warehouse C you have, like, six floors. They have three ricks, three ricks to a floor. And you got D, and I think we're only using, what, eight floors over there? Seven or--
EDDINS: Eight fl--
RIDDLE: --eight floors. That's a ten-high house, but we're only using--
RIDDLE: --about eight floors.
EDDINS: Yeah, the upper floors are a little hot. We quit using those;they were a little bit hot.
RIDDLE: Warehouse P is a five hou-, that's a concrete house, and I thinkWarehouse Q, it's a, it's what we call a rack house. I think when it--that house was built back, what, in the forties, maybe?
RIDDLE: Or whenever.
RIDDLE: I think the P and Q were built about somewhere during the wartimes or whatever in the forties. And I think both of those houses when they started building were intended to be concrete houses, but the shortage of wood or whatever at that time, or concrete or whatever the deal was, but anyway one of them ended up being a rack house and the 01:02:00other one being a concrete house. But both of those houses are pretty good or decent now, too.
EDDINS: Um-hm. Yeah, each one of those floors of Q, in other words,you take Warehouse Q: If you take the first, second and third floor, it's ideal for product, you know, that we would use for a fifteen, eighteen-year-old product. It's, it would let it age but not over-age. We want to keep something that is unique, got a real unique taste to it, something different than somebody else's. Yeah, ----------(??) just like the George T. Stagg fifteen-year-old. Then you gots, you know, so we go-, you know, we got some different products that requires extra slow. And--
RIDDLE: Well, a lot of your twenty-year-old Van Winkle here the last fewweeks that we bottled, it came out of that house over there. That's a-- 01:03:00
EDDINS: Yeah. You had a little part (??)--
RIDDLE: --a Van Winkle whiskey that that we bottled.
TROLAND: So those extremely old bourbons--twenty years old, of course,is very old for a bourbon--
TROLAND: They tend to be aged in the lower levels of the house.
RIDDLE: That's correct.
EDDINS: Um-hm, um-hm. Yeah--
RIDDLE: If you put them up on the top floor, it would be so hot, youknow, it would really be, the flavor of it would be--
RIDDLE: --it'd have a terrible bite to it.
EDDINS: Yeah, it ages too fast on a top floor. But you got tounderstand, now, the top floors of Warehouse I and K, in the ninth floor, it gets mighty hot in the summertime up there, and the pressure on the, the liquid inside that barrel is pushing so deep into the wood, it's pulling out a real fiery, woody taste--
EDDINS: --okay? But what's on that very first floor down there, it's,it's not. So it's under-aged. So when you take a four-year-old, this one up here's going to taste like a six-year-old. This one down here's going to taste like a two-year-old. So what Riddle and I'll do, we'll pull, say, like 100 barrels of that and 100 barrels of this, and we put 01:04:00it in a 100,000-gallon tank over there of the four-year-old product. Now you've got a good level product, you know, that's, that tastes the same. So it's, it's good for its own use, but you've got to watch what you're doing and how you use it. You know, that's--the upper floors, you know, it over-ages so fast, but you've got spots that don't, you know, that comes along slow. And so that's what he means.
TROLAND: Imagine two barrels from the same batch that are stored rightnext to each other--so same level, same warehouse. Would you expect differences between those two barrels?
RIDDLE: Yes, it would be different. Yeah.
TROLAND: If so, what types of differences might you expect?
EDDINS: Yeah, um-hm.
RIDDLE: Could be the, could be the wood; it could be in the wood or the--
EDDINS: Um-hm. Yeah, you can t--
RIDDLE: --yep, airflow or whatever, yep.
EDDINS: --and you can turn one around, you--each barrel, you got tounderstand, each barrel, you know, you've got thirty-one, thirty-two staves in that, in that barrel. Okay? And the headboards, you got seven or eight headboards on each head. So you got fourteen headboards, 01:05:00you got thirty-two staves. Okay, out of those staves, those could be coming out of different trees, you know, and those boards do. And those, and the wood that's in those trees, the north side of a tree is different than the, than the south side of a tree. And so you get down into the specs of the tree, and that will act your (??) whiskey age differently. And then you get close to the inside of the tree, the hard part of the wood, then it's closer grains and it don't soak as good, so that's still going to make it age differently. So therefore you can take twenty-six barrels and have them in a rail, and more than likely if you really know your product real well and can pick it up, each one of those barrels is going to have a just a hair different taste to it. It might match our Buffalo Trace or Eagle Rare profile that we're looking for, but the guys that does it daily, in and out, he can tell a difference between this barrel and that barrel. And-- 01:06:00
RIDDLE: It might be the wood, like he was thinking of, or it, you know,the barrel could maybe have got a little air in it or something, you know, could have got to the product or something during the time while they had a wormhole or something [like] that repaired. It could be a lot of different things.
EDDINS: And it could be where the sun is shining through the window andhitting on this barrel. It'll make--you know, you can take a, one of them (??) over in Warehouse C. The first barrel on the south side--that barrel, say, up on the fourth floor where that sun kindy shines in there and hits that barrel for about a hour each day? That barrel is going to be high spicy, but yet it's going to be a real gold, mellow sugary taste, like a brown sugar taste to it. And that second barrel back is going to be a different taste to it.
EDDINS: Because the sun hasn't hit that one.
TROLAND: Tell me a little bit about wood selection. I know that, justas you were saying, plays a big role in the final product.
TROLAND: How do you ensure good, good wood?
EDDINS: Well, we, we have our guys when we purchase our barrels, our--we01:07:00know the type of wood we're looking for in these barrels, and we have our graders, we call it, up to the branch and look at each individual barrel as we're unloading them. We want our wood to be something that's solid, naturally, to hold our bourbon: no, no cracks in it, no big holes in it, or splinter wood or wind shakes, we call it. And also we want our wood to be, the grain-wise, about a medium grain, what could we call a coarse grain and say is, is seven, seven to ten grains per inch, you know, of the wood; if you put a ruler down on it and you see the markings running through it, the growth grains, it would be about seven to ten. That wood is, has growed too fast. That means it's growed in a low-lying area in, in the country, rich soil, and it don't age as w-, the whiskey as, as good. So we want something in between that ten to fifteen grains per inch, okay? And what happens 01:08:00there is that slows the penetration of the wood up and lets it age in the, in the barrels a more of a mellow taste to it. And then, so, you know, that's kind of what we prefer to. You can pretty well look at a piece of wood and tell where it was growed at, and the wood, and the, and on the side of a hill, the north side of a hill, then that wood there's going to be so tightly grained, it's going to be hard to age whiskey in that, because it don't breathe. It's almost put like in a con-, a metal container.
RIDDLE: You have specs on your barrels, you know, like the moisturecontent of the stave and that. They have a way of te-, we have a probe over there. You probe the barrels to see what the moisture content, and it, what, about twenty to ten to twelve--
RIDDLE: --would be ideal?
RIDDLE: You don't want anything too dry that goes in there because whatit'll do is just (??) suck the whiskey in real quick. You don't want it real green because it would, your whiskey wouldn't, it'd give it a 01:09:00green--
RIDDLE: --taste, you know, or whatever coming out of it. So you don'twant your, your heads or your staves of your barrel to be e-, too wet or too dry; they have to be in a certain area. They, they check those down there where we buy our barrels as well as they do here, plus they check the sapwood on the barrels to see if they're not sappy or whatever. You have a, what do we use?
EDDINS: Yeah, we got a meter.
RIDDLE: The meter or--
EDDINS: Yeah, we got--
RIDDLE: --whatever they check them with.
EDDINS: --we got different ways of checking those. We got meters forcertain things, but we don't want any sapwood because that sapwood would definitely, you know, ruin the flavor of our product. And we don't want to pick it up any extra amount of moisture, you know, like Riddle was talking about, you know, if it's in around the twelve, no more than fourteen, range moisture in the wood. We don't want that regular moisture out of that tree, so therefore we just want our wood to lay actually for six months after it's been cut and to dry out. And so that's one of our specs (??) on the wood, you know, is if you 01:10:00cut a tree down and saw it up into a barrel, then you have--and do it too quick--then you've got too much of the sapwood of the tree mixed in with it. We want a portion of that, because we want to pick up the vanillas and the--and you got a lot of different flavors in that wood, but we want to bring it out according to the way we want to age our whiskey and to mix with it. So when those chemicals go reenacting with our alcohol and the wood, then that, it creates a different flavor. And sometimes it, the whiskey don't, or really alcohol, it don't rea-, I guess what I'm getting at is sometimes a two- or three-year-old barrel that's got whiskey in it, it still hasn't started changing much. It actually starts, if it was in there, say, six or eight years, then the chemicals go reacting more and give a different flavor. And so the 01:11:00quality of the wood plays a big part of that. And so that's, that is a very, very important part of our operation, is having real good barrels.
RIDDLE: Yeah, I think, what, all our wood has to be aged at least, what,six months?
RIDDLE: And I know there's a lot of places they use wood that's notsix-month-old wood, and, but that's one of the requirements, one of the specs on it. It has to be ----------(??), what, number three char, I think is what we use?
EDDINS: Yeah. Number four char. We used to only use number three,and now we use the number four char. But, and the reason we went to the number four char is we wanted to pick up some "X" amount of color, some "X" amount of caramels out of the wood. That's one of the things that has changed over the period of years: the taste requirements I'm speaking of earlier, that if you had a twenty-year-old, what would taste good to a person twenty years ago don't taste so good to a person 01:12:00as of today. So then that's one thing we had to change a little bit of the op-, what we do there. And then the type of wood, you know, it's like that tree that has growed out here. It's a pretty white oak tree growed out in open fields. It'd be a beautiful tree, but it's not good for bourbon whiskey because it is got, it's picked up too fast a growth of sapwood inside of it. It's pulled a lot of rich soil in with that tree, and we want that tree to grow kind of slow and--
RIDDLE: Grain would be too wide in it.
EDDINS: Yeah. Grain would be too wide, and then, but see, they soureasy. That, you know, you cut one of those trees down that got the wide grain, and it's just got so much liquid in it, it'll sour. And so it plays a--we always found that trees that mainly come out of Eastern 01:13:00Kentucky or Ozark Mountains are some of the top quality trees that, for bourbon whiskey.
TROLAND: Do you select in some way the trees, the individual trees onoccasion?
EDDINS: I have done it, yes. Yeah. I have went out to inspect trees.
TROLAND: But you don't select all the trees--
EDDINS: No, I don't. No.
TROLAND: --just a small portion. What have--
EDDINS: We had--
TROLAND: --you found from these trees you've selected? What, what effecthas that had on the bourbon?
EDDINS: Well, you know, Independent Stave is a company that's avery big company that makes barrels. Probably, I guess they're the biggest company of all, far as making bourbon barrels, and we have a lot of companies out there. And we've always, we had a real close relationship with Independent Stave Company and run a lot of (??) experimentals together. They would have a suggestion--John Boswell, we worked together many, many year, stayed on the phone late, midnight every night, you know, going over things, working how we could do this 01:14:00and do that and make things a little, taste a little better. So he was the owner of Independent Stave, John, and his goal was to make the very best a barrel could be made, you know, for bourbon whiskey. And he always pushed for any type of change he could make to, to improve it. So that wa-, that we done, you know, like I say; day in and day out we would talk to one another, and he'd find time--he was a very busy guy, but he always found time to talk to me. And I'd call him about certain things and ask him had he tried this or tried that. And, so anyway, their goal was, you know, to always have a top-quality barrel, so we had a close relationship there, and we've managed to--he knows what I wanted for the warehouses here, the type of barrels we want, so he, he had his guys ----------(??) to meet our specs. We wrote up our specs, what we wanted, and he, and they go by that. So it's, you know, I think 01:15:00every distillery operation has got their own specifications of type of wood, and it depends on the type of warehouses they putting into, meets their needs. And, but if our needs here at Buffalo Trace, and our--and we're very fortunate here to, we have every type of warehouse that we can age whiskey in that anybody else would have: we got the metal houses, we got the concrete houses, we got the rack houses. We're just f-, real fortunate to be sitting right here on the edge of the r-, Kentucky River, get that morning fog comes in, plays a big part of our aging process. We, even now that we're in the hot and dry summer months, you need a little bit of moisture to make your product age good. So we, we, we can get that off of the Kentucky River.
TROLAND: How is a rick house different from the other types ofwarehouses?
EDDINS: The rick house--the rack house, we call it--is, it's wood.01:16:00It's all built out of wood on the inside, and it, and it's got brick on the outside. If some reason or another that the brick was to fall away from the building, the, the barrels still be standing there, and it don't su-, depend on the support of the concrete to hold the, the warehouse up. Now, that's the rack house with the, with the brick on the outside. Then we also got the rack warehouse with the metal on the outside. Okay? And, of course, it is, the metal actually, it don't help support the warehouse; it just helps keep the heat in and out--the cold out, you know, and the heat, so forth. But it'll warm up quicker. Now, the metal--
RIDDLE: A lot, a lot of your older distilleries rely mostly a lot onyour metal houses, and the reason being for that is the heat. The metal, it attracts the heat, the sun, especially in the winter, when they didn't have, a lot of your houses at that time wasn't heated. And 01:17:00that, the sun on that--the roof, the side, you know--would attract a lot of that, and of course in the summertime, actually, you're going to get a lot, and have to open them to keep them aired out. But they would get a lot more heat from--of course, as they're going along, I guess later forties or whenever they built these other rack houses, put the brick on them--
RIDDLE: --most all those houses are heated.
EDDINS: Yeah, see, that's--
EDDINS: --one thing we didn't mention, I guess, the one thing to you,is that our warehouses here at Buffalo Trace, all of them are heated. We heat our warehouses through the winter months with steam heat, and we keep the temperature around fifty-two to fifty-five degrees. We open the windows up every time we can, air them out, heat them back up. So our whiskey ages twelve months out of a year where a lot of our distillery's competitors, they age their whiskey through the summer months. Through the winter months it gets down in the twenties, their, 01:18:00their houses are not heated, so their whiskey just lays there dormant. You know, it's not aging. And so we've got a little better control. It costs a little--quite a bit, you know--to heat our warehouses, but we, we, and we gain by it because we put out such a better product, and we can take our product and turn it into what we expect it to do. We have more control of it that way. So, and, and we can more or less, if you wanted something that real s-, taste is outstandingly sweet, outstandingly spicy, or whatever category or product that we want to produce, we can do it here by aging our whiskey. And, but, you know, we're very fortunate we, we can do this.
TROLAND: Tell me a little bit about the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.
EDDINS: This Antique Collection is--we've got some very, very01:19:00outstanding products. The Antique Collection is something that is checked constantly for taste-wise, quality-wise. There is a lo-, a lot of time put into this Antique Collection. It's a very high premium product. We have, we've put it in certain spots in the warehouses, all these nice spots that we speak of that we try to age our products, you know, for different types of whiskey. The Antique Collection falls into those categories. Okay? And we are constantly pulling samples of those, see, to make certain it's aging right. And so when we, over to the lab, when we come up with a, a quality taste-wise of a certain type Antique Collection, what we think is the very best high quality taste, then we go to hunting for that and we put this in those areas to make 01:20:00it match out, you know, to age for that, for that particular product. So there is a lot of work goes into that. There is a lot of tasting involved. There's more than--Riddle and I play a great big part in it, make certain it's all done right. We depend a whole lot on the lab, a lot of tasters to get their opinions how it is doing. And so, in order to put out a top-quality product, we want it to be the very best can be put out there on our Antique Collections. So, and, but we don't want to throw something out there just because they think it's going to sell. We want it to be nice.
RIDDLE: Yeah, each one of those barrels in that, in that--let's say,like, your George T. Stagg, for instance--each one of those barrels are sampled and taken to the lab, and if it doesn't meet that certain standard, then it's just rejected out. You only take the ones that are, meets that profile for that, what they're wanting at that time. 01:21:00You may go over, what, 120 barrels or so, and then you may only dump maybe, say, what, eighty or ninety, or--?
RIDDLE: Somewheres in that area. Not that those others are bad whiskey,but they're--product--but they just may not be just aged just exactly right at the time, which I guess in some cases we'll either move them up or move them down if they're not over-aged, or--
RIDDLE: --if they're under-aged we'll probably move them up to--
EDDINS: Yeah, it might not taste like the George T. Stagg fifteen-year-old, but it might taste great--
EDDINS: --for the seventeen-year-old Eagle Rare. You know?
EDDINS: It's not, it's not rejected because it's got a bad taste; it'sgot the different, little different taste.
RIDDLE: Just don't have that, it don't meet that standard or that--
EDDINS: That product.
RIDDLE: --what you're looking for. It may be something would go in,like he said, into an Eagle Rare or whatever. Same thing with your seventeen-year-old or your William Larue or any of those products that they have in there: It's a, they've got a certain standard for that, 01:22:00and that's what they look for. Each one of those barrels are sampled separately. I mean, they've got a sample they take out of them, about a half or 200 mil out of each one of them, and be sure that they do meet that before we dump them and put them together. But most of those barrels, when we put them all together, then we re-barrel those and they'll go--
EDDINS: Yeah. So throughout--
RIDDLE: --put it all together.
EDDINS: --you know, the seventeen-year-old product that we pulling outand sample, we pretty well know what it's going to taste like seventeen years prior to that. So, you know, you start putting back, you know, we've got some very special quality barrels. We knowed we had them in the warehouses for years, you know, but we didn't (??) really put them out in all these Antique Collections. But Riddle and I knowed we had these very special products, you know, and so anyway over a period of years with our marketing, and then, and then Mark Brown come aboard, 01:23:00and his big, he's been wonderful working with us on some of this stuff. And so we was tickled to death to put some of these products out on the market where we didn't used to do it. Yeah.
TROLAND: What role did you both play in developing this idea?
EDDINS: Well, we knowed that there was a lot of good pl-, spots in thewarehouses for some outstanding products, but we di-, but if you were bottling, say, like, a six- or eight-year-old product, and you dumping everything you can for the six- or eight-year-old product, those went in with it. You know, because it was, you just putting this in a 100,000-gallon tanks, and they just bottling out of those 100,000- gallon tanks. All right, but when you, on this Antique Collection, and we found out those special products we had them there, now we get to use them as a special product.
RIDDLE: A lot, some of those products were discovered through some ofthe, I guess you'd say "experimental areas," with maybe, maybe we were 01:24:00[whistle sounds] experimenting with a different type of barrel or a different type of whiskey, or a different location or--
TROLAND: Excuse me. Could you just begin that again? We had that noisethere.
TRAVER: Could you tell us what that noise was?
RIDDLE: That was a whistle. (TRAVER and RIDDLE laugh)
EDDINS: That's for lunch, lunchtime.
RIDDLE: It's a--yeah.
RIDDLE: They blow the--
EDDINS: They blow the steam whistle for lunch.
RIDDLE: You see, it goes off--
EDDINS: Twelve o'clock.
RIDDLE: --at seven, twelve and 3:30.
RIDDLE: I done lost my train of thought now. Oh, it's, it's like wheremaybe they were experimenting with something, you know: a different type of wood or a dif-, or not wood, but maybe a different type of barrel or how it's put together or whate-, you know, and I think whe-, that was where some of those ideas came from those. It were barrels that we had, but we didn't know really what they want to use them for, and they come up with those ideas to where to put them, you know, how they should be aged, what the profile of that should be or whatever. Through a lot of it, not all of them, but some of them come through 01:25:00experimental reasons or whatever.
EDDINS: Yeah. But it's, you know, I'm very tickled to death that weget to use these Antique Collections and that we put them out on the market. And, you know, just like myself, and I know Riddle does, too, you know, these go out on the market and people are going to brag them. It makes you feel good that the product you know it did you to, that you've had a, played a real big part in aging this product, getting it ready for the public, you know. And of course, you know, it's, it's a teamwork deal over here at the plant. You know, we got to do our part; the lab's got to do their part. Everybody that's involved in aging this whiskey's got to do their part, from on down to the guys opening up the windows certain times, closing them certain times, and they help age this. And so, you know, it's--and taking care of our products in the warehouses. So, you know, of course, like I say, every time we 01:26:00come in with a big award or something, and, and I get some reports, and I look down the listing--okay, here we got five more gold medals today or something--you know, you feel great about it, and then, "Okay, now I've got five, but now I need eight," you know. Can we, we can, we can beat this. You know, there's always a step above that, and so I'm looking, I'm still looking for that perfect bourbon yet to make. I'm still working on it.
TROLAND: Speaking of that work, right behind you both, of course, is theBuffalo Trace Experimental Collection. So tell me a little bit about the origin and the circumstances of that, that collection.
EDDINS: Well, I think one of the things there, we have a lot ofexperimental barrels in the warehouse; we have about fifteen hundred barrels in the warehouse, experimental barrels, and these barrels are, got different types--different types of wood. We might have some with some different wood to come out, different countries, we put it in at 01:27:00different proofs, we've took some d-, barrels that has been old whiskey and put it back in new whiskey barrels, maybe once or twice put in different locations in the warehouses, and those type of experimentals. So that's the kind what you see here, is that I think this right here--
EDDINS: --must be that--
RIDDLE: Different, different types of way they--
RIDDLE: --fired the wood, different type of wood, like the French oak,the American oak. The French oak has got a sort of a, I guess you'd call it a, what, a yellow cast to it? Or--
RIDDLE: --little different color with it. It's a real fine, it's afiner grain. Now, I think that's one of those that you'll see here. I don't, I'm not sure--
RIDDLE: --what you're looking at. And then there's some of those aresome whiskey that was re-barreled--
RIDDLE: Re-barreled in, out of an old barrel and into a new barrel or01:28:00vice versa, or whatever. I think there's one of them that had, that we put inserts--?
EDDINS: Yeah. We had--
RIDDLE: --into it with a different type of product in it.
EDDINS: You know, we try just about every type of experimental you couldthink of.
EDDINS: If it popped in our mind, we would try it. You take a four-year-old whiskey and put it in a new barrel. Take a six-year-old whiskey and put it back in a new barrel. Take a eight-year-old, a ten-year-old, and recycle that, and do that, say, maybe twice, and that'd be, say, eight years the first time, six years the second time, you know, something like that. What are we going to wind up with? And so those type of experimentals--and a lot of them has turned out great.
RIDDLE: Yeah, I think some of those, I guess some of them are there.The, the wine cask that came in--
RIDDLE: --that we put bourbon in that wine cask that, I don't know, itcame out of, what, California? Or wherever they came from.
RIDDLE: ----------(??), they were wine casks, and they had wine in thebeginning, and then we put--
EDDINS: Put aged--
RIDDLE: --aged whiskey in there. I think it was, what, something likeit was four, five, six years old in that barrel--
RIDDLE: --and let it sit for--God, I don't know--maybe six or eight01:29:00years.
EDDINS: So, but no, we've, it's been a, you know, we've, every type ofexperimental we can think of, that's what we'll shoot for, and see what we can learn from it.
TROLAND: You talked earlier about char.
TROLAND: What is meant by the term "char"--
EDDINS: Okay, the char is--
TROLAND: --and how does it affect--?
EDDINS: --is, is where the barrel is actually burnt on the inside whenthey're making their new, new barrels. And what they do, they'll put the barrel together and without both heads being in it they got a metal ring around it, all right? And then they fire--this, this barrel sits overtop of this fire, and it shoots up through it and, and it burns that wood on the inside.
RIDDLE: It's what gets a lot of your color into your product.
EDDINS: Yeah. So it turns, so it'll burn that barrel down till it looksmore like, we call it an "alligator skin look." It kind of opens up, breaks open, and turns it real black on the inside. And so you're 01:30:00looking at probably an eighth of an inch thick that's burnt into the wood. And, and by doing that, you're pushing the caramels and some of the outer flavors of the wood back into the wood. Okay, and by doing that, then that's when you put your product in there, and then you try to bring it back out, and you're trying to hold that without losing it. And, so as a, as the number three char, see, is a, is a lighter char. So, and a number four is naturally burnt deeper into the wood. And then we also have one we call a "toast," and we will actually, we'll burn the barrel, take a spray of dampness in there, put the fire out, then let it cool, and then we go back and re-toast it again. Okay, but when you're doing that re-toast, you are, what you pushed into the wood deep, you suck that blood (??) back out and getting it closeder to the surface. Okay, and when it brings it back closeder to the surface of 01:31:00the wood, those chemicals and those caramels and the sugar contents, vanillas, then your product, you can put it at a lower floor and pick that flavoring up without going up high with it. You know, going into the wood. So we, we make our barrels about an inch thick, and you got to understand that the bourbon whiskey will go into that wood as it ages a half that thickness of the, of that stave, and it'll go in, say, a half an inch. Only there's some spots in there that wood's going to have a little softer spots in the wood, or been a knot somewhere down on the outside of the tree that created a little wrinkle in it. That's going to go a little bit past that half an inch, so that's the reason why we go, one thing, want the wood to be an inch thick. So when we are heating this wood up to char it, we don't want that stave to get that hot either, because you're going to kill the wood all the way 01:32:00through. So--
RIDDLE: That's what I was talking about there a while ago, like anumber three, number four char: number two char, three char, four char. That's, that's the length of time that they, they burn that barrel. I think a, what, number--
RIDDLE: --four's, like, about fifty-s-, -five seconds?
RIDDLE: When it goes through that burner.
EDDINS: Yeah, yeah.
RIDDLE: I believe it's something like that; I believe it's fifty-fiveseconds.
EDDINS: Yeah, we now try some number seven char--three and a half minuteburn--and, you know, it, and the wood actually, when at that point in time you burn it and get it that hot, it gets f-, the, you wouldn't really think it, but it gets flexible, almost like a rag. You know, it sort of gets flimsy, that wood will. You wouldn't think that oak would get that flimsy, but it will. It'll get all crooked and out of shape. That was--we tried some of those, and they, it's not too good for our product, you know.
TROLAND: So number seven is the most-charred type?
EDDINS: That's a high char.
RIDDLE: That's a high char.
EDDINS: It's burned deep.
RIDDLE: We use a, I think we use number four.
RIDDLE: Used to use a number three.01:33:00
RIDDLE: I believe that's correct.
RIDDLE: Four's, I believe it's, what, fifty-five seconds they--?
RIDDLE: I believe it's burned, fifty-five second burn.
TROLAND: And moving from a number three char in the past to a numberfour char in the present had what effect upon the final product?
RIDDLE: Gives you a little more--
EDDINS: Okay (??)--
RIDDLE: --flavor, I guess, to your barrel. Gives you a little morecolor.
EDDINS: Yeah. Really, mainly (??), you got to understand, too, see,well, I'm--the whiskey that we was putting in the barrel back years ago--this was several years ago now--was 110, 115 proof. Okay? And we found out that we could put it in the barrel at 125 proof and not hurt our flavor process. Okay, but now we lose some color, because you got to add some more distilled water to it to bring it back down to bottling proof. And that running that number four char, you ge-, you pick that color back up.
EDDINS: And so now you can bring it back down. You want that goodamber-looking color, you know, you get your bourbon goes out on the 01:34:00market. So, you know, if you got to put a whole lot of distilled water in it to bring the proof back down, then you've got a real light color, and we wanted to keep our color, too. It played a big part in it. So, and then we'll notice, too, that the spices has changed a little bit. So we can actually go with the number four char and get a higher spicy quality in less years of aging. So, and the bottom line is, if you put the product in the barrels they produce over here in the ---------- (??)----------- and say if you're putting down around 600 barrels a day, if you put it in the barrel at 125 proof, you've got to save the 600 barrels. If you put it in, say, at 115 proof or 110 proof, you know, you might have 650 barrels. Okay, add the other fifty barrels that you had purchased and stored in the warehouse: you took 50 barrels of storage, 50 barrels of purchase, 50 barrels that you got to handle at $5 a barrel, you know, and then $120 a barrel for the barrels you put 01:35:00it in. By the time you count all the "X" amount of cost up that went into this, then you had a whole lot more money into your products. So, and so then it's a chain reaction. When you get ready to sell it, you still got to have that money coming back. So if you can make a, a, a outstanding product at a lower cost, you know, and all distilleries went to that. So, you know, we wasn't the only one. We might have been the, one of the first ones, but they, all the distilleries kind of fell in line with that 125 proof.
RIDDLE: Yeah, most of all of them in each, they have some specialproducts they put in less, but not--
RIDDLE: --not too many.
EDDINS: Yeah. But now the, the, the wheated product, we still stay with114 proof on that. Because it does, you know. But that, so that's the reason why the number three char and number four char plays a big part, because we went to that 125 proof in the barrel, and we want to still have a good product put out on the market. And then, like I say, and 01:36:00it, and our c-, it, it cut our costs way, way back, too. The amount of storage, well, space in the warehouses, the amount of barrels we had to buy, and it cost, like I say, any time you put these barrels into the warehouse, you got to take them back out, so you got to handle them twice.
RIDDLE: Well, just like, you know, take talking about your differencein your cost, like you'll probably have on your wheat whiskey and your, your rye recipe, probably that day that you distill that, you've probably got about the same amount of gal-, of wine gallons that you had with the wheat as you did with the rye, wheat recipe. I mean versus the corn or whatever. And you, you reduce that down to 114, and you're going to get about 410, 12, 15 barrels out of that, the wheat whiskey, whereas the rye recipe would've probably had around 380, 01:37:00385 barrels. That's the difference in the proof in the barrel at 125 versus 114, would be that many barrels a day. So you're talking about twenty-five or thirty barrels that you would buy per day more, plus you're taking up your storage space as well.
RIDDLE: Would be quite expensive.
TROLAND: What do you think has been the most successful part of theExperimental Collection program? What have you liked most about that?
EDDINS: Well, I'll tell you one, the one--the, the experimentals or theAntique Collection, now? If you're speaking experimentals, I think that one of the most exciting thing I ran into was the French oak.
EDDINS: It will definitely fool you. A French oak barrel, you canput product in it, and for the first six years, a white oak has got a better taste to it. Okay? And then all at once, after it goes past the six-year point, the French oak, the--you got to understand the chemicals are a little different in it because, you know, where it was 01:38:00raised at and the type of wood it is. So then it goes reenacting with your chemicals in your, in your whiskey product, and then it just goes tremendously starting going the other way. It creates this real good, smooth quality taste, the French oak does, but it is so expensive to deal with. You know, it's, you know, you can run a small experimental on it and something like that, but you know, you've given six hundred dollars for a barrel versus one hundred dollars for a barrel, too, to store it in.
EDDINS: And then--so, you know, all that plays a part. But whatI couldn't really get over is, when I was starting to induce experimentals on the French oak, is how can it be s-, not near as good as the product that we were working with? Okay, then this is a failure; it's not working too good. Then all at once it starts lighting up like turning the light on. It just gets brighter, brighter and brighter. And then you go from a six year, eight year to ten years to twelve 01:39:00years, and it just keeps changing. And that's--well, some of it might be in the bottles that are behind us. You know, that is, some of the experimentals that we've put out has been outstanding. It is something that I was very proud of we done, and we were going to carry it on through, and if I'd give up on it in six years, I would have lost all that information.
RIDDLE: The experiment that I, reflects to me more than any of them isthe one that we did with a vacuum in the barrel that, where we heat the barrel up, the vacuum or whatever.
RIDDLE: That--what I learned from that--I don't know what everybody elselearned from it--was that you can't fool Mother, Mother Nature.
EDDINS: No, that's true.
RIDDLE: It's got to be done by Mother Nature. You can't, you can'tforce it to do, to do--it's got to, got to go with time.
RIDDLE: That's the one we run there on--
RIDDLE: ----------(??) remember that thing (??) five, six years ----------(??).
EDDINS: Yeah, and Warehouse K and the shipment--
EDDINS: --we were in there. We--
RIDDLE: We had a pump, and you put it in there, and it heats it up in01:40:00the day, and then it would cool down at night. And it'd try to heat it and cool it. Of course, you had right, laying right beside of it, some barrel aging from nature, right bes-, right beside of it.
RIDDLE: And the barrel was at, actually the, I thought--that's, ofcourse, everybody's opinion--but I thought the ones right beside of it aged better than the ones they ----------(??) try to--
RIDDLE: --to do it artificially.
EDDINS: What I done is run these tubes in and out of these barrels.And I would turn, and we had them lined up, and would turn the heat on certain times of day, and then, and it act like this unit they had on the outside, it would, had to go through these, it pumped fluids through these coils. And it would heat it up in the daytime, you know, and I'd run it through a heat cycle and a cold cycle. I'd take it down to maybe thirty-two degrees, back up to eighty degrees and that type of stuff, and I was doing this daily. Okay? And, and I done this 01:41:00project car-, well, I used it about six years, determine, trying to see what the outcome would be on it. And I also took those same barrels, put right beside of it, put some on the fifth floor of K, and I took some on up to the eighth floor of K. Well, starting off, first couple years, boy, I've got something going here. It's just tasting great. I'm aging it fast, you know. So this should might be something will work out for us. At the, in the end of the experimental, this down here I was aging daily, this up on the seventh or eighth floors aging twice a day, because it was getting in the vacuum in the night and pressure in daytime. Okay, where I was doing this down here, pressure one day and vacuum next day. So I was getting twice a day on what I had upstairs and once what I had downstairs. And so that was a long experimental that I learned a lot from. We all did. One of the things I could not believe, I had a vacuum on, on each barrel, too, tracking how much vacuum or pressure was in each barrel, and one thing I could 01:42:00not believe, you know, is it'd be in the summertime, and all at once here this big rainstorm's coming up outside. And here I've got this pressure in the barrel, be standing there looking at it, and within ten seconds I've created a vacuum. And as the outside pressure--
EDDINS: --changed when the storm was coming up, the pressure was changinginside that barrel! And I couldn't believe that. And the re-, here I am standing there looking at it, and the pressure's changing, and I caught that several times and got to watch it. And the barometric pressure was changing the pressure in my barrels. And, and here I was forcing my barrels to take this pressure, you know. But it was the-- nature was still doing it, you know. So, and then that throwed me all, that throwed me for a loop, because now I know that it's happening in them all (??) warehouses this. So that I learnt from that experimental what's going on in those barrels in the warehouses as the weather changes, too, now. So it was, it was actually, it was very fascinating 01:43:00to go through all these experimentals and what you come up with.
TROLAND: Both of you seem to think that the French oak aged experimentalrelease was among the very best.
TROLAND: At some point in the past, a decision had to be made to buythis very expensive barrel, or--
EDDINS: Oh, yes.
TROLAND: --perhaps several of them.
TROLAND: Who, did either of you make that decision, or--?
EDDINS: Well, I tell you that we had talked about this. I tell you JohnBoswell, the guy from Independent Stave, he is the guy that we'd been purchasing our barrels from. We had talked to him about this, this French oak. Okay? And then he says, "Okay, I will eat up part of that cost if you want to get that barrel and run an experiment." And so, anyway, and it wound up we agreed to go ahead and purchase this barrel from him. And, and our plant manager back then was Mr. Lee.
EDDINS: E.T. Lee. And Elmer agreed it's okay. If you want to do01:44:00that, go ahead. And so we went ahead and bought the barrel and started experimental (??), and, and I was real tickled the way it come out. But I was disappointed with it for a long period of time, but it didn't wind up I was--
RIDDLE: Disappointed in the price of them.
RIDDLE: Of course, in the beginning I think what it was is IndependentStave or Kentucky Cooperage was to, for the barrel, you know, the, the, the French oak is, is, is used for a lot of wine barrels, wine casks. That's what they--
RIDDLE: And I think that's, they come out of that with a lot ----------(??) because they're more expensive than a barrel. I mean, you're talking about, what, five, six hundred dollars maybe--
RIDDLE: --for one of them versus 120, 25 for one of ours. You know,that's--
EDDINS: But, but we've hit in a lot of experimentals. We've gotdifferent types of woods. I mean, not only the French oak, you know, but we've got a lot of other different types, and we got--but we always come on back down to the, to the white oak. That white oak is for the 01:45:00daily what people want and the quality of taste, the white oak seems to always come back and fall in place.
RIDDLE: Like I said, you can't fool Mother Nature.
EDDINS: No. That's where it's at.
RIDDLE: (laughs) That's where it's all at.
EDDINS: That's what I was speaking of a while ago where that storm comeup. There's Mother Nature doing its work for us, and we didn't utilize it, you know.
RIDDLE: ----------(??)---------- Yeah.
TROLAND: If somebody were to ask you, for example, Leonard, what wouldyou like to be remembered by for your time here at Buffalo Trace? What is your, you feel your most important contribution or accomplishment to the distillery's operation or the product? What, what might you say?
RIDDLE: I never really thought of it. (laughs) Never really thoughtof that. I don't reckon I ever really thought about leaving, but (laughs)--
EDDINS: (laughs) Going to wait until you get older?
RIDDLE: At least Harlen's ----------(??). You know, I don't--that'ssort of a, that's a hard question. I guess for, I want to be remembered where I tried, tried or did contribute to the company as far as your 01:46:00work ethics, that, you know, that complete job, I guess you would say, not wasted time. I guess that would be what I'd want them to remember me by, you know, is, "He did the best what he could while he was here, to the best of his knowledge" or whatever, I guess you would say.
TROLAND: What product of the distillery are you most proud of?
RIDDLE: What, what?
TROLAND: What product of the many different bourbons that the distilleryproduces--
RIDDLE: The one that I would say that I was the most proud of, or--
TROLAND: The one that you personally might be most proud of.
RIDDLE: I would have to say the, the Weller whiskey. That's, that's,since it came here, yeah, that's my, my favorite, yeah. That's it. And, see, we didn't have that product here for a long time, you know, 01:47:00since I guess it was, what, '90?
RIDDLE: Early nineties, maybe?
EDDINS: Yeah. We'd made some, but it--yeah.
RIDDLE: When they bought the Stitzel-Weller?
RIDDLE: Yeah. That, out of Louisville or whatever the product. Yeah.We made some of it here in the early nineties for Stitzel-Weller, I guess it was '91,'92?
EDDINS: Ninety-one,'92. Yes.
RIDDLE: And then, of course, we ended up with most of their productshere. And that's, that's when I got familiar, but that's, that's the product that I--yeah. W.L. Weller. That'd be my favorite. Not saying that the others are not good, but I, that's my--
EDDINS: Yeah. I think that we're, we make--all of our products aregood, you know. Some of them are just better than others, so, you know. But it's according to your, like I say, according to your taste. But yeah, I think, you know, that is, that is an outstanding product, I have to agree with you, you know, the Weller product we've got, the wheated whiskey. And, but, you know, I've always been kinda partial 01:48:00to the spicy, fruity taste, you know, and, and it's, that always falls into the E.T. Lees, Eagle Rares, and the, and the Buffalo Trace, you know. The Buffalo Trace is, I think is, is the very, very top quality of premium product. Actually, for the, all of the work and time, and the--I think it's probably the, the best, cheapest product on the market for its quality, because we, there is a whole lot goes into the Buffalo Trace experimental-wise, checking. It is one of our top premium products to be on the market and at a reasonable cost, you know. I think the people that buy it is very fortunate to be able to get that cheap, what I'm getting at (??). That is something I'm very 01:49:00proud of, that we go out and--I know myself and--we go out and when it's picked this product out in advance, you know, and study it and watch it before it goes, even before it goes to the lab to be sampled, too. And so I guess I put a lot into that. Of course, I guess I'm, gives me the room to be a little more proud of it, too, because it is smooth and good too.
TROLAND: So, when you go home at night and possibly pour yourself a, ashort bourbon, what brand do you typically pour?
EDDINS: Well, that would, like I say, that would be the Buffalo Trace.
TROLAND: Buffalo Trace.
EDDINS: Um-hm. Yeah.
TROLAND: Someday, no doubt, in the future, there will be another historywritten about Buffalo Trace Distillery, as there was one written just a few years ago. Ronnie, what would you like to see said in that history about you--
EDDINS: Well, I--
TROLAND: --about your contributions?
EDDINS: --that's one I hadn't really thought about either, but, you01:50:00know, on the history of the Buffalo Trace, I would, I guess I would like to be most known as all the experimentals and stuff that I'd, you know, the things I accomplished throughout the bourbon industrial is what we learnt and our experimentals in the warehouses and what we accomplished to put out this outstanding product that we have out on the market as of today. And I'm very proud to be a part of that, and, and as it keeps developing--you know, this is a never-ending situation--I'm hoping that twenty, thirty years from now, that nothing is lost: what we had in their experimentals, these ideals, and all the information. We've got a better way of tracking it nowadays. We've got--used to everything was on pencil and paper, books, and you had to go back and dig back through the books and read more, you know, and, "Here's what I done here." But now we just throw it all on the computer, and we can just glance at it, and there it is. So we've got 01:51:00better ways of tracking things, so I'm hoping and I feel like that, you know, as time goes on, all the information that we've come up with, Riddle and I, and all the experimentals will be a big benefit to Buffalo Trace down the line, that somebody can--they're still shooting for that perfect bourbon. And we, and sometime or another, it's going to get--I ho-- I'd like to see it happen before I leave from here, but if it don't, then I feel like it's still going to happen.
RIDDLE: We'll come back and have a drink of it.
EDDINS: We'll come back, yeah. There we go. (RIDDLE laughs) We'll comeback and have a big drink of it.
TROLAND: You've both been very patient. Let me just ask one finalquestion: Is there anything, Leonard, that I haven't asked you that you'd like to say?
RIDDLE: No, you pretty well covered it all, I think. (EDDINS laughs) Ican't, (laughs) I can't think of anything.
TROLAND: How about you, Ronnie?
EDDINS: No. I think, you know, the only thing I could say is, youknow, if I was to pass away tomorrow, this has been a wonderful life to me here at Buffalo Trace. And all the time I've spent here at the distillery is--you couldn't have asked for anything any better. You 01:52:00know, to me it was like I told someone before: every day coming to work here is about like coming to a candy factory, you know, full of chocolates, and--because you're waiting to get one more bite of that chocolate, you know, like the little kid at the candy store. But you know, it's, it's so enjoyable to be here, you know, and to be part of this as history has been made over a period of years with our products and what we have learnt and hopefully going to pass on to others.
TROLAND: Well, thank you very most, mu-, very much to both of you for avery informative interview.
EDDINS: Thank you.
RIDDLE: Thank you, bud.
[End of interview.]