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Interview with Eddie Russell, Jimmy Russell, September 30, 2013

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - New products

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Partial Transcript: You guys ready?

Segment Synopsis: Eddie and Jimmy Russell talk about new products Wild Turkey has created over the years, including Forgiven, American Honey, and Spiced bourbon. They talk about the origins of each product, and their desire to expand their sales market.

Keywords: Bourbon whiskey; Expanding markets; Innovation; Mistakes; Mixologists; New consumers; Rye whiskey; Vanilla bean; Wild Turkey American Honey; Wild Turkey Distillery; Wild Turkey Forgiven; Wild Turkey Spiced

Subjects: Alcoholic beverages.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Sales promotion.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:08:10 - Working relationship between Jimmy and Eddie Russell

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Partial Transcript: Well y--now you've been talking about Jimmy a, approving and so forth. Uh, how is it working with Jimmy as Master Distiller?

Segment Synopsis: Eddie and Jimmy Russell talk about what it has been like to work together over the years. They discuss advice Jimmy has given Eddie, the differences between generations, and trends in the bourbon industry.

Keywords: Advice; Buckshot; Consistency; Generations; Jimmy Russell; Trends; Working relationships

Subjects: Distillers.; Families.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:12:46 - Stories about various people in the bourbon industry

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Partial Transcript: W, we were talking about Booker Noe, a good friend of ours. Ask Eddie about the time he first met Booker.

Segment Synopsis: Eddie and Jimmy Russell talk about other people involved in the bourbon industry, and discuss how the bourbon distillers form a close-knit community.

Keywords: Booker Noe (Frederick Booker Noe II); Bourbon industry; Camaraderie; Close-knit communities; Drinking bourbon; Elmer T. Lee; Fishing trips; Kentucky Distillers Association Board of Directors; Lincoln Henderson; Parker Beam

Subjects: Distillers; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:19:34 - Eddie earning respect at the Wild Turkey Distillery

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Partial Transcript: Tell about the story of the warehouse supervisor when you first come here.

Segment Synopsis: Eddie and Jimmy Russell talk about how Eddie began working as a regular employee at the Wild Turkey Distillery in order to learn and earn respect. Eddie talks about his initiation at the warehouse.

Keywords: "Sugar barrels"; Earning respect; Initiation; Learning

Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Labor unions--Kentucky; Whiskey--Anecdotes

00:22:47 - Disagreements between Jimmy and Eddie

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Partial Transcript: Well now it, it appears that, uh, you all have agreed on a lot of things. Do you ever disagree about anything of importance?

Segment Synopsis: Jimmy and Eddie Russell discuss whether they have had any disagreements over the years. Jimmy talks about how he heard about the warehouse fire in 2000.

Keywords: Consistency; Disagreements; Experience; Fires; Learning; Scared

Subjects: Distillers; Families.; Quality of products.

00:27:30 - Evaluating products

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Partial Transcript: Well can I interrupt with another question?

Segment Synopsis: Eddie and Jimmy Russell discuss the sensory lab where they test their products to maintain consistency and standards. They talk about the process, and what happens when they encounter a bad batch of bourbon.

Keywords: Bad batches; Bourbon formulas; Bourbon whiskey; Comparison; Consistency; Mistakes; Sensory labs; Standards; Tasting; Training

Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality control.; Quality of products.; Whiskey.

00:37:54 - Inability to make quick changes in the bourbon industry

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Partial Transcript: One of the biggest things, uh, Eddie will tell you I fought the--we, uh, Blanton's was the single barrel out as far as I know.

Segment Synopsis: Eddie and Jimmy Russell discuss the long-term planning required in the bourbon industry due to the long aging process.

Keywords: Aging bourbon; Changes; Long-term planning; Marketing departments; Microdistilleries; Salespeople; Single barrel bourbons

Subjects: Distillation; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:42:46 - More on the sensory lab

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Partial Transcript: We've got about five minutes on this battery.

Segment Synopsis: Eddie and Jimmy Russell talk more about the sensory lab, and why it was given that name. [Interview is concluded early due to low battery.]

Keywords: Bourbon whiskey; Color; Products; Samples; Sensory labs; Smelling; Taste testing; Tasting

Subjects: Distillation; Distilleries--Kentucky; Quality control.; Quality of products.; Whiskey.