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Interview with Eric Gregory, August 25, 2016

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

 

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00:00:00 - Origins of the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA)

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Partial Transcript: So, um, I'm here with Eric Gregory who is the President of the Kentucky Distillers Association.

Segment Synopsis: Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers Association, describes the founding of the KDA in 1880. He talks about the organization's original purpose as a liaison between distillers and the government. He talks about how alcohol has been used for centuries to fund American wars. He talks about how the KDA's purpose has changed over time.

Keywords: Community; Giving back; Government; Kentucky Bourbon Trail; Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA); Labeling requirements; Liaison; Louisville (Ky.); Part-time; Pearl Harbor; Powerful; Taxes; War effort; Working together

Subjects: Alcohol--Law and legislation; Alcohol--Taxation--United States.; Bourbon whiskey; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Kentucky Distillers' Association; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:03:56 - The issue of taxes on bourbon

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Partial Transcript: Um, but, so let's go, you know, back again to tha--those origins, uh, and back to the tax issue.

Segment Synopsis: Gregory discusses why taxing bourbon the way it is currently taxed is detrimental to the distillers and therefore harmful to Kentucky's economy. He talks about how bootlegging is still an issue even today. He talks about how the distilling industry promotes job creation in Kentucky.

Keywords: Bootleggers; Bourbon industry; Dry counties; Economy; Government; Great Depression; Issues; Jobs; Prohibition; Recessions; Revenue; Sales tax; Tourism; Vices; War; Whiskey Rebellion; Wholesale tax

Subjects: Alcohol--Law and legislation; Alcohol--Taxation--United States.; Bourbon whiskey; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Economic conditions.; Employment--Kentucky; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:09:45 - Popularity of bourbon

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Partial Transcript: Okay so I, you know, I would be remiss, you know, this is putting the cart before the horse but I'd be remiss to, to not ask this right now: Why?

Segment Synopsis: Gregory discusses some of the reasons for the current popularity of bourbon around the world. He talks about the sustainability of this "bourbon boom."

Keywords: American spirit; Bourbon boom; Cocktail culture; Generations; Global markets; International sales; Kentucky; Millennials; Mixologists; Mixology; Popularity; Scotland; Single-barrel bourbons; Small batch bourbons; Sustainability

Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Business enterprises, Foreign.; Cocktails.; Consumers.; Economic conditions.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:17:00 - Difficulty with regulations on distilling in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So I remember when we interviewed Bill Samuels, um, I was really struck by, um, how passionate he got about this issue.

Segment Synopsis: Gregory discusses some of the regulations and legislation that are harming the distilling industry in Kentucky. He talks about the importance of changing these laws in order to keep and attract more distilleries to the state.

Keywords: Aging; Barrel taxes; Bill Samuels; Bourbon Tourism Reform measure; Changes; Cocktails; Competitive; Craft distilleries; Disadvantages; Job creation; Kentucky; Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA); Laws; Licenses; Property tax; Regulations; Sales tax; Selling alcohol; Tours

Subjects: Alcohol--Law and legislation; Alcohol--Taxation--United States.; Bourbon whiskey; Distilleries--Kentucky; Economic conditions.; Employment--Kentucky; Tourism.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:23:39 - Bourbon tourism

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so, it's interesting because you know, you know, you worked hard to, to, to, to, to, to lobby for this.

Segment Synopsis: Gregory talks about the rise of bourbon tourism. He talks more about the "bourbon boom" and how distilleries and the KDA are making changes to promote more tourism. He talks about the creation of the Craft Distillery Trail as a companion to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and discusses how they work together.

Keywords: "Bourbon boom"; Angel's Envy; Bourbon industry; Communities; Competition; Cooperation; Craft distilleries; Economy; Expansion; Income; Innovation; Interactive experiences; Kentucky Bourbon Trail; Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tours; Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA); Makers Mark; Market research survey; Membership; Passport program; Popularity; Tourism industry; Tours; Visitors

Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Distilleries--Kentucky; Economic conditions; Kentucky Distillers' Association; Louisville (Ky.); Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:34:27 - Challenges the KDA is facing

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Partial Transcript: So you have th--you're--you, you really are glowing in this sort of--[Gregory laughs]--

Segment Synopsis: Gregory discusses some of the challenges the KDA is currently facing, including increasing training and awareness about driving under the influence of alcohol, making global trade easier, shutting down counterfeit products, and continuing the trend of innovation in order to prevent stagnation in the industry.

Keywords: Challenges; Complacency; Counterfeit products; Designated drivers; Drink Smart campaigns; Drinking and driving; Driving under the influence; Drunk driving; Employees; Global markets; Innovation; Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA); Responsibility; Responsibility Task Force; Safety; Trade agreements; Training; Transportation

Subjects: Business enterprises, Foreign.; Economic conditions.; Export marketing.; Kentucky Distillers' Association; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:38:31 - Educating the next generation of master distillers

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Partial Transcript: That's interesting. Oh, uh, one of the keys, one of the keys to this too, I mean, I remember interviewing, um--when we, uh, did the interview, um, with, um, Andrea--

Segment Synopsis: Gregory talks about how master distillers have been trained in the past, and discusses some of the ways the KDA is working to make that process easier, including training at the Distilled Spirits Epicenter. He talks about how the current master distillers are mentoring younger distillers, especially those who are opening small craft distilleries, in order to ensure the standards they set are being met.

Keywords: Andrea Wilson; Challenges; Chris Morris; Copper and Kings; Craft distilleries; Craft distillers; Curriculum; Cutting corners; Distilled Spirits Epicenter; Eastern Kentucky; Education; Family; Heritage; History; Identity; Industry watchdogs; Legacy; Master distillers; Mentorship; Moonshining; Popularity; Relationships; Respect; Self-policing; Standards; Talent; Tradition; Training

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

00:48:56 - Documenting the history of the bourbon industry

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Partial Transcript: Now, you know, I'm going to ask you a completely leading question because I know--[Gregory laughs]--

Segment Synopsis: Gregory discusses the importance of documenting the history of the bourbon industry, especially the knowledge and character of the current master distillers. He laments the loss of many stories because they waited too long to begin documenting the history. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Booker Noe; Bourbon industry; Documentation; Economic conditions; Eddie Russell; Freddie Noe (Frederick Booker Noe IV); Heritage; History; Jimmy Russell; Kentucky Bourbon Tales Project; Loss; Master distillers; Preservation; Stories; Value

Subjects: Distillers.; Oral history.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.