I am please to have been asked by the Administrator to provide an update on Conecuh Ridge. In addition to straightbourbon.com, I am also a member of another spirits site. For expediency, I am posting the same note on both forums, but it is my pleasure to participate in discussions about distilled spirits whenever and wherever I am able.
As many may remember, Conecuh Ridge was in the middle of an insane series of political events when we were named the "Official Spitit" of Alabama by the legislature. This caused Governor Bob Riley to veto the non-binding resolution, using the argument that it was bad public policy to endorse any private commercial product. In some respects, he was probably correct. Things being as they are in Alabama, the legislature voted to override the Governor's veto.
While we are appreciative of the honor, this political storm painted a big target on Conecuh Ridge. As part of an Alabama ABC sting operation, our founder, Kenny May, was enticed to deliver some specially labeled product into another county (a dry county), where an 18 year-old was sent (because her "mother" was unable to make the trip) to receive the product. Kenny plead no-contest to charges for delivery of the product to a dry county and delivery to a minor. A very stupid mistake, to say the least. While Kenny was clearly entrapped, if you don't put yourself in that position, bad things won't happen.
In response to our founder's error in judgment, the ABC revoked our license to sell in Alabama. Quite a heavy handed decision considering the cirsumstances, and that we had never previously violated any liquor laws or regulations. Despite this decision, I have respect for the ABC, and I do believe that we will be back in Alabama in the future.
While it has been a huge struggle, we recently began sales in Georgia, where we are distributed by Gusto Brands. The product is also available in the Knoxville Area (Knoxville Beverage), Nashville (Lipman Brothers) and Mississippi. In the next few. weeks we can be found on the Internet Wines and Spirits site. Texas and Florida are soon to follow. Distributor inquiries are welcome!
It is still an uphill battle to build the brand on shoestring, but we are blessed to have an amazingly loyal customer base. We are working hard to expand distribution and obtain additional capital for growth.
As for me personally, I have been a member of the spirits "family" since birth, as my father was the Master Blender/Distiller for Brown Forman for nearly 40 years, up until his retirement in 2004. I grew up in the r&d lab at BF, and even spent a few years working at the company myself(nothing better than a Friday afternoon is the tasting lab!). It is a huge honor and responsibility to grow Conecuh Ridge, and with so few new and credible brands, I feel a strong sense of stewardship.
I also look forward to the guidance of this group. Money can't buy a focus group or consultants with the experience found here. My apologies for the long-winded response, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about Conecuh Ridge.
Cheers to all...