Partial Transcript: This is Al Young interviewing Wild Turkey's Associate Master Distiller Eddie Russell on September the 30th, 2013 for the Kentucky Bourbon Tales oral history project.
Segment Synopsis: Eddie Russell discusses growing up in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and how he came to be the Master Distiller at Wild Turkey. He talks about the advice his father gave him when he began working at Wild Turkey.
Keywords: Advice; Aging; Bourbon industry; Consistency; Fathers; Grains; Jimmy Russell; Wild Turkey Distillery
Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Lawrenceburg (Ky.); Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.031389, -84.896111
Partial Transcript: Well now tell me about your distillery now in terms of the new building, all the modern innovations that you all have put in and so forth and still making the fa--same fine bourbon that you made for years.
Segment Synopsis: Russell discusses how the distillery operations and the skills needed to work there have changed since the new, modern distillery was built. He talks about other changes that have occurred over the years, including the fire in a warehouse in 2000 and changes in ownership.
Keywords: Apprenticeship; Bottling; Changes; Computers; Corporations; Fires; First jobs; Loss; Major events; New distillery; Ownership; Skills; Warehouses; Wild Turkey Distillery
Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.0379712, -84.8496304
Partial Transcript: Well now you're sort of in the new products end of it.
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks about new products he has been involved in creating. He talks about how Wild Turkey's advertising strategy has changed in recent years, and the new target markets they are trying to reach.
Keywords: Campari; Lowkey; New products; Russell's Reserve; Social media; Wild Turkey 81; Wild Turkey American Honey; Wild Turkey Forgiven; Wild Turkey Spiced; Younger generations
Subjects: Branding (Marketing); Consumers.; Marketing; Sales promotion.; Target marketing.; Television advertising.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: So with this spiced, uh, bourbon of yours--(coughs)--one of the top note flavors that you're putting in there is vanilla.
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks more about new products Wild Turkey has created. He talks about the markets they were attempting to target with these products, and who is actually buying the products. He talks about trends within the bourbon industry.
Keywords: "Bourbon Renaissance"; Flavors; Gender marketing; New consumers; Rye whiskey; Trends; Vanilla bean; White whiskey; Wild Turkey Forgiven; Younger generation
Subjects: Branding (Marketing); Consumers.; Flavored alcoholic beverages; Sales promotion.; Target marketing.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.
Partial Transcript: Well now I know you've been inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. And how did you feel about that?
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks about his induction into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. He talks about what it is like to be asked to sign autographs.
Keywords: Japan; Jimmy Russell; Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame; Signing autographs
Subjects: Business enterprises, Foreign.; Distillers.; Fame; Whiskey industry
Partial Transcript: Well now we know that bourbon is good in Kentucky. It's big here.
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks about how bourbon sells in other countries, and how Wild Turkey tailors their products and advertising to these markets.
Keywords: Australia; China; Exports; Foreign markets; Global market; International sales; Japan; Overseas sales; Southern states; United Kingdom (U.K.)
Subjects: Business enterprises, Foreign.; Export marketing.; Whiskey industry
Partial Transcript: Well now thirty-two, thirty-three years ago there wasn't any Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks about how the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has changed the bourbon industry. He discusses alcohol taxes in Kentucky, and his beliefs concerning how they will change in the future.
Keywords: Bourbon industry; Education; Kentucky Bourbon Trail; Tours; Visitors centers
Subjects: Alcohol--Taxation--United States.; Consumers.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Tourism.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Well now your children, do you see anybody in your immediate family that's gonna take up the mantle and start into the business and carry it forward?
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks about whether anyone in his family will continue to work in the bourbon industry when he retires. He talks about realizing how much his father, Jimmy Russell, means to the bourbon industry.
Keywords: Business degrees; Children; Jimmy Russell; Russell family; Sons
Subjects: Distillers.; Families.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Well now, you've been very kind to open up and tell us a little bit about everything.
Segment Synopsis: Russell discusses how he drinks his bourbon. He talks about his view of bartenders as ambassadors for his products. He talks about the new trend of mixologists, and his suggestions to them for enhancing the flavors of Wild Turkey products.
Keywords: Bartenders; Drinking bourbon; Enhancing flavors; Ingredients; Jimmy Russell; Mixable bourbon; Mixologists; New products; On the rocks; Rye whiskey; Suggestions; Tasting; Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Subjects: Cocktails; Flavored alcoholic beverages; Product demonstrations; Sales promotion.; Whiskey.
Partial Transcript: You've got to have, after having been on the road as much as you've been, and I know you're out there, a funny story.
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks about being on the road with his father, Jimmy Russell, and tells several humorous stories about him, including a talk he gave during which someone asked him for his mint julep recipe.
Keywords: Bourbon industry; Jimmy Russell; Mint julep recipes; Stamina; Traveling
Subjects: Alcoholic beverages.; Cocktails; Distillers.; Fame.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey--Anecdotes
Partial Transcript: Talk about the culture of bourbon as a Kentucky industry, an American industry, and then the current ownership being international, being--
Segment Synopsis: Russell talks about how being owned by a foreign corporation affects companies in the bourbon industry. The interview is concluded.
Keywords: Campari; Corporations; Foreign markets; Foreign ownership; Funding; Global market; International markets
Subjects: Business enterprises, Foreign.; Export marketing.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky
AL YOUNG: This is Al Young interviewing Wild Turkey's Associate MasterDistiller Eddie Russell on September 30, 2013, for the Kentucky Bourbon Tales Oral History Project. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the project. Tell me a little bit something about yourself.
EDDIE RUSSELL: Well, I was born and raised here in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, a,you know, little small town. As I grew up, uh, I thought I wanted to get a college degree and move to a bigger city. You know, get away from Lawrenceburg Kentucky. And, you know, luckily I wound up staying and, you know, got married and brought kids up here and started working at the distillery. So, uh, basically that's, uh, what it's about for, for my family was, we were all from Lawrenceburg, and we grew up here. And, you know, as a young guy, most people want to get out of the small towns. It's just, uh, I came here for a summer job over thirty-two years ago and never left.
YOUNG: So, how did you just get connected with the bourbon industry? Was it00:01:00something you had an interest for ahead of time, or?
RUSSELL: You know, not really. I mean, I can remember back when I was ayounger boy, I was sort of a daddy's boy and I came out with, here with him on the weekends, or in the summertime sometimes. But then as you get a little older, you get other interests. And like I said, I, you know, I, there wasn't much going on in Lawrenceburg. It wasn't a big town. There wasn't even a movie theater. So you, you grow up thinking, "You know, I want to get to a bigger city." And so, I really never thought about working here. I have an older sister and older brother that, that didn't work in the industry and never even thought about it. Uh, but as I was in college, I thought I was going to lay around one summer, and my mother told my dad, "Give that boy a job." She was tired of looking at me sitting on her couch, I think. And I came here as a general employee. And within a couple of weeks it was, it was home for me. It's, I mean, I don't know if it's in your blood, or it's just part of you, or whatever, but didn't take me long to realize this is where I wanted to stay. 00:02:00
YOUNG: So is it this kind of atmosphere and so forth that's made you all acloser family?
RUSSELL: Yeah, we've always been a really close family. But, you know, whenyou work with your father every day, you know, it, it does bring you a lot closer to him. I mean, things that we would have, if we worked in different industries, we wouldn't have shared so many things together. I mean, we've had opportunity to travel some together, and, you know, see what we're really all about. So, yeah, I'm sure it's brought us closer together.
YOUNG: But now when you first started, did, did your dad really give you any advice?
RUSSELL: Well, his number one advice was, I needed to work twice as hard asanybody else. Even though most distillery jobs are union, and, you know, union tends to take care of everybody the same way, it was like he didn't want people to think he was playing favorites. So, you know, once I got here, I thought, you know, I, I didn't, you know, at that age you don't listen to anything your 00:03:00parents tell you. But, you know, when I got here, it wasn't a big deal for me to work twice as hard as everybody else, because I really loved what I was doing.
YOUNG: Now we've heard his story about what it takes to make good bourbon. Doesthat story carry through with you as well?
RUSSELL: Well, I'm sure it's, it's what he talks about, there's no single thingthat, that makes a great bourbon. Uh, you know, it has, you have to have good grains, you have to make, have good water. You've got to make it right. You know, got good combination of grains, you have to age it right. You know, here at Wild Turkey, we're about aging a little longer than most people. And for us, that's sort of what Jimmy's taught me is, is, you know, it needs to be a little older to be a great product. But I think all those things matter. You have to be very consistent; you have to have the best grains; you have to have the best barrels; you have to do everything right in the process to make a good product.
YOUNG: Well now, tell me about your distillery, now, in terms of the new00:04:00building, all the modern innovations that you all have put in and so forth, and still making the fine, same fine bourbon that you made for years. What kind of skill sets do the people that work here have to have or develop that they didn't have to do back in, back in your father's generation?
RUSSELL: Well, even my time, when I started here, I started in 1981. The guyrunning the still sat right beside the still. And he would move a valve to change the steam flow. You know, and then everybody got these little air-conditioned office. We had a mash tub that had a steam-driven train that drove the mast tubs. So really, it was more about just the same way I've learned, was through working it, and through apprenticeship-type jobs, so you learned your stuff by doing it and watching somebody else teach you over the years. Where now, the skill set we look for is they have to be more educated. 00:05:00They have to have computer skills. I mean, when we came over here to this distillery, there were certain tests that they had to pass, whether it be math tests and computer skills. And we offered those things for them to learn. I know, you know, we had a couple of guys that had been forty years running our distillery, and guys that I knew knew just as much about making great bourbon as we did. But when they found out what it was going to be like over here, they didn't want to come over here, because they were scared of computers. They didn't even really use computers at home, much less at work. So, a couple of them didn't come, but some did and stayed over here. It's, it's the same process. It's just, you know, you got to know how to run a computer. You got to know a little math skills. You got to know a little more reading skills, where other times it was if you knew, if you could see a proof and a temperature, a hydrometer reading, and to get the proof, you were doing okay, 00:06:00you know, if you could read the steam vial. A lot of them, they had to get so used to get doing it, they did it on sound, you know, as far as what the still sounded like, or the mash tubs, opening and closing valves, where everything's done through IP spots now, or your computer, it's opening and closing valves for you. You're not actually down there, you know. So it used to take somebody with a pretty back, where now it takes a little more mental effect.
YOUNG: What was the first job you had?
RUSSELL: I was a general employee when I first came here, uh, so I dumpedbottles, I stacked cases, I mowed grass, I rode barrels, I did anything the bottling, anybody else didn't want to do, because I was on the bottom. (laughs) You know, so I did that for about four or five years, and then from there, I've done just about every job here, since then.
YOUNG: Well now, with that in mind, do you think that has made you moreunderstanding of the operation because of your involvement in the way it was 00:07:00once done, and the way the changes have been implemented?
RUSSELL: Oh, I definitely think so. Everything that, you know, I might nothave always agreed with, with my father, Jimmy, on how he did the process, but everything he did meant so much to me nowadays, because, you know, working in that union with our employees, which most of them are still here, gives me a lot more respect, but the way he brought me through, I learned everything from the bottom-up, so I knew where every valve, every pipe, everything was. You know, so there wasn't like, I had to go ask somebody about something so, from the dis-, warehouse to the distillery to even bottling, even working with the maintenance guys. You know, so I knew everything about where everything was. So, as we left our distillery and come over to this beautiful new distillery, a lot changed. I mean, there was a lot more pipes, a lot more valves, and a lot 00:08:00more different things. So, luckily for me, I was rght on that edge where computers were just starting when I was in college, so I knew a little bit about them. I actually started in, even in the early nineties, we were still manually writing down barrels in a manual ledger. You know, if you ricked two hundred barrels, you wrote them in a, in a ledger. And then as you took them out either six or eight years, you went in and marked them out of that ledger. And one of the first I said, "I, I need a computer." (laughs) "I need a spreadsheet system." So, you know, even is, is not that long ago to me, uh, we were still doing it like that.
YOUNG: Now there probably have been some major events in the distillery, evenin your time. One of the events that I remember, uh, asking about was the fire in the year 2000. And I think that's one of the worst things that anybody that works in a distillery can even imagine is the fire. What were your thoughts on that? 00:09:00
RUSSELL: Uh, it was, it was probably the most heartbreaking thing that everhappened for me at this plant. Uh, I mean I was running the maturation, so I was in charge all the warehousing. And, uh, we knew we had some structural problems with the warehouse. They never could really determine exactly what happened. But I had just gotten home and one of my supervisors called me and said that the warehouse had fell down. By the time I got out here, it was just a total flame that you couldn't get even close to. So, the first thing I did was get in my computer spreadsheet and, and figure out what barrels were in there. Because you got all these government reports you have to file. You know, so all that types of things, so my whole time I wasn't over here fighting. The fire was just too sad to see at first. I was in the office figuring out all the barrels that were in that warehouse, what we'd lost, you know, how we were 00:10:00gonna get, you know, caught back up with what we had lost, you know, for the barrels and things. Luckily it was just one, uh, so it didn't hurt us too, too bad. So, but yeah, that was a very sad thing.
I mean, there's been really neat things. This new beautiful distillery we haveis, is super. You know, it was sad to see our old distillery change because it was a really old working distillery. I can remember, as, you know, we all were family owned at the beginning, and as corporations started buying you, and corporations started wanting to get bigger, uh, we were owned by a company that took our bottling away from us, and that had always been a big part of our industry here. We were always so proud to say that we'd done it from the very start to the very end. And, you know, some of the ladies, and traditionally the ladies worked on the bottling lines back in those days, who had thirty or forty years in, they either had a choice of going home or coming to the warehouse. So, you know, you had sad things happen. But, but the great things outweigh the sad 00:11:00things by far, I'm sure.
YOUNG: Well now, you're talking about making the transition from the olddistillery to the new one. What happens to the old one?
RUSSELL: Well actually, it's been torn down. We kept the old still, and it'sgoing to be in our new visitor center, so we got some, some old pieces. But actually it was basically torn down and scrapped out. I tried to talk them into keeping it and letting me play with it, but I think Jimmy was scared of that, so.
YOUNG: Well now, you talked a little bit about the changes in ownership. Justhow many changes have you gone through since you've been here?
RUSSELL: Well, it was, uh, since I've been here it was Pernod and then Campari,and before that it was the Austin Nichols company, uh, since, you know, right about the time I came here. So, three times. Uh, you know, as we talked about, these big corporations, you sometimes get lost in the shuffle, because there's three or four companies that own so many products anymore that you know, and 00:12:00that's, you know, that happened to us a little bit, so change ownership was, was really good for us.
YOUNG: Well now, you're sort of the new products end of it. You're looking forthings to expose people to bourbon with.
YOUNG: Primarily Wild Turkey.
YOUNG: What are some of the things that you've done since you've been here,with that?
RUSSELL: Well, uh, we did, uh, Russell's Reserve Bourbon for my father'sfortieth-fifth anniversary, and it was a typical 101 but it was ten-years-old. Uh, I convinced him to drop it to 90, because I thought, you know, the stories I heard of the younger people, and that's who I was going after. I mean, we have traditionally in our industry only focused on older males, and I wanted to go towards younger male and females, so dropped that to 90 proof. And then the reformulation of our American Honey, which Jimmy actually came out with around 00:13:001980, his Wild Turkey Honey Liqueur. Uh, so that really took off. And then we, uh, I came out with Wild Turkey 81, which is a six- to eight-year-old bourbon, but it's a, a lighter, easier start. So you can call it a starter bourbon. I called it a mixing bourbon, which Jimmy probably wouldn't have liked that too much ten or fifteen years ago, but that's what it was about, because that's the people that were starting to grow our industry, was the people, the mixologists that were making the drinks. And then now the Forgiven, and the Spiced. And, you know, for me, what I've learned through my father over thirty-two years is, I don't want to ever do anything that hurts the Wild Turkey name. Because once you establish yourself as whatever product you want to be, you can't change it. So, if you're a premium bourbon, or you're the bottom-shelf bourbon, whatever, you're going to always be that most of the time. And for me, I don't want to change what Wild Turkey's been about, which is Jimmy doing it the same way, 00:14:00being very consistent for the last fifty-nine years. So, I'm very careful about what I do as far as, you know, a flavor, or a spice, or things like that. I'm not going to throw too many out. It's hard enough to get one or two by him a year, much less ten or fifteen. (laughs)
YOUNG: What is, uh, your feeling about, uh, some of the advertising, uh,campaigns that you all have waged for--well, not only Wild Turkey, but for your other brands, such as this American Honey and, uh, the newest ones that you got out, including, including the spiced bourbons? And, most importantly, that Forgiven?
RUSSELL: (laughs) Well, you know, Wild Turkey was probably as low-key asanybody. You know, they, I can remember the, uh, the, the advertisements they did, like fishing online. They were showing a Kentucky guy fishing and just 00:15:00simple things with horse racing. Nothing big and bold. And, you know, over the last five, six, seven years, that's really changed. Our, our new company, Campari came in, and they came out with a campaign with "Give 'em the Bird with Wild Turkey," which, you know, sort of offended some people, but was really what we needed at that time, was to bring attention back to Wild Turkey, which I think attention had sort of fell away. Which, you know, that sort of went on, but we did our first, uh, TV advertisement last year, which was something that had never been done at Wild Turkey. So, things like that, the American Honey, you know, is, it's been about, you know, trying to make it more of a cool thing for the younger generation. You know, cool and sip; cool, pour and sip. Just simple things like that to make it neat for them. The, the spiced one, they're doing the Isle-, Island of Kentucky, so it's really neat what they're doing. We 00:16:00have great market-, marketing people. You know, as I go out in the market, uh, they have those twenty-page PowerPoints, which, you know, I know how to do a PowerPoint, but for me, I just want to talk about my product. They can show the fancy stuff. And, and we have some really, we have one guy that's a marketing guy, we call him, "Mr. TV." Because, I mean, he does a wonderful job with some of the, the PowerPoints. But for me and Jimmy, it's just talking about, you know, what we know and what we do. So, for us, it's very simple advertisements for Wild Turkey, up until probably the last seven, eight, nine years ago. And now it's more of a--but it's our society. We're such a social network society. You have to do those things. You have to be in front of people. You know, used to be you advertised in magazines, and it was just certain magazines that were pointed at men. Now, you have Facebook pages. You have tweets. You, you have all this stuff, social networks that you're doing all the time. I mean, Wild 00:17:00Turkey has three-, or 400,000 fans on, on our, our Facebook page. You know, so those are things that's like, my dad just, he doesn't even know what that means, but you know, it's, uh, it's something you have to do nowadays to reach the consumer we're trying to reach.
YOUNG: So, with this spiced, uh, bourbon of yours, one of the top note flavorsthat you're putting in there is vanilla.
RUSSELL: It's a vanilla bean. And like I said, what I'm trying to do is justenhance our flavors. Uh, and American Honey, it was the honey which you sort of taste in bourbon. Uh, vanilla is definitely one of the big characteristics in bourbon if it's aged right. Uh, so, all I'm trying to do with my spiced is just sort of round off the edges, make it a little easier for the new consumer to come in and try. Uh, I also wanted to be mixable, whatever they want to mix it with. But the vanilla bean is really the flavor that you have on the, the last 00:18:00taste going down your throat.
YOUNG: Is this going to be a sort of like a gender-specific thing? Or do youthink it's a mass appeal item?
RUSSELL: I, yeah, I don't really think that way anymore, because I thoughtAmerican Honey was going to be geared more towards women, which that's something, I mean, shew-wee, is back 2005 or 6, I had a brand manager tell me he wasn't promoting to women, "Don't come up with products for women." And I was like, "Why?" I couldn't understand that. So, American Honey, we really thought was going to be more of a female-driven product. But, I mean, if you look at the statistics on it, it's been just as many men as women. I've seen it in biker bars. You know, I've seen it everywhere. So, I don't really look at it that way. I want the Spice to definitely to appeal to a broader market. I'm not looking for, I'm looking for the younger consumer, basically, is what I'm looking for.
YOUNG: So now, the tie of the old with the new, and the concepts, put that all00:19:00together in Forgiven for me.
RUSSELL: Well, for--(laughs)--you know, in innovation, you come up with anidea, and you work through what you want it to taste like, what your ideal is, you know, who's going to buy it. You know, then you have to look at packaging and different things like that. Forgiven was actually just a mistake. And it was something that we would have never thought of. I mean, it's a straight bourbon and a straight rye blend. Ryes were really starting to take off when it happened, and I didn't have, I'm allocating my rye as it was. Uh, and you didn't really want to mess up your bourbon. Wild Turkey's already a high-rye bourbon. Uh, but it turned out, it was a really good-tasting product. And it just goes to show who our new consumers are now. You know, this was a very lucky ordeal for us, because it not only appeals to those new consumers that are 00:20:00looking for something different, it appears to those older consumers, because it has that bourbon taste and it has that big rye taste. So, it was a lucky mistake for us.
YOUNG: So, do you have any clues of what else might be out there?
RUSSELL: (laughs) Yeah, I mean, without going too far into what I'm doing, butI think you're going to start seeing, you know, bourbon finished in different type casks. Think, you know, as you're seeing, you know, different flavors. I'm not too much on doing many more flavors. Uh, I'd like to see more of maybe finished in casks, or you know, simple things like that. Or maybe, if I do another flavor, it'd be more closer to what flavors that are already in the bourbon. But I'd like to see, I mean I wouldn't mind to do some different things. It's just we're really not set up for it here, to do a small batch, but 00:21:00I wouldn't mind to do a few small-batch things, where you're making fifteen or twenty barrels at a time. But that would take building a micro-distillery--(laughs)--and I don't think that's going to happen. So, I'll probably stick with just, you know, coming, coming with something maybe finished in, in a different cask, or something, probably.
YOUNG: Well now, you talked about your rye whiskey and the fact that you werehaving to allocate that. So now, you, obviously, you have to be so many years out to be successful with a finished rye. How are you dealing with that? Are you going to add more, uh, rye whiskey production to your manufacturing program or are you thinking that this might peak?
RUSSELL: Well, you know, with Jimmy, in the first, one of the first things hetaught me was, you know, we don't get into the fads. So when rye started growing, uh, based, used to be you could only find two or three ryes out on the 00:22:00market. And nobody really drank them. Usually, it was a bottle-shelf and it was an older gentleman that drank it. And as they started mixing some of the cocktails with the ryes, they started growing. Well, I was only making three or four days of rye a year out of two hundred days of making bourbon, or whatever. And, uh, I slowly started coming up, uh, because at the end, if you got rye, you got rye. If you got bourbon, you can always do something. You can do it special package. You know, you can keep it and make a little less and just make it a little older. There's things you can do with it. But if you got a rye and there's nobody wanting ryes, then you got rye. So what do you do with it? So, yeah, I have upped my production quite a bit. Uh, we, at first, uh, when ryes took off, I mean we didn't sell two or three thousand cases of rye. You know, that was it. So, the first thing when I looked--and, and that's what you do, is 00:23:00you look to see who's drinking it. It was a lot of younger people drinking it in Manhattans, and Old Fashioned, and different drinks like that. So, we had a 101 rye and I did an 81 rye, which was more like the things I've been doing, is more of a starter rye. Uh, we also had Russell's Reserve, six and a half year old rye. Uh, so I didn't do any 101 rye for a while. And the 81 rye has really taken off and done really well. Now I'm getting back to having a little, closer to having a little more. But the only problem for me is, you know, my 101 was four-year, my 81's about five years, my Russell's six and a half years. So, how much do you want to save for six and a half years? You know, how much do you want to do with the 81? How much you want to do with the 101? My CEO of the whole Campari corporation tasted the Forgiven and looked at me, and says, "This needs to be a permanent product." (Young laughs) So, that's got rye in it, too. 00:24:00So you had to sort of figure out which ones you're gonna do. I, I think I'm going to put out a little 101 rye again this fall, uh, for the mixologists, because they've really been begging me for it. Uh, but I would love to be able to put out more Russell's rye. It's just, it takes, for me, doesn't take but three days to make it, and a day to run it off the still, and a day to put it in a barrel. But six and a half years later, before I have all I need. So, hopefully it keeps going. But, like I said, I've slowly moved up. So I'm probably further behind the [Magic] Eight Ball than a lot of distilleries because I didn't jump on the bandwagon quick. Because like I said, if you, if the trend drops off and you got rye, you got rye whiskey. (laughs)
YOUNG: So I was, I was going to ask the question, is it applied only to thebourbon industry? I think you, you kind of, uh, alluded to your feelings about rye. But what do you, what do you take on the state of the bourbon crowd in 00:25:00this econ-, in this, uh, economy? It looks like we're in a bourbon renaissance. Things are going really good there. Is that promoting other alcohol beverages like the rye whiskeys and the--
RUSSELL: --oh, I definitely think--
YOUNG: --the straights--
RUSSELL: --I definitely think so. Even the micro-distilleries are doingdifferent kind of whiskeys, and straight whiskeys, and, you know, single malts here in the states. Just different things, but, you know, in our industry, you know, even in my thirty-two years, there's always been little peaks and little valleys, but we're probably better right now than we were in the fifties and sixties when bourbons were really strong, which is super for all of us. Uh, it's a great thing because who our consumer is now. Our consumer has always been an older gentleman. Now, it's a twenty-five to-forty-year-old male and female that's growing our industry. So, for me, that is super, because you, if 00:26:00you've got them drinking bourbon now, they're always going to drink bourbon. You know, it used to be they drank bourbon in college for the effect and then they really didn't get back to it till they're, they grew up and their taste buds changed till they got to be forty years old. But now you see them, you know, drinking bourbons. I always tell people when I'm out talking, as I grew up, I'd walk in a bar and ordered a Wild Turkey 101 on the rocks, people would start moving away from me. They thought I was going to rob the place or something, you know. People thought that was sort of the roughneck thing, where now if, uh, a twenty-five year old goes in and orders, even just a Manhattan, but a bourbon on the rocks, one of those things, or a whiskey on the rocks, people look at them different nowadays. People look at them like they know what they're doing, so that's what's changed in our industry. Uh, so, you know, we got a great product. We got a great-tasting product, and we're getting them at an age where we can keep them for a long time, because sooner or later those older guys are going to go away. You know, so, it's nice to have the younger 00:27:00generation and that's what's growing our industry right now.
YOUNG: Speaking of the younger generation, talk to me about White Dog.
RUSSELL: Well--(laughs)--White Dog, and some of the White Dogs you see outthere, they've sort of cleaned up. Not many people would want to drink our White Dog right off the still, off the rocks or anything. So, I'm not a big proponent on, you know, putting a White Dog out there, unless it'd be just something special for my visitor's center. Uh, to me, there's a science to making bourbon, and that's the grains you use, the temperatures you use, the proofs, you bring it off the still. Uh, but what makes bourbon so important to me is the art in knowing when it's ready to come out of that barrel and be put in a bottle. So, for me, I tend to want to go towards the, the aged stuff and not the White Dog. And some of the White Dogs I've seen, they get a pretty good price. So, as a company, you probably would want to do that but I'm just not big on it.
YOUNG: Well now I know you've been inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of00:28:00Fame. And how did you feel about that?
RUSSELL: Well, I'm not a very emotional-type person. And, you know, if you'veever been around Jimmy, he's not a, that much either, but it was probably the hardest thing I ever did, because Jimmy actually inducted me in to the Hall of Fame. So being up on that stage, and coming here, within two weeks I realized, you know, one of these days I wanted to be what Jimmy is. Not necessarily Jimmy, but what he was. And I could remember when I first started, I, I told him, within a year or two, I said, "You know, I'd like to do what you're doing one of these days." And he looked at me, he says, "Oh," he says, "Which one of them?" Because at that time, he was plant manager, master distiller. I mean, he'd done quality control. He'd done it all. You know, the engineering, you know, how big your still was. He made all those decisions. So he was right. 00:29:00Because they, we have directors of engineers now. You know, we have plant managers, we have distillery managers. So he was right. But what I wanted to be was somebody that knew what Wild Turkey was about, knew the whole process. And so, getting to that point, and, and it's sort of special to get to that point, because it's not something that Jimmy paid somebody for me to get elected to it. It's done by the Kentucky Distillers Association. So it was a very special moment, a very emotional moment for both of us. I think through all the years of the disagreements and the getting alongs, that it all boiled down to that one point, so it was pretty tough being up here on the stage as he inducted me into the Hall of Fame.
YOUNG: Well now being--(coughs)--being who you are, and the kind of guy youare, and I think we all have developed a sense of that since this interview began, how did you feel about that first time you were asked for an autograph?
RUSSELL: (laughs) It was the funniest thing in the world to me. And I'll tell00:30:00you, I had a few people around, you know, who had asked for autographs here. But it was just sort of, I always thought, it was because I was Jimmy's son and stuff. And really the first time, it, it really amazed me, we went to Japan. And, you know, as you go overseas, it's, they're pretty fanatical. I mean they are here a little in the states, but over in Japan, they're just amazing. And we had been going all day long one day, and I was with Jimmy, and there was a magazine that wanted to do an interview with me at this, uh, bar one night. And when we got to the bar, we pulled up, you know, in Japan, twenty people is a huge bar. There was twenty people standing out in the street with signs, clapping and all--(claps)--you know, and we went in, we signed the back of chairs, we signed bottles, we signed shirts, we signed everything. (laughs) And I never forget, and I, and I hope I always keep this type of attitude, because 00:31:00when it all finally ended, and they finally settled down, I sat down with the guy to do the interview, and his first question was, "What did you, what was your first thought when you got out of that car, and all of them people were standing out on the streets with signs clapping and all?" I said, "If my friends at home could see me, they'd be down on the floor laughing." (laughs) And so, that's sort of the way I look at it. I mean, it really is, it's really neat. Sometimes, I wonder why they wanted our autograph. But I realize what we mean to our industry. But for me, it's so funny sometimes that people want, want your autograph, or just to shake your hand, or take a picture. I mean, you know, there's probably been a million pictures of, you know, of me or Jimmy, both been taken, you know. So it, it's just sort of funny to me. I mean, I appreciate people wanting it, but it's sort of funny to me, because when I go home, I'm just Eddie. (laughs)
YOUNG: Well now, we know that bourbon is good in Kentucky. It's big here. Uh,what other markets are, is Wild Turkey predominant in? 00:32:00
RUSSELL: Well, you know, in the United States, your southern states are yourbest. Overseas, for us, Australia is our biggest export market. Japan's always been a wonderful market for us. Uh, as we've started moving out all over the world, I just came back from the UK. It tickles me. It's sort of like us in the past over there in Scotland and England. They got all that Scotch and they're dying for a good bourbon. You know, so there was only just a few bourbons in there. Uh, not selling really big. There is a whiskey over there that sells pretty big, so that's going to be a good market. You know, all these countries opening up. I can remember when I started thirty-two years ago, export was 6 percent of our business. And it was mainly Japan. That was your market. And as the world's opened up and became such a smaller place, it's about 35 to 40 percent of our, of our total sales now. So that's changed a 00:33:00whole lot. Australia being the biggest market is, is changed completely, you know, and, and as you go through those markets, each one of them, you have to do different things for. In Japan, it's more about older whiskey. In Australia, it's more about ready-to-drinks, you know, where you're mixing pre-packaged coke and ginger ale, or what they call "dry in a can," so they can drink it. So each country you go into, you do different things for each one of them. But so, those are our two biggest markets. Uh, there's other markets that are doing good for us. I know, American Honey's done pretty good about everywhere it's went.
YOUNG: Are you preparing for China?
RUSSELL: We all are, I think, in a way. Uh, our company maybe not so much asothers, because our CEO seems to think that China's going to be a tough nut to crack, because they want everything coming from inside and not outside. Uh, 00:34:00from what he explained to me one time was, there's like 48 million cases of alcohol sold and 44 million of them are made right there in China. So it's not--and he, you know, he's one of these guys that studies everything. But yeah, I think we all would love to get in there. It's like, if you could just sell some to a third of them, you know. But you have to be prepared, because like we've talked about, it takes six, or eight, or ten years to, you know, grow to have a product if you're going to grow it, so. But yeah, I think everybody in our industry is sort of looking at China and trying to get a little bit in there.
YOUNG: Now, thirty-two, thirty-three years ago, there wasn't any KentuckyBourbon Trail. The Kentucky Distillers Association was probably just that--
YOUNG: --and not much more.
YOUNG: And now we have the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, where all of thedistilleries are investing several million dollars per distillery into their surroundings and everything, uh, to be a part of that trail. What's your take 00:35:00on that?
RUSSELL: Oh, I think it's one of the best things that ever happened to us. Imean, I can remember when I started here, people would just drive up your main office and say, "You know, can I take a tour?" And you would just grab whoever was standing around. You know, and sometimes on the weekends, they would drive right in and whoever was working would show them around. But you didn't do, you know, you might have done a thousand people. And then, we opened up a little gift center even before the Bourbon Trail started. And it started growing a little bit. But what the Bourbon Trail has done for us, and I think, you know, is important to the people like us that make their own product. You know, it's educated our, our public so well. You know, our, our industry, as much as I love it, had a lot of fluff in it. You know, there was a lot of things that went around that may not have been true. So the Bourbon Trail has showed everybody exactly what's here and what's going on. And Wild Turkey's always 00:36:00been very open about everything we do. We used to walk you through, and still walk you through every walk, working part of our distillery. So, it's been a great thing. I think last year we did fifty-some thousand. We've been up over 25 percent. We're building a brand new six million dollar visitor center that's, I'm very excited about. The tasting room's going to be all glass, looking over the Kentucky River. It's going to be one of the neatest places around for me. I might just move in over there, I think. Be in charge of the tasting. Uh, so, for me, I think it's just to educate. I mean, we get people from all over the world, but, you know, it's just educating our consumers, bringing people to our products, show them what we're really about, and you know, they meet our employees. They meet Jimmy most of the time. He spends a lot of talking to visitors anymore, which is a great thing. I mean, our sales and our product go way up when he's over there signing bottles. So, it's just a great thing for all of us. And I think it's been not only good for us, but 00:37:00everybody. And you're right; everybody has built new visitor centers. They made the experience more likeable to the communities, and, or to the people that's coming in, so it's really neat.
YOUNG: Having said that, then, what about taxation on alcohol, especially inthe state of Kentucky?
RUSSELL: Well, Kentucky is the only state that charges certain tax on ourproduct and I think it's something that could be really looked at. I think we do have a governor right now that is--that is very for the bourbon industry. Uh, we have senators that are looking at trying to cut back on even some of the federal taxes. Kentucky's the only state that charges certain taxes. You know, a lot of states try to get us all to move out to their states back in the day. And said they wouldn't charge those taxes. But for us, bourbon came from Kentucky, so we stayed in Kentucky. So, I understand that, you know, when you're running out of money, we're an easy industry to tax, but hopefully as our 00:38:00Kentucky Distillers Association works with our, our government people, you know, I know Jimmy spends time working with some of our senators and congressmen on the federal level, uh, to try to cut back because taxes are a big part of it.
YOUNG: Well now, your children, do you see anybody in your immediate familythat's going to take up the mantle and start into the business and carry it forward?
RUSSELL: Yeah, I do believe so. Uh, I have an older son that's in collegeright now. He worked for us as a tour guide during the summer and he really got into it. He's about like when I started. At first, it was just, he was coming because he needed some money, and then he really got into it. He studied about it. He learned as much as he could. And then I think he got a little bit scared off, because he started thinking he was going to have to be like Jimmy for a while, but I think he'll, he'll wind up coming back to our industry. Uh, 00:39:00you know, what, in some kind of position, and working with me and Jimmy, and probably still Jimmy. I tease Jimmy all the time, me and him will retire in about fifteen years, but--(Young laughs)--he says no, but I think we will. Uh, but yeah, I do. I, I have two sons. I think the older one definitely is interested. I have a brother who has a fifteen-year-old daughter, says she's going to be the first female master distiller. And I'm all for her. And I mean, and she's got the Jimmy in her. She's, she can talk to anybody, so that'd be great too, so. But I definitely think my older son will come into the industry.
YOUNG: But now, if that's, if, if that holds true, then there will always be aRussell in the industry somewhere.
RUSSELL: Hopefully, and, you know, I didn't realize what it meant to Jimmy,because he never once asked me to come into the industry. I think really, he didn't want me to. (laughs) But after I got into it and accepted the distillers job years ago, it was a really emotional time for him, because it 00:40:00meant so much that I was following along in his footsteps. I've been the same way with my boys. Now, my, my sons understand what Jimmy means to this industry a lot more than I did when I was growing up. I just thought he was a guy you could get a job from if you needed it, because that's what everybody asked him for was jobs back in those days. But, you know, so my under-, my kids understand it a lot more than I did. Uh, but it's one of those deals that's, and I, I told both of my boys, "Don't ever come out there to work if you don't think you want to stay there," because within two weeks I was done. I was going to be here the rest of my life. And my whole life I grew up thinking I was going to move out of Lawrenceburg, you know, to a bigger city. So, but, yeah. I think eventually there'll be another Russell here.
YOUNG: This may not have been the easy, this may not be the easiest question toanswer. But if you hadn't been bitten by the bug, what do you think else, what other thing do you think you might have done? 00:41:00
RUSSELL: You know, I'm not sure. I got a business degree and I just thought ofbusiness, you know, I'd get into something. Uh, my family's always been sort of an, you know, athletic-type family, and I thought if I could get into something like that, but never really thought any one thing, one way or the other. I mean, I never grew up thinking I wanted to be a lawyer, or accountant, or anything. It was just, you know, the business was the only thing I really had in mind. So, you know, I think you're just sort of led to what you're going to do sometimes, and luckily I was led to a pretty nice job.
YOUNG: Well now, you've been very kind to open up and tell us a little bitabout everything. One big question for you: how do you drink your bourbon?
RUSSELL: Most of the time on the rocks. Uh, we have a product called RareBreed that I don't add anything to, because it's barrel-proof. And it never gets better than right out of that barrel. But most of the time, I'll, I'll drink it on the rocks. And that's a little bit difference in Jimmy is, you 00:42:00know, he always told me, you know, Scotch industry talk about add a little water, it changes things. Jimmy said you didn't need to change nothing in bourbon; it was perfect to start with. But I like it, as the ice sort of melts a little bit, I think you get different flavors and different tastes. Uh, the only problem with being a Russell is the ice don't get melted too much when you're drinking good bourbon. (laughs)
YOUNG: Well, Jimmy, Jimmy--
YOUNG: --Jimmy, I'm calling you Jimmy already, because you're already beginningto morph into a great master distiller--
RUSSELL: --(laughs)--thank you--
YOUNG: --like your father, but, but I'm telling you, Eddie, I, I want to thankyou for letting us interview this afternoon, ask you some of those questions that have been on our mind and, uh, we appreciate you taking your time to do this.
RUSSELL: Happy to do it. Uh, it's like I said, it's the one great Americanspirit there is. And it's, I should've done this when I first started, and then maybe I could be sitting somewhere on an island or something. But this is wonderful that they're, you know, getting down the history of what this 00:43:00industry's about, because we're such a small industry. You know, we're worldwide as far as our product, but as far as who makes all that product, we're such a small industry. So it's really appreciated on our end that somebody's taking the time to do this.
YOUNG: Well again, I want to thank you, Eddie Russell, Associate MasterDistiller, Wild Turkey Distillery. Thanks again.
RUSSELL: Thank you.
[Pause in recording.]
YOUNG: You know, we talked a lot about mixologists, and the younger groupcoming up, and, and the fact that they're taking, uh, great liberties with, uh, the products that we all make. Um, how do you do that when you're out there on the road with them? Do you sit down with them and try different things? Or, how does that work?
RUSSELL: Yeah, when I'm out, that's, that's who I mainly deal with anymore. Ido the bartender guilds in whatever city I'm in. Uh, we do seminars. We do trainings. We do different things like that. But a lot of my time has been focused on the bartenders or the mixologists, uh, because I want to know what 00:44:00they're looking for. Because like I said, I, I really truly believe they're the ones that's growing our industry right now. So, you know, you go in, and you talk about, you know, whether you want a stronger proof, or you want this, or you want that. Uh, so those things have really been helpful in the way I look at innovating new products. Uh, you know, they're, it really amazed me, and what really got me excited about them is when, when I grew up a bartender was somebody that poured a Coke, or a ginger ale, or water in your drink. You know, there wasn't all the fancy drinks. And then I started seeing mixologists that were making their own bitters and their own flavors, and they were trying to enhance the flavors of our product, not cover the flavor of our product, but enhance the flavor. So it really made me want to sit down and talk to them about, you know, what flavors would be best. I mean, we were thinking about 00:45:00flavors before American Honey came out in the flavor thing has hit and got so big. Uh, but things like that, it's things like, our rye, I mean, a lot of the young mixologists are wanting back to the higher rye, the higher-proof ryes. So, uh, you know, I went from the 101 to 81. Now I'm going to release some 101 for those guys. So I'm doing everything I can to try to help them because I think they're the ones that's, that's our ambassadors. It used to be, you know, we all had sales people and we had ambassadors around. But our real ambassadors are those guys that when people come in wanting to try something, they go, "Well have you ever tried this because it's a good product. I've met those guys, you know. I've been to their distillery." Or, "They're making this because we ask them to." So, that's been an important part of it for me.
YOUNG: So do you ever get into exotic ingredients when they're making those cocktails--
RUSSELL: --I'm not much of a mixologist. (laughs) You know, I'm, it's so00:46:00funny, because when I go out in the market, I'm so happy to taste their drinks. And when I first started, and, you know, I give my opinion. When I first started, I've done some mixology contest as a judge. And when all this craze started, it was like they were still fooling with white alcohols. They just kept putting, it was like who could get the most ingredients in that drink. And I kept telling them, "Look, guys, once you get past three or four tastes, you can't taste all those ingredients." You know, and people started thinking that way as, you know, it's okay to put this and that in there, but when you've got six or seven things in it, nobody's going to taste those six or seven things. So, you know, some of them listened to that. Some of them still like to put as much as they can in there. But I think you're seeing more of a trend towards, you know, they're picking out two or three flavors that are going to enhance the product and making a good drink with them. And a lot of them went back to, you 00:47:00know, we never perfected the classic drinks, you know, the Manhattans and Old Fashioned, and now they're really working on those. And I've tasted some very good variations of that. Uh, when I'm with Jimmy and somebody sets up that drink, he says, "Can I just have mine neat or on the rocks?" (laughs) But I like to drink them, and I like to taste them, and, and, you know, tell them my opinion on it. And I'm truthful with them. If I think it's way out there, then I tell them that. If I think it's a great drink, I tell them that also.
JOANNA HAY: What did, what did Jimmy have to say when he first heard the word "mixologist"?
RUSSELL: Nothing good. (Russell and Young laugh) I mean, I grew up around allthose distillers, and in their opinion, you should drink the bourbon just like they did, which was either neat, on the rocks, with a little water. They didn't believe in mixology and they didn't even think about mixology. Mixologies was for white alcohols because you need to cover the taste. You know, they thought 00:48:00they had a product that had good flavors, so why did you need to mix it with anything? You know, if you needed a little ginger ale, that was okay. Coke was pushing it a little bit. (laughs) You know, but they just didn't think about it, because they thought they had a product that had enough good flavors, you didn't need to mix it with anything. So, as I said, ten or fifteen years ago, if I'd have told Jimmy, "I'm going to make a mixable bourbon. I'm going to put out my 81 and I'm going to call it a mixable bourbon." That would have probably been the end of my job. But I think he realized, you know, what was happening in our industry, and I think he finally trusted in what I was doing too.
YOUNG: So the people that make their own bitters, the people that make theirown ingredients, are carrying it a little bit to the extreme.
YOUNG: --but some of them have got some pretty good things to offer, do you agree?
RUSSELL: I think so, I really do. And those people that are doing that, Ithink more of them is like the art of what I do, picking out that barrel. 00:49:00They're not just doing what everybody else is doing. They're not just buying products off the shelf and putting them in the drink. They're concocting their own flavors, their own bitters. So, to me, it's more of an art of what they're doing. So those type is the more ones I more lean towards. You know, when I'm out there in the market, I taste them through my products, and I give them an idea of what I taste in my products. And then I say, you know, if I'm tasting more orange peel than Kentucky spirit, what do you think if you're going to make a mixed drink? What do you think you should use more, citrus flavor of some type? If I'm tasting Rare Breed and it's more splash--you shouldn't put anything in Rare Breed--but if you were going to more spiced with me, I'd get hints of dark chocolate on the back end of it. So, it gives them an idea what to enhance the flavors of our products. And I get those flavors in every one of my products, and I sit and tell them what I get out of each one of them, so that 00:50:00they'll know those things will work really good with that product.
YOUNG: So one of the basic things that we all need to do is inform them more ofwhat we're trying to build into them, so they can build off of that.
RUSSELL: Exactly, and that's exactly what I'm doing, and that's exactly my goalin the market anymore, and all of our sales force know when I come out, let's get the bartenders guilds in that city. Let's get the mixologists in that city. Same way when I went over the UK. My whole time I was in Scotland for a few days, and then England for about six or seven days, the whole time, I met with young men and women mixologists. And we talked about bourbon, the flavors that were in my bourbon. You ought to drink it neat, but if you don't want to, these are the flavors you can, you know, add to it to enhance it, so.
YOUNG: You've got to have, after having been on the road as much as you'vebeen, and I know you're out there, a funny story. (Russell laughs) From 00:51:00somewhere that, that you've held on to. Maybe a couple. Would you care to share those with us?
RUSSELL: Uh, a funny story. (laughs) Nothing that you really want to tell onyourself. (Young laughs) No, you know, it's, it's like I talked about earlier, the funny, the funny thing was, to me, was to see people wanting your autograph and, and things like that. Um, it was really funny for me to find out what Jimmy meant to this industry. You know, I never thought of him, I thought of Booker Noe and Elmer T. Lee and Parker Beam as those guys, but never Jimmy. You know, and then getting out to see what he meant to this industry. I tell you, the funniest thing to me, and I still laugh about it, the first time I ever went anywhere with Jimmy. He was in front of about a hundred people one night. I'd never seen him--he never said ten words when we were at home. (Young laughs) I 00:52:00mean, I lived at home for almost twenty-two years besides college, and he didn't say two words. And I go out on that first trip with him, and he's in front of a hundred people, and he talks for 45 minutes with no script, just from the heart. He's got them laughing. He's got them writing stuff down. And I'm, I went home and told my mother, I said, "You don't know Jimmy." (laughs) I said, "He said more in that 45 minutes than he'd said in my first 22 years." But that, that's probably is the funniest story that I ever heard. Or, the thing that made me to laugh the most was at that event. This lady, older lady, she said, "Do you have a mint julep recipe?" And Jimmy said, "Yeah." So it took Jimmy twenty minutes to get this recipe out, but he basically starts out with, "You got to have a sterling silver cup. You've got to have shaved ice. It can't be cubed ice, it 00:53:00can't be this kind of ice." He goes through this whole ordeal about, "You got to go down to the creek and get fresh mint to make your roux with, and all this." And he says, "Then you get a half pint, or 200mL of Wild Turkey, go to the back door, and throw that stuff out, because you should be drinking that bourbon straight." Well, that poor lady, it just, and the whole crowd, I mean--(Young laughs)--his recipe for that mint julep was dead on. You could make a great mint julep if you did it the way he said. But when they threw that, go to the back door and throw that stuff out and drink that bourbon straight, because it would be a whole lot better, it just stunned the whole audience. They just sat there, and that poor lady was writing every word down. I went up to her and I said, "That is a very good recipe. I suggest forget the last part." (Young laughs) So I laughed about that for a long time and I still tell that story quite a bit.
YOUNG: Well now, your father is legendary for the amount of stamina he puts outwhile he's on the trail, so to speak. I mean, he seems to outlast everybody. 00:54:00How are you keeping up with that?
RUSSELL: I don't. I go to, I go to the bed, and say, "I'll see you in themorning." He meets me for breakfast at eight o'clock. I mean, he scares the young people. (laughs) Our sales force with our Campari company is a very young sales force, where it used to be mainly older men. And he comes to town, it's like, what do we do? Who's going to stay out with him? Because Jimmy's good on about three hours sleep. Me, I need about seven. So, when I get ready, I go to the road and tell him, "I'll see you at breakfast in the morning." He'll be there at eight o'clock, I guarantee you. You know, so I try to just, you know, I do what I can do, but I can't beat Jimmy. There's no way. He amazes me, how much stamina. And it's all for the love of it, is what it's for. I mean, that's what drives him. My, Jimmy will be seventy-nine years old in 00:55:00November. And what keeps him going like that is bourbon and Wild Turkey. I mean, his love for it. I mean, it's, it's, to me, the most amazing thing. You don't see people that love their job the way that people in our industry do. You know, so what gets him up every morning, and out of that chair, sometimes I look at him, he can't hardly get out of a chair. But if you're out on the road, and you've got people to talk to, or bourbon to drink, he, he goes right along and he can outlast most anybody. (laughs) He's definitely famous for that. (laughs)
HAY: Last thing, talk about the culture of bourbon as a Kentucky industry, anAmerican industry, and then the current ownership, being international, being foreign-ownership, and how that works together--
HAY: --what's this like now?
YOUNG: Now, we both had the, uh, um, distinction of being owned by foreign00:56:00owners. What's that like in, in terms of being owned by an overseas company, but still working in the United States and working in foreign markets?
RUSSELL: Well, for us, you know, all of us in the bourbon industry, we were allfamily owned at first. You know, a lot of us were from Kentucky that, you know, and you weren't sold all, even all over the United States. And then as you grew, uh, companies bought all, everybody out. And it's a lot of foreign comp-, companies. There's a British company that owns most everything and there's a French company that owned us that is number two and owns a lot of stuff. We're owned by an Italian company. And what that does, I think mainly for us is, not only build these distilleries, but it helps us get all over the world and get our product in a lot of different places. Uh, you know, our company is Italian. They have some, some very good footholds with products that they have in other 00:57:00countries. And it helps us to sort of ride on those coattails to get into those countries to show the product that we have. I mean, you know, we're still an American product no matter who owns us. And I've always laughed because I can remember when the French company, Pernod Ricard, owned us, and they actually sent a video over here, and the CEO says, "Jimmy, you just keep doing what you're doing. We don't know nothing about bourbon. You just keep doing what you're doing." And Campari has been the same way. I mean, we had a connection with Campari years ago. We used to bottle our Campari in the United States. But it's like, "Jimmy, you keep doing what you're doing." And, and they're learning. I mean, it's like you said, they all think there's a faucet that we turn on here in Kentucky and it just comes running out. But it doesn't. You got to age that stuff. So everybody's learning. But I think the biggest thing is the, the influx of the money to, for your facility, and the, the way they can 00:58:00move you around the world and get you in places that you might not have been able to get into. So, it's a good deal for all of us. I mean, what they've done and how they're growing here, I mean, we've added a lot of jobs, we've added a lot of com-, uh, money to this community. It's great for our community and our state.
YOUNG: It's a wrap.
HAY: Before you move, however--(laughs)--
[End of interview.]