Partial Transcript: Beautiful. Okay. Hello. My name is Emily Fay. I'm conducting this interview as a graduate student working on the Women in Bourbon Oral History Project in the summer of 2022.
Segment Synopsis: Barnes discusses her childhood and how she moved many times as a child due to her parents working in the hospitality industry. Barnes says that since her family owned hotels, they frequently moved to oversee the management of their properties. She also talks about what she careers she was interested as a child and the different members of her family.
Keywords: Coronavirus; Hospitality; Moving
Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Careers.; Childhood; Families; Families.; Hospitality industry.; Hospitality.; Hotels; Mount Pleasant (S.C.); South Carolina
Partial Transcript: So what is your first memory and or experience with bourbon?
Segment Synopsis: Barnes discusses her college experience at the University of South Carolina. She talks about how she worked as a veterinary technician while her partner, and now husband, worked towards his Ph.D. Barnes describes living in Florida and Texas after she graduated from college and which pets were the most interesting to come into the veterinary office.
Keywords: College students--Social conditions
Subjects: Bourbon Whiskey; College environment; Dallas (Tex.); Education; Pets; South Carolina; Tallahassee (Fla.); Universities and colleges.; University of South Carolina; Veterinarians
Partial Transcript: Absolutely. So I understand you entered the bourbon industry in a very roundabout way. How did the veterinary hospital help you do this?
Segment Synopsis: Barnes explains how her job in the veterinary world led her to a new career in the bourbon industry. She talks about her role at Boone County Distilling Company and the experience of working at a new, small distillery. Barnes also speaks about the levels of equality between men and women in the bourbon industry, saying that she has seen an increase in the number of women in bourbon during the past few years.
Keywords: Boone County Distilling; Northern Kentucky; Small businesses
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Breweries; Distilleries; Marketing; Veterinarians; Whiskey
Partial Transcript: So you mentioned that there were only a few employees. Six?
Segment Synopsis: Barnes touches on what it was like being on a six person team at Boone County Distilling Co. She talks about her time as the managing director of Bourbon Women, an organization with multiple chapters across the United States that fosters a community for women to learn about bourbon.
Keywords: Bourbon Women; Heaven Hill; Maker's Mark; Nonprofits; Women in the whiskey industry
Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Bourbon Whiskey; Nonprofit organizations.; Whiskey industry
Partial Transcript: So what was it like working for one of the earliest organizations aimed specifically at women who liked bourbon?
Segment Synopsis: Barnes expands on what it was like to work for an organization that was aimed towards women. She talks about the similarities and differences of working with an almost all female staff and clientele to a more split demographic at Boone County Distilling Co. Barnes speaks about her current job at the Kentucky Distillers Association and how that job switch was made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: Bourbon Women; Coronavirus; Kentucky Distillers Association; Women in the whiskey industry; Women's organizations
Subjects: Bourbon Whiskey; COVID-19 (Disease); Education; Kentucky; Training; Whiskey industry
Partial Transcript: So you started working at the Kentucky Disitllers Associations as a Director of Industry Responsibility and Sustainability.
Segment Synopsis: Barnes discusses her role at the Kentucky Distillers Association as one of the directors of Sustainability and Responsibility. She describes the different roles she needs to fulfill, because the KDA team consists of only nine members.
Keywords: Bourbon industry; Distilleries--Kentucky; Kentucky Distillers Association; Responsibilities; Sustainability; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Women in the whiskey industry
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; Education; Kentucky; Training; Whiskey industry
Partial Transcript: So I know we spoke before about the advisory panel on DEI when the KDA was formed. You mentioned that you've had that opportunity to participate from the member side while with Bourbon women, and that now you're a facilitator.
Segment Synopsis: Barnes explains the origins of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion panel at the Kentucky Distillers Association and the role she plays on that panel. She discusses how COVID-19 impacted both her work life and her home life. She talks about the success of bourbon during the pandemic and how that was uplifting to the industry. Barnes talks about how she and her husband found the best routine for their relationship while working at home together.
Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; DEI; Distilleries--Kentucky; Diversity; Equity; Inclusion; Kentucky Distillers Association; Quarantines; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Women in the whiskey industry; Work-life balance
Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Bourbon whiskey; COVID-19 (Disease); Pandemics; Whiskey industry
Partial Transcript: So shifting gears to the bourbon industry and COVID, how do you see the global pandemic impacting the bourbon industry?
Segment Synopsis: Barnes talks about how the COVID-19 pandemic has effected the industry, from finding barrels to sourcing glass bottles. She explains that there has been a heightened interest in bourbon since the pandemic and she hopes that this interest continues afterwards. Barnes discusses the various Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion classes that she has participated in throughout her time in the bourbon industry. Barnes talks about the inclusion and treatment of women in the bourbon industry and how she believes that it is now the norm.
Keywords: Coronavirus; Diversity; Kentucky Distillers Association; Whiskey industry--Kentucky; Women in the whiskey industry
Subjects: Bourbon whiskey; COVID-19 (Disease); Pandemics; Whiskey industry
Partial Transcript: Absolutely. I agree with that one hundred percent. So who are some of your mentors?
Segment Synopsis: Barnes talks about who her life mentor is and how that has impacted her throughout her life. She also gives some advice to women who might be interested in entering the bourbon industry.
Keywords: Advice; Bourbon industry; Mentors; Networks; Organizations; Women in the whiskey industry
Subjects: Alcohol industry.; Bourbon whiskey; Whiskey industry
FAY: Beautiful. Okay. Hello. My name is Emily Fay. I'm conducting thisinterview as a graduate student working on the Women in Bourbon Oral History Project in the summer of 2022. Today is June 14th, 2022, and it is my great honor and pleasure to interview Sara Barnes in the Louie B. Nunn Center Studio at the University of Kentucky. Thank you so much for joining me today.
BARNES: Thanks for having me. I'm excited.
FAY: So we're now over two years into the pandemic. How are you doing?
BARNES: Adjusting, I think like everyone else, the working from home. I was gladwhen my spouse went back to his office. I've always worked from home. So yeah, travel is getting a little bit easier, and I think everyone's figuring out Zoom now that we're not going to be using it.
FAY: It's a blessing at this point.
BARNES: That's right.
FAY: So for the official record, please state your name of birth.
BARNES: Sure. Sara Marie Roberts was my name at birth.
FAY: Beautiful name. When and where were you born?
BARNES: Tallahassee, Florida, August 3rd, 1985.
FAY: And so tell me a little bit about your family background, like what are00:01:00your parents' names and occupations?
BARNES: Sure. So my mother is Brenda Roberts. Before she was Roberts, she was aMoss, and she kind of ran our household for the most part. She worked part time, did some stuff in schools. When my brother and I were younger, she was a resource teacher, a teacher's aide, things of that nature. She was originally from Indiana. So kind of up by where I live now. I grew up in South Carolina, which is due to my dad, Daniel Roberts. He came from Steubenville, Ohio, originally, and then in the hotel business, which is how we grew up, him buying and selling different hotels and running them. We ended up in South Carolina for the longest amount of time. So that's kind of where I am from as opposed to just born.
FAY: I understand that. So where are your parents now?
BARNES: So my mom lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, with my grandmother00:02:00and my brother. They're all still there. My dad lives in right outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
FAY: Oh, that's where I'm from. So do you have one sibling or your brother?
BARNES: So I have one full sibling. It's my brother. He's three years youngerthan me. His name is Connor and I have three half siblings that were from my dad's previous marriage. So I have an older half-brother named Danny and then two older half-sisters, Amy and Ashley.
FAY: Oh, wow. Were they also part of the hotel business? S
BARNES: So for some time my older brother is ten years older than me, so thereis a pretty large gap. And so growing up, I remember them being in high school when I was, you know, in I guess elementary school or even like starting elementary school. So there was a pretty big gap. They lived with us for a few years, but kind of went on to do their own thing. And they still live in Florida now.
FAY: Big family.
BARNES: Very much so. Very blended.
FAY: So your husband's name is JC, and you mentioned he works in academia. What00:03:00is this field of specialty?
BARNES: Sure. So he works for the University of Cincinnati in the criminologydepartment. And he actually, during the pandemic, which is not a usual thing, took over as interim director and chair of the department. So, not only was he working from home, but he was also running the department while doing it, so.
FAY: Busy household.
BARNES: Very much so.
FAY: Wow. Okay. So now that we've talked a little bit about your familybackground, we're going to shift gears and focus kind of on your childhood. So you mentioned that you're a South Carolina native, it's where we claim home.
BARNES: Yeah, yeah.
FAY: Where in South Carolina did you grow up again?
BARNES: So I grew up in Mount Pleasant, which is right outside of Charleston,which is a destination hot spot for most people to visit.
FAY: My friends going there this summer.
FAY: So what was it like growing up in South Carolina during that time?
BARNES: It was really great. You know, much like the day we're having today. Igrew up where it was very humid, very hot. I did not know what a winter was in 00:04:00South Carolina, we still went to the beach when it was cold. Christmas, you might have a sweatshirt, jeans and flip flops on because it's not really cold. So when we moved to Kentucky, it was a bit of a culture shock as well as a climate shock for me. My husband grew up kind of in the mountains, so he was a little more comfortable. But, you know, my dad and my grandfather both bought and sold hotels and ran them, so I guess I was in second grade when we moved to South Carolina. Before that, I went to four different kindergartens in four different states. We moved around kind of like army brats wherever my grandfather had a hotel, whatever needed to be done. So, South Carolina to me was the first place we bought a house. I learned to ride a bike in the yard as opposed to the hotel lobby, things like that. So it was really great. It was really hard to, you know, pass the beach on the way to school some days. So that's probably the only downside of growing up in a touristy kind of town, but 00:05:00it was wonderful.
FAY: It sounds like a lot of fun. So what did you want to be when you grew up asa kid?
BARNES: I think I wanted to be almost everything. So I remember going through aphase where I wanted to be an architect, and I think I was like, really, I don't know. I was, like, excited about perfecting my handwriting, right? And, like, drawing simple things. And I was probably, like, in elementary school. And so I thought, Oh, an architect, this would be great. I could build different houses, things like that, not knowing like that's not really what they do. They just do the plans and someone else does it. I also always loved animals, so I thought, Oh, maybe I'll be a veterinary technician, maybe I'll be a vet. None of those really happened. When I got to college. It was like, Oh, hospitality. I'm really good at it. I grew up in it, makes perfect sense. So I worked at country clubs for years and really enjoyed that aspect of it. And I think between that and how 00:06:00I grew up, that's kind of where I landed.
FAY: Wow. All right. So you said that your grandfather and father were both inthe hotel business when you were a kid. What kind of hotels did they work in? Was there like a specific like branch or just like pop, mom and pop, if you will?
BARNES: Sure. So my grandfather, Conrad, had different chains throughout theyears. I think there was a point where he had Ramadas. He also had Holiday Inn, when it kind of first became, I guess, a thing. He also had some Howard Johnson's, which not a lot of people remember, because they're not really around much anymore. I remember growing up and when this is going to date me clearly when, like Sega Game Gear came out, the handheld, those were like given to children when their parents like stayed at the hotel to use while they were on the property. And that was like the coolest thing ever because those just didn't exist in households. So different hotels like that, they both had their own kind of chain of hotels. So my dad did some Wingate's and I think some Wyndham Hotels 00:07:00throughout the years. So, kind of all over.
FAY: In a lot of hotels as a kid, as an Army brat, those sound like home allover again.
BARNES: Yeah. I mean, there was nothing better than like a Howard Johnson backin the day. It was reliable. Like they always had, like, Looney Toons partnerships or like an NFL partner, and they were like the partnering hotel. So. And they had a pool.
FAY: Absolutely. So what was it like growing up in that industry?
BARNES: It was fun. I mean, I you know, I think I think my brother probablydidn't enjoy it as much as I did. I really loved it. It was, you know, exactly like you would think. My dad had an office in the building. We could come and go as we please. My mom would, like, buy stuff for the gift shop. She would kind of stock that. So it was always kind of fun to see what new merchandise she got in or kid's things. If you wanted something to eat, you went and saw Miss Marie in the kitchen and you could go get warm cookies, you could have her make you something. So exactly like I'm sure there's a show somewhere on Disney or 00:08:00Nickelodeon that is like that. It's kind of how it was. It was different. Most of my friends had a yard. They learned how to ride a bike in the street. Being at a school and then leaving was always hard. So once we got to South Carolina, I think my mom wanted roots. So that was when I was about in second grade. But it was fun. I'm very picky about hotels now, though.
FAY: Oh, absolutely. So you said you enjoyed moving around, but your brother didn't?
BARNES: I think so. He was younger, and I think he got a little more attached tothe places. And, you know, at his age, he's three years younger than me, I just think he would have rather stayed somewhere where I kind of liked adventures and car rides, and that was just kind of all part of it. FAY: My sister and I are the same way. She hated moving around. It was funny.
BARNES: Yeah. My brother's more of a creature of habit, I think. Yes,absolutely. So what is your first memory and or experience with bourbon?
FAY: Oh, let's see. I think so. I mean, most of the men in my family, I would00:09:00say probably drink some type of brown liquor, be it scotch or bourbon at family occasions or things like that. I don't really know if I knew what they were. I did have a great grandfather. His name was Fred Getchman. He would refer to it as his tea, which, you know, 2022 is probably not a great thing. But, I just remember he would always drink, I don't know what kind, but there was always some type of bourbon that he would add water to, so it would become kind of the color of tea. And that was probably when I was in elementary school.
BARNES: I kind of remember that. And then obviously when growing up in SouthCarolina, I was never really a beer drinker or wine never really tickled my fancy. I liked bourbon, so it was always just a bourbon and coke, just growing up and in college. And then I kind of started investigating different things and trying new cocktails. And that was kind of how it started with bourbon and 00:10:00figuring out that the recipes were different. They all have different tastes and profiles and by themselves they're great with other things they're great. So I kind of expanded my horizons.
FAY: It sounds like a good time. You came to it naturally is what I'm hearing.
BARNES: That's right.
FAY: So speaking of bourbon in college, we'll talk a little bit about your adultlife. So you attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia from 2003-2007.
BARNES: Go Gamecocks.
FAY: What motivated you to choose this school?
BARNES: So, you know, they had a great hospitality program. It was about 2 hoursfrom my hometown. So far enough away for college, but close enough I could get home if I had friends that were still there. College of Charleston was in my backyard. I just wanted something a little bit bigger. I really wanted a football team and the experience and the hospitality program there is amazing. So I knew I'd get some culinary training, which I was always interested in, so it just felt like a natural fit. Most of my girlfriends went to Clemson in South 00:11:00Carolina. That is a huge rivalry. You are either orange or you are garnet, so I think part of me also just kind of wanted to be different and go garnet.
FAY: So how did you decide to study hospitality?
BARNES: I don't really, you know, like I'm trying to think about that. I don'treally think it was like a decision. It just kind of felt like what I knew, what I did. In high school, I worked at country clubs, I was waitressing, I was a hostess, I was a trainer at restaurants. I think the country club was really a big part of it. The relationships you build with the people, their children as they come through, every summer you know exactly what they want on the turn during golf or when they're going to come for the different pool parties and occasions and kind of checking in. So it was just kind of a natural fit. I also knew that at some point it was probably in my blood and growing up that way. But yeah, its, its worked out well. I have used it and parts of it in various jobs 00:12:00and positions and not necessarily any of them in hotels.
FAY: If it works, it's all.
BARNES: That's right.
FAY: So did you have a minor?
BARNES: I did not. I just majored.
FAY: Smart. Less work.
FAY: So did you have any extracurricular activities while you were in college,like Greek life or clubs?
BARNES: So I was probably one of the few that did not rush. I think every girlon my floor did when we were freshmen I worked super myself through college, so I didn't have a lot of free time. So between work I also did some dance. I had danced since I was little. I did a dance team when I was in high school, so kind of did that just as my exercise extracurricular and then joined different culinary groups and things throughout hospitality. But that was about what there was time for. FAY: Totally understand.
BARNES: Hospitality classes like to be like the first class, three days a week.
FAY: Alright. So when did you first drink bourbon?
BARNES: Oh, probably, yeah, probably in college. I was trying to think, um, youknow, I'm sure the answer is supposed to be when I was 21. We all know that probably wasn't the case, but I think that was probably like a Zima, right? Like at a high school party. So, I don't even people probably don't even know what Zima is when they watch this. But yeah, probably in college the brown liquor drinks that I would refer to or like a mixers, I think I predominantly had guy friends growing up and I think that's probably the first time I tried it was that was what they drink. Their tastes have stayed the same. Mine is now like a neat pour and things that are single barrel and yeah, it's a little bit different.
FAY: You got fancier.
BARNES: That's right.00:14:00
FAY: Do you remember what you would what bourbon you would drink in college.
BARNES: Gosh, it was probably, probably Jim Beam would be my guess. I know.Yeah, I would say Jim Beam.
FAY: Do you remember how you would drink it?
BARNES: With coke.
FAY: Smart woman.
FAY: Drinking, is that all you got or would you mix it up?
BARNES: Yeah, yeah. Probably just regular Coke and Jim Beam. I don't know that Iordered. I mean, most of college I would order a cocktail even if had bourbon in it. But it wasn't like it is today, right? Like you, your cocktail menu is bigger than anything else. When I was in college, it was like you had a well drink and a what you wanted it with. There was no flair, floating orchid, burning smoke, embers, anything like that.
FAY: --toasted rosé--
BARNES: Yeah. It wasn't that that.
FAY: So if I remember our previous conversation correctly, you met your husbandin college. Do you mind sharing how you met?
BARNES: Sure. So my husband also attended University of South Carolina. He wasgetting his master's while I was getting my undergrad. And he was very much an 00:15:00overachiever. I did my degree in my four years. He did a degree with a minor and another minor and then went for a master's. And then as our story continues, a Ph.D. and extra training. And I finally said, "you should probably have a job outside of a university." And now he's a professor. So that didn't work. But at least there's a paycheck. So we lived in an apartment complex. It was myself and three girls on the first floor and him and three male roommates on the third floor. I met him one afternoon because he had a chocolate lab puppy that was raised in an apartment of four boys. His name was Maverick, and he was cute as it can be, but somehow always ended up on my porch or flying down the flight of stairs or getting out. So I think the first interaction I had with my husband was dragging the dog upstairs to return him. Probably not politely, since I used 00:16:00to do Animal Rescue. And why did your dog not have a collar and why are you watching him and all those things that he probably has come to love about me, but I did that moment not so much. And I had a dog myself. I had a border collie named Liza. So I think Maverick came down to visit Liza when she was just hanging out on the apartment porch. And then the eight of us kind of all became friends. We went out, went bowling, did karaoke, kind of as a group for years. And then I guess one day it was just kind of like, Huh, I think I like you, and I think I like you too. And then we went on a date and not everybody was around. And here we are. We got married in 2009, so.
FAY: I'm sure the puppies were happy about.
BARNES: Yes, yes. Maverick went to live on a farm and not like the, what youtell children farm. Right a legitimate like acreage because he was such a big chocolate lab that needed lots of places to run, not an apartment.
FAY: I had an Austrian shepherd like that.
BARNES: Yeah, he needed a job.
FAY: So did Willy.
BARNES: It's hard, but it's necessary.00:17:00
FAY: That's right.
BARNES: I know when I say farm, I'm like, no, like a like a real farm. Likethere were sheep. Yes. He had a great time.
FAY: Well, that's good. Yeah. So what was life, what was life like for what waslife like for you after college?
BARNES: So probably a little bit different than everyone else. I actually, so myhusband finished his master's. I had about a semester left, so I went ahead and took summer classes to graduate early. He got accepted to Florida State for their Ph.D. program. And ironically, at the beginning of this video, when I told you I was born in Tallahassee, Florida, I'm also a Florida State Seminoles fan because Gator was a four letter word in my house. So ironically, he was going to Florida State and I was like, This is amazing because I love Tallahassee and I haven't lived there in years. I'll move down there with you. This will be great. So that's what we did. He dove right into his Ph.D. program, finished it earlier than most people do. It was just a couple of years. He was, he was like a hermit 00:18:00in our apartment. So kind of during that we ended up getting engaged. So I think while he was doing his dissertation, I got to kind of like loosely plan a wedding with my friends. I'm not super girly, so it wasn't super stressful, but a really good time. We actually got engaged out on a bed and breakfast plantation in Thomasville, Georgia, which I secretly, I think always wanted to own a bed and breakfast, but maybe that's not like an out loud dream, anyways. So yeah, we met, went to get his Ph.D. and then I was a vet tech when we were there. That was an easy job. I knew we'd only be there a couple of years and just kind of felt like a natural fit. I really enjoyed it and really loved it. And then as soon as he got his first job, it was right after we got married. He got a job offer to University of Texas at Dallas campus. So we had about 48 hours to decide and we were like, "We're young, it'll be fine. Let's pack all 00:19:00our stuff and move to Texas where we know absolutely no one and all of our families in South Carolina." And we did it and we were there for like six years and it was great. It was awesome. Texas was wonderful.
FAY: Did you like living there?
BARNES: I did. You know, a lot of people complain about the heat and I'm goingto be like a harp. I will tell you, I grew up in South Carolina. Heat in Texas is nothing. It is just hot, but it's like lizard hot. There's no, you don't do up and it's you don't have big hair and it's dry and barbecue-- there is lovely. Mexican food is totally different and there's so much to do. Like the culture in Texas, I totally drank the Kool-Aid. So. Yeah. And then his job in Kentucky brought us here about seven and a half, almost eight years ago.
FAYE: Oh, wow.
FAY: Right around all the places I used to live.
BARNES: I was going to say, yeah, our geographic charts are like, perfect.
FAY: Which is interesting. So did you miss working at the vet hospital? Did you00:20:00do that in Texas as well?
BARNES: I did. So I transferred right to one in Texas. Part of me, I think,wanted a hospitality job, but I didn't want to be unfair to them knowing that like especially to us, we would only be there a couple of years. So you're going to train me, I'm going to do great, I'm going to keep growing, and then I'd be like, "I have to move because of my husband's job." So this was kind of a fun passion filler. I was able to work with dog rescues while I was there, which was really great. But yeah, I think there's some days I miss it. I have clients from all over and all the different places I've lived that still, to this day, like text me or call me or you know, "Hey, we got a new puppy. We wanted to show you a picture." Or "hey, you know, Sadie passed away. We just want to let you know we knew you loved her." Or "I have a question about ear meds." Like for my life that will be it. I have really dear friends that are vet techs that, you know, still send me pictures of really cool surgeries and the nerdy stuff that we all liked. So I think I miss it, but I was glad to have that part of my life and 00:21:00have the stories and people have some really random pets is what I've learned.
FAY: So what was your favorite animal that you saw?
BARNES: Oh, so, you know, you see just about every dog breed possible. Cats, youknow, we saw some that walked into the animal hospital on leashes and harnesses. Right past the dogs, which, I have barn cats on my property. I don't understand how you would ever leash one of them, even if it was a domestic cat, but there were some really cool ones. We did exotics at one of the hospitals and there was a woman that had a 30 year old ball python. His name was Cashmere, and he was by far the coolest pet that has ever come in. She had to call and ask how to get him to us because he was so big and so long that I mean, like usually I'm like, "Oh, put him in a pillowcase if it's a snake." And she was like, "Mm." And I was like, "okay, a cooler, rolling suitcase?" And she ended up finding like, like 00:22:00musicians use the big cases for like equipment. It was like one of those that came rolling in and this woman has had this snake since it was a baby, like 12 inches long. And the relationship they had and I was the person who was like, "it's a snake." Like, no, no, you have a relationship like I have with my dog. Like we know each other and I can look at it and it knows what I'm thinking. And so it was just really cool and, you know, kind of a Britney Spears snake moment for me.
FAY: This is not the house you want to break into.
BARNES: No, for sure.
FAY: Cashmere's got a little anger there.
BARNES: That's right.
FAY: How big is a 30 year old ball python?
BARNES: I think he was like ten or 12 feet.
FAY: Oh, so too big.
BARNES: Yeah. And I mean, like, good. Yeah. Significant.
BARNES: Yeah. And he started out as, like, 12 inches, like, just a little nuggetof a snake.
FAY: You're a brave woman.
BARNES: Yeah. I mean, you know, it's just, I don't do spider rooms. I don't00:23:00understand people who have spiders as pets. So that was always my I will do any room that comes in. But the girls that I worked with, I always knew, like, I can't handle eight legs, I can't do it.
FAY: I respect that, I'd be the same way. So we, we had the bourbon industrysteering with.
BARNES: --just a segue, right?--
FAY: Absolutely. So I understand you entered the bourbon industry in a veryroundabout way. How did the veterinary hospital help you do this?
BARNES: I'm probably like the only one with the story. I worked at an animalhospital when we first moved to Kentucky, had really great clients. It was in Erlanger, Kentucky, right outside of where we live in Union and met a couple of different people, you know, had always enjoyed bourbon, had done different distilleries on the Bourbon Trail. When friends came to visit Kentucky, that's 100% what they wanted to do. So that's what we did. My husband was really into craft beers, so we would always do brewery tours, and that kind of gatewayed us into different distillery tours and different spirits. So I met a woman who was a client at the animal hospital, and couple of years after working there, she 00:24:00came up to me one day and was like, "What is your degree in? What did you do in real life?" And I was like, "This is what I do. Like, I really enjoy this, but my degree is in hospitality. I also did some culinary and you know, I got a certificate for country club management, and this was kind of my past, my history." And she was like, "Hmm." A couple of days went by, and I got a phone call from her and she's like, "I want you to meet my fiancée." "Okay. For what reason?" And she's like, "I think you'd be really great at something that he's working on. Like a project." I'm like, "okay, I don't. I don't know what I can contribute, but 100%." So turns out it was Boone County distilling, which is in northern Kentucky. The gentleman that I met with was Jack Wells. He is an entrepreneur and had dabbled in many different businesses. His primary business was the coal industry, and so they had resurrected a history from the 1800s in 00:25:00Boone County. So Petersburg Distillery had sourced a product and told all these stories about the time period, had done all this historical research. And so I showed up to meet him one afternoon. He showed me around the distillery, kind of told me what the owners had envisioned, what they were working on, how they had gotten started. And I was hook, line and sinker. I thought it was amazing. I thought the history aspect of it, being able to tell the story and also have something that was different was really exciting. So I was brought on to kind of do some of their marketing, some of their events. We were a really small team. We had three owners at the time, a distiller, and then there were probably three or four of us. We hired some tour guides. We opened up for a different tour pass. You know, obviously we were on the Kentucky Bourbon Craft tour, but being in Boone County was a little different. So I kind of had to get creative with 00:26:00some of our marketing and sales strategies because in Boone County, in order to distill spirits, we were zoned industrial. So we sat off Tobin Drive in Northern Kentucky, which is exactly where FedEx corporate sits and where Cengage sits. So we were nestled in between these large businesses in an industrial park. But as soon as you walked in, you forgot all of that. You thought you were at a distillery and it was quiet and quaint. Obviously, it wasn't, you know, the size of some of the bigger distilleries, but it was really great. So that was my that vet tech way into my first bourbon.
FAY: That's amazing. So the real question is, what kind of animal did the womanhave who recommended you for this job?
BARNES: So at the time, she had a cat and I think two dogs at that time. One waslike a beagle mix, if I'm not mistaken. So yeah.
FAY: Good people then.
BARNES: Yeah, it was great. It was wonderful. Yeah, there were no spiders. Shedidn't have a spider or amphibious pet. But yeah, it was really great and super 00:27:00random to have that opportunity. I told him, you know, he could teach me whatever I needed to know if I needed a crash course. Obviously, I went to Moonshine University and did the Stave and Thief program and then read probably every book, article and thing I could get my hands on and then just used my marketing and sales brain and event coordinating and just the hospitality aspect of it and turned it bourbon.
FAY: That's so cool. So what was it like starting on the ground floor of a craft distillery?
BARNES: It was really cool. You know, I think I'll probably get, like,emotional. So, like, I feel like we all invested in it, right? Like it was almost all of our babies. Wasn't on my bank account, it wasn't, you know, anything like that. But it was something you got a part of. You got to help design a label. You got to talk through with the owners, like next product release, what the gin recipe will be. We bottled and labeled everything by hand, so no matter what was on your business card, if it was bottling day or bourbon 00:28:00cream day, you were at the distillery, you were there, everybody was doing it. We were a smaller group, so it was very much like a family run business in a family unit, even with our staff. So I just it was really great. I mean, I'm sure walking into, you know, a larger brand or a corporation probably has parts of that feel, but, you know, knowing how to do almost everything at a distillery or where everything is or having just a few people being involved was really great.
FAY: That's it's so cool that you're a part of it at the beginning. So how didyou, and I guess you and the Boone County Distilling Company, market itself?
BARNES: So for me, as you can see, I'm a bit of a talker and I you know, mybiggest thing was you had to own your own backyard. So I lived in northern Kentucky. That's where the distillery was. So I started Boone County and worked my way out. We were only in a few states in the beginning and making sure that 00:29:00we were on the bars, especially ones that were in Boone County, had Boone County products on the bar. It was an easy sell because we had sourced an older product, so we had a label 1833 and it was at the time a ten-year product. So that was an easy sell. It wasn't something young, it wasn't, you know, a flavored or anything like that. It was just really good, high rye, old age product. So that was an easy sell. We eventually went into Ohio since northern Kentucky is so close, but just kind of really owned our backyard. We made sure to sponsor, you know, the local double A baseball team, like we were their bourbon sponsor. We were, you know, advertising on different things. We did a lot of fundraisers. We had events out at the distillery to bring people out there and did local food trucks and different tastings and proceeds to animal rescue, hence, you know, things that funnel back to veterinary medicine. So, 00:30:00yeah, I mean, it was, it was really about just getting the word out. And as soon as people had a moment for us to tell our story, they got so excited and so intrigued because a lot of stuff is smoking mirrors, right, in any brand, in any business. But to have history from the 1800s with people's names and a gentleman that wrote an entire diary with a journal entry every day for 30 years, like you knew so much about the town that you could turn those little bits into some type of marketing, some type of, you know, label, story creation and kind of honoring those ghosts, if you will.
FAY: It's perfect.
BARNES: Yeah. I mean, it was an easy story to sell.
FAY: So what was the most exciting, one of the most exciting things aboutworking there?
BARNES: You know, for me, I came, I guess about a year, I guess about a yearafter the first like made at Boone County distillery, maybe it was a year and a half, bourbon went into the barrel. So like being there before like their 00:31:00product was even released and adding things to the portfolio, you know, like while I was there, we decided like, let's try doing a gin, why not? Let's change the recipe. Let's have seasonal releases that are all a little bit different but have the same like base and you know, things like that. Being able to play was probably the most exciting. And like everything, every time we won an award, every time a new product released, every time we'd sell out a single barrel because we put out an email to our email club, those were all huge wins for us and they were really celebrated. So that was probably my favorite.
FAY: It sounds like to be a part of something so small and make it so muchbigger. So what oppositely, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
BARNES: Probably same. So being a small staff as you grow, it's all hands ondeck. And sometimes that was hard. You know, your 40 hour work week isn't always 40 hours. Something happens, you're on call. If, you know, to have some extra 00:32:00funds in the distillery. You ran events in the evenings, you got creative. We had a barrel head painting class with women, so we'd serve cocktails and they'd come and we'd set them up throughout the distillery and they'd paint stencils and stuff on barrel heads like anything we could think of to get the word out and also kind of help us with funds as a as a new distillery was really kind of what you had to do. But yeah, I mean, when we were a very small staff, it was a lot of hours, but they were worth it. So I think that's a positive and a negative.
FAY: I would definitely do the barrelhead painting class, I can't paint for anything.
BARNES: Right? It's like the wine and canvas, but it was like bourbon and barrelhead.
FAY: Sounds so much more fun.
FAY: So you mentioned that everybody did everything and you were marketing andevents coordinator, but you had different hats. What was that like?
BARNES: It was good. I liked the fact that most of us that work there, you know,like we train tour guides, myself and another girl that worked there. But if we 00:33:00were shorthanded, we ran a tour, we did an extra, if we were super busy. If a tour guide needed to stop what they were doing and label, they've got it. If we needed to make sure to case things up, if the distributor was making a pickup. Like most of us knew where everything and anything was and would really pitch in, it was never a "That's not my job," which I know a lot of places here. It was never like that. So that was probably the best part is just knowing how to do and what to do if the need arose. You know, I think if I would have learned how to distill, I probably would have gotten to do that some. But, you know, most everybody's plates were full and their hats were well than overflowing, so.
FAY: It gives you lots of skills to bring to the next place.
BARNES: That's right. Yeah. Dabble in a little bit of everything.
FAY: So what was the work culture as a woman like being at Boone County?
BARNES: You know, I think the bourbon industry has come a long way. Um, I see00:34:00more of you and I in places than I did before. I, you know, when I was hired, I think there were just two of us, myself and Jill. And then we hired a couple of female tour guides and then a couple of males. And then as I was there, we actually brought on another distiller so we could run multiple shifts as a small craft distillery and just put away more barrels, and she was a female. If I'm not mistaken, I feel like she had a chemical engineering degree. She worked in some wineries. Her name was Sarah Shaff. She was wonderful. And so it was really exciting to see that aspect of it. Now, in most places, I don't know that we had an even number of like men and women and responsibilities, but I feel like that, you know, is changing. But it still happens everywhere. Bourbon is a very much 00:35:00white male dominated industry, and we all know it. So, you know, kind of the younger generation and myself coming into it, I feel like that's something that we want to change. The family history, the lineage can still be there, but some of the faces and people are going to be different come, you know, ten years, 15 years.
FAY: Absolutely. I see a lot of women going into it now. I mean, a lot of themin the bourbon aisle.
BARNES: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And they're not buying a present for their husband.
FAY: Oh, they're interested.
BARNES: Yeah, I'm not ordering the cocktail off the cocktail menu. I want to seeyour bourbon list. So, yeah, it's all a little bit different.
FAY: So you mentioned that there were only a few employees. Six?
BARNES: Yeah, I think it was six in the beginning.
FAY: So how many barrels did you guys produce?
BARNES: Oh, I think we put away a couple a week. I feel like this was foreverago. We really like production wise with one distiller, they were only running a normal shift, so we had a 500 gallon pot still. We were not making massive 00:36:00amounts by any means, but it was enough to kind of maintain. We did 53 gallon barrels, so a normal sized barrel and we did switch. So we did bourbon for a while and then once it got a little bit cooler, we'd switch to rye. So rye was all we'd run. As we got a little bit bigger, we poured a few more away a day. I mean, obviously it was not 10,000, it would just be like a handful. But we had a 24 hour shift going with a couple of different distillers. So what we could get in our little four fermenters and five hundred gallon pot still. So it was very craft. I mean, at one point the owner's son was the distiller. So I mean, it's his craft and as family as you could get.
FAY: So how do you think craft distilling is impacting the broader bourbon industry?
BARNES: I think it's challenging them. I you know, they're really creative. Theyare not doing what has always been done because it was always done. I think 00:37:00they're marketing their branding. I think all of that's really creative and just what they do with products is really pushing some of the older, more established brands to think outside of the box.
FAY: It's wonderful. I find it so interesting. I grew up in a little bitty townof 125 people and--
BARNES: --oh my gosh--
FAY: --craft distillery there.
FAY: Pembroke, Kentucky, super tiny. And yeah. I think it's so interesting.
BARNES: Yeah. And you know, like, I feel like the craft, I mean, the heritage ofalways in like larger venues have always had a tourism aspect. But like when you go to a craft distillery and it's the owner and his wife, you're like flabbergasted. Whereas like we're super spoiled being in Kentucky. But like, I have friends that come in from out of state and they're like, "What do you mean he's the owner?" "That's the, that's the owner and that's his wife." And, you know, it's just, I don't know. It's really, really cool.
FAY: I think so. So while you were at Boone County, were you also a member ofthe Bourbon Women or any other social bourbon based organizations? 00:38:00
BARNES: I was, so I was a member of Bourbon Women, so I attended symposium everyyear, which is their big three day. What do I want to say? Pilgrimage to Louisville, where women from all over come. They get three days of really cool, exclusive tours, tastings, education, camaraderie with other women across the state, some industry, some just, you know, moms, aunts, sisters that have an affliction for bourbon. So Bourbon Women was really great. It, there was a branch in northern Kentucky, so a little bit smaller. They're kind of subbranches, but the main one is in Louisville. And gosh, I think they're probably in like 12 or 14 states by now, if not more. So, yeah, it's really growing. It's led by a woman. Peggy Noe Stevens was the founder. And yeah, it's, it's wonderful. Just the networking alone and the educational aspect is really great. 00:39:00
FAY: So you later move to the Bourbon Women Association. What motivated you totake on that new role?
BARNES: So, you know, I loved my time at Boone County, but I felt like I neededto kind of figure out what other aspects of the distillery besides the everyday, day, day in, day out stuff that I really enjoyed. It was kind of for me, it was a new thing that I had come across and something that I was really passionate about. So Peggy and I have known each other for a few years, and I had always gone to her as like a mentor and another woman in the industry. She's been in it for so long and just a friend to be able to bounce things off of or ask, you know, "is this really how things are? Like, What am I missing?" Which was really great. She is always there for people in that aspect. And I think the opportunity presented itself. She, as she will tell you, had her eye on me for a 00:40:00while. She actually designed our tour path and our visitor experience at Boone County. So that was the first time I met her, is when she kind of came and trained all the tour guides and talked to them about all that we were doing. So I was kind of in all I had heard about her but never met her. And so, yeah, we just stayed close for a couple of years. And then she had a position open as managing director of Bourbon Women, and I took that leap and went with her. And it was wonderful. You know, it's a nonprofit. And so I was the only paid employee that was running it. And then there's also a board. So it was a lot of work, but so much fun. And I met so many great women across, I mean, the US and the women that come from overseas to come to symposium and bring their daughters when they're of age and then come with their sisters or their mothers. And so, yeah, I got to meet a lot of really great people.
FAY: That is wonderful. So you worked with the Bourbon Women Association from00:41:00February 2019 to December 2020 as a managing director. What were some of your responsibilities?
BARNES: You name it, I did it. You know, I was probably, I started out, I triedto, you know, we did website updates. I did pushes for fund raisers. One of my biggest thing was sponsors for symposium. That's our biggest fundraiser of the year. So a year beforehand we start getting sponsorships. So, you know, Maker's Mark may sponsor something, Heaven Hill may sponsor something, a craft guy may do a tour or an experience. So that was a big part of my job, as well as training branch ambassadors. So we had volunteers in each state or city based on our branches that would be kind of like the me there. So they would be who everyone went to, who they would get membership from, either in Texas or 00:42:00Atlanta, northern Kentucky. So training and kind of keeping tabs on them, also giving them the assets and support that they needed. And then just growing membership, getting the word out as well. As well as, you know, I.T. support and newsletters and events. And we did different tastings with different brands throughout the year. Sip and Shops were huge. And at Christmastime we partnered with liquor stores and kind of brought in vendors and did like little nights out for women to come shop and sip. And we did bottle releases. And so yeah, it was, it was a lot, but it was really, really fun.
FAY: Many, many hats.
FAY: So what was your favorite part about that job?
BARNES: Um, you know, I got to be really creative in my marketing, infundraising. I also was around women that had so many years experience and could give me all of that knowledge. I could use them. They were a phone call away, 00:43:00which was really great, you know, to ask the hard questions, to ask the easy questions, to ask advice. So I think really those connections that built mentors that I'll probably have for life.
FAY: It sounds like such a unique experience.
BARNES: It is. It's very you know, it's not a bourbon club or a bourbon group.Like, it's, it's very much an educational experience for women. It's, I don't know. It's like a, it's like a family. It was fun.
FAY: So alternatively, what would be the most challenging part of this job?
BARNES: There are not a lot of staff, as I noted. So it's a lot, you know, it's,if there's no one else, you're the one on call. And so, you know, it allowed me to be creative. It allowed me to kind of push that needle for women in the event space, in the experience space and the, you know, membership. And, you know, we had like a cocktail contest called Not Your Pink Drink because that was our biggest thing. Like just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I want you to serve me 00:44:00a pink cocktail. So these mixologists had to make us beverages to enter in the contest, and they could not come out pink, which, if you've ever bartended, it's kind of hard sometimes to make a drink, not even have a hint of pink or a darker red or things like that. So that's fun, things like that. But you were the events coordinator you were who sold tickets, you were who promoted it, you were who executed it. And then I had some wonderful volunteers and kind of support staff. But, you know, it was a lot. It was a lot of work.
FAY: I would love to see Not My Pink Drink. That would be amazing. So what wasit like working for one of the earliest organizations aimed specifically at women who like to bourbon?
BARNES: It was humbling, you know? I had always been a Bourbon Women member. Idon't know if I ever pictured myself, like, managing the organization or I knew I'd always be a part of it, but I thought it would be from either adjacent to 00:45:00the industry or as a consumer. So yeah, it was it was really great. It's so exciting to see that you can plan an entire conference weekend with predominantly all women, you know, speakers and presenters and, you know, we had partners that were in the grain business, partners that were in, you know, the cooperages. There was just a there was a lot to it that were that were women. So it was really empowering. It was, you know, a really cool experience.
FAY: So would that cool experience, translate over to the work culture?
BARNES: It did. You know, as, as we all know, being a vet tech, having an entirefloor of females that you live with in college, I am probably a more outspoken female than most. So I think outside of like in a normal work environment where there would be like a male and female competition, right, that isn't there. But 00:46:00there's so many opinions in an all female world. I almost think it's like a positive and a negative, like I would have liked at some point. I mean, my husband was a Bourbon Women, Bourbon Woman. I guess, because he was like, "You're doing all these cool things and going on all these excursions. Like, I would like to be one." And we had plenty of men that were bourbon women because their wives were doing it, their friends, and they kind of wanted to join. And I would have you know, I would like to see more of that because I think there is a healthy balance and I just think it would it would really help the younger generation kind of change some of the I don't know how, you know, some of the stigmas, I guess with like all women or some of the challenges that they face, 00:47:00just really giving a different perspective. So maybe like a sprinkling of men, but not all men, you know, I mean, I guess there's places for both, but yeah, sometimes, somedays it was hard, but I think anywhere you go it's going to be hard as a woman. It's going to be hard when you're young. Um, my experience is nothing like some of the people I work with. So, you know, and also my age. I was a lot younger than a lot of the volunteers or a lot of the branch ambassadors. So being someone's boss, that is, you know, ten, 15, 20 years ahead of you age wise makes it a little difficult.
FAY: Absolutely. So how did the work culture at Bourbon Women compare to theculture at Boone County?
BARNES: I'd say they were about the same. You know, working for a man andworking for a woman are two totally different things, no matter what industry. Right. Having those small family connections was really important. Obviously, 00:48:00that's something I'm driven to because I had it at Boone County. We weren't a big staff, I wasn't just a number. And then I also had it at Bourbon Women. You know, we had a few different branch ambassadors in a few different states, but for the most part we were a small group. I mean, our board consisted of, I think like nine women myself, Peggy, and then we had, you know, some staff that worked with Peggy and kind of worked with us part time. But yeah, I think, like I said before, it's a good and a bad, the small, and the small is good, but the small can also be bad because I think it, it challenges a lot of the staff to be stretched really thin. And then I think it's hard to have ideas when things are so small and have always been one way to kind of change and get out of that mold. And I saw that at both places.
FAY: It's so interesting just to talk about this, just enthralled. So how big00:49:00was Bourbon Women when you were there versus maybe modern day?
BARNES: Man. Oh, you know, you're going to make me use my brain aren't you? So Ithink when I was there, there were eight branches when I started. I think they got to 12 before I left. And some of them, like I said, were like Bourbon Women Michigan. So that was like technically a state whereas like Bourbon Women Atlanta is more of like a city, local. So there were kind of a little bit different. We had one in Texas. Chicago's been around for a while. Indianapolis has one. Tennessee has one. So we were kind of spreading out. I know South Carolina was interested. North Carolina got a branch. So as I was leaving, there were a good bit of branches kind of in the pipeline ready to go. So I, I should have checked that. I would say maybe, I'm, maybe 15 branches by now, if not 00:50:00more. So yeah, they're plugging along. And I mean, the branch ambassadors are like the unsung heroes because they technically run things in their own state and then just check in kind of with us and we lend support. But I don't, I don't know your backyard, so that's the best thing setup wise to do.
FAY: It sounds like you left them with a great opportunity to expand.
BARNES: Oh, yeah. I mean, we had more applications than we had, like, entitiesto handle. And like, there's only so many people that can train enough people to kind of keep it going. But it was exciting to see that momentum. I mean, everybody wanted a branch in their state or their city, so. Yeah.
FAY: So are you still a part of the Bourbon women now that you've moved on tothe KDA?
BARNES: Yep. So actually, all the females on, in the KDA are Bourbon Womenmembers. If we are able, we usually buy tickets to sip, if we can snag them when they go on sale because they go really quick. And then some of us attend the 00:51:00excursions and the events and some of the, the talks and stuff, which is really fun for us to kind of get to, to play and relax, as opposed to the one who's always putting something on or always assisting in something. So the Distillers Association, they are really great partners with Bourbon Women and have been for years. So yeah, we're all still Bourbon Women members and I occasionally can make it to some of the things that up by me in Northern Kentucky. So yeah, when they do a tasting or they have a night, Bourbon Women night, at a different restaurant or a new bourbon bar that open. So it's really fun.
FAY: So you were working with Bourbon women when the COVID pandemic kicked off.What was that sudden change like?
BARNES: You know, I when I got hired with them because I lived in northernKentucky and I guess technically headquarters is in Louisville, I wasn't made to move, which was a good thing, a good transition. I didn't really want to sell the house and property we had just bought that, we had started renovating, old farmhouse. And so I just kind of went to Louisville and Lexington as I needed 00:52:00to, to have meetings or board meetings or whatever. And then right after the pandemic, it was like, So I'll just keep working from home and not get out of my house every once in a while. So I think we were all kind of used to me being on Zoom or me not always being there for things, but it was a big hit for us not to do in-person events. You know, we really had to pivot into what is symposium going to be a 300 or 400 women can't come to Louisville. So we pivoted to, um, we partnered with Fred Minnick and Minnick Media and we did the sip summer series. So I had our brands record or Zoom in and do different experiences and we just streamed it all and hosted it like almost like it was a radio show and it was super successful. I mean, none of us had any idea what we we're doing, but we got it off without a hitch. And that was something we started where, you 00:53:00know, we'd do a pop-up event or you could go pick up all of these ingredients and we're going to do a create your own cocktail, but we'll all do it on zoom together, just trying to be interactive. And I think that's what we all missed because it's hard when it's a social educational club and you can't be with people.
FAY: It sounds like a lot of fun either, right?
BARNES: Yeah. Yeah.
FAY: So what was it like changing jobs and then out of the pandemic as youtransferred? So, you know, the Distillers Association.
BARNES: So when I worked at Boone County, we were a member, we are craftmembers. So I attended most of the meetings. We paid dues to the KDA just like everyone else. And then we were a member of the Craft Trail. So I had relationships with most of the staff at KDA at the time, just on when I worked at Boone County, and then also how they would help or assist with Bourbon Women and partnerships. So it felt like a natural transition when the opportunity 00:54:00presented itself. I remember I think it was like a November, October or November. Eric Gregory, who's the president, called me and I thought, I wonder why he's calling me. Maybe he dialed the wrong Sara, right? And so I checked my voicemail and I was actually so this was like October, November of 2020. So I was one of those people that got COVID before they really knew what it was or how you can get it. And so I was actually at home relatively sick when he called. And so I called him back and we just started talking and he was like, "I have this opportunity." And I feel like that's how a lot of phone conversations start. And I'm like, "Hmm, okay." And he was like, "I want you to be part of the family." And I was like, "I'm not moving to Frankfort." And I think that might have been like the first thing out of my mouth, which, looking back, probably 00:55:00wasn't the greatest. But, you know, for me, the KDA was always something that I leaned on, something I admired. I asked them probably more questions than I ever needed to as a craft distillery and learning how to do anything and everything. I mean, legal wise signs on the road, how you could do your distillery operation tours, what you did if you had an incident like anything and everything. And so he said, "Well, the pandemic's kind of changed that. I think we should just talk." It's like, "okay, well, I'm a little sick. No offense. I'll call you when I feel a little better." And so I did my quarantine and then my husband's quarantine, and we actually had a friend in town when I got sick. So I think the three of us were together for 29 days in my house and my husband decided to surprise me right before I got home, which is when I ended up sick with a puppy. So we were in my house for 29 days, three individuals. Neither one of them ever 00:56:00showed signs or got sick. But we also had a puppy with our old dog. So it was a lot at my house at that moment. That was the part of the pandemic I would like to forget. The puppy's wonderful. He's lovely. Husband is still here. But I talked to Eric. I thought about it a lot and I found myself so excited about the opportunity. It was so much of the research and their really nerdy legacy projects that I have always thought about. You know, like I spent grains or research how to make the industry more sustainable, how to do responsibility, not just social, but corporate liability, educational responsibility, just all these different things that I always was the first one to do a pilot project with the KDA or you want to do ID check software, Boone County, I'll try it. I'll teach myself how to use it. Let's do it, you know, really exciting things. And so it just felt right. You know, I'm not sure I was ready to leave Peggy, 00:57:00but I think she always knew there might be something. And so, yeah, she was gracious. And, you know, she had spent a couple of years with me and really helped me become who I am and gain my confidence of, like, what I knew and what I could do. And so, yeah, I work from home. I'm kind of a, I guess a remote employee is what I'm considered. So I go to Frankfort for staff meetings or things that need me. I'm in Lexington today because we had a leadership academy this morning, so I was already on UK's campus, so today was my Lexington day. But yeah, I get to work from home and have good relationships with some of our distilleries that maybe don't always get visited because they're up by me as opposed to in the kind of central area.
FAY: So you started working at the Kentucky Distillers Association as a directorof Industry Responsibility and Sustainability. It's a mouthful.
BARNES: --it's a lot--00:58:00
FAY: In January of 2021. How has that been going for you?
BARNES: It's great. My business card and email signature. I'll tell you thosetwo things. Responsibility and sustainability. I think that not everyone realizes what that encompasses. You know, sustainability from White Oak Initiative standpoint, from research, from spent grains, from workforce, education, degrees, scholarships, things that keep people in our industry and in our state. Those are some of the initiatives that I lead. You know, the social responsibility and the responsible drinking and consumption is something that is so heavily woven into every distillery and what they eat, sleep and breathe every day. It's not something that I have to focus on. And like hound them like maybe 5 to 8 years ago, right? It's just natural practices. They ID everyone. They check things they don't over serve. You know, they don't put irresponsible 00:59:00marketing things out. They, you know, are mindful of what goes into their tours and the consumption limits. So that makes my job super easy in that aspect. But it's finding, finding new things. You know, with the pandemic, for example, everyone was almost like a caged animal for so many months, so, a year or so. And once things started to slowly open up, one of the things we didn't even think about were our tourism partners. Right. I had distilleries that would have groups that would show up on busses from, you know, tour companies, transportation partners. And that was a normal thing. We had groups that would come and visit. It would be a bachelor party or a family reunion or just some friends going out for the afternoon. But this new this new visitor was more how do I want to put it? Almost like they were entitled to something. You know, they were slightly more aggressive. They demanded things that in a normal time would 01:00:00have never been asked of the distillery because nothing was ever, like, good enough. So then distilleries are getting bad reviews because they didn't open an antique bottle that was on their shelf that they never open, you know? Just really unrealistic expectations. And so we had a lot of meetings where I kind of helped our Bourbon Trail and Craft Trail advisor and staff of How can we fix it? Like, how can we get messaging out where our transportation partners aren't feeling like it's their fault, our distilleries aren't taking the hit, and we do it together because our transportation partners are huge for us. And so just that it was a different clientele. It was like the hospitality assumed as opposed to like hospitality asked, right. I've been locked up. You definitely want my business, you know, this is what this is what I should get. So that was something that I really didn't expect coming out of the pandemic or something that really I thought about in my job. But that became a big thing. And, and 01:01:00really the goals of sustainability are huge--
--now. Everyone's thinking about everything because we sat at home, we watchedevery special on Netflix and we want to know where everything comes from. Not to mention, we don't want the planet to go anywhere. We don't want our resources. So I think the younger generation is definitely pushing that. But I think this was a reset for some of the older generation, too.
FAY: You got your hands full?
BARNES: I do. Just a few buckets.
FAY: Just a couple.
FAY: So what kind of work are you currently focused on?
BARNES: So right now, today I actually did Leadership Academy, which is a smallgroup of our heritage members, nominated some employees. They have joined us and they're kind of the next level of board members. So today was a day we spent at UK because I feel like I have all of UK staff in the AG and James Beam Institute on speed dial. We talk a lot and so I wanted to focus on some of the partnerships, the responsibility, the sustainability, the research projects that 01:02:00maybe they don't even know exist. You know, I was at the burn center with Ashley Hinton in her learning bar. This is an amazing responsibility thing that doesn't exist anywhere else. This is where students can go and learn from an actual like bar on campus and learn things that I mean, I'm still surprised every time I take it at my age. So it's a really cool concept to really embrace social responsibility on campus, which ties in to the Spirits Collaborative that I lead with Kevin Smith from Beam Suntory. We work on research, we work on workforce development, certificates, and degrees, making sure the programs that come out of the Beam Institute, or KSU, or UofL, or EKU are things that our industry needs, right? So they're getting certifications, they're getting degrees that then translate right into a job to keep them in Kentucky. So that's what I'm heavily focused on. Last year I think it was a lot of spent grains research. We've got so many barrels resting and so much product going into them that the 01:03:00spent grains have, have kind of been an issue, especially with everybody expanding. So trying to find some solutions that make sense aren't are one size fits all. You know, you may be letting a farmer come and get some of your spillage for their cattle, but you also have five other truckloads that need to go somewhere. So trying to find an "and" fix as opposed to an "or" and have it be something that isn't one size fits all because our distilleries are not that way either. So that's really, I feel like I spend a lot of time at the universities and in research.
FAY: Well, speaking of universities, you mentioned previously that the KDA isworking with local colleges regarding scholarships. So could you tell me something about, something about those?
BARNES: I guess I haven't hit that part of my job either. So as part of thecertificate and degree programs at some of the universities in Kentucky offer for either distilling warehouse safety, any kind of manufacturing things of that nature, we at the KDA founded the KDA Lifting Spirits Foundation. It is a 01:04:00scholarship run through the KDA, supported by some of our members and ourselves that gives different scholarships to underrepresented, women, LGBTQIA+, black, Asian, Hispanic, any minority, anyone in a, you know, in an underrepresented group, these scholarships are for them. Obviously, like I said before, the industry is predominantly white male and has been for years and people like myself, generations like myself and younger are really trying to move the needle forward and tell an authentic story, but also have someone come on the Bourbon Trail and see someone that looks like them. You know, I think that's I think that's really important. And so aiding some students in these certificates and programs, you know, UofL has a master's program. So some of these scholars are 01:05:00older than I am and going back to school for something or have gone straight through and decided maybe this is something they want to do and get a certificate or a degree in. Obviously UK has the Beam Institute. I cannot wait for the actual distillery to be open, which will be very exciting. But you know, they're great partners and helping the industry be able to connect and do internships. Our scholarship's just one, one leg of that. So it's really exciting.
FAY: It's so cool. I think that's so great to give people out in the industry.So how challenging has it been to recruit applicants for these?
BARNES: Probably more so than I thought. You know, Kentucky is diverse in itsown way, but I think a lot of, I think a lot of candidates that would be really great or candidates that have the skill set that we need in Kentucky end up going somewhere else. Right. Like they may leave and go to another state or get 01:06:00this degree and then go into like business. Well, there's so many departments in a distillery, so many different avenues. Keeping them here is kind of why we launched the Talent Pipeline Project with the Kentucky Chamber last year. We are trying to figure out how to keep the workforce here, how to get certificates in degrees, turn those into internships, and then have you walk into a distillery and have a job. That would really be my goal. So yeah, it's I thought giving money for scholarships would be really easy and it's turned out to be very difficult and a lot of people may not know about it. That's the other hard part. I remember when I was in college, everybody was like, "There's money everywhere." Where? How does one achieve it? So just really getting the word out about it.
FAY: It's almost like you need a map to find it.
BARNES: Exactly. Makes it difficult.
FAY: So what do you like most about your current position in general?
BARNES: Oh, you know, I love the nerdy research part of it. I do. I just I mean,01:07:00I can spend, like, 30 minutes on the phone talking about cattle feed with someone or the next day be talking about a scholarship or the day after that, planning for Talent Pipeline management and workforce, and then maybe assisting with the responsibility efforts of the trail. It's all over the place and I love it. The staff is wonderful. We actually grew to nine staff members as of May, which I think when I started we were only at five. So we've grown exponentially during COVID and it's much needed. You know, we all, it's a very small group. So these may be my buckets, but there is never a point where I can't ask for help on one of them or help a team member on theirs. So that's been really great. Probably back to my family atmosphere that I enjoy.
FAY: Speaking of which, how does this position, compare to the one you held atthe Bourbon Women Association?
BARNES: It's probably a lot of the same multi buckets and work, but it's nice to01:08:00have a team. It's nice to have people to bounce ideas off of and support in different areas. So I think that's, that's really the big thing. Plus, it puts me back in the industry. I don't have to be brand specific and having, you know, working for a small craft distillery, obviously you want to promote and drink their product. Here--it's like all of the trail, all the craft tours, all of our KDA members and partners across the industry. It just it kind of felt like coming home, which was nice too.
FAY: So how about compared to the Boone County Distilling?
BARNES: I think, you know, it just turned my hat a little bit. I had always beeninvolved in the KDA. Attended meetings, knew a lot of the staff over the years, leaned on them for advice and information. And then it was like, "Oh, well, I'm just going to play on the same team and jump right in." And I think that was really easy. It wasn't any other job where I wouldn't have known anyone I don't 01:09:00know, would have been as successful not being in person. This one, I didn't feel like I was 70 miles away from everyone. You know, we all kind of had that relationship. So that was probably the best.
FAY: So what is it like being a woman working at the Kentucky Distillers Association?
BARNES: We are the primary. They're the majority. We at the DistillersAssociation have more women than men. Um, which is a good turn, probably a little more opinions than we always need. But that's great. So as like the industry, we represent a large chunk of women and probably have better ratios than most distilleries and other partners. But it's, you know, it's great. We each kind of have our own little niche that we like. We have things that we're really good at and then we just really, you know, pass the ball back and forth and, and teamwork is a huge thing for us, so. 01:10:00
FAY: It must be so refreshing.
BARNES: Yes. Yeah, it's really great. And it's great to not have to beresponsible for everything.
FAY: That sounds like.
BARNES: --it's like a little less pressure, so--
FAY: So I know we spoke before about the advisory panel on DEI when the KDAformed. You mentioned that you've had that opportunity to participate from the member side while with Bourbon Women and that now you're a facilitator. So I know the KDA issued their statement on DEI in June 2020, which was a little while ago before you joined them, but would you mind telling me more about the, what you know about the origins of the DEA advisory panel?
BARNES: Sure. So it was started right before the pandemic. Obviously, timing,much like everyone else. We had always, well, the industry has always known that work needed to be done, be it research into the histories of your companies, your brands, your heroes, the people who your bottles are named after, or looking at the landscape of your employees. Right. And, and how diverse you are if it's an inclusive work environment, if others see themselves there, you know, 01:11:00we don't want you to open up the Bourbon Trail website and see no one that looks like you, because why would you want to go? Right. There's, there's not a draw. So I was asked to be on the advisory panel from Bourbon Women because it consists of industry-adjacent, industry people. Some of our members have representatives on it. And then we also have like tourism partners, some of the, the black bourbon guilds, the bourbon groups, all sorts of backgrounds and then some education partners. So I was on there during that time, and then when I was hired at the KDA, I kind of started facilitating that group. So my hat changed a little bit. And they've really helped in workforce in our language, in our intent. You know, sometimes I think just asking the questions as opposed to thinking, you know, the answer is helpful. So we've done different partnerships 01:12:00with different schools and universities. We've done some outreach. We have figured out, you know, kind of an audit of our assets just internally for the KDA. You know, how is the landscape? Look who is visible in it. Does the language speak to anyone? Everyone? Is it inclusive? How are our work environment? So that's been a big thing for us, is just really trying to figure out, you know, what all needs to be recognized, acknowledged and/or changed. And I think that's really passed off from the members. So our advisory group wanted some training. We actually did a kickoff kind of a leveling session with one of our partners, Brown-Forman. Tammy Henderson works for them, and she graciously helped us with some training for our membership. And the response I've gotten back has been wonderful. They want to know more, they want to ask the questions, 01:13:00they want to have open discussions and then take it back to their companies and revisit things. So that's been really exciting to really get that off the ground and, and figure out what it's going to become and have everybody, you know, really embrace it. FAY: New and exciting things are coming.
BARNES: Very much so.
FAY: So when you were at Bourbon Women participating, how was that like?
BARNES: So I was actually on the, I think on the marketing kind of subcommittee.And so we targeted a lot of how messaging appeared, how job advertisements, I mean, how you list a job advertisement is, is a huge thing that not a lot of people think about. They just list it and call it a day. You know, there's different avenues and assets and things. So being able to meet with everyone and collaborate in, in a small group and, and come to some, you know, we just advise the KDA and the membership on like "here's some things that we think you should do or things that we think would be helpful." Some of the research projects, you 01:14:00know, obviously UK has a wonderful Commonwealth for Black Studies, they do great research. A lot of our brands have engaged in research like that. Those things are really huge. In those were suggestions from when I was on the advisory panel as a group, so it's great to see it come full circle.
FAY: So now that you're a facilitator, how does that compare to your previous role?
BARNES: I think it's more paperwork, so it's really great. You know, I, I thinkcoming from in, inside that group and then going to just the outside conversation starter has been really great. You know, I have a wonderful chair Jessica Pendergrass at Heaven Hills is my chair for the KDA side. And the groups engaged you know I know most of them. We laugh, we joke, we argue about different points. And then at the end of the day, we have a strategic plan and their partners that are going to help the industry execute it. So it's been, it's been great.
FAY: It sounds wonderful. So I now you started this position in the middle of01:15:00the pandemic, obviously different from a traditional job starting. However, have you been able to see how the COVID 19 has impacted the KDA?
BARNES: I have. Obviously, you know, a lot of our partners were closed. A lot ofthe distilleries switched to hand sanitizer. Right. That's not something they do every day. But they stepped in, they stepped up. To me, it was amazing to see what impact we had during that year. We thought, you know, visitor numbers would be low. So many places are closed or had odd hours. And that wasn't the case. Like we still exceeded, you know, our pandemic expectation. We still had billions of dollars that got poured into the industry. We still had jobs, which was you know, that was exciting. It was, it was really great to see everyone, you know, really get behind it.
FAY: I'm happy to see that it's still bringing Kentucky together. That's important.01:16:00
BARNES: Absolutely. And people came from out of state. You know, I was in mybubble in northern Kentucky. Like we saw visitors from all over, even if it was small amounts of hours, so.
FAY: It's we'll take it. So kind of shifting towards your work and life balance.Pandemic threw everybody for a loop, we all had to adjust. Your husband JC, you said, you mentioned he worked in academia. How is it like adjusting from working at home for both of you?
BARNES: I feel like this is probably going to be everyone's answer. If they hadto work with their husband, I had a flow. I knew how to work from home. I had my space; I had my schedule. My husband, no matter what air pods, God love him, he has in, he's a loud talker. I've also noticed most of my coworkers and my, they pace when they work. So they're on a phone call and they pace the house. Well, that's super distracting, A. And then, you know, you add in like dogs and FedEx 01:17:00or Amazon and things that the dogs don't usually experience when you're home or they get used to you being home. So we don't have any kids. But it was it was a lot, you know, we tried to share space, but also separate it when we needed. I think the biggest thing was trying to separate your work day in your home, because if they're all together all the time, it's not a 5:00 shut it, be done. You know, sometimes it would sneak into the evening or be something you still thought about because it was like you were sitting in your office. So I think that was the biggest challenge.
FAY: I know in my house we had three girls in college and it was tough findingthree separate spaces for everybody to have, you know, the great Wi-Fi access and don't hear the other one talking.
BARNES: Yeah, yeah. The Wi-Fi, it was, yeah, a problem.
FAY: Oh, absolutely. So you mentioned that you put your career on hold, briefly,while your husband was pursuing his PhD. So now that you're pursuing your own career and doing wonderfully, what's this change like? 01:18:00
BARNES: You know, it's, it's kind of nice. I, it's not that I didn't enjoy thattime or moving around. I mean, obviously it's how I grew up. So I was very flexible. Pack a bag, let's roll. But it's nice to have something that, you know, I feel like I'm making an impact. I feel like I'm, you know, I learn something every single day in this. In Kentucky, there's nothing besides horses that's more important, you know, if I'm being honest. And so it's been a really cool switch. My husband is super supportive. He's a huge Bourbon fan, so he loves to geek out on like what my job is. I'm not sure he understands like all of what I do, but, you know, also living in a household and having a partner that's in academia made it really easy for me to work with education partners, work with scholarships and schools. I spoke the language the best I could.
FAY: If it works. So your, both of your careers are very demanding. How do you01:19:00separate that yours from his?
BARNES: You know, when the pandemic first hit like I was saying it drug into theevening. Oh, I'm just going to finish this up or oh, I might as well, or, you know, it just there was not like a stop time and it us time and I guess a couple months into it, I kind of put my foot down and I was like "5:30, maybe 6:00 if like your call goes long. But that's it. That's no work talk, no digesting the day," because we do a little bit of that during the day. Like, if I stop and have lunch, he'll have lunch with me, you know? And we so we ride motorcycles. That's a big, huge hobby. I don't ride my own. I just like to look around if we're being honest. So we have a motorcycle that we enjoy riding. And so that became something that like was safe for us to get out and do. We could leave our 01:20:00house. We weren't disrupting anyone breathing on any one, like it was just a nice reset. So like, that was wonderful during like spring and summer. Winter when you were just inside and you can't really ride a motorcycle in the winter. But I think that was really a big thing for us, is like leaving the house and taking a break. That was the only thing we could think to do. And so we just kind of got in a routine of once dinner gets started, we cook together and that's it. There's no more talk. If it's an emergent phone call, you can take it. If not, like, just disconnect, you know, put it on the table, leave it in the office. So we've, we've gotten pretty good at it, not the best, but we're a little better.
FAY: Hey, as long as you work it out for you guys that's all that matters. Soshifting gears to the bourbon industry and COVID, how do you see the global pandemic impacting the bourbon industry?
BARNES: So, you know, we've seen, I think a lot of people think the bubble isgoing to burst straight or it's going to go back down or it may not be as cool, 01:21:00as popular. I don't know that. I don't know that I believe that. I think it's going to have to change in the fact that I think our consumers want a lot more. Right. Like we were talking about when I was in college, I could just order a brown liquor, drink. In what? That's not, yeah. Now it's like specific products from specific places off specific shelves with a specific mixer in your cocktail or a mixologist that you seek out because of their drinks. So I think it's going to be a more challenging consumer. I think that once all the newness of like caged animal, we're out in public, we can go do stuff again. We're off. Everybody got back to being like not quite as aggressive and rude, which is nice. But I think, you know, the biggest thing is like the shortages, right, 01:22:00which we all experience. Your favorite restaurant may be closed because they can't find stuff that day or this was taken off the menu because they can't get it. Or heaven forbid, you want to do a home renovation or project. It's going to cost a whole lot more than it did before. We see that in the industry. I mean, the glass shortage, there were, you know, thoughts of, well, do we have to go to plastic bottles? You know, how, how far out do you forecast your corks, your glass bottles? You know, if you custom order a bottle, who knows. You know, barrels, getting the production facilities fully staffed, making sure that we have white oak and barrel cooperages to run. So things like that, just in the supplies, in the goods, in the grains and getting them to everyone. We've kind of seen that, that, I guess challenge for the industry. But I think it all evens out. You know, I think we all kind of ebb and flow and it'll get a little bit 01:23:00better and we'll kind of catch up. But distilleries are expanding and more and more bourbon is being put in barrels and brick houses across the state, which is a good thing.
FAY: So do you think some of these changes will become permanent as the newnesswears off? BARNES: You know, I don't know. Maybe, maybe, I don't, I don't really know yet. I feel like we're still kind of like pandemic adjacent. Like, I don't really you know, I, I guess I don't know when it'll be like everyone likes to say, like, back to normal. I don't think it'll be that. I think it's always going to be a little bit different and I would just hope that everyone came out of it a little bit better. Maybe not a little bit worse. So different isn't always a bad thing.
FAY: Absolutely. So there's been a lot of press about how the pandemic,previously pandemic, had disproportionately affected women in the workplace. Do you feel like you were affected by this? BARNES: You know, no, I don't. But I 01:24:00probably, you know, I have friends that have children. I have friends that, God love them, they homeschooled all three of their children, virtual school, and also tried to do their job. And I, my brain does not understand that at all. I went, you know, I helped my mom. My mom is back home in South Carolina, my grandma was older, and so just trying to help her when I had the flexibility of like, let me come home and I'll work from there and just help you, you know, like you have to do your job. And then my eight-year-old niece is staying with us to virtual school. And, you know, just all the all the things that everyone dealt with. My husband and I were pretty lucky. I mean, we've got dogs and chickens and they don't really require a whole lot. And so, you know, just being grateful for that. I think some of my friends that are married and have kids or 01:25:00weren't stay at home parents and left the kids at daycare or the babysitter and weren't able to do that, I think it was a really big challenge for them. But I also think, in a lot of cases, it was a nice reset. I think they spend a lot more time doing the things that are important family wise than before. You know, they're not quite as workaholic. So maybe that was a good thing.
FAY: I could see that being beneficial for everybody. Do you think this hasimpacted the work of the KDA, especially as it's mostly women?
BARNES: You know, we just added more women. No, I think you know, I think mostof us it just fit. There wasn't anything we had to give up. There wasn't anything that had to be accommodated. Um, yeah. I don't think it affected us really at all in our little bubble.
FAY: Sounds like a fun bubble.
BARNES: It's a good bubble.
FAY: So previously you mentioned that you participated in sessions facilitatedby KDA while you were there about DEI. Can you tell me some about this? What 01:26:00kind they were, how long it took place?
BARNES: Sure. So there was always some talk on, you know, differentpartnerships, some training. So when I started, um, we did kind of a projection of like, how do we want this to look? Do we want to offer training for full membership? Do we think that they will come? Do we want to talk about tough subjects? Do we want to start broadly? Do we want to start easy? You know, a lot of my larger members have an actual dedicated department or person or job for DE&I, you know, they have inclusion officers, they have departments that work on this. But like, how can I help one of the craft members or how can I help another larger member that maybe has questions? So we, the advisory panel, helped kind of create what we're calling the learning series. So ironically, our first kick off outside of the pre work is on Thursday and it's open to all KDA 01:27:00members. I do it by Zoom. I don't record it because I do find that a lot of people feel like it's a safer space when it doesn't exist digitally. And so we have a different subject. So there's going to be six of them between now and probably December or January. So there'll be six scheduled, they're about 2 hours. And we get on with Tammy Henderson and she kind of leads us through, you know, something as simple as in the beginning, we learn the difference in biases. And I had some of the members speak up and go, that's the first time this has made sense. Like your explanation, it is all clear. I get it. Like just from a graphic or just from the way Tammy speaks about something and just having open discussions with questions, with thoughts, you know, hiring practices, what internally your team should feel and, and that environment, you know, like it, it's just been really, really great. So I'm excited to see what is next in those 01:28:00learning series with her.
FAY: It sounds so informative.
BARNES: Yeah, and the membership has really been engaged, which has been exciting.
FAY: I love that. So what is it like to be a woman in the bourbon industry right now?
BARNES: It's fun. It's hard sometimes. You know, colleagues of mine, we talkabout it all the time. I think Colleen was interviewed for this Women in Bourbon, so she may have mentioned it, but her and I used to talk about we want to be invited to the table. We don't want to be at the women's table. You know, her and I'll get asked, "Oh, can you give this talk? We're doing a women's panel." Flattered, and I'd love to, but at some point, I just want it to be the table, you know? I want to sit up there with anybody, everybody, all of them. And so that's kind of in my mind, like our marker. You know, Colleen and I will 01:29:00get asked to speak at something or we'll start setting up panels, you know, we help the Beam Institute with their conference and what they, the research is and what panels and speakers. And we're so cognizant of that because we just want it to be a panel. We just want it to be a discussion. We don't want to label it. And so, yeah, I think that's, that's always in my mind, which makes it a little more fun and a little easier. It's kind of, you know, that goal that I want. I don't want the next generation to even know that there was a women's table.
FAY: I hope it works out that way. I think Colleen did talk about that in her interview.
BARNES: Did she?
FAY: You sound amazing. All right. So how has the role of women changed inbourbon specifically in the last 5 to 7 years?
BARNES: Man, it has come a long way. I'm trying to think so. That would have putme like seven years would have been. Yeah, probably right at Boone County time. I mean, I never thought I would be here in the position I have, in the knowledge 01:30:00in the industry, with the connections and the mentors and, you know, just the power of the industry, big or small, has been really, really great.
You know, being a woman, I don't notice it as much as I did in the beginning.And maybe, maybe some of us are kind of blazing our own path, or maybe it just doesn't. What noise was there? I don't hear anymore. Maybe. I don't know. I think it's kind of an interesting, interesting question. Yeah.
FAY: So from your perspective and like a marketing perspective, what has helpedto broaden the audience for Burberry to include more women or to include women?
BARNES: So, you know, I think it's like for us, KDA's, one of the biggest thingswe did was Kentucky Bourbon. We launched it. It was a marketing campaign. If you 01:31:00find, you know, an old passport for the Bourbon Trail, there's not imagery. There's just you get your stamp, here's the distillery, here's the location and hours. Call it a day. Our field guide and passport, I think is like 150 plus pages, and it's a full-on immersive experience. There is a woman on like the second page that you turn. You know, there are diverse faces and experiences and cocktails and solutions, not to mention all the great distilleries we have on both the trails. So it's really it's an honor and a tribute to Kentucky for us, but also it's owning our brand. You know, Kentucky bourbon is like we want it to be, you know, Wisconsin cheese, you know, California raisins, you know, Florida oranges, ironically, Georgia peaches. But South Carolina person here, we produce 01:32:00more, but they may have them, you know, things that are synonymous with a name. I also probably just dated myself with California Raisins because I'm not sure who still knows about them. But yeah, I, you know, I just, I think we're more, I don't think it's something we have to bring up in the conversation. I think it's something that just happens now. You know, colleague responsibility. It's woven in like we, it's not like, "oh, I need the one woman shop for this page." Like, you probably have too many or you probably have too many different faces or, you know, different experiences. So, I like that it's becoming more of the norm.
FAY: I can attest I was up north recently and they're like, "Oh, you're fromKentucky, you have the bourbon." And I was like "yes, more than one. I do have it, though."
BARNES: That's all you have here. That is it.
FAY: It's just bourbon. I preference. So when do you think women began to occupymore leadership roles within the industry?
BARNES: I think there's always been a few. I just think now they're being01:33:00celebrated. You know, I think there's always been the woman, you know, I mean, you go back to an easy story, right? Maker's Mark, Marjorie, like she's always there. Maybe now she's more celebrated. Maybe now she's more known. Maybe now the story is told more often. But I think it's becoming more of the norm. It's not, it's not hidden anymore. And I think that's great, you know. I think more master distillers that are women, that's huge, you know, switching to different industries, more brands owned by women. That's also a big one for me.
FAY: Absolutely. So excuse me, how do you think this has been important to youngwomen looking to enter the industry?
BARNES: You can do it. I mean, I was a hospitality major that did culinary andcountry clubs that then like side dabbled into veterinary technician and medicine and then ended up where I am. I mean, to me, I think when we all first 01:34:00go to college, I feel like everybody thinks there's like this direct plan. Like, you have to decide what you're doing. Well, I am 37 and not sure I've grown up and decided what I am. Right. I mean, I think organically it just changes and you grow and that's just how it happens. So, you know, I think if you're interested in it, don't let anyone tell you, you can't be. Just do it no more than the boys at the table.
FAY: Absolutely. I agree with that 100%. So who are some of your mentors?
BARNES: So, you know, I have to like we've talked about Peggy, a woman in theindustry. She's wonderful. A lot of the Bourbon Women members, you know, that are authors or started their own business have been really wonderful. But like for me probably where I get my, I guess attitude, we'll go with and 01:35:00outspokenness. I have an ornery grandma and it didn't matter that she was born in the thirties. She was going to do what she wanted. She actually, so she will be 82 next month and, 92 excuse me, and she recently kind of moved into an assisted living facility. And watching her be like, why does it, why does it matter? I'm going to do whatever I want to do here. I'm going to make my own rules. And like adapting at that age and my age, I get kind of iffy if I have to adapt to something different or it's not, you know, something that I'm used to. So she's really been that experience with her over the last six months has been really cool to watch. She's just as ornery as she always has been, but she adapts and she changed. Like, I mean, she ask for the Netflix for her birthday. So my 92 year old grandmother and I will be doing a tutorial on Face Time so 01:36:00that she can get the Netflix. And I hope that at 92, those are the things that I'm asking for.
FAY: I hope so, too.
BARNES: So, yeah, probably, you know, probably her. She's not in the industry.She's not she didn't do anything magical or great in her life, but she never took "no" and she always figured out a way or a solution and didn't stop asking questions, so.
FAY: I hope I'm like her when I'm 92. If I make it to 92.
BARNES: I know it's hard to do. Yeah, that's what I was thinking of, like.
FAY: It's a lot of work. So what is some of the best advice you've been given?
BARNES: You know, probably this might sound a little weird that, you know, itreally wasn't. I took it as advice, which is probably why I'm leaving. But, you know, when someone tells me that "that's just how it is," or "you probably can't 01:37:00do that," those to me are like the biggest endorphin like, "but I bet I could" or "I might, could do it better." And I think being raised, you know, like my parents were married when I was younger, but they divorced, and so I was raised by my mom and my grandma. So having those women that did the same thing and kind of set new paths was huge. So I think the, um, the advice is in some of the responses you get when you ask questions or you want to do things. So that's kind of how I flip it.
FAY: It sounds inspiring. So what advice do you have for students, femalestudents, who want to break into the bourbon industry?
BARNES: Do it, make the phone calls, take the internship. Start at the bottom.Learn all that you can. And if you love it and you're good at it, keep doing it. 01:38:00Because at some point the industry will look totally different and no one will notice because that's just the way it looks. And I think that's going to be it's going to be huge.
FAY: I can't wait.
BARNES: And you can call me if you need help or advice, some of that for that.
FAY: I think you'll be great. So kind of looking more towards the future of theindustry. So you mentioned that you're an executive bourbon steward. Why was it important for you to get this certification and what kind of did it entail?
BARNES: Sure. So that was so I took that at Moonshine University, which is inLouisville. Um, it's next to Flavor Man and kind of that epicenter and we as KDA members to be on like the Craft Trail, the Bourbon Trail, part of, of that whole experience is the Stave and Thieve certification, so that executive bourbon steward. So when I was at Boone County, myself and another employee went to 01:39:00Moonshine, took the course and then actually took back some materials and were able to teach and share. So like everyone that worked at Boone County when I was there was Stave and Thieve certified. So we all spoke the same language, we all had the same facts. It made questions from people really easy and just really strengthened our knowledge on all things bourbon. You know, the rules, the regulations, different things. It also helped us with our sensory and our tasting because as groups we pick single barrels, you know. So having everyone really know what they're looking for, what they like, what they don't like made it really great.
FAY: It's amazing. You've done so much. I find it so interesting, so.
BARNES: You should go to Moonshine U.
FAY: I should. I have to do that.
FAY: So, given all of this, it's also a little bit of a silly question. Do youdrink bourbon?
BARNES: I do.
FAY: So, do you have a favorite bourbon, bourbons?
BARNES: It's like the million dollar question from everyone.
FAY: Oh, absolutely.01:40:00
BARNES: So I'm going to give you my answer of I'll tell you what is my favoritecurrently. How's that?
BARNES: Right now I find myself with, like, getting a little warmer outside,wanting to be out on the patio. I am really like some ryes. So, things that have a little higher rye content, maybe a little spicier than a normal. You know, right now, if I was looking at my shelf, I would probably pull like a Micther's rye. It seems to be one I've grabbed a few times. Pikesville Rye is also a lovely one. Yeah.
FAY: How do you like to drink them?
BARNES: So I generally do neat if I do a cube. But it's a very small ice cube.That's, I don't really like the Glencairn. I'm probably like one of the few. So I just like a rocks glass, even if I'm just having like a pour.
FAY: A classic. So in your opinion, your taste profile, what makes a good bourbon?01:41:00
BARNES: You know, I like for me, it's the nose. I could just be in a glass allthe time, like I get so much off the nose and the characteristics of it. I also like when it's smooth and then kind of has a little heat at the end, you know, something that's complex, something that isn't overpowering. I also like something that changes a little bit in the glass as it's out more. So those are probably my tops. FAY: Makes me want to drink bourbon. Sounds like fun. So what bourbon would you recommend for someone who says they don't like bourbon?
BARNES: You know, feel like everyone probably likes bourbon. I would start, youknow, I think for them, maybe don't start right off with something neat. Try a cocktail with it in it. You might be surprised that you do actually like the characteristics, you just maybe don't like them all at once. You know, maybe start with a cocktail or do a small blind tasting something that's, you know, 01:42:00less rye so it's not as spicy or something wheated so it's a little bit sweeter. Obviously, something with a little more age on it and a lesser proof is going to have a little bit of a sweeter kind of floral notes. Yeah, just kind of start small.
FAY: It's a good way to do a lot of things. So what would be, what advice wouldyou give another woman trying to enter the industry?
BARNES: Just do it, you know, be creative. I took a phone call from a client ata vet hospital, and I'm where I am now. It's hard work. It's a lot of questions. It's a lot of not knowing what to do and messing up along the way, but figuring it out later. But it's great. You know, I've been in a lot of different industries. This one is warm and welcoming. It's also brutal and harsh and I love everything about it. So I think if you want to do it, just do it. Find 01:43:00groups like the Bourbon Women Organization, find different groups or, you know, talk to different restaurants. Bourbon bars in your city. Find other women that like it as well and just really connect. And, and I think it's organically going to happen.
FAY: So what hopes, dreams, aspirations do you hope will become a reality withthe next generation is entering the industry?
BARNES: I'm going to go back to my table. I just want a table. I don't want apanel. I don't want, you know, like I don't want a woman something. I just want there to be a panel of really awesome people. I want that. And I just want. I want it to be easier. Like, I want I mean, I'm probably a little more hardheaded and thick skinned than some women. And so I just did it, right. I went for it. I did it. I probably could have walked away a few times and I didn't because I loved it. And I. I hope that it gets easier. I do. And I hope that it's a normal 01:44:00conversation like that. It won't be such a "Oh, my gosh, look at that. She does this," like I don't know, I want it to be easier.
FAY: So you mentioned your mentors earlier. How would you help or providementoring for other people entering the industry?
BARNES: Oh, my gosh, I'm an open book. I mean, clearly, you know, ask thequestions, meet the people, look us up. We are all over the Internet. You can find just about anyone that works for a government trade organization, a distillery. You know, talk to the tour guide when you're on a tour, they may have a really cool story of how they got there. You know, make those connections, find the, you know, bartender or restaurant purveyor that you know, have a conversation with them. I mean, myself and any of the staff on the KDA are literally a phone call or email away. So, yeah, just get out there, ask the 01:45:00questions. Don't be afraid. There's nothing dumb. You know, we're open books, so.
FAY: Well, thank you.
BARNES: You're welcome.
FAY: So if you could go back to when you first started working in the bourbonindustry, what advice would you give yourself?
BARNES: Hmm. I mean, when I first started, have some confidence. You know, I wasgood at most things that I do. And I don't say that from like a, I don't know, cocky perspective. I, I think it's because I think about it so much. I research it, I have to know the odds and ends and how it's done. Right. Good, bad, indifferent. But I wish I would have known that I was capable of doing it when I started it, as opposed to like finding it out along the way. And also I was probably a little more sensitive to things that maybe weren't that big of a deal as I got older. But I think that's kind of how we all start. So, yeah. 01:46:00
FAY: Perfect. So, is there anything else you'd like to add to make sure it's onthe official record?
BARNES: I think that's it. I feel like we covered all the realms today.
FAY: Absolutely. Thank you so much for speaking with me today.
BARNES: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.