The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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Page 106 of 132

of just letting them go to the landfill, the stencils are now among his most treasured finds, the only memories of for- gotten Kentucky distilleries. "I love this industry's history," Scheurich says. Scheurich oversaw the two-year, $10-million renovation of the Labrot & Graham Distillery for Woodford Reserve. When he retired as Woodford Reserve's General Manager on December 31, 2010, Scheurich hoped to spend more time finding great pieces and doing chores assigned by his lovely wife, Della, but instead, he found himself in a "reluctant consultant" role. With experience at every level of the business, having worked for Seagram's, Brown-Forman and Wild Turkey, Scheurich taught young microdistillers how to build a brand from the ground up. Then, one day, he got a call from Capital Brands; they wanted him to become the Master Distiller for their planned subsidiary, The Tennessee Spirits Company. "When I retired, I figured we'd run off into the sunset," he says. "But I thought about the Capital Brands offer and told them, 'Before I agree to, I need to taste the product. I can't promote something I can't support.'" As soon as he put Jailers Tennessee Whiskey to his lips, taking in those rich vanilla, caramel and spice notes and feeling the smooth finish, Scheurich knew this was a company he could stand behind. Eight-year-old Breakout Rye is destined to become a must for mixologists. "This falls between a complex bourbon and an uncomplex bourbon," says Scheurich, a Brown-Forman loyalist who still waxes poetic about Woodford Reserve. "Jailers is a really soft whiskey. When I present Jailers to retailers, I will pull out a $20 bill and offer it to them if they can name six Tennessee whiskies that are not extensions of Jack Daniel's. They can't do it." Ambitious Goals The Tennessee Spirits Company is planning to give other American whiskey companies some serious competition. The company is building a $50-million distillery in Pulaski, Tennessee, and is already represented in all 50 states and 12 countries. "We want to be the number three or number four American whiskey company in the world in ten years," says Founding Partner and Chief Marketing Officer Bob Reider, a goal backed up by Founding Partner, Senior VP and General Manager of the distill- ing company Ray Steelman. When Scheurich tasted Jailers, he knew it was a whiskey he could get behind. 106 / the tasting panel / july 2012 At $24.95 a bottle, 86-proof Jailers is aggressively positioned as the premium Tennessee whiskey in retail, riding high on its recent 93 rating from THE TASTING PANEL, among other critical praise. For Breakout Rye, an eight-year-old whiskey that is poised for the bartender's shelf, the company will mostly focus its efforts on-premise to win over the mixology crowd. "We are investing tens of millions of dollars into this," Reider says. "We are planning to make an impact on the industry." That's why Capital Brands and The Tennessee Spirits Company hired Scheurich, who has the distinction of building bourbon and Tennessee whiskey brands. When asked what he considers his storied career's greatest achievement, the Master Distiller quickly answers: "Right now, it's definitely Woodford. We did something special. But, Jailers is textbook to how Woodford evolved." But there is one slight difference: Woodford Reserve was all about the rebuilding of the Labrot & Graham Distillery (when Scheurich first walked into the mothballed facility, a snake fell on him from the rafters). Now, he's helping build something from the ground up. And this time, he's the face of the brand, some- thing Reider understands the importance of. "Dave's background is our background," he says. "We feel fortunate to have him."

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