View Full Version : Proposal: Interviewing the Past Masters

06-03-2007, 13:20
An idea started to hatch in posts 12 and 13 of this thread (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?p=89453#post89453).

Good point Roger. E.g., the distiller at ND in the early 80's probably is still with us, I wonder who this gentleman is, his insights into the greatness of '70's-'80's ND bourbon would be most interesting.


I'd like to propose, and participate in, an effort to interview living figures in bourbon. They could be posted in this forum for easy access by all. Oral histories are a major source of knowledge for researchers and historians, and I believe enthusiastic and knowledgeable citizens without any particular training or credentials could make an important contribution in preserving the knowledge still within the memories of the living.

Interviewing could become something of which many different people on the forum could each be a little part. There's no reason to wait and wonder if anyone who writes books or articles will eventually do this, we could take this on ourselves.

I would believe there are retired distillery figures who would be quite willing to tell their stories and share their wisdom if approached in a proper way.There are people who read this board who know of or know personally workers from UD, HH, Beam and other distilleries. Perhaps they could lend a hand with making connections or conducting interviews.

As it's a particular interest of mine, if I even knew who to try to contact from the last decade of National Distillers, I'd see if I could do an interview when I'm out in Kentucky in a couple of weeks.

On the other site, a former distillery worker wrote a several part memoir of his work. It was fascinating reading the type of which I think we could lead the way in archiving if we took the initiative to conduct interviews. Who knows, it could end up being the legwork for someone to write a book ;)


06-03-2007, 13:52
That would be a remarkable contribution to this already remarkable site. I salivate at the prospect.

Several formats are possible.

A brief history or whatever they feel like writing
A response to a set of questions sent from an interviewer selected by straightbourbon.com
A live interview by phone or in person transcribed for the site with a selected interviewer
Any of the above with questions sent by readers of straightbourbon.com
A live chat with a moderator and members of straightbourbon.comOutstanding suggestion. I hope it happens.

06-06-2007, 18:54
I don't have much to add except just to say would I would love to see this as well. Some of my favorite bourbon reading has been when Malt Advocate does their round table interviews with those in the industry.

Rye: http://www.maltadvocate.com/classics-mem-int-rye.asp
Bourbon: http://www.maltadvocate.com/classics-mem-int-br1.asp

A one on one interview would be just as great if not better!

06-07-2007, 05:33
The University of Louisville has an oral history collection from the distilling industry that was taped in the 1980's. They have interviewed people from every aspect of the industry including production workers, marketing people and company owners. My favorite is the Old Fitzgerald when Ed Foote and a couple of the retired distillers are interviewed and they discuss Bill Samuels coming to Stitzel-Weller for the recipe and yeast to start Maker's Mark.

Mike Veach

06-07-2007, 07:06
That is interesting but I wonder if many of the issues we discuss here would have been considered in that context. Apart from the time frame difference, we approach things here from a consumer's standpoint (not exclusively to be sure), and e.g., the evolution of the character of Old Taylor would be an interesting thing to ask about. Still, it sounds like a very useful resource, but I'd assume it is open only to academic researchers.


06-07-2007, 19:30
I'd love to see the transcripts of some of those interviews.