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Industry Insiders Talk Bourbon, Progress On 'In Conversation'


Bourbon industry professionals talked about the spirit’s “renaissance”, trade tariffs, the emergence of women in the industry and what’s ahead for the product in this weeks’ In Conversation with Rick Howlett.

This week’s guests were:

  • Susan Reigler, Bourbon writer

  • Marianne Eaves, Master Distiller at Castle and Key Distillery

  • Eric Gregory, Kentucky Distillers’ Association President

Gregory says bourbon has enjoyed a “renaissance of unprecedented growth” in the last 15 years, due in part to the emergence of craft distilleries and the product’s expansion into other markets around the world.

Reigler, a past-president of the Louisville-based Bourbon Women Association, says more women are enjoying Kentucky’s signature spirit.  She said about 40 percent of bourbon consumers are women, and the association has expanded to more states.

But Eaves, Kentucky’s first female master distiller since Prohibition, said few women are in high-ranking bourbon industry positions like hers.

“Being in this position and being a young female, it’s not something that people often see,” Eaves said.

We also had a surprise call-in guest: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. He said bourbon has helped the city economically and he announced plans to launch a bourbon and local food work-group tasked to boost Louisville’s bourbon industry.

“We didn’t know how the world would react to bourbon and bourbonism, and obviously it’s been a huge bear-hug,” Fischer said. “So I think now we can create something that the world has never seen in terms of tourism experiences.”

Join us next Friday for In Conversation, when we will talk with Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis about charter schools the state intervention at JCPS and upcoming legislation.   .

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.