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Barrel Room Chronicles
Dec. 20, 2022

BRC Ep 18 - Chocolate and Whiskey

This being Christmas week, I chose a very special guest to talk to in our Tales from the Still segment. Paul Tuell of Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, joins me to go over his festive flavored portfolio. Then later in the show we hear from Chef Louise Leonard about what she cooks up with one of Paul’s expressions. Lastly, I’ll share what holiday teat I came up with using Ballotin.

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This being Christmas week, I chose a very special guest to talk to in our Tales from the Still segment. Paul Tuell of Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, joins me to go over his festive flavored portfolio. Then later in the show we hear from Chef Louise Leonard about what she cooks up with one of Paul’s expressions. Lastly, I’ll share what holiday teat I came up with using Ballotin.

Notes from Chef Louise - Ballotin Chocolate Toffee
I used the Ballotin Chocolate toffee whiskey in a homemade chocolate sauce for ice cream. Made a sundae with fresh cherries soaked in the whiskey as well!

Kerry's Coco made with Ballotin's Original Chocolate Whiskey Swirl chocolate sauce inside a mug, add 1 oz of the chocolate whiskey, 1 cup of steamed milk and top with whip-cream and a cinnamon stick.

Want some more recipes? https://ballotinwhiskey.com/recipes/
Or find out where you can buy your own bottles? https://ballotinwhiskey.com/buy-here/

To read the full show notes for this episode, visit our show page: https://www.barrelroomchronicles.com/BRC_EP18_Chocolate_and_Whiskey 

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BRC Ep 18 - Chocolate and Whiskey

Kerry: It is five o'clock somewhere, and you tuned into episode 18 of brc. For those of you who'd like to watch this episode, it's available on our website, YouTube, and Spotify. This being Christmas week, I chose a very special guest to talk to on our tales from the still segment. Paul Tool of Ballas and Chocolate Whiskey joins me to go over his festive flavored portfolio.

Kerry: Then later in the show, we hear from Chef Louise Leonard about what she cooks up with one of Paul's expressions. Then lastly, I share a holiday treat that I came up with using valenti's. Stay tuned.

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Kerry: Good morning, good evening, good afternoon, or whatever time you're watching or listening to this episode of The Barrel Room Chronicles. I am here today with Paul Tool of Ballin Whiskey, and I got introduced to him about this whiskey relatively recently.

Kerry: And I fell in love with this idea because I'm a big choa holick, which is why I'm wearing my brown shirt today for those of you at home. And I love chocolate, I love whiskey. I love pairing them together. And when I saw that he's making c. Flavored whiskeys. I said, gotta get this man on here. So Paul, welcome.

Paul: Hey Kerry, great to be here. Yes, chocolate is definitely our secret sauce. A Valenti chocolate whiskey. I'm so excited you've had a chance to try it and get introduced to it.

Kerry: Yes. So usually we start off the show by asking about your whiskey journey. So, but since this is also chocolate, I'm gonna ask you how your whiskey journey and your chocolate journey collided to make this wonderful product.

Paul: Yeah, great. So, long, you know, longtime spirits industry guy. So I worked with Brown Foreman for many years, about 25 years at Brown Foreman, which is the Jack Daniels in Woodford. And when I was there, the Southern Comfort and Finlandia Vodka Company, right? Those while Southern Comfort is, has since left the Brown Foreman portfolio.

Paul: But anyway, you know, about 25 years in sales and marketing, various positions ended up running Southern Comfort. In North and South America. So if you are familiar with Southern Comfort, you know, at all kind of the first flavored whiskey, I mean, that was developed in 1874 by a guy named m w Herron went on to win a, a gold medal at the St.

Paul: Louis warfare in 1904. So anyway, even at what we think about and is true as a, a very sort of bourbony company that, that brown foreman is, you know, I was sort of the spirits guy at, at brown Foreman one. And then went on to work on Kandia vodka after Southern Comfort, right? In sort of the height of the, you know, flavored vodka craze, which, you know, if you even remember that Carrie, that got really farfield being everything from, you know, salmon. And Bacon to, you know, yeah.

Kerry: The salmon was a little like, wait, what are they doing now?

Paul: Well, it's great in a, in a, a bloody Mary. And, and while that's probably true it just, it got to be a lot, right? I mean, it got to be a lot for the category. It got to be a lot for the system. It got to be a lot for retailers, everything.

Paul: So I think, you know, no pun intended flavored vodka left a little bit of a, of a bad taste. In, in, I would say sort of just the ecosystem's mouth a little bit, you know, the trade and even distributors and everything. So, having said, You know, it was, it was better than good evidence that consumers are very interested in flavors in general.

Paul: And and that is a general comment. I mean, if you just look at flavor innovation across almost any category you would pick from, you know, tea to energy drinks, to potato chips to m and ms, we're gonna say something. There's all kinds of innovation again, for better or worse. So, having said that, the you know, at Brown Foreman.

Paul: You know, we spent a period in the early two thousands, I guess, where, you know, vodka was kind of king and we were really struggling with like the founding brand Old Forester, right? As, as hot and phenomenal of a bourbon brand as Old Forester is today. That wasn't the case, you know, in the early two thousands until sort of Mad Men or whatever the sort of right social impetus was for bourbons and whiskeys to really, you know, turn back.

Paul: and, and begin to, you know, assert themselves as a, as a consumer, you know, says powerful proposition. So at, you know, sometime in the late you know, 2000 9, 10, 11, I, I got, you know, in my head that there was an opportunity to do, you know, flavors credibly in this bourbon and whiskey space. You know, started thinking about that eventually, you know, got my courage up to leave, you know, corporate life, which is a big step.

Paul: But, but glad we did founded Ballin. With my wife Lisa, who is, you know, an integral part of this every day she manages the back office and I do sort of the front office, you know. But anyway, started researching that notion of really credible, you know, whiskey flavors that spring naturally from that beautiful, you know, bourbon taste spectrum.

Paul: You've seen the, you know, the flavor wheels for bourbon, which are a beautiful way to articulate all the nuance. And complexity of that bourbon spectrum. And, and, and in that you know, chocolate is, is a kind of a prominent holds a prominent space in that wheel. And not just chocolate, but the, the ancillary sort of flavors of caramels and vanillas and nuts and then ain't Toffy, right?

Paul: And, and then even mint, you know, is, is a, a naturally occurring sort of one of the great flavors that you get out of all that beautiful mix of you. aging that, that whiskey in those charred barrels and all that. So anyway you know, as far as the chocolate part, I mean, I don't, I don't have, I don't have a any kind of a unique or special chocolate history, but in, in my, in my time at Brown Foreman, I did a lot of, lot of work, you know, on premise of a on-premise barge and restaurants and things.

Paul: And just the both you know, from across the bar and, and from the kitchen, the culinary and cocktail aspects. Just the notion of these flavors you know, being around that for many years, you know, these flavors that are beautiful on their own, but somehow take on a, a differently articulated, you know, character when you put them together.

Paul: And you know, chocolate and whiskey are just, just one of those things. I mean, one of my favorite stories about one of our products, specifically the Bourbon Bowl, which is not as well known, you know, As you get geographically, eccentrically away from Kentucky, you know, people might not know that a bourbon ball is that bourbon and buttercream sort of infused center, dipped in chocolate.

Paul: You know, it's a confection that was developed in Kentucky in the beautiful, in the early 1930s. And, and, and it was, it was developed by, so Chocolate Tears, a Ruth Ruth Boo, who's with Rebecca Ruth Candies, and the story is, and. You know, the, I, I, we think it's true. But you know, she was at a Kentucky State Dinner, a sequin dinner, which was the hundred 50th celebration of the state of Kentucky around 1932 or three, I think.

Paul: And , the governor at the time was, and now you can't make this up. His name was Rudy Lafon, which is a fan old Kentucky name, Rudy Lafon. And and they were having dessert and they were serving, of course, Kentucky Bourbon, and they had some dark chocolate. And he said, there's nothing better than a sip of Kentucky bourbon and a bite of fine chocolates.

Paul: And lo and behold, Ruth Boo, the chocolatier, have to be sitting at the table and said now that there is something. So she went to work and developed a bourbon ball a couple years later. So, I mean, again, steeped in. This heritage and nature of, you know, these great flavors that come together and they produce something that's, you know, ethereal and ephemeral and even better than the two component parts, you know, greater, greater than the whole.

Paul: So, that was kind of the thought, you know, began digging into it from a product development standpoint. and just did what, what you do when you're developing a product. You do the hard work, you do a bunch of prototypes. You figure out, you know, what's the, what's the best payoff for the consumer, what, you know, exceeds the expectations that you're creating in consumer's minds.

Paul: And, and so, originally, Carrie, we started with four flavors, which was the original chocolate, the caramel turtle, the bourbon ball, and the chocolate mint, and the strategic imperative for ballin. And I promise you'll get to ask another question here in a minute. not Philip. Just, you know, it's heart and soul here with, with ball.

Paul: Mm-hmm. , the, the, there was sort of three strategic imperatives. Number one, with the, on, on one of the flavors. They would necessarily be an honest reflection of flavors that were naturally occurring in that, in that bourbon and whiskey spectrum. So we talked about that. So these would be, flavors would be lifted, you know, naturally from those beautifully occurring essences in the whiskey spectrum.

Paul: You know, number two you know, they would be familiar enough to consumers where they would have an indication of what they were getting before they made a $25 bet on a bottle of ballots and not knowing what it would taste like. Right? Right. So caramel turtle, I mean, you sort of put a notion in people's heads, they may have.

Paul: Had a New Orleans praline or literally a caramel turtle or whatever. And so they get say, okay, I think I know what I expect with this flavor. And then the third imperative WA was that we had to pay that off with the juice in the bottle, right? So the worst thing to do is set up an expectation and then disappoint consumers and they say, well, That doesn't, that's not what I was expecting.

Paul: Right. That's the

Kerry: Right, exactly.

Paul: That's the first thing that you could hear from somebody. That's not what I was expecting. So, again, you know, naturally, you know, they, they, they spring naturally from the spectrum people fairly familiar with what they were and then they delivered on the promise. So that's kind of the way we went at, you know, commercializing what I thought was a really good idea.

Paul: As it turns out, it was a great idea. Cause there's all kinds of people doing it right now and selling a lot of cases doing it. So yeah, the derivation, I'll tell you now. That the name ball.

Kerry: Well, wait a minute. Let me ask some questions here. Okay. Alright, free. Tell me about the name. I'm just get get to that.

Kerry: But while we're talking about the first, original four Yeah. I'm holding up here. The original chocolate. You are. And then I also was given the chocolate toffee. Are, are the original four all still out on the market?

Paul: They are, they

Kerry: are. Okay. I'm gonna have to try the, the other three. Yes. And then this one is the newest one.

Kerry: And then is there any other ones out there besides. Four five. Five, five. Yeah.

Kerry: So the, so there's six whiskeys now, and so you the original, the, the, the four, the four horse people and and the toffee. But the peanut butter, the chocolate peanut butter launched about two years ago. Okay. You know, and again, it does meet the criteria, but that was a little bit of a response to just, you know, peanut butter oddly is having a moment right in the category.

Paul: Right. So, you know, I mean, give the people what they want. So that, that was and again, you know, just that chocolate peanut butter is such an iconic pairing that I think we can own uniquely. I mean, no, you know, we are the only, you know, chocolate whiskey and we have expressions within that. But the DNA of c.

Paul: Is, no pun intended, baked into the brand. And so we feel like we have, you know, unique both opportunity and, and a little bit of you know, providence there in, in all of those chocolate spaces. So anyway, the peanut butter, chocolate, and then we launched some creams, Carrie, over the last, you know, two or three, three or four years I guess.

Paul: So there's a chocolate cherry cream, a chocolate mocha cream, and again, homage to the mighty consumer chocolate peanut butter cream. So they are all, you know, natural Wisconsin dairy cream, you know, little bit of our whiskey. They're 34 proof, right? So they're kind of in that cordial space and they're just silky.

Paul: Yummy, yummy.

Kerry: Awesome. Yeah. So when did you guys, when did you start the company with your wife and how long before you decided, let's do this, did it take you from, from conception to or from, you know, the conception to actually fulfilling? Yeah,

Paul: so, so let's do, this was probably early 2014. Okay. And that involved you know, leaving the corporate world and then paying some bills by doing some consulting.

Paul: I mean, you can't swing a, you know, dead cat in Kentucky without hitting a whiskey bourbon consultant for M sake. Yeah. So hung the shingle out for a little bit while we did product development, and then actually launched in like October or November of 2015. So, so we're, we're, I'm from Louisville, Kentucky.

Paul: We're in Austin, Texas now. Moved the business here a couple years ago, but we're from Louisville, so the epicenter of bourbon geek in which there'll be lots to talk about, carry with that as well. But I mean, I say that affectionately, I mean, I, I'm a bit of a bourn geek, so, but you know, right in the hotbed of why are y'all doing this to whiskey?

Paul: So kind of thing in 2015 and then, you know, you sort of, kind of roll states out a little bit at a time. So I think we had Kentucky and South Carolina. in, in 2015, then added five or six or seven states in 16 and, and you know, we're up to 42 states now or something like that. So we're kinda basically, you know, US wide at this point.

Kerry: Well, I think it's time we, we start, start on the chocolate. Are you gonna join me with the chocolate bourbon?

Paul: You know, I I I don't have one at hand, but I believe me, Carrie, I can talk you through it. I can go.

Kerry: What's about the toffee? Do you have the toffee at hand?

Paul: No.

Paul: isn't that awful? I'm sorry.

Kerry: Oh, you're supposed to be tasting with me.

Paul: Heck, I got work. I got work

Paul: trouble.

Kerry: That's in trouble. He didn't tell you we're tasting on this thing.

Paul: I know. I'm sorry. I have work to do too, but we're just gonna take a little sip. Let's try. I mean, it's after, it's after 12 we're

Paul: okay. It's, it's, it's, it's happy hour. It's five o'clock somewhere.

Kerry: Yeah, it's five o'clock somewhere.

Paul: Can, can I, can I give you my spiel and then you tell me what you, you tell me what you think. Is that okay?

Kerry: Yes. Well, well, lemme tell you what I'm getting on the nose.

Paul: Okay. Perfect.

Kerry: Shocker. I'm getting chocolate on the nose

Kerry: look, I'm,

Paul: I'm truth in advertising, Carrie. I'm straightforward

Kerry: and I, I love the color of the original chocolate.

Kerry: It's a very chocolatey, it looks like. I mean, honestly, it looks like if you took like a, a mid color scotch or a bourbon and then just d dropped a little bit of Hershey syrup in it. Yeah, got a nice dark color. It's beautiful. It's like a, an amber. The legs on it are very nice.

Paul: This is so exciting when I see somebody taste a b

Kerry: that is like dessert and a glass right there. Yeah, it's, you can definitely taste the chocolate, but you also can taste the whiskey and it's, it's like your eating chocolate with your, and this, I can see this in so many different cocktails and also as like an after dinner tif.

Paul: Yeah.

Paul: For. for sure. So, you know, we, we, we think, we, we say it's a great intersection between whiskey and flavor, right? So we feel like we've, and that was one of the things we really tried to do, is hit that balance. You know, we say warm, not hot because you know, it's 60 proof. So it gives you the old Kentucky hug at the end.

Paul: You know, you can really feel that warmth, you know, down, down. Down into your chest and all that, which is very satisfying. Not a challenge, right. You're not, it's not a challenge at all to, to take a little ballin and, and enjoy it. But, you know, good whiskey bones, right? So maintains its whiskey delivery despite that good flavor.

Paul: So you, that was a great, I'm backing off. You did great on the original chocolate. Tell us what, tell us what's going on with the coffee. Okay.

Kerry: I've met my match. Oh, this is the one I start last night when I opened these, I had this one first cuz my, my, my housemate was here and I. , I got two new ones you wanna try?

Kerry: And he goes, he goes what are they? And I said, I got an original chocolate and a toffee. He goes, toffee, . Oh, we gotta try the toffee. So I tried it first and right off the nose it's kind of got a, a burnt marshmallow nutty toffy scent on the nose. It's a little lighter in color. It's a little more gold than amber, but the legs are still wonderful.

Kerry: That as soon as I tasted it last night, I said, where is the vanilla ice cream with pren on it? I just wanna douse that on top. Mix it in, put it in the whipped cream. This is a, this again, dessert and a glass. It's delicious. And what I like about both of these is it's not, it's not like a whiskey that's trying to be so, other than what it's supposed to be, which is a beautiful flavor of, of candy and whiskey together.

Kerry: And I like that it, it tastes like what it's actually supposed to taste like, which with a lot of flavored beverages, vodka they don't always taste like what they're supposed to taste like. And, and I think these two are absolutely delicious. And I think you hit the nail right on the nose with the flavor


Paul: Thank you, Carrie. I appreciate that because you know, you have and, and so many consumers in this space have gotten so smart and so experienced and educated about bourbons and whiskeys. And so I always appreciate when somebody who I know is coming from a point information, experience, appreciation of the category that you can, you know, you can appreciate balance for what it is.

Paul: It's not gonna replace your yard bag, it's not gonna replace your Woodford. That's not the intent. But, you know, people drink such a wide variety. Of spirits, you know, beer, wine, and, and spirits depending on what you're doing and who you're with and, and everything. And, and you know, we've, we've studied, you know, my former life, you know, drinking portfolios and even loyal brand consumers, you know, 15 or 18 at their last 100.

Paul: Alcohol, drinks were that brand because it's so situational. And you know, if you're right, Mexican restaurant, you're probably gonna have a margarita. If you're at the right ballpark, you're gonna have a beer with your hotdog. Right? So, I mean, there's room in most people's portfolio for, for a, a brand like Ballin.

Paul: And what I, what I like what you said, which you know, gets to the sort of lifestyle tru truism or imperative that we're in. I just don't think people, I think we all love 'em, but we just don't eat desserts. The. We use, you know, that dessert is not a regular part of the experience, you know, whether people are in a hurry or we're just trying to, you know, manage their calories a little bit.

Paul: But, you know, cocktail before dinner, glass of wine with dinner after dinner, and I had the same experience with Lisa. Just wants something to cap it off a little bit. Yeah. Don't want a big piece of cheesecake. I mean, not necessarily just a little, just a little. You might, another piece of cheesecake, but you might like a little bit of balancing, you know?

Kerry: Yes. You know what I was thinking when I was drinking the second. last night, we were kind of going over all the different cocktails we could make with these originally, obviously the, when we tasted the, the original chocolate, I said easily chocolate martini. And then my housemate said the black Manhattan, which yes, absolutely black.

Kerry: And then I was just thinking now with the toy, , you could totally put this in a, in a mudslide. Yeah. With, you know, with the kind of ice cream type. Yeah. And I, there's just so many possibilities and what I think too, I like about this is I feel like this will get the 20 somethings involved. Cuz I know when I was in my early twenties, I was all about the medori sours and the mudslides and the fruity drinks and the daiquiris.

Kerry: And then my later twenties, I was like, I need less sugar. I need something more, less sweet, more. Yes. You know, and this does both, like it starts you off with the sweet, but it also has the savory and I this, I think it's great. It's great. Good. Now tell me, thank you so much for that, Karen. What does the word ballin come from?

Kerry: What does it mean and why did you choose

Paul: it? Okay, so, more history. I do love my history, but in the early 19, 19 15 or so, the preeminent chocolatier. Of the of the time were the Belgian chocolatier, and around that time they. Developed a technique where they began to infuse their chocolates with cream.

Paul: So it made the, you know, the chocolate's quite a bit more delicate. They needed a way to present and sell those, you know, find more delicate chocolates.

Kerry: So, oh wait, sorry, I just thought of two more. A black Russian and a white Russian. Yes. Flavors just keep coming out in my mouth and I just keep thinking of all these things I

Paul: know, although we're, we're, we're shying away from, we're shying away from.

Paul: Russian at the, at the, it is the exact moment, but, we'll, I'm

Kerry: sure well, we'll just call it something else. We'll call it the, the white. The white be and the dark bulletin.

Paul: Perfect. I like it. There you go. I like it. So, and keep, you know, keep the ideas coming. So they needed a way to sell those, you know, protecting, sell those fine chocolates.

Paul: The wife of one of the chocolatier cra sharps of the day. Develop that compartmentalized box that even still today, chocolates come in. So if you've ever given or received a box of chocolates, that box is actually called a ballot, and it's based on the French word ballot, which means small package. So, that's the way we've sort of, you know, it's, we feel like it's one of those, you know, beautiful words.

Paul: I mean, there's some words in the English language that just, you know, are nice. And even if you're not sure what they. They have a nice ring to 'em and it just, as I said, it sort of bakes chocolate into the DNA of the brand. So that's, that's where the, that's where

Kerry: the name is from. That's awesome. So where do you guys source your chocolate?

Kerry: And do you, do you do all your chocolate tasting the same as you would do your whiskey tasting out of the barrels and make sure the chocolate's ready?

Paul: Yeah. No, it's not, that's not exactly the pro, I mean, all of these the flavorings. Kind of assembled at a flavor house. Again, not a very sexy term, but good friend of mine who's also a former Brown former guy named Dave Defoe, owns a, a company in Louisville called Flavorman.

Paul: Right. And the whole flavor industry's a huge, I mean, it's a kind of very concentrated industry. But there's kind of a center of excellence in that area, probably because we do so many spirits. You know, Kentucky, but so specific recipe compounds are assembled at Flavor Man, so it's cocoa, you know, chocolate solids, you know, kind of cocoa powder, mint oils, vanilla oils and things like that, that you just have to kind of emulsify the heck out of chocolate, especially, doesn't wanna melt without.

Paul: Fat. So you've got a, you know, there's a whole lot of emulsification that goes on before it's added to the whiskey. And then it also, you know, it doesn't wanna play nice with the whiskey necessarily. You gotta do a lot of blending on that. But it's not aged after that. So the, you know, the, the flavor compounds are added and then into the model it goes, that is awesome.

Kerry: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. .

Paul: But, but the chocolate tasting Carrie is a great idea. I need to put. I need to put that on the, on the to-do list . Yeah. The, the, the flavors are, the flavors come together in the, in the process as opposed to being like a, a pre-finished caramel turtle. Right. Kind of the then, right. That then goes in.

Kerry: Yeah. And so how long, when you're, when you're coming up with these recipes, how long does it take you guys to get the flavored. To just what you think is gonna match up with the bourbon and the bourbon. Do you guys distill yourself or do you source that?

Paul: We do source and I mean there, there was a, especially at the beginning, the strategic reason for that, and it was, it was, we, we did that with intent because we wanted this to be a 24 99, you know, bottle of whiskey rather than a 49, 99 bottle of whiskey, whatever.

Paul: So there's just people that you know, again, from my, my connections in the business and network. We knew we could find, you know, better juice than I could distill. I didn't wanna be a distiller, I didn't wanna invest $5 million in the distillery. I just didn't want to. Right. That wasn't part of the business model.

Paul: So, and I don't, and you know, I, I say this not to be cavalier or anything, but I, but I, I don't know that a boutique, well, certainly you can't, I mean, you can't flavor bourbon, although the TT. Getting a little looser on standards of identity. I think I'm seeing some flavored bourbons out there now, which didn't used to be the case.

Paul: And I think weakens the standard of identity a little bit for bourbons. So, you know, we're, we're whiskey we're aged three years and used barrels. That's, that's the way our whiskey, it's a high, high corn mash because that gives the, the corn throws off a little bit of a sweet. Whiskey, which compliments the flavor really well back and forth.

Paul: You know, you can imagine all the spiky, you know, oken char notes that you get with bourbon and how that would be, they'd integrate less less seamlessly than our whiskey, which has more of a, sort of a Canadian or an Irish whiskey profile by virtue of the, of the used barrels. But, but anyway, I mean, to, to be totally honest, you shouldn't, you shouldn't flavor.

Paul: You know, $2,500 barrel bourbon, that doesn't make sense to me. , and it wouldn't make sense to consumers to throw it up on the shelf at $60, so, right, right. Using very, very quality, you know, whiskey, but appropriate both in terms of its. Of its flavor character and composition, you know? And in terms of the value that it delivers, you know, for, for consumers in a bottle of

Paul: mouth,

Kerry: do you have a specific mash bill that you asked them to make for you?

Kerry: Or you just picked one that they've already had?

Paul: We, we, we started with the first and now just because we're using so much whiskey, we're laying down our, we're we're there. I mean, as I, I guess there's a technicality between sourcing and contract. Distilling. Yeah. Yeah. I guess at this,

Paul: Or contract.

Kerry: So start a sourcing saying, now it's contracting.

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kerry: Great.

Paul: Which, which again, I mean, you know, as long as, and, and, you know, when I've been through the, the scary, the scary times of, you know, had that or whatever. I mean, I'm, I'm proud of MGP as I partner. They, they make fantastic, you know, spirit. in their own brands, and they make their, their own brands are fantastic.

Paul: And as long as you're honest with people about what you're doing, I think you're fine. I'm not a distiller. Yeah. No

Kerry: transparency. All people want, you know. I know. And if that's not good enough for them, then they can go somewhere else. I don't know. But I, I always feel like as long as you're not saying, oh yeah, we made this from scratch.

Kerry: Yes. Then I, you know, I just wanna, I mean, if you tell me you got it from mgp, That makes sense cuz MGP is delicious and this is delicious. So I can totally see that it's it's good quality

Kerry: stuff.

Paul: It's just part of the value proposition, right? I mean, just, it just to, to me it made business sense for where this would end up in a retail price point on the shelf for consumers present a good value.

Paul: You know, value, price is not, what is it? It's not what you pay, it's what you get. Right. That's the, the value proposition. So, I think we did a nice job at the value proposition.

Kerry: So what are your, do you, do you have another list of, of flavors that you're coming up with and when you, when you're working on the flavors, do you go out to to the flavor guy and work with him and, and, and work on blending the flavors until it's just what you want?

Paul: We, we, we. come up with our flavors ourselves. Although Dave, like I said, I can't say enough good things about Dave and how much of a resource is, and he's one of these guys that, I mean, I'll get these numbers a thousand percent wrong, Carrie, but you know, most people can taste, you know, whatever you know, 150 parts per million or whatever it is.

Paul: Dave's one of those guys that literally. You know, he takes two parts from whatever the number is. He's like a super identifier in the taste department, so that he really is one of our secret weapons. Although they, they do work in, in all, all kinds of spaces in the beverage business. But having said that, I mean, the great thing about, you know, I mean, we could have a whole nother discussion about what, what it means to go from, you know, corporate life and infrastructure and.

Paul: Effing smart. You feel working at a big company to what it's like going out on your own and realizing I knew almost nothing, but I could walk next door to somebody who knew a lot about finance and knew a lot about consumer insights and knew a lot about marketing and everything. So I mean, that recognition and realization is extraordinarily painful.

Paul: And we've, you know, so working, still working our way through that, having said, What is nice is, you know, you don't have to get every executive's fingerprints and footprints and, and and you know, egos all over every decision, right? I mean, you know, you, you stop and start, you know, 28 different times where with us, I turn to Lisa and say, Hey, when do you think about this?

Paul: And she says, you know, I think we need a little more I think we need to be a. Lighter or a little darker, and then we go, okay, we're off, we go. And that's the, and we can do it. Nice. I mean, you know, there's a little more to it than that obviously, but do

Kerry: you guys bottle in in Kentucky or do you bottle in, in Texas?

Paul: We bottle in

Paul: Texas. Okay. So we, we have a partner here that's a very cool little craft distillery cost. I say little. They're, they're doing great. They're called still Austin. And they are, oh yeah. We've

Kerry: had we've had. Chris Seals. Chris. Chris Seals. Yes. We've had Chris. You, Chris. Oh yeah, he's great.

Paul: Oh my God.

Paul: Yeah. He's the best. He's the best. And they, they have a great creative little brand and they're doing amazing work in their distillery. Do you know, doing their own distilling and everything. But, but yes, they bottle, they bottle for there. And we actually bottle the creams in Wisconsin. In,

Kerry: Oh, wow.

Kerry: Okay. Secret

Kerry: location. How Get that fresh cow milk, the cow fresh cow dairy.

Paul: You, you, you got dairy, you got dairy specialists all over the place up there, so that's great. Is kinda a specialty. So yeah, the, the creams Wisconsin. Very cool. I'm so excited. You talked to Chris

Kerry: and still Austin? Yeah, yeah. We had him on season one of Spirits of Whiskey.

Paul: Good for you.

Kerry: You won't be able to see him on that episode, but you can definitely go back and take a listen to it. It's on the barrel room chronicles.com and season one section for spirits of. . So Paul, tell us where where we can find you on your socials, your website, what stores are the best places to find it, if you were anywhere in the

Kerry: States.

Paul: Yep. Yep. So, all of our social media is ball whiskey, you know, either at Ballin Whiskey, Facebook, and, and Instagram and Pinterest and all that are ballin whiskey.com s where. Homepages, you know, we've got a, a pretty good, you know, buy here, sort of a section where if you put in your zip code and click on that, it'll, you know, show you some stores.

Paul: Okay. Lots of recipes and everything. I mean, we're in, you know, the, I mean the big one, you know, we're in, we're in most total wines around the country. And then, you know, you're sort of local, independent liquor store, but also, You know, Chan like Bev, you know, BevMo for you out in California, you know, we're in, we're in Bemo and ABC Liquor in Florida, and specs in Texas and, and whatever your equivalent of those, you know, kind of regional liquor chains were in those, we're in a lot of the smaller grocery chains.

Paul: We haven't quite broken into like Kroger, you know, yet at this point. That's just a big, you know, commitment and a big footprint and they need, you know, full on geographic coverage and everything. But, but you know, almost any of your local liquor stores or liquor chain. Or even your local bergs in St.

Paul: Louis or, I'm trying to think of some California chains, but you know, the sort of more local or regional grocery change, own publics in Florida,

Paul: like for instance,

Kerry: how about mission, wine and spirits? You in there?

Paul: Yes, we are. We're cool. You remember that

Kerry: Popp. Well, Paul, it has been fantastic learning about your journey to this beautiful chocolate whiskey and the toffy whiskey and I, I can't wait to see what Chef Louise has to say about both of these, and I think she's gonna have a hard time picking.

Kerry: To make, she might have to make something out of both because maybe, maybe, I mean, there's so many possibilities with this. I just, I'm so excited to see what she comes up with.

Paul: That's great. Well,

Paul: I really appreciate it. Thanks. It's been great to talk to you and, and again, I appreciate your enthusiasm about balance, cuz you know your stuff.

Kerry: Thank you. I'm I, I love it when people love what I love. That's great. . Right? That's good. I love finding like-minded people and it's, it's, it's just so fun.

Paul: Yeah. I mean, I just, you know, we're whiskey pebs. I mean, how hard is it? Let's get out there and have exactly, have a cocktail with somebody and spread the joy.

Paul: That's it.

Kerry: All right, Paul, thank you so much and we will reach out to you again soon.

Paul: All right, Carrie. Love it. Thanks very much. Good luck to you.

Kerry: World of Weezy is up next. Stay with us.

Kerry: Like what you've seen on brc. Wanna see more, experience more, and maybe even taste more? Then head over to our Cofi site and become a member of the barrel room parlor. By choosing the copper level membership, you'll have exclusive access to videos related to topics discussed on the podcast and blog posts for members only.

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Kerry: Welcome to this week's edition of World of Wheezy. Normally we get Chef Louise Leonard here in person, but since the holidays are upon us, her cooking skills are in very high demand. However, that didn't stop her from sending over her notes about the dessert she made using Ballotin's chocolate Toffy whiskey first Chef Louise created her own homemade chocolate sauce.

Kerry: Then use some of the same whiskey to soak cherries. The end result was a delicious, boozy chocolate toffee sundae. These whiskeys were so tasty. I had to experiment with them myself. Since Louise used the toffee expression, I went with the original to make a festive holiday hot cocoa. First, I took an Irish coffee glass and swirled chocolate syrup around the inside.

Kerry: Then I added a half ounce of S original chocolate whiskey, followed by one cup of steamed milk. Sprayed on some whipped cream. And lastly, added a cinnamon stick for the garnish. So if you're looking for a great dessert and a hot drink this holiday, pick up some of Valenti's whiskey. We'll have a link to where you can buy it in our show notes.

Kerry: That does it for today's show. To read notes on this episode or learn more about our guests, please visit bar room chronicles.com. Wanna interact with the show or have questions for our guests, then ask them on our socials, or send us an email through our website. Or better yet, leave us a voicemail on our anchor page and your recording might be played in our new speakeasy segment.

Kerry: If you like what you heard, please rate and subscribe to the podcast. If you really liked it and you wanna show your support, buy us a whiskey through a coffee site at ko fi dot. Slash BRC or become an exclusive member of the Barrel Room parlor, where you'll get exclusive content not seen anywhere else.

Kerry: If you work in the whiskey or spirits industry, or just have a deep passion for whiskey and wanna share your spirits journey, register to be a guest through our website. Last but not least, please enjoy your spirits responsibly. Thanks for joining me. Until next time, Sova.

Kerry: Barrel Room Chronicles is a production of First Real Entertainment, and it's distributed by Anchor FM and is available on Spotify, apple, Google, iHeartRadio, Amazon, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.

Paul TuellProfile Photo

Paul Tuell


Accomplished Marketing and Sales leader with a 30-year record of success in growing brand equity, volume, and profits with companies including Brown-Forman and Papa John’s International. Extensive experience and success in senior sales and marketing leadership positions, distributor management, national account management, consulting, and senior strategy & staff positions.

Paul has enjoyed a varied career in his 30 years in the beverage and culinary industries, which are comprised of 22 years with Brown-Forman, several years with Papa John’s International, and 7 years at the helm of Saloon Spirits.

In 2015, Tuell founded Louisville-based Saloon Spirits, which gave life to Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey in November 2015. Working with Flavorman, a renowned Louisville firm credited with creating thousands of consumer beverages, Tuell developed the approachable, yet vibrantly flavored line of versatile whiskey-based beverages accented with familiar chocolate expressions. Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey first hit retail shelves in Kentucky and South Carolina in November of 2015 and has since expanded to distribution in over 30 states.

His broad experience includes positions in field sales, national account management, business consulting, human resources, partnership marketing, and brand leadership. Most significantly, before founding Saloon Spirits, Paul served for five years in global brand leadership roles on the Southern Comfort and Finlandia Vodka brands with Brown-Forman, where he worked successfully at the executive level and as business partner to global business leaders, and several years as VP, Marketing Director, for Papa John’s for the US and Latin American markets.