Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Brad Boswell, July 31, 2014

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

 

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00:00:00 - Childhood at the Independent Stave Company

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Partial Transcript: This is John Gregory interviewing Brad Boswell, president of Independent Stave Company on July 31st, 2014 for the Kentucky Bourbon Tales Oral History Project of the University of Kentucky Libraries Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

Segment Synopsis: Brad Boswell is introduced. He talks about growing up in Lebanon, Missouri and visiting his family's business, Independent Stave Company. He talks about playing in the cooperage as a child. He describes his grandfather, J.E. Boswell, including his personality and his relationships with customers.

Keywords: Businessman; Family business; Farms; Formal; Grandfathers; Great Depression; Independent Stave Company; J.E. Boswell; Loggers; Machinery; Serious; Small towns; Woods

Subjects: Childhood; Coopers and cooperage; Family-owned business enterprises.; Lebanon (Mo.); Staves and stave trade

00:05:10 - Working at the Independent Stave Company during summer breaks

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Partial Transcript: So how old were you when you started to formally work arou--

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about working at the cooperage throughout his childhood during his summer breaks from school. He talks about the jobs he held and his responsibilities. He talks about graduating from college with a degree in engineering and encouraging his engineer friends to work at the company with him. He talks about gaining the respect of the company employees.

Keywords: Classmates; College; Employees; Engineering; Family business; Independent Stave Company; Jobs; Math; Relationships; Respect; Staves; Summers; University of Missouri; Working

Subjects: Barrels; Childhood; Coopers and cooperage; Family-owned business enterprises.; Staves and stave trade

00:12:16 - Traveling with his father to visit clients

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Partial Transcript: Um, when, when did you start traveling with your father on--to, to meet with clients?

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about taking road trips with his father, John Boswell, to visit their clients, including distilleries like Heaven Hill. He talks about their relationships with their clients.

Keywords: Business trips; Classmates; Clermont (Ky.); Clients; Customers; Heaven Hill Distilleries; Independent Stave Company; Industry; Jim Beam Clermont Distillery; Pat Riley; Reading; Stave mills; Traveling; Working relationships

Subjects: Coopers and cooperage; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Staves and stave trade; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:15:38 - Becoming president of Independent Stave Company

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Partial Transcript: So how did you progress through the company to, to eventually become president?

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about the path that he took to become president of the company, including the other positions he held along the way and his increasing responsibilities. He talks about how his father helped him become motivated to succeed.

Keywords: Fathers; Independent Stave Company; Jobs; John Boswell; Management; Marion County (Ky.); Motivation; New Florence (Mo.); President; Progress; Responsibilities; Spain; Stave mills

Subjects: Coopers and cooperage; Family-owned business enterprises.; Staves and stave trade

00:19:15 - Barrel-making process

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Partial Transcript: Um, in, in layman's terms, can you explain for us the process of making a bourbon barrel?

Segment Synopsis: Boswell describes the process of making a barrel, from cutting the trees to charring the barrel. He talks about the various ways a barrel can be charred or toasted and how the process affects the flavor of the bourbon inside. He talks about how barrels have evolved from being simple storage containers to an integral part of the bourbon-making process.

Keywords: American Oak; Assembly; Barrel making process; Bourbon barrels; Caramel; Characteristics; Charring; Color; Distilling; Flavor profiles; Flavors; Independent Stave Company; Properties; Seasoning; Stave mills; Storage containers; Tannins; Timber; Toasting; Transportation; Vanilla; White oak

Subjects: Barrels; Coopers and cooperage; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Staves and stave trade; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.

00:28:29 - Collaboration with distillers

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Partial Transcript: Is there an example that you can tell us, um, that would illustrate the process of how you've worked with a distiller to create a distinctive barrel for a distinctive kind of bourbon?

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about working directly with distillers to create a barrel that will give them the results they desire for their products.

Keywords: Aroma profiles; Bill Samuels, Jr.; Bill Samuels, Sr.; Collaboration; Cooperation; Customers; Development; Flavor profiles; Independent Stave Company; Maker's 46 bourbon whiskey; Makers Mark Distillery; Trials; Variables

Subjects: Barrels; Coopers and cooperage; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.

00:30:59 - Craftsmanship in the bourbon and barrel industries

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Partial Transcript: Um, s--how difficult is it to--once you get that, that barrel profile set, how difficult is it to then maintain the consistency of that product over years and years and years when you're dealing with trees that--every tree is different?

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about how the Independent Stave Company maintains consistency when creating barrels. He discusses the resurgence in interest in bourbon and why people are interested in the craftsmanship aspect of the industry. He explains the term "angel's share".

Keywords: Angel's share; Bourbon industry; Charring; Consistency; Control; Craftsmanship; Flavors; Gourmet; Growth; Independent Stave Company; Information; Interest; Learning; Premium products; Process; Repeatable; Research and development; Resurgence; Seasoning; Size; Species; Stories; Technology; Toasted; Traditions; Trees; Vapors; Variables

Subjects: Barrels; Coopers and cooperage; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:42:47 - Bourbon as a Kentucky product and a family tradition

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Partial Transcript: I think, um, I think something really interesting about bourbon is, you know, bourbon is the great American spirit.

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about why bourbon is the "Great American Spirit" and specifically why bourbon is a product of Kentucky. He talks about why distilling is often a family business. He describes some of the bourbon families and people he works with, including Pat RIley, the Noe family, the Beam family, and the Russell family.

Keywords: Adelaide (Australia); Benefits; Booker Noe (Frederick Booker Noe II); Bourbon business; Bourbon festivals; Business; Cooking with bourbon; Craig Beam; Curing hams; Customers; Eddie Russell; Expectations; Family business; Family traditions; Flavors; Fred Noe (Frederick Booker Noe III); Friends; Generations; Great American spirit; Heritage; Jimmy Russell; Kentucky; Knowledge; Learning; Limestone water; Max Shapira; Oak; Parker Beam; Pat Riley; Relationships; Tasting

Subjects: Coopers and cooperage; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Genealogy.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.

00:57:14 - Learning from and teaching the older generation

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Partial Transcript: So this older generation: your father, um, Jimmy Russell, Parker Beam, Booker Noe.

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about what he has learned from his father's generation of barrel-makers and distillers. He talks about what he may have taught them and how he may have impacted the industry. He talks about his relationship with Jim Rutledge.

Keywords: "Wood chef"; Attributes; Camaraderie; Characteristics; Enjoyment; Fathers; Four Roses Distillery; Generations; Jim Rutledge; Learning; Options; Passion; Personal relationships; Premium products; Success; Teaching

Subjects: Coopers and cooperage; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

01:02:40 - Bourbon tourism

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Partial Transcript: What role do you see for bourbon tourism and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, uh, in the future of the industry?

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about the popularity of bourbon tourism and why the cooperage began offering tours. He gives his opinion on the importance of tourism in the bourbon industry.

Keywords: Barrel making process; Bill Samuels, Jr.; Cooperage tours; Growth; Independent Stave Company; Interest; Kentucky Bourbon Trail; Makers Mark Distillery; Napa Valley; Tourists; Tours

Subjects: Consumers.; Coopers and cooperage; Product demonstrations; Tourism.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

01:07:31 - Next generation in the family business / contributions to the industry

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Partial Transcript: Um, so you're in the Bourbon Hall of Fame, also.

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about being inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame. He discusses the next generation in his family and his hopes for their careers in the family business. He talks more about his contributions to the industry and what he hopes will be his legacy.

Keywords: Bourbon Hall of Fame; Bourbon industry; Children; Contributions; Enjoyment; Enthusiasm; Family business; Fun; Honors; Independent Stave Company; Legacies; New products; Proud; Relationships; Traditions; Unique; Variety; Working

Subjects: Barrels; Coopers and cooperage; Distillation.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Genealogy.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

01:13:58 - Drinking bourbon / current bourbon culture

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Partial Transcript: And how do you drink your bourbon?

Segment Synopsis: Boswell talks about how he drinks his bourbon when taste testing and when having a drink. He talks about how views on bourbon have changed over the years. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Bourbon culture; Commodities; Dark glasses; Drinking bourbon; Sensory trials; Soda; Taste testing; Tasting; Trends

Subjects: Alcoholic beverages.; Consumers.; Quality of products.; Whiskey.