Legendary Master Distiller Jim Rutledge Officially Out of Retirement – Starting New Distillery
Kind of like “Where’s Waldo,” the question in the bourbon business since September 2015 has been “Where’s Jim Rutledge.” The question was never really “if” Jim Rutledge would come out of retirement but more “when” and “what” he would do. Well, after seven long months of retirement, that he says felt more like seven years, we now have some answers. Jim has been hard at work crafting his own concept for a new distillery, aptly named, the “J.W. Rutledge Distillery.”
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Jim says he’s excited and ready to pour his love, dedication, passion and heart, into making Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Straight Rye whiskeys for his own distillery. The bourbon will be made under his watchful eyes using both rye and wheat as small flavoring grains, and he’s looking forward to achieving his long-time dream of distilling straight rye whiskeys.
After all these years working in the industry I’ve loved so much, I’m more excited than ever before to be out on my own making the style whiskeys my friends and consumers love so much.
~ Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller – J.W. Rutledge Distillery
3 Partners with 120 Years Industry Experience
Jim has partnered with two industry veterans, Stephen Camisa and Jon Mowry both Co-Managing Partners of Bedford & Grove LLC. The three combined have more than 120 years experience in the spirits industry in the U.S. as well as internationally. Founded in 2006, Bedford & Grove is a sales and marketing company focused on the sales, marketing and brand building of craft and super-premium spirit brands primarily in the U.S. market place. Some of the brands they currently market are Square One Bergamot Organic Vodka, Old World Spirits distillery, Manana Tequila, Ye Ol’ Grog Distillery and Merlet Cognacs and Liquers.
Camisa and Mowry are no strangers to the Four Roses Bourbon brand. In 2006 Bedford & Grove contracted with Kirin Brewery (Japan) to lead the re-introduction of Four Roses Bourbon into the United States after a 40 year absence. (You can read more about the “Exile of Four Roses Bourbon” here.) In 5 years Four Roses grew from distribution in a single state, Kentucky selling 2,500 9-liter cases annually to distribution in over 45 states selling over 50,000 9-liter cases in the premium and super-premium categories. Needless to say, these three have a long history of success in working together.
Remain Free of Corporate Structure
Rutledge says one of the stated goals of the new partnership is to “remain free of corporate structuring, so we can, and will, listen to our friends and consumers regarding Bourbon and Rye Whiskey mashbills, whiskey ages, bottle strengths, single barrel and small batch renderings. This will also mean there will not be a corporate structure in place to require addition of flavors to Bourbons, or finishing of Bourbon in used barrels, of another type alcohol, to alter and change the flavor and character of our whiskeys.”
J.W. Rutledge Distillery Design and Location
They intend to design and build a mid-size distillery, located near Louisville, KY that will produce whiskey the “old-fashioned way” using production methods that have been in place for close to two centuries. Their distilling methods may be old but their distillery design is expected to be a very modern sustainable design that utilizes clean, energy efficient means as much as possible – incorporating technologies such as geothermal heating and cooling, solar energy, and potential utilization of biomass energy (methane) in an onsite production facility using waste materials (spent grain) to generate natural gas.”
One Story Rack Warehouses
The warehouse will not be the traditional large scale 9 story 27 barrel tall warehouse. Flavor profile and proof can vary widely from the 1st to the 9th floor. Instead, J.W. Rutledge Distillery will age their new charred white oak barrels in single story rack warehouses – to better control consistency in maturation of their Bourbon and Rye whiskeys.
Crowdfunding the New J.W. Rutledge Distillery
To fund the new distillery the three are turning to Indiegogo.com to start a crowdfunding campaign that is scheduled to go live on May 2, 2016. I have no idea at this point what their goal will be or their incentive but I’m confident they will reach their goal quickly. In fact, I predict they will reach their goal and create a stretch goal in a matter of hours. Time will tell but, I think the people that know Jim will be placing big bets on his success!
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- Jim Rutledge of Four Roses Bourbon on the origins of the term “Master Distiller” [Video]
- Four Roses Master Distiller and Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer Jim Rutledge to Retire
- Jim Rutledge Talks about the 40 Year Exile of Four Roses Bourbon [Video]
- Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge’s Retirement Celebration [Photos]
- Four Roses 2015 Limited Edition Bourbon to Honor Jim Rutledge