The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2017

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december 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  95 and Baker wrapped up a decade of practicing law, he decided to harken back to his family's heritage by starting Ole Smoky Moonshine. In the seven years since Ole Smoky Distillery opened in 2010, distribution has expanded not only to all 50 states, but to more than 50 countries. Baker also founded Yee-Haw Brewing, a small beer company currently exclusive to Tennessee; its beers are also featured at Bridgestone Arena, home of the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators. It was there that Ole Smoky found its opening with the Titans after Baker met Ralph Ockenfels—VP of Marketing for the team and a huge fan of Ole Smoky Moonshine—at a hockey game. "We started working on a partnership to bring Yee-Haw to the Titans, so it made sense to start the conversation about bringing Ole Smoky to the Titans, too," says Baker. For Ockenfels, pairing one consummate Tennessee experience with another seemed like a no-brainer. "Here in the state of Tennessee, we're really steeped in the tradition of football," he says. "That's the beauty of our partnership with Ole Smoky: It's an iconic brand within the state of Tennessee, and bringing that tradition to our fans at Nissan Stadium is a confluence of a lot of great things." From frozen cocktail offerings to an extensive highball pro- gram, visitors to Nissan Stadium have a chance to taste Ole Smoky in a variety of ways. Brian Smith, Regional Manager of Legends Hospitality, helps determine what is offered to fans at the general concessions. He says he loves Ole Smoky's mixability and the brand's extensive flavor options, which is why he added it to the menu. "It just slides right into a Bloody Mary or Margarita, and we've even swapped it into a vodka- lemonade," Smith says. "It definitely is a versatile spirit, and with Ole Smoky you're opening yourself up to new possibili- ties from a flavor standpoint." Where fans used to see only big-brand beers and brats offered at home games, they now have diverse choices amongst a myriad of craft spirits and local fare. Chicago- based restaurant company Levy handles the concessions at Nissan Stadium's club level and its suites, both of which are areas where Ole Smoky is offered to fans. "We're trying to have fun and play into the moonshine experience with things like hot chicken toppings on the Ole Smoky Bloody Mary," says Jim Larkin, Director of Operations for Levy. "Part of the goal is bringing a high level of service and the local flavor at the same time, and Ole Smoky has been a great partner in helping us do that." That perspective is especially fitting given that a Titans game is, at its core, a supremely local experience. "For visitors to Nashville, it's a great way to introduce a Tennessee product to folks who are coming in from all over the country," says Baker. Ockenfels agrees: "When our fans enter on game day, they want to see Tennessee brands. Whether that's craft beer or local spirits, these things resonate with our fans." With big-ticket experiences such as NFL games continu- ing to draw a diehard contingent of followers, people are looking for quality over quantity—and Ole Smoky certainly fits the profile. "Ole Smoky isn't a big, general, generic brand. It's something we all have a passion for from a local standpoint," says Ockenfels. Baker adds, "We're excited to support our state's NFL team and let the fans enjoy Ole Smoky while they're cheering on the Titans." A classic brunch staple like the Bloody Mary becomes the ideal cocktail with Ole Smoky Moonshine (and plenty of garnishes)! A vodka-lemonade gets an upgrade with Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine.

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