Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Joseph Magliocco, August 6, 2014

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

 

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00:00:00 - College years

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Partial Transcript: This is John Gregory interviewing Joe Magliocco, president of Michter's Distillery, on August 6th, 2014 for the Kentucky Bourbon Tales Oral History Project of the University of Kentucky Libraries' Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

Segment Synopsis: Joseph Magliocco is introduced. He talks about his family background and his father's involvement in the spirits industry. He talks about attending Yale University, majoring in religious studies, and his interest in engineering. He talks about working as a bartender and as a salesperson in the spirits industry while in college. He talks about one of his mentors, Dick Newman. He talks about why he chose to go to law school.

Keywords: Bartending; College; College majors; Dick Newman; Distillation; Engineering; Fathers; Harvard University; Immigrants; Law school; Mentors; Michter's Distillery; Mothers; New York City (N.Y.); Parents; Religion; Religious studies; Salespeople; Whiskey companies; Working; Yale University

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Families.; Sales promotion.

00:08:52 - Entering the spirits industry during a downturn in the market

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Partial Transcript: So you graduate from law school--

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about why he joined the spirits industry and the various jobs he has held over the years. He talks more about his mentors in the industry. He talks about beginning in the industry during a time when whiskey sales were down and why he believes the market was in a slump at the time.

Keywords: American whiskey; Bourbon industry; Charlie Wells; Drinking; Exports; Family business; Generations; Industry slump; Jobs; Light whiskeys; Marketing; Mentors; People; R.C. Wells; Relationships; Sales; Salespeople; Spirits business; Spirits industry; Vodka; Whiskey industry

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Alcoholic beverages.; Economic conditions.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry; Whiskey.

00:16:07 - Starting a whiskey company

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Partial Transcript: So y--you mentioned Mr. Wells being a mentor.

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about why he decided to begin a whiskey company even though the market for whiskey was not good at the time. He talks about why he personally enjoys whiskey. He talks about the advice he received from his mentor about beginning a whiskey company and why they decided to revive the Michter's brand.

Keywords: Bankrupt; Bourbon industry; Bourbon whiskey; Brands; Company history; Dick Newman; Gut feelings; Heartiness; Mentors; Michter's Distillery; Personal taste; Richness; Rye whiskey; Spice; Sweetness; Warmth; Whiskey industry

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Alcoholic beverages.; Economic conditions.; Whiskey industry; Whiskey.

00:21:49 - Choosing Kentucky as the location for his whiskey company

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Partial Transcript: So now we're trying to bring back Michter's.

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco discusses why he decided to open his company in Kentucky instead of Pennsylvania, including the limestone water sources and the availability of support from the whiskey community in Kentucky. He talks about the reception he received from the whiskey community as a new whiskey company.

Keywords: Acceptance; Camaraderie; Challenges; Community; Helping; History; Kentucky; Knowledge; Limestone water sources; Locations; New distillery; Outsiders; Pennsylvania; Resources; Stillmakers; Stills; Support; Welcoming

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:27:32 - Putting his product on the market

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Partial Transcript: So when did the first bottle of Michter's hit the market?

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about how it felt to finally have a product available for sale several years after beginning his company. He talks about the limited production of his company and their place in the market. He talks about the process his company went through from buying whiskey from other companies to producing their own products.

Keywords: Bartenders; Borrowing; Bourbon industry; Bourbon market; Buying; Dick Newman; Limited production; Michter's Distillery; Mixologists; New products; Rye whiskey; Selling; Sharing; Single barrel bourbons; Stills

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Economic conditions.; Quality of products.; Sales promotion.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.

00:32:17 - Making bourbon

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Partial Transcript: So du--do you have a unique approach to producing the products that you all, uh, distill yourselves?

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about Michter's dedication to quality products, no matter the cost. He talks about their Master Distiller and his unique practices, including heat cycling and barreling at a lower proof. He talks about how these practices affect the final product. He talks about how the knowledge and experience of Master Distillers results in a higher quality product.

Keywords: Alcohol proofs; Angel's share; Apprenticeship; Barrels; Blind tastings; Bourbon making; Brown-Forman Corporation; Cost; Craftsmanship; Details; Direction; Experience; Flavors; Heat cycling; Knowledge; Master Distillers; Michter's Distillery; Owsley Brown; Pamela Heilmann; People; Production; Products; Taste testing; Whiskey making; Willie Pratt

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.

00:40:49 - Challenges in the whiskey industry

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Partial Transcript: Is it hard, uh, for you as the president of this company to, um, to have an in--inventory of product to know you can't use, can't make a profit off of for a decade or more?

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about how the need to age a product for several years makes business in the whiskey industry more difficult. He talks about how his experience bartending and selling spirits helps him in his current position.

Keywords: Aging; Bartending; Challenges; Experience; Forecasting; Inventory; Issues; Michter's Distillery; Products; Sales; Spirits industry

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Distillation.; Whiskey industry; Whiskey.

00:43:33 - Resurgence of the bourbon industry

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Partial Transcript: You, earlier, um, gave some of the credit to the, the mixologists or the bar chefs as you called them--

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about the current popularity of bourbon and whiskey in the spirits industry. He talks about how mixologists and premium products have contributed to this trend. He talks about the market for super premium products. He discusses the international market for whiskey.

Keywords: "Bourbon Renaissance"; Bar chefs; Bartenders; Bourbon market; Cocktail culture; Creativity; Demand; Experimentation; Growth; International markets; Mixologists; Premium products; Single barrel whiskey; Super premium bourbons

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Alcoholic beverages.; Business enterprises, Foreign.; Cocktails.; Distillers.; Economic conditions.; Quality of products.; Sales promotion.; Whiskey industry; Whiskey.

00:48:36 - Bourbon as a Kentucky product

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Partial Transcript: Do you, do you think, uh, Kentucky-made bourbon is getting more respect around the world from, from international--

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about Kentucky bourbon's place in the international market and how Master Distillers help promote the industry internationally. He talks about the popularity of bourbon tourism and its effect on Kentucky's economy. He talks about why Kentucky is the most popular location for distilling bourbon.

Keywords: Aging; American whiskey; Chris Morris; Connoisseurship; Economy; Education; Interest; International markets; Jimmy Russell; Kentucky Bourbon Trail; Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA); Kentucky bourbon; Knowledge; Legends; Limestone water sources; Louisville (Ky.); Master Distillers; Michter's Distillery; People; Respect; Temperature changes; Tourists; Traveling; Visitors; Weather; Welcoming

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Quality of products.; Tourism.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Whiskey.

00:57:40 - His legacy and the next generation in the spirits industry

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Partial Transcript: So what do you want your legacy to be, in the context of the Kentucky whiskey industry?

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about what he hopes Michter's legacy will be in the future, and what he hopes his own legacy will be. He talks about his son's interest in the industry.

Keywords: Bourbon industry; Continuing; Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA); Legacies; Limited production; Michter's Distillery; Proud; Small batch whiskey; Sons; Welcoming; Younger generations

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Families.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry

01:01:33 - How he prefers to drink bourbon / first visit to a Kentucky distillery

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, the last question is, um, how do you drink your bourbon?

Segment Synopsis: Magliocco talks about how he prefers to drink his bourbon. He talks about his father taking him to a distillery in Kentucky when he was a child, and about what he enjoyed when he visited the Jim Beam distillery after he graduated law school. He talks about what his father enjoyed about the spirits industry. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Barrels; Drinking bourbon; Fathers; Jim Beam Distillery; Kentucky; On the rocks; People; Production; Rick houses; Rye whiskey; Soda; Spirits industry; Warehouses

Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Alcoholic beverages.; Cocktails.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Families.; Whiskey.