No one ever said public speaking was easy. Whether you are rock star, distiller or a politician, sometimes things just come out that you didn’t intend to say. At this week’s Tennessee Whiskey Trail launch party many distillers and dignitaries had an opportunity to get behind the mike to celebrate the occasion.
One politician that was speaking at the event inadvertently poked the bear when he was comparing the Tennessee Whiskey Trail to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. State Senator Bill Ketron opened his remarks saying,
“This is an exciting day, I couldn’t sleep last night just thinking about this because of the journey it’s taken to get here,” said Senator Ketron. When he got around to talking about what a big deal this was for tourism he mentioned he did some research comparing Tennessee’s history to Kentucky’s. “Because we knew just like the Bourbon Trail that started in Kentucky in 1999. People started that Bourbon Trail and started traveling around so we thought this is huge. Because, if you go online and look at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, their history sucks. It really does…Our history is going to make us famous and put them to shame, I promise you that.”
At the end of the scheduled remarks came Q&A time. The first person with his hand up was Fred Minnick, Wall Street Journal best-selling author who wrote the award-winning Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey, Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey and most recently Rum Curious: The Indispensable Tasting Guide to the World’s Spirit. Yes, Fred covers more than just Bourbon. Here’s Fred’s question along with the video.
“Senator, I tweeted your comment that Kentucky’s history sucks. And since I did that I had texts from Kentucky whiskey distillers and people tweeting at me. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that as to why Kentucky whiskey history sucks?”
Senator Ketron’s response, “It just came out!”
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Senator Ketron Has Been Supporting Spirits Makers Since Before it was Craft Spirits
In all fairness, Senator Ketron has been an outspoken proponent for craft spirits makers in Tennessee even before the term Craft Spirit was really a thing. Ketron was the sponsor of the 2009 bill that allowed for distilleries in TN beyond Jack Daniel Distillery, George Dickel Distillery and Pritchard’s Distillery. He understands that distilling is about a lot more than just the spirits in the bottle. It’s about entrepreneurs creating jobs, supporting local farmers, creating tourism destinations and of course a great craft spirits.
When Kris Tatum, President of the Tennessee Distillers Guild and General Manager of Old Forge Distillery who was sharing the emcee duties for the day introduced Senator Ketron, he had this to say.
“Our next speaker is a man our Guild knows very well. He’s a man that I can say that without his vision and willingness to believe in a group of entrepreneurs, 28 of us ouldn’t be here today. I’m going to pause and let that sink in…And I’m proud to say a believer in the foundation and the principles and goals of the TN Distillers Guild and a vital supporter of the TN Whiskey Trail.”
Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller of Jack Daniel Distillery also helped to put the distiller lifestyle into perspective at the event. Arnett said, “I think first of all I will say that we’re here because we hope to have an inkling of the success that Kentucky’s had. I give us credit for being largely a gentleman’s industry; we love to take a friendly poke at one another I think that’s part of it, we definitely have that going on amongst us here.”
There are now 25 to 30 distilleries on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. You can see a complete list here. Go visit a distillery, take a tour, enjoy a sample of locally made spirits and make sure you pick up a bottle or three to take home.
PS: Is it just me or are the TN distillers forming an outline of KY?