Media Files
Title:
Interview with Leonard Riddle and Ronnie Eddins, October 16, 2008
Collection:
Bourbon in Kentucky: Buffalo Trace Oral History Project
Organization:
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
Format:
video
Agent:
Interviewee Ronnie Eddins
Interviewer Thomas Troland
Date:
created 2008-10-16
Identifier:
cms record id 2009oh017_bik001
accession number 2009OH017 BIK 001
Relation:
is part of Buffalo Trace Oral History Project (BIK003)
Format:
video
Description:
summary In this interview, Leonard Riddle and Ronnie Eddins talk about their families and early lives and explain how they came to work at Buffalo Trace. Leonard Riddle grew up in Frankfort and began working in the warehouses at Buffalo Trace in 1964. Ronnie Eddins grew up on a farm outside of Frankfort and also came to work at Buffalo Trace in the 1960s. Riddle and Eddins describe life at the distillery in the 1960s and compare the work environment of the 1960s to the present. They also discuss government regulation of the bourbon industry through the years. Riddle and Eddins also share the story of their first meeting at work and talk about the relationship they have since developed. In addition, Riddle and Eddins list the types of bourbon produced at Buffalo Trace and explain the process of aging, discussing the different kinds of warehouses, barrels and aging conditions. They also reflect on the legacies they hope to leave at Buffalo Trace when they retire.
Keyword:
Families.
Childhood
Quality of products.
Quality control.
Liquor laws--United States
Subject:
local term Riddle, Leonard--Interviews
local term Eddins, Ronnie--Interviews
local term Buffalo Trace Distillery
local term Whiskey industry--Kentucky
local term Alcohol--Law and legislation
local term Alcohol--Taxation--United States.
local term Bourbon whiskey
local term Buffalo Trace Distillery.
local term Distillation.
local term Distilleries--Kentucky
local term Distillers.
Rights Statement:
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections and Digital Programs, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Source Metadata URI:
00048049 (2009oh017_bik001_riddle_ohm.xml)
The interview begins with Leonard Riddle describing his family background. He talks about his parents and siblings, and his parents' work in distilleries. Ronnie Eddins also describes his family and their ancestry, and following in his father's footsteps as a farmer. They each briefly explain how they came to work at Buffalo Trace.
Partial Transcript: My name is Tom Troland from the University of Kentucky.
Subjects:
Childhood
Employment--Kentucky
Families.
Genealogy
Keywords:
Ancestry
Bottling
Brothers
Cherokee
Children
Farmers
Farming
Fathers
Frankfort (Ky.)
Generations
Grandchildren
Grandmothers
Job opportunities
Mothers
Night shift
Parents
Part-time jobs
Siblings
Sisters
Wife
Work environment
Riddle tells a story from his childhood about ruining a neighbor's potato crops and how he was disciplined by his parents. Eddins also tells a story about getting in trouble as a child by running away to swim in the Kentucky River.
Partial Transcript: Leonard, uh, is there a story you can think of about when you were a kid with your parents?
Subjects:
Childhood
Discipline of children
Families.
Keywords:
Birth order
Bourbon whiskey
Brothers
Crops
Family
Grandmothers
Holidays
Kentucky River
Memories
Parents
Potatoes
Siblings
Sisters
Spanking
Swimming
Traditions
Whipping
Riddle talks about the jobs he held after finishing school before coming to work at Buffalo Trace. He talks about how he began working at the distillery with his uncle. Eddins also describes how he came to work at Buffalo Trace, and describes the seasonal nature of the work at that time.
Partial Transcript: Let's, uh, think a little bit about or talk a little bit about, uh, the young adulthoods that you both, uh, both, uh, uh, passed through.
Subjects:
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Employment--Kentucky
Families.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Age
Bottling houses
Construction
Contractors
Jobs
Married
Night shift
Painting
Pipe fitters
Rolling barrels
Salary
Schenley Distillers Inc.
School
Seasonal work
Second jobs
Service stations
Uncles
Wages
Warehouses
Winter
Young adulthood
Eddins talks about the many positions he has held in various departments at the distillery over the years. He talks about some of the changes that have occurred there since his early days. Riddle and Eddins discuss the government regulations that were once placed upon distilleries, including marking each barrel with serial numbers, and government locks on warehouses. They talk about the distillery employees' relationships with the government agents.
Partial Transcript: In those early years, uh--(clears throat)--in those early years, uh, describe a typical day of work here at Buffalo Trace for you.
Subjects:
Alcohol industry.
Alcohol--Law and legislation
Alcohol--Taxation--United States.
Bourbon whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Quality control.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Bottling houses
Boxcars
Cutting barrels
Day shift
Double checking
Early years
Employees
Federal agents
Government agents
Government control
Government regulations
Locks
Manuals
Night Shift
Office of the clerk
Record-keeping
Relationships
Responsibility
Rules
Shipping
Shut downs
Strict
Taxes
Team leaders
Trains
Typical day
Warehouse managers
Riddle and Eddins talk about how they met one another when Riddle saved Eddins from being electrocuted after a flood. They talk about their working relationship and how they trust one another to do their jobs well. They talk about their relationship outside of the distillery, and talk about their mutual goal of improving the distillery's products.
Partial Transcript: Now--(clears throat)--the two of you have worked together for a long time so I want to explore those ideas as well as a history of the two of you.
Subjects:
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Barrels
Co-workers
Communication
Departments
Electrocution
First meeting
Floods
Friendship
Holidays
Informed
Problem solving
Relationships
Retirement
Ricker
Social activities
Teamwork
Trust
Warehouses
Riddle and Eddins describe in detail how aging whiskey in different warehouses affects the final product. They each explain which warehouses create their personal favorite flavors. They talk about changes in popularity of different types of bourbon, and trying to plan for future sales.
Partial Transcript: Of course, you know, I'm running sixty-six years old--be sixty-seven in a few more months--but, you know, it's kind of a place that's kindly hard to just walk off.
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Aging
Airflow
Awards
Blends
Changes
Concrete
Control
Differences
Eagle Rare bourbon whiskey
Elmer T. Lee bourbon whiskey
Favorites
Flavors
Floors
Future
Generations
Heat
Location
Past
Popularity
Products
Proof
Rackhouses
Recipes
Ricks
Rye whiskey
Spicy
Staves
Tastes
Temperature
Warehouse I
Warehouse K
Warehouse L
Warehouse levels
Warehouse M
Warehouses
Wheat whiskey
Wood
Riddle and Eddins describe in detail how aging whiskey in different types of barrels and wood affects the final product. They talk about factors like wood grain, moisture content, and char level. They talk about their relationship with the barrel makers at Independent Stave Company.
Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit about, uh, wood selection.
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Quality of products.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Aged wood
Aging
Barrels
Caramel
Changes
Char
Color
Flavors
Graders
Growth
Independent Stave Company
John Boswell
Location
Moisture content
Relationships
Requirements
Selection
Specifications (specs)
Tastes
Time
Trees
Vanilla
Wood
Wood grain
Wood quality
Riddle and Eddins talk more about how aging whiskey in different warehouses affects the final product, including the difference between metal, brick, and wooden warehouses.
Partial Transcript: So it's--you know, I think, uh, every distillery operation has got their own specifications of type of wood.
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Aging
Bricks
Control
Heat
Metal
Products
Rick houses
Steam-heated
Sun
Temperature
Warehouses
Riddle and Eddins discuss the creation of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. They talk about how the barrels were specifically chosen, and how they were tested to meet certain standards and profiles.
Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit about the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Quality control.
Quality of products.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Aging
Awards
Barrels
Buffalo Trace Antique Collection
Laboratory
Location
Noises
Premium bourbons
Premium products
Products
Profiles
Proud
Roles
Sampling
Standards
Taste testers
Tastes
Tasting
Teamwork
Testing
Warehouses
Whistles
Riddle and Eddins briefly discuss some of the experiments they have conducted at the distillery to create new products, including changes in proof, location, and char.
Partial Transcript: Speaking of that work, uh, right behind you both of course is the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection.
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Aging
Barrels
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection
Char
Knowledge
Learning
Locations
Proofs
Re-barreling
Trees
Warehouses
Wine casks
Wood
Riddle and Eddins describe in detail how aging whiskey in different types of barrels and wood affects the final product. In this segment they focus more on how the level of char in the barrel affects the whiskey.
Partial Transcript: You, uh, talked earlier, uh--(clears throat)--uh, about, uh, char.
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Quality of products.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
"Alligator skin"
"Toasted"
Aging
Barrels
Burning
Char
Color
Costs
Firing
Flavors
Number 3 char
Number 4 char
Proofs
Recipes
Rye whiskey
Spicy
Taste testing
Time
Wheat whiskey
Years
Riddle and Eddins describe in more detail some of the experiments they have conducted at the distillery to create new products. They talk about one of the surprising experiments, aging whiskey in French Oak barrels. Eddins describes an experiment he conducted on artificial aging.
Partial Transcript: What do you think has been the most successful part of the Experimental Collection program?
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Quality of products.
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Aging
Air pressure
Artificial aging
Barometric pressure
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection
Changes
Cold cycle
Costs
Elmer T. Lee
Expensive
French Oak barrels
Heat cycle
Independent Stave Company
John Boswell
Knowledge
Learning
Nature
Tastes
Temperature
Time
Weather
White Oak barrels
Wood
Riddle talks about how he would like to be remembered at Buffalo Trace for his work ethic and the products he made. Eddins says he would like to be remembered for the knowledge that was gained through his experiments. The interview is concluded.
Partial Transcript: If, uh, somebody were to ask you for example, uh, "Leonard, what would you like to be remembered by for your, uh, time here at Buffalo Trace?"
Subjects:
Bourbon whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Distillation.
Distilleries--Kentucky
Distillers.
Quality of products.
Technological innovations
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Keywords:
Accomplishments
Advancements
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection
Contributions
Eagle Rare bourbon whiskey
Elmer T. Lee bourbon whiskey
Enjoyable
Experiments
Favorites
Improvements
Knowledge
Learning
Legacy
Proud
Remembered
Tastes
Technology
Work ethic
TROLAND: Okay, my name is Tom Troland from the University of Kentucky,
and we are interviewing today Ronnie Eddins on the left and Leonard
Riddle on the right, both from Buffalo Trace Distillery. This is
October 16, 2008. This is part of the Buffalo Trace Oral History
Project, and we are here at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. So thanks
first of all to both of you for taking time out for this interview. We
appreciate it very much.
EDDINS: Thank you all.
TROLAND: Let me begin with just some general questions. Leonard, for
example, just tell me a little bit about yourself.
RIDDLE: Well, I'm, been here for about forty-three, forty-four years.
Came here as a--looking for a pipefitter's job when I came here.
Ended up in the warehousing department. Part-time job turned into
about forty-some odd years. That, you know, that's basically--it's

been a good job for that (??). I've raised my family from that, you
know; it's, it's been good to me. My wife's named Margaret. I have
seven kids. I have sixteen grandkids and five great-grandkids. And I
have contributed the financial end of it, I guess you would say, from,
from my job that I've had here for the last forty-four years.
TROLAND: Ronnie, tell me just a little bit also about yourself, just a
couple things that might be of interest.
EDDINS: Well, I, kind of like Leonard there, now, I come here with
another guy was looking for a job here, and I wasn't really--I was a
farmer and living at home with my family, you know, Mother and Dad,
and wasn't married at the time. So I rode up here with another guy,
he put in the applications, and wind up--about a year later, I wind up
coming to work here. So I come in here to work on the night shift and
then thought, "Well, I'll w-, go ahead and work a few weeks with him,"
as he wanted me to come in with him. And now I still, wind up still
here, naturally. I've been in several different positions throughout
the older plant, and, but throughout the years when I, after I come
here, about three years later, I got married. Moved to Frankfort,
really wasn't satisfied living here in town, so I moved back to the
country and back down where I live now in Henry County. And now, so
now I've got a--had a son, and--just the one boy--and he also works
here. And then I got a grandson. And so, but over a period of years,
this is--anybody couldn't ask for any better place to work. You know,
everything is just en-, so enjoyable, and every day is a challenge and
just a loving place to be around this type of involvement around here.
TROLAND:
Leonard, just tell me a little bit about your parents, sir.
You grew up down here in Frankfort, is that true, a little bit?
RIDDLE: Yeah, I grew up here in Frankfort. My mother was a, a Hall:
Eunice Hall. She married my father, Leonard Riddle Sr. At a very
young age, my grandmother taken me and raised me from up until my
grandmother passed away. I seen my mom off and on throughout the
years. My dad, he, he worked for our competitor out here, National
Distillers. My mother worked here for a while back in the, I believe
it was back in the forties. I have a half-sis-, two half-sisters. One

of those are deceased, and I have three half-brothers, and one of those
are deceased. Two of them are still--live here in Frankfort. And I've
lived here all my life in Frankfort. That's except for about three
years I lived, I was in Middletown, Ohio. That was before I came to
work here. I came back here in the early sixties and been here ever
since.
TROLAND: So you say your mother worked at least for some time here at
Buffalo Trace.
RIDDLE: She worked, yes. I don't remember, I don't recollect how
many years she worked here, but she worked back in the forties in the
bottling here.
TROLAND: I see. I see.
RIDDLE: And my father was an electrician. He was out at Jim Beam, or
National Distillers it was at that time. But my mother and father both
are deceased. I have one brother and one sister that's deceased, and,
but my family is mostly all from Frankfort. My mother was originally
from Washington County, but she lived her life here in, in Frankfort
until she--I guess she was probably in her late fifties when they, she
moved to Middletown, Ohio. Until, stayed there until she was deceased.
TROLAND: What do you remember your mother telling you about working
here? Was it a job that she enjoyed? Was it something that was
difficult? What did she say?
RIDDLE: No, she enjoyed working here back--of course, back then, you
know, in the forties, it was, it was hard to find a job around, you
know, most anywhere. And I guess it back then was O.F.C. [Old Fire
Copper Distillery] or Stagg, or at that time, you know. And that and
the--what they used to call the shoe factory here, Dinesco (??), I
guess that was about the only two places
around during that period of
time that really there were jobs other than manual labor out, you know,
on the streets or whatever at that time.
TROLAND: Ronnie, how about your, your parents? A little bit about your
upbringing?
EDDINS: Well, my parents, my dad is Goebel Eddins. He's--was a farmer
all of his life. He raised cattle, lot of tobacco, corn, had hogs,
chickens--anything to make a dollar, I guess, you know, back in the
early days. And mainly lived on the farm and raised big gardens and
made a living there on the farm. And then my mother, Lily, they--my
daddy, he was born in 1911, and my mother born in 1910. And my father,
he passed away in
1966. But anyway, Mom and Dad, they farmed together
all their lives, you know. And, and so I was one of six kids and
had a brother that worked in Louisville, and so we all kind of left
the farms and went into public jobs, back several years ago. As time
went on, each one kind of drifted out, went on their own, then we'd go
back and actually help our parents out as everybody else would. And
we enjoyed it, so then after I come to work here, I turn around and I
ca-, oh, I took up farming myself, too. So I started raising a lot of
tobacco and corn and worked here every day, and then, and then done a
lot of farming, too. And so after my son was borned, then I was trying
to make a little extra money for him. Of course he wanted some other
things
too, you know, in life, and so I continued to work here. And
then for about twenty-five years, I've done a lot of farming; raised
a lot of, rented a lot of farms. Bought farms and rented farms and
anything that can pick some extra money up there. So that was a big
part of my life, was my farming and working here, too, at that time.
So then it finally got to a point--of course, age kind of caught up
with me, too, you know, but I guess we don't really admit that. But
(laughs) anyway, then I just went to working up here altogether, you
know, and this, I made this my permanent place up here. But I al-,
like now, I've got a son that works here. I've got a grandson that
is, is eighteen years old. So, you know, that's--me and my wife, we
just had the one kid, and then my, my son just had the one kid. And
so,
but my, most of my family is from around Henry County and--and
Oldham County, and my mother and her parents was around from Oldham
County. And, and, and really, I guess, you know, back in my earlier
part of their lives, my mother, she was--well, she actually, she was
a half Indian, you know, and--Cherokee. And then my daddy, he was,
he was part Cherokee Indian, too. So, you know, on back through their
history, that's kind of ends it. Of course Mom and Dad, neither one
didn't want to talk too much about it because, you know, Mom, I think
she got teased a lot in school back in those da-, or those years, you
know. And so, but anyway, that's, they was, my mom just passed away,

and she was, she was ninety-three years old when she passed away.
Yeah. A few years, four years ago, I guess, five years ago.
TROLAND: Leonard, is there a story you can think of about when you were
a kid with your parents, something that you remember as interesting or
something that just always stuck in your mind about your growing up and
dealing with your parents?
RIDDLE: (laughs) Yeah, there was probably quite a few things. I guess
one of the things that stuck in my mind more than anything, I guess,
was a, was a little behind-warming I got one time for--we, we got this
idea about this fellow's potato crop that we, once they came up, you
know, the potatoes were up five or six inches or so, and we
had this
idea of--myself, my brother and some other kids there--that we could
pull these potatoes up and reset them, and being, you know, they would
be, make more potatoes. You know how kids are; you know they'll do
anything like that. But anyway, we pulled all of this fellow--he was
named Mr., Mr. Moore--we pulled all of his potatoes up and reset them
over in the other areas of the plowed ground there and they all died.
Well (laughs), we almost died, too, because we got our, our, our
behinds kicked pretty good (all laugh), but that's, that stands out in
my mind from what my mom and my dad probably and my grandmother mostly
tolds me. You know, you don't do those kind of things, you know,
that was, that's not right, you know, that--I guess you, you learn
from those things, things that are right and wrong. You know, you
carried on your, not a--there's a lot of other things, probably, but I
can't think of all the things. But that sets out in
my mind more than
anything when I was a kid. That, on that, on that side, the, I guess
the things on a, on a better note would be, is the families around
holiday time--Christmas, Thanksgiving time, you know--your family that-
-that was one of the things that always set out in our mind; we always
looked forward to that, all the kids being in, your uncles and aunts,
your brothers, sisters, or, or whatever, you know. But those are two
things that I can remember most when I were a kid.
TROLAND: Just out of curiosity, when you were growing up did either of
your parents drink bourbon?
RIDDLE: My mother didn't. My mother was not a bourbon drinker. My
father was. He drank bourbon. Of course, like I said a while ago, he
wasn't a, he wasn't an Ancient Age man (laughs), or Buffalo Trace. He
worked for National Distillers
at that time. He wasn't a heavy drinker,
but he, he did drink bourbon. But my mother was not a drinker.
TROLAND: So working in the bourbon industry, then, obviously, is a part
of your family tradition, with your father also--
RIDDLE: Well, yes.
TROLAND: --working and, of course, your son.
RIDDLE: Yeah. Um-hm, that's correct.
TROLAND: Now, Ronnie, you, I'm sure, as a young person, were always a
good boy, so the stories that (EDDINS laughs) Leonard tells, probably
you wouldn't have stories like that to tell, but can you think of
something you learned from your parents that was important in one way
or another to your later life?
EDDINS: Something really important to them? Yeah, well, I know I was,
when Riddle was talking there a few minutes ago, I remember one time
that--I used to love to swim; loved to be in the water, you know.
And we lived about a mile from the Kentucky River, out in this big
bottom, and the house sat down in the bottom. So I would, I had a
tendency, I would sneak off and go to the river and go swimming. And
here I was about
seven or eight years old, you know, and so, yeah,
I remember getting a good blistering over that, you know, (laughs)
because I was--they was hunting for me, and here I was. I could hear
them a-hollering for me. I was down the river, but I didn't want them
to know I was down there, see. I was trying to get out and get away.
Get back to the house, you know, sneak up the bank. But I kind of
hid behind a tree, you know, and finally they seen me, and that was too
late. (laughs) So, but I loved to, really liked to go swimming. That
was one of the times I'm, that always stuck in my mind, you know, as
something I shouldn't have done. No wonder, you know, I think it (??)
is today. You know, if Tr-, Mark had done me that way, I'd been scared
to death whether they're dead or been drowneded or whatever. And,
you know, a young kid, you don't think about those things. But that's
something that always kindy stuck in my mind as something, you know,
I'd done, you know, and that I shouldn't have been doing. Yeah.
TROLAND: So you were both young hellions,
I gather.
EDDINS: (laughs)
RIDDLE: I would say so, yeah, probably. I don't know how they survived,
but anyway, they did. (laughs)
TROLAND: Now remind me, Leonard, you're, you're one of how many children?
RIDDLE: Do what now?
TROLAND: You're one of how many children in your family?
RIDDLE: Six of us total.
TROLAND: Six. I see. Okay, and where were you in the birth order
there? Are you the youngest, the oldest?
RIDDLE: No, I'm the--I have a, I had a bro-, I had three brothers and a
sister that's older than I am.
TROLAND: Yes.
RIDDLE: Yeah. That's--the youngest in the family is a, a sister.
TROLAND: I see. And Ronnie, how, how about you? You've--
EDDINS: Well--
TROLAND: --mentioned it earlier?
EDDINS: No, I had three, three that was older than myself and then two
younger than me; I've got two sisters that's younger than I am. And,
but I was, I'm the, as Mom always told me, you know, said I was the
baby, but the baby, the boy? (laughs) So you know how that goes. So
I
was the youngest boy. There was three boys and three girls, and then
I was the youngest boy to, you know, and so, yeah, that--we was all
borned pretty close together, you know, and within about a year of one
another. And, of course, si-, there's six of us in the family, and
of course I--to my understanding, before any of us was borned, there
was one baby that was borned that didn't live. Mom's first child, you
know. So, but no, we, we all managed to survive up to later years, and
here about a year or so ago I had, my oldest sister had passed away.
About a year before that, my oldest brother had passed away, and about
a year before that, then, well, my next oldest brother had passed away.
But so there's still
three of us still living and, and, and so we've
got a lot to be proud for, you know. We got up in age. So many has
died at a younger age, and so I think all the oldest, lot of us got to
be proud of: what we've been involved with, and how that we've managed
throughout the world, you know, to deal with things and, and live to
be an older people, you know. Of course, I've still got, you know,
another thirty or forty years to go yet, Riddle, but--(both laugh)
RIDDLE: Oh, yeah. At least.
TROLAND: At least. Let's think a little bit about or talk a little bit
about the young adulthoods that you both, both passed through. When,
Leonard, when, what was the first thing you did after you completed
schooling?
RIDDLE: The first thing I did after I finished school. I worked for
contractors, a fellow by the name of Strange. They
was builders. I
don't know, along in the (??) I guess probably middle, late fifties.
I ran a service station over here on High Street; that's right after I
got married. And I also started to work here at about that time also.
I run--did both. Ran a service station there. It was an old Spur
station, used to be here in Frankfort on Ohio Street. Worked here.
After I come here, I worked during the day, because when we first
come here, Ronnie and I, you know, the--at that time, when Schenley was
in here, it--we'd probably work, what, six or seven months out of the
year, maybe?
EDDINS: Yeah, we had to have a second job to get by.
RIDDLE: Yeah. I guess people that, that's, that were here a numb-, like
Ronnie and myself, a number of years, and
when you started back then,
you almost had to have a second job in order to, to get enough time
here. You know, you get time in as people retired out, you know, and
then we got in here regular. But I never went to college. I come out
of high school, and that's--went to, as I said, construction work, hod
carried for bricklayers. Whatever, you know, that came along at that
time until I came here, and then it seemed to be that this here--I come
here as a pipefitter. My uncle I worked a lot with was a pipefitter.
I worked with my uncle for quite a few months and years for him. It
was in the family, and learned a lot about that, and that's why they
were asking for a, wanting a pipefitter here at that time, and--when
I
came in here. And the guy that was retiring or whatever -------
---(??) at that time, and a fellow by the name of Red Perkins was in
human resources here then. And he said, "If we have anything comes
available, we'll get in touch with you." And, but anyway, I get back
home, and I have this, my wife tells me that I have a number there to
call: "There's a gentleman wants to talk to you." So I got on the phone
and I called the number, and it was Mr. Perkins. He said, "We don't
have anything in the pipefitting line at this time, or in maintenance,"
but he said, "We could probably put you on in general labor here for a
period of time until maybe something does come up." Well, anyway, the
pipefitter job never did come open. I mean I've been, that's where
I've been, here the rest of my life. So far.
TROLAND: So what year did you come to Buffalo Trace?
RIDDLE: Nineteen sixty-four?
TROLAND: Nineteen sixty-four. And what was, then, the very first job
that you held here at
Buffalo Trace?
RIDDLE: The first job I held here?
TROLAND: Here, yes.
RIDDLE: In the warehousing department. Rolling barrels, doing whatever
they had you do, loading empty barrels or whatever. I worked in
the--we worked there during the day. After a while, you know, we got
to where we could come over here and, and work some in the shipping
at night, you know. They'd have night work over here. We could work
over there in the day, and a lot of times we'd come over here and work
at nights in shipping. (Coughs) Back--excuse me--back in the sixties,
the latter part of the sixties, I, I bid on a job here that was in the
painting crew over where (??) they had a paint crew here on a lot of
that time in maintenance, and I worked on that for, I don't know, two
or three years. We painted most everything around here, and then I
worked my time in to where I got enough time to work
wherever I went
back to the warehousing department. I've been there ever since.
TROLAND: Ronnie, how about you? When your schooling was over, what--
EDDINS: Well--
TROLAND: --what were your thoughts then?
EDDINS: I--
TROLAND: What was your next step?
EDDINS: --I, I come here right out of high school, you know. I'd--
actually, when I come to work here, see, I wasn't eighteen; I wasn't
supposed to be working, you know. But (laughs) so anyway, I come to
work here and kindy misrepresented my age when I come in here? But
anyway, I went to work in the, in the bottling house, and so, and so
I'd come to work here on the night shift, and I stayed on night shift.
We worked about three months that winter, you know, and the--got to
understand back then everything's in a rush deal. There are people, a
lot of people was hired to run the bottling and, you know, the whiskey
bottled up the, and through the winter months for Christmas and the
holidays. And then it was more or less li-, each--you'd be off
through
all the summer months and stuff and then back there again in the fall
of the year and the winter months, and then but did the same thing
over again. So the first mon-, first year, I worked here about three
months. Second year, I guess it was about five months, and then it
finally got to I was working about six months a year. And then after
I was here about, oh, I'd say six or seven years, then I pulled, well,
went through, you know, kind of year round. But during that meantime
I was working here, that's the reason I was doing so much farming and
stuff, too, on the sideline is, you know, trying to make a living for
the family and, and, but yet this was so interesting here that I didn't
want to give this part up either. So as it come about--well, put it
this way: Back in the first year, I thought about it, you know, leaving
up here. I worked here about three months. Then I turned around and
I had a cousin that worked in
Shelbyville die-casting aluminum, so I
went over there and I started on that, and I worked on that about six
months. And then they called me back here, and then I had to make a
decision on whether I was going to stay over there or come back here.
So I come back here and stayed here. So, but, you know, back then,
you know, I was making like fifty cents an hour over there, and I come
over here, and I think it was, what, seventy-five, something like that.
So it was a g-, a whole lot of money difference, you know. So it was
a big difference in pay, and then plus I enjoyed the working here, too.
That over there was like 130, 135 degree temperatures I was working
in, and it was rough going. Had to wear the asbestos suits and just-
-it was all "Get out of this situation." But I have never since I come
back here to the Buffalo Trace and worked here, you know, I've never
regretted it at all. Always been tickled I did come back here.
TROLAND:
In those early years, in those early years, describe a typical
day of work here at Buffalo Trace for you.
EDDINS: Okay. Well, well, when I come in here in the early years, of
course, it's altogether different than it was now, you know. We'd--
while I was working in the bottling house. For instance, now we can run
the bottling house with maybe ten or fifteen people on the line. Back
then, you was looking at seventy-five or eighty people just running,
operate one bottling line. And then so the bottling house, you know,
we run the day shift and a night shift in the bottling house, you know,
and so we had five, six lines running in the daytime, five, six at
night. And you go throwing about seventy-five people into a line, so
that's a lot of employees was working here during that time. And so it
was all new to me when I first come here, and so I had to learn about
what was going on and how to do. So I worked in the bottling house,
I got real interested, and, and I bid on a job in there they call the
setup job. And
so I'd held that first three years I was here at the,
here, and then the opportunity come up in shipping where to I could go
to a team leader's job. And so I--naturally I was here for the money
and wanted to learn all I could, too--so I took the team leader's job.
And everything back then was done with boxcars. We didn't have any
trucks come in and out, because everything done with trains; all their
supplies come in by trains, everything went out by train. And so, you
know, it was a great deal of difference by loading out the boxcars than
it was the, the trucks we do nowadays. But, you know, the, naturally
the trains it took longer to get there, but nowadays everything's in
the fast motion you got to have the trucks traveling, so it's a--that
changed with times. But after I left the--so I stayed over in the
shipping department two or three years. Let's see: I think in 1967
I went to
the, out over in the warehouse department. And then I went
over there and I went in the, worked in the office of the clerk at that
time, as union employees worked in the office of the clerk. So I went
in there and worked a couple years as a clerk, then I come back out of
there because I didn't want to be tied down to the office at that time.
You know, I was, felt like I had to be out and about, so I come back
out of the office and I took a job as, actually they called it "cutting
barrels" in the warehouse. And what it was, you used a spinning
wheel that the government required, and you cut all the numbers into
the barrels. And so I had to, I went into the warehouses and I cut
all these numbers into the barrels. I don't know; it's probably 450
to 500,000 barrels that I had to go back and redo all of them. So I
spent two or three years doing that, and finally got, when I got that
done, then that, that's when I bid permanent into the warehouse
as a
team leader. Well, I went through the steps over there far as rick
machine, pumping, trying to learn every job that was to be available.
And everything anybody else could do, I figured I could do it or do it
better, so that's, I went through those steps. And so I always pushed
myself to the limit to, to do that. So then in 1983, that's when I
moved back into the warehouse office permanent. And I've been in there
ever since.
TROLAND: What was the purpose of the numbers that you were putting on
the barrels?
EDDINS: Now that was, at that time that was government-required. They
had to be cut into the wood. Now we can stencil it on the barrel in
ink, okay? If it's cut into the wood, nobody could change that number,
see; that's the idea of the government requiring that. And I would
put the date, what date it was that the product was made,
you know, -
---------(??), and I'd have to put the day and month and year, put that
on there. The lot numbers and so on, then you had a code number, that
sequence of numbers you put in there for the barrels been made that
day. And so every day would actually, all that number would go back to
one, you know, each individual day up till--that time we was running,
what, about 800 barrels a day new production going into the warehouses,
so that's how many barrels that you had to put those numbers on. So
actually, then, the number I was putting on there with this spinning
wheel was about that big around [holds hands approximately a foot
apart]. And all the way around that, you know, it had, you know, ABCs
on it, and then it had one through ten or one through zero. And so you
actually spun it with your thumb, and--kind of like using a typewriter,
only, you know? So you would actually hit that on the barrel. And,
and of course over a period of years you don't actually, you'd get good
with that, so you'd just be talking to
somebody and just write right on
the barrel what you wanted to write on it or put numbers on it. And,
and it just sounded like a typewriter (imitates sound of typewriter)
it just going acrosst it, and, but that's, that's kind of, but over
a period of years they quit using that--government didn't require it
anymore--but I think I still got the old wheel somewheres. I about
wore out, hard to tell how many of them I wore out, but that was one of
the requirements. And, and I had to go through, had to climb through
the ricks and do those inside the warehouses. But in later years, the
government didn't require that to be on there, so then that's when we
done away with it.
RIDDLE: You had two sets of numbers--
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: --on your barrel: you had a company number, and then you had-
-this cut number he's talking about was a, it's a government number.
They kept a serial number as well, as well as I can relate.
EDDINS: Yeah. Asset numbers, they called them.
RIDDLE: Asset, asset number.
EDDINS: Um-hm.
TROLAND: How did the government account for these barrels? What records
were kept
to ensure that the barrels were properly taxed and so forth?
RIDDLE: Well, when you, when you fill the barrels, that's just, back
then was cut number identified that barrel. And each one of those
barrels at that time, they were weighed in and out. They were weighed
before they come into the fill room, and then they were weighed again,
and that's where they determined the tariff on the barrel by how much
product was in it, how many gallons were in it. That went on your
government record. Each barrel would not, then, isn't, wasn't a,
didn't have like a daily average like we have now, like a sixty-six
point zero or whatever. It would be, like, one maybe would be sixty-
four something, and then another one might be sixty-five. It depends.
The barrels weren't as uniform then as they are today.
EDDINS: That's where, like I was talking about, you know, a while ago,
when I spent the, the couple years in there as a clerk. That's what I
had done. Had those great big long government sheets like this [holds
hands several feet apart],
and I, I would fill those out, and every
barrel I would figure out how much it weighed, what it was, how many
proof count it was per barrel. Of course, back then, you've got to
understand, we didn't, boy, we di-, I did not even have, naturally,
no computers. I did not have no type of adding machine. All that was
done by hand. And so, you know, that, it was a great big job foo-,
dealing with those numbers, and that's, and so you'd, we'd complete
those records. And then, of course, naturally everything about,
everybody had to have a copy, so you had four or five copies deep.
RIDDLE: Um-hm.
EDDINS: And, but everything was kept in files on paper. In those days
was a whole lot of recordkeeping and a whole lot of file cabinets.
Every, every day's production, every month, week, everything was kept
for, oh, I guess we kept it up, what, as high as twenty years.
TROLAND: I understand that some time in the past
there was a government
agent who was on the premises. What was your interaction with that
individual?
RIDDLE: Yeah. As a matter of fact, we had an officer where the Blanton
Burke (??) room is now. They had an officer, and they probably had,
what, I guess eight or ten--?
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: --government people that, that were in there, and they always
was one, at least one in the re-gauging room and one in the--when they
were filling--in the dump room that checked after the guys weighing
the barrels, or if you were gauging the whiskey out or whatever. They
used to, at one time when you, when they were dumping the product
especially, you had to, you had to make two check papers: You had
to have one for your employee that was here, whoever's checking your
pumper or whomever your checker, plus the government also got one,
and they would check those barrels off, which they come off by serial
number. That's what we were talking about, the cut numbers and
the
company number. They had to match those numbers. Today it's just
dumped by lot number, like whatever day's whiskey that is. They don't
have a serial number on them anymore like they did. But they had
probably, I'd say, eight or ten. They had some that stayed over here
in the, in the bottling. They used to gauge the whiskey in the dump
room, and they got what they called an estimated tax versus whatever
it was when they come through the chill room after it was bottled. I
think that's what it was, what the tax was paid on, and now I think
it's paid through K storage (??), correct?
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: I believe that's correct.
EDDINS: See, back then, you got to understand that government had,
naturally, control over everything we had in the warehouses, all of our
bourbons we had in our tanks, so if we had a lock on it, they did, too.
We could take our lock off, but it didn't do any good. We couldn't
get into it, because they had to remove their lock. And that was same
way; all of our warehouses had two locks on them. So we'd go around
every
morning--I've done it many times, and I know Leonard has, too.
We'd go around in the morning with a government guy before ti-, work
time, and we'd unlock the warehouses. And we had a check-off list,
we'd check the, what warehouses we unlocked, what time it was. The
government man had his lock, and so we had, we'd take two locks off.
And then we'd come back and, and was getting our product out. They
also checked the, the whiskey as well as we did. They proofed it well
as we did. They ch-, every movement of whiskey or any type of bourbon
at all, any type of alcohol, the government had, brought us a (??)
release to us what we could do. You know, and so everything had to be
under a government regulations, even down to the samples, any little
sample ----------(??), you know, of a barrel, everything is, any type
of whiskey is, had to be recognized through the government, and they
had to have their approval on it. We made their paperwork and our
paperwork. They would constantly something come up, if they walked
into our area or was dumping over there and something wasn't right and
didn't suit them, shut us down. You know, in fact ----------(??) I
been (??) over in the bottling house, and all at once he'd just walk up
there and cut all the lines off. Okay. We're shutting her down. That
the proof was maybe, he didn't li-, he didn't like his first check on
the proof or something on the bottle. They was, they was great in one
sense, you know, the big help to us. In another sense, we had a few
of them that weren't the kindest sort of authority once in a while,
showing us they was in charge, and they would shut us down, you know.
RIDDLE: They were pretty strict.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: Real strict.
EDDINS: Yeah. But they had to be; I understand that. They had to be
strict, you know. And so, but we--that's one good thing. I think
that's a big advantage to Leonard and I, is we had growed up through
that and went by those rules and regulations, and we've
always go by
that today. You know, those same things that we learnt under those
government guys, working with them back then, we, we do that today.
Oh, and one reason why we do it, because we signed the papers that we
(laughs), saying that we'd represent the government anymore on this.
Both of us.
RIDDLE: Yeah. If you receive it in or out, you have to sign it in or
out.
EDDINS: Yeah. So when the government guys left, we took over that,
their part of that, too.
TROLAND: So, I see. So you really, working as warehouse managers, then,
you are taking over the--
EDDINS: Responsibility (??)--
TROLAND: --responsibility of seeing that the--
EDDINS: That's--
TROLAND: --whiskey is properly accounted for.
EDDINS: Right.
RIDDLE: Accounted for, handled correctly, yes.
EDDINS: Shipped in and out correctly. Between myself, Leonard, and a
couple more here at the plant, yes, you know, that's our jobs, to take
care of the government work and our work.
TROLAND: So would you describe the relationship between Buffalo Trace
employees, distillery employees, and the federal agents as being
somewhat adversarial at times?
How, how did you feel about working--
EDDINS: Well--
TROLAND: --with these people in the, in the past?
RIDDLE: I never had a problem working with one of them. Most of them
were pretty nice people, you know; they were nice people, but they were
just, you know, they, they went by, you had to go by the book. You
know, they had, they got the manual--as a matter of fact, we still have
the manuals over there that, you know, that you go by, tells you your
regulations and stuff. It was--no, they were--you'd get one once in a
while, you know, that might be a little bit--
EDDINS: But our, our regulations--
RIDDLE: I'm sure we were the same way (laughs), some of us hard to get
along with sometimes, too, probably.
EDDINS: Yeah. You know, our regulations that we got on manual books
like Leonard was talking about, and we go--we went by those, and that
just would have been, you know, all us has got regulations we go by,
and one of them is we got, you know, every few years we got union
contracts, we'd go by those regulations. And so, you know, we got to
be perfectly on track with all the--of the government regulations, make
certain that there is not any mess-ups, you double-check, you ------
----(??), you know, and you che-, so we learned to do things and, and
within a--do a stage one, two, three and a four. Most time jobs carry
to (??) one and two: you do this job and you double-check it. Okay,
between Riddle and I, we, we do a, like a four-stage, you know. So we
check the whiskey four different times to make certain we got the right
whiskey we're using, the right whiskey's been aged at the right time,
so we've got a, like a four-step deal where most people go through a
two-step. Because there's, we have no room for mistakes.
TROLAND: Now, the two of you have worked together for a long time, and
so I want to explore those ideas as well as a history of the two of
you. Leonard, when did you, when did you first meet Ronnie, and what
did you think?
RIDDLE: I think the first time I really met Ronnie was
when we had a
flood down here one time. (laughs)
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: And we, at that time, I don't think Ronnie was working in
the warehouse at that time, and so we came over to help move all the
equipment and stuff out of the bottling house and the shipping areas
and still and whatever. Everybody was in, you know, general labor, but
he got sort of lit up like a Christmas tree.
EDDINS: Yeah, sure did. (RIDDLE laughs) You saved my life. He jerked
me loose.
RIDDLE: He originally got this--this adding machine was sitting on this
metal desk, and as well as I can remember he had leather, leather-soled
shoes on. I had these gumboots on, these, up, you know, almost knee
high or whatever, but anyway, he reached and got this calculator, and
it, man, it was [makes a shaking motion] this number. And, of course,
I gave him a pretty good lick when I got him off of it, but I got him
away from it. I, that's really when I guess I got to know Ro-, I knew
Ronnie; I knew who Ro-, who Ronnie was at that time. I don't remember
the
year that was, but it's been quite some time ago.
EDDINS: It's been years and years ago, but yeah, I remember that time
well. I was in, done going down. I was standing in water about this
deep [holds hands approximately a foot apart]. Water was coming up
fast, and I was done going down. And Riddle, I think, well, as I
remember, he got a hold of me, and he got jerked loosed, and then next
time he really (RIDDLE laughs) knocked me plumb loose from everything,
you know. And that's the only thing saved me. If it wasn't for that,
I wouldn't--
RIDDLE: Yeah, it was--
EDDINS: --it would have gotten me.
RIDDLE: --this thing, it was sitting on that metal desk, and of course,
naturally, it was arcing to that, that water, of course, grounded him
to the--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --to the power on it, and of course the power wasn't off at that
time in the building, so--
EDDINS: Yeah, so--
RIDDLE: But that's what I rem-, yeah.
EDDINS: But that was the, that was the one time I was real tickled to
see Leonard be around. (both laugh)
TROLAND: Not the only time, I'm sure.
EDDINS: No. Oh, no. No. We've worked together for many years, and
we've, we've helped one another, you know, always been a team effort.
And it's, you know, it's, it's always a, you know, one thing
about
it, I can always to count on Leonard to be with me at all times. It's
going to be done right. There's going to be no mistakes made, so you
can feel relaxed. If you've got something going on, and I, if I st-,
head into a problem, I'd go to Leonard and talk to Leonard about it,
or he'd do the same thing to me, and we'd talk it over. And when the
outcome wouldn't come out, you know, we'd be out on top of it, and,
but you are constantly hitting all types of problems through your
lifetimes over here. And we've, like I say, we've spent forty-some
years together, and so we've hit a lot of stumps, you know, and had to,
to go over and head into things you never get into before, and, but I
always found that I could go to Leonard, you know, we can sit down and
talk this over, and we'd al-, we'd, between the two of us, we'll figure
out a way to get this done and the best way to do it.
RIDDLE: Well, I, as you say, we always rely on one another's judgment
about things. We, you know, and you take
his judgment or vice versa,
you know, on whatever your decision might be at that time, and so, you
know, whatever. I think that's why we've had a good relationship over
there, and because whatever I do, I usually try to keep him informed
or vice versa, you know. One or the other guy always knows what--and
I think that's the best way to operate any kind of a business, not
only this here, anywhere else, is, you know, the people that's working
together, you keep everybody around you informed of what's going on.
EDDINS: Yeah. A real, real close relationship.
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: If we didn't have that real close relationship with one another,
I kno-, you know, just like I every, just almost any minute I can look
at my watch. I know exactly what Leonard's doing; he knows exactly
what I'm doing. And even though we might even be in two different
buildings. But, and I know what he's thinking about he's got going on;
he knows what I'm thinking about. You know, we, it's go-, that's at
that point. But I've found that Leonard
has been a outstandly guy to
work with. You know, I mean, it's, it's a whole lot, having a total
trust in somebody, you know. And, and I could always do that with
Leonard, and I hope he has with me too, because we always--
RIDDLE: Sure.
EDDINS: --put a lot of load on each one, on each one other's shoulders
like that. So it's worked great for us. It mades our jobs a lot
easier for us here.
TROLAND: When did you first start working together, and what were you
doing at that time?
RIDDLE: Back, I guess when we started working together was probably,
what, middle, late sixties?
EDDINS: Yeah--
RIDDLE: --I guess? In the warehouse, he, when he came there to, he bid a
job over--then they had, like, department seniority, you know. If you
were in a department, that was your department, and you had to bid from
one department to the other. Of course, he was in shipping or--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --or bottling at that time, whatever, and he bid over on the
cutting job--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --I think is what he was talking about.
EDDINS: Right. Yeah.
RIDDLE: And then I think after that job was exhausted or whatever--at,
at one time
they did away with that, that cutting job--we, we worked
together on the rickers, leak hunting, whatever. Just, you know--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: I'd say probably around '67 or '68, somewhere sort of around in
that area, I'd say.
EDDINS: Yeah, we worked the rickers together.
RIDDLE: Yeah--
EDDINS: Riddle has always been a guy that--
RIDDLE: But--
EDDINS: --that has, when we're running the rickers and things, "If
anybody else can do it, I can do it twice as good," you know, no matter
what job it was. So I learned a lot from Leonard on that, and, you
know, well, put it this way: one time during the holiday--we ordinarily
take eight hours to get our new production into the warehouse. We went
over into Warehouse A on this holiday, and Leonard and I were assigned
to the ricker. Riddle says, "I tell you what." Says, "If you'll hang
with me," says, "we'll be--we'll have this done in four hours." And so
the guys said, "Well, if you all get it done in four hours," said, "you
all can just go on
home, and we'll give you eight hours' pay." Well,
you know, he like to worked you to death, but we did. He's good at it,
and, and I put, I try done as much as I could to stay up with him, but
he can handle those barrels so easy. And then ricking those barrels-
-while I was talking about running the ricker, that's where we take the
barrels, the new production, and take it up and put it into the rails;
had to roll the barrels into the rails and bung them up, and you do
the, like, first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth tier. And
so that was the main holdup to try to get things done quick usually,
if you go into the lower floor in a warehouse, was who operating the
rickers for you. So anyway, that day by eleven o'clock, we, we was
done and out of here. And of course, like I say, now I was tired. I
know he had to be, too, but he's--
RIDDLE: Yeah, the whole key to that, handling those barrels, you let
the barrel handle itself, really. It's a little of a knack to it, you
know, it, a 500-pound barrel, you're just not going to manhandle it
every time. It's got a lot of, lot of act
(??) to the, knowing how
to, where to approach that barrel, how to approach it to make it work
for yourself. It'll, it'll roll itself. I think that's (laughs) a
lot of our young guys today, they go out here dragging, you know, they,
they try to manhandle that thing. You know, you just ain't going to
manhandle those barrels, or you'll get, it'll take a toll on you after
a while.
EDDINS: Yeah. It'll take--
RIDDLE: But we've had some good years down here--
EDDINS: Oh, yeah.
RIDDLE: I mean, we have, and over the years, Ronnie and I, we've, we've
never had a social, I guess you'd say "events" a lot away from the
place. Mostly ours has been--
EDDINS: Been right here.
RIDDLE: --been right here in the plant.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: And that's unusual; usually people that work together a lot like
that have a lot of social activities outside, you know, families or
whatever. We've never had that over the years. Of course, he lives
in, what, Henry County? And--
EDDINS: Henry County, and you live in Franklin County.
RIDDLE: Yeah, Franklin County, so--
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: --but anyway, we've had a good relationship over the years, and
I'm sure it'll
continue until we both retire--
EDDINS: Oh, yeah.
RIDDLE: --or whatever. So--
EDDINS: Yeah. No doubt of that. Of course, you know, I'm running
sixty-six years old--be sixty-seven in a few more months--but, you
know, it's kind of a place that's kindy hard to just walk off. I had
in mind I was going to retire a few years ago. You know, you got so
much stuff involved here at the plant that you got another job that
you're wanting to do or another experimental that you're wanting to
work on, that you want to complete. There's--it just, you know, if
a person lived two hundred years, he--he continually would work here.
I thought all about it, and, because it's, it's not something you
complete and walk off. So every day is an enjoyable day. You look
for doing something better; you try to improve yourself and improve
the product. Anything that's making an improvement
far as quality and
taste-wise, we're looking for it. And Riddle's the same way. We've
always, we've talked and talked about it. We've looked at things,
at different types of products and different places we can age in the
warehouses. And, of course, he's got his favorites (??), favorite
place, and I've got my favorite place, too, you know, and--favorite
warehouses, favorite floors. I'm a real believer--
RIDDLE: Yeah, I've got the best two locations, then (??). (both laugh)
EDDINS: So anyway, L3, I think, is your favorite spot, and then of
course you--
RIDDLE: L2 and 3 and M2 and 3.
EDDINS: Yeah--
RIDDLE: I think that's the best thing, yeah.
EDDINS: --but, but the o-, you got to understand too, now, his favorite
drink is a, is a wheated whiskey, and my favorite is a, is the rye
whiskey. So I like the Buffalo Trace and the Eagle Rares and E.T.
Lee's, and, and Leonard, he's, his main one is, is your Weller sevens
and twelves and those type of wheated whiskeys.
RIDDLE: Yeah, it's a
milder whiskey.
EDDINS: Yeah. It's a--
RIDDLE: It's a, it's not a harsher whiskey, at least. It's a, it don'
t have that hard bite to it, of cour-, and I think the reason being for
that is because you enter it in a lower proof into the barrel, which
I think has a lot to do with that: 114 versus 125. It don't get all
that hard bite to it like 125 proof goes in, and when it comes out it's
probably up in the, back up in the hundred and thirties or whatever when
it actually ages. Probably at 114, at I'd say probably 118 or -19 is
about as high up as you go back once you dump it and put it into the--
EDDINS: Yeah.
TROLAND: This is for the wheat whiskeys you're talking about.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: Right, right. The wheat whiskeys, what we call them.
TROLAND: What is the difference between a wheat whiskey and a rye recipe
whiskey?
RIDDLE: Well, your recipe's just, what, 51 percent?
EDDINS: Yeah, fifty-one.
RIDDLE: It has to be 51 percent wheat or corn or whatever to call it
rye or wheat or corn whiskey, or, or whatever. Of course, your corn
whiskey is, it's just a regular
recipe, goes back into a used barrel.
And they call it corn whiskey, or it can be bourbon whiskey; you put
it back in a used barrel.
EDDINS: You can use it for a blend or something.
RIDDLE: Yeah, for blends.
EDDINS: There's some products out here that uses a--
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: --small amount of blend in, you know, something for a product,
but--
RIDDLE: That's what your preferred is here: It's corn plus spirits.
It's a--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: And, of course, it's got so much, what, caramel and--
EDDINS: Right.
RIDDLE: --some other color that's added to it.
EDDINS: This type of mix is not a pure bourbon whiskey.
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: So, but you know, the, the thing of it is, like I was talking
about there, one of the differences (??) between the rye and the wheat
is it takes a different location in the warehouse to age that product
to make for its best of aging. And L3 is a concrete warehouse, we call
it; got the concrete, three foot, three foot of concrete in the floors.
It don't--and it's got a fifteen-foot ceiling in it. So
they're bo-,
being made that way, the temperature change inside that house don't
change as fast as one that has got a--
RIDDLE: Right.
EDDINS: --metal siding or these other type of warehouses where it's
got a brick on the outside and the, and the structure is wood on the
inside. So the temperature in there is not going to change as fast.
RIDDLE: It's more controllable--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --in those type houses, and the airflow in the, in the summer
months, too, and airflow has a lot to do with your aging of whiskey,
to get airflow through it. And I, that's one reason why that I like
that house there: I think it's set, the positioning of the house, of
where it's at, the airflow around it, I think, is, has a lot to do with
the aging of the product in that house. And, but we've had some good
whiskey come out of it. Of course, now, there's some good whiskey,
bourbon coming out of some of the other houses, too, but, you know,
it's--
EDDINS: Yeah, it's--
RIDDLE: --depends on what your--
EDDINS: --it's, you know, we've won a lot of prizes and, and stuff over
a period of years, you know,
Whiskey of the Years and different ones,
and got some very high ratings, and we take all that in consideration,
you know. We remember, we know where this whiskey coming from, and
so, you know, just like an E.T. Lee, you know, it's got to be a little
spicy, and we know that. And so we know where that's got to, got to be
aged at in the warehouses. And, and the Eagle Rares, you know, it's a
li-, got a little different quality of taste to it. So, and so that's
the same way with your regular wheated whiskey, with your regular
straight rye whiskey: It's got places in the warehouses, in certain
warehouses, it'll age better than other, other spots. So we have,
over a period of years, have now learned where those spots are at, the
different types of whiskey, and that's what we, that's the reason this
experimentals is so interesting, because it's a never-ending situation
that you learn about this.
TROLAND: Each of you, I'm told, has several favorite
places--
TROLAND: My name is Tom Troland from the University of Kentucky, and
we're talking today with Ronnie Eddins on the left and Leonard Riddle
on the right, both from Buffalo Trace Distillery. This is the Buffalo
Trace Oral History Project, it's October 16, 2008, and this is the
second of two tapes. Let's go back to the question that I asked
earlier: Each of you has certain special places in warehouses that you,
you like.
RIDDLE: Yeah, that's--
TROLAND: Why? What are these places, and what are, for example, Leonard,
what are these places, and what, what's good about them?
RIDDLE: Like I said earlier, you know, everybo-, everyone has a
different taste for bourbon or whatever, and I'm sort of a, a wheat
whiskey person. I like the, the Weller whiskey, the twelve-year Owsley
(??) whiskey, and I feel like that the area that I, I like the most is
warehouse L3 and 2, I feel like--and M3 and 2--ages that type whiskey
better than it does
anywhere else on the lot, just like we were ta-,
that's, I think that's what we were just talking about: the airflow,
the, to the whiskey, the control of the, con-, I think you can control
the humidity, the heat, more into that hou-- that house, for that type
product. Which, like some of the other products that Ronnie--it might
not get that good a flavor at the, in, in that, in that area as a, as
is the wheat whiskey. But that's why I like those floors. And--
TROLAND: So what is different, then, about those floors that makes them
particularly useful for--
RIDDLE: I think the airflow--
TROLAND: --wheat whiskey?
RIDDLE: --the heat control--
TROLAND: I see.
RIDDLE: --the position of the building, I guess you'd say. It, you
know, the, you know, you can sit whatever when it's built, see. I
feel like that's got a lot to do with the airflow around the other
buildings that come into this building or whatever; I think that's got
a whole lot to do with it. And some of the other houses on the lot are
the same. You know, you've got some other houses that age some good

quality product as well, but of (??) that's, that's where my favorite
product comes from.
EDDINS: Yeah, that's the--on those concrete houses like that, you've
got, the temperature inside changes slowly, so that mellows the whiskey
when it's got a slow change. Got a fast change, you're hitting high
spicy, little bit warmer taste. Now, Warehouse I and K is my favorite
warehouses, because that is for the Buffalo Trace, the E.T. Lees, and
the Eagle Rares, those type of products. And, and, you know, you get
up on about the seventh floor of I, for instance, you know, of--every
morning the sun comes up, you know, and you've got a dew off the river.
You know, that, that, to me that's a big plus for us; it helps age
our product, so therefore it kindy dries it out every morning, and then
during the day the temperature rises, you get pressure in the barrel,
and it pushes the whiskey out into the wood. And by doing this vacuum
every night and pressure in the daytime, then you actually pick up some
spicy taste into your whiskey. And, like the E.T. Lee is a kind of a
real spicy, got more of a spicy taste. So you're looking at something
with a good flavor that don't burn a lot, but yet it's got enough to
it to give it kind of a fruity, spicy taste to it. And that's kind of
what I like about my bourbon, is if it's got a kind of a fruity taste,
a little spicy taste to it, and it's mild and don't, you know, burn
you all the way down (laughs). You know, not like it was years ago,
back when I first went to (??), first come to work down here. You
know, there, that was a different story. If a buy--if a person--our
big seller then was also the same way. It had to be hot, fiery, high

spicy taste, then that was a big seller. Okay? If a spate of, state
of Kentucky, they would, if it was r-, older it was, the more a high
fiery taste it was and higher spicy taste it was, the more they loved
it. And over a period of years, the generation has changed so they
want some more of a flavor to it now, nowadays. So that's, so you get
to create a different type of taste from back then till now. One thing
is, you know, we got to look at, is back in the 1950s and forties and
early sixties, a lot of our product went into the barrel at 102 proof,
105 proof; you know, we were putting it in the barrel at a low proof.
So what you was doing there is you was creating, trying to create this
fiery taste by going high in the warehouse and putting it, and keep
a flavor, you know, on that lower proof. And
over a period of years,
people's tastes have changed, so now that's shifted positions in the
warehouse. So therefore our positions goes kind of through a wave, like
Warehouse C3, C4, it's a high deal, you know, for Eagle Rare, you know,
that sort of products. And so, you know, each--but that's as timely
as now. You know, say it's thirty, near thirty, forty years from now,
you know, as people's taste changes, then the wave might go up or down,
and there could be a more of a milder taste or more of a--it's, you
got to, you try to base up on what's selling now. What is it that they
like about this product? Then that's what you get to developing. And
what it's going to be di-, six or eight years from now, that's the big
thing. You know, what we aging now, what we putting in the warehouse
today, as of today, you know, I've got us purposed (??) for that eight
years from now. I done got it figured
out to how many barrels I need
of this eight years from now, six years from now, you know, all that
is--but you've got to do that six to eight years in advance, so that's
the way we've got to store it in the warehouses.
RIDDLE: Yeah, if it's something you want to leave in there for a long
period of time, you want her down lower, and if it's going to be in
there for a short time, you want it up higher where you get a quicker
aging on the whiskey when it's higher.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: If you're going to dump something for a four-year-old whiskey,
you would probably want it up a little bit closer to the top of your
building than you would at the bottom. If you want something for a
ten-year-old, then you want it down somewhere--ten- or twelve-year-old-
-you want it down somewhere lower in your warehouses. Keep from--
TROLAND: So the warehouse levels--
RIDDLE: --keep from over-aging it. Yeah, I guess you'd say.
TROLAND: The warehouse has a number of levels. How many levels do the
warehouses typically have?
RIDDLE: Well, you have, your concrete houses have five floors, and they
have six ricks on each floor. And your rack, what we call rack houses,
are three-high ricks, and I think
I has nine and so does K, and then of
course you've got your smaller house over there, H, which is only four
floors. That's a good aging house, H, and then Warehouse C you have,
like, six floors. They have three ricks, three ricks to a floor. And
you got D, and I think we're only using, what, eight floors over there?
Seven or--
EDDINS: Eight fl--
RIDDLE: --eight floors. That's a ten-high house, but we're only using--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --about eight floors.
EDDINS: Yeah, the upper floors are a little hot. We quit using those;
they were a little bit hot.
RIDDLE: Warehouse P is a five hou-, that's a concrete house, and I think
Warehouse Q, it's a, it's what we call a rack house. I think when
it--that house was built back, what, in the forties, maybe?
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: Or whenever.
EDDINS: Nineteen--
RIDDLE: I think the P and Q were built about somewhere during the war
times or whatever in the forties. And I think both of those houses
when they started building were intended to be concrete houses, but the
shortage of wood or whatever at that time, or concrete or whatever the
deal was,
but anyway one of them ended up being a rack house and the
other one being a concrete house. But both of those houses are pretty
good or decent now, too.
EDDINS: Um-hm. Yeah, each one of those floors of Q, in other words,
you take Warehouse Q: If you take the first, second and third floor,
it's ideal for product, you know, that we would use for a fifteen,
eighteen-year-old product. It's, it would let it age but not over-age.
We want to keep something that is unique, got a real unique taste to
it, something different than somebody else's. Yeah, ----------(??)
just like the George T. Stagg fifteen-year-old. Then you gots, you
know, so we go-, you know, we got some different products that requires
extra slow. And--
RIDDLE: Well, a lot of your twenty-year-old Van Winkle here the last few
weeks that we bottled, it came out of that house over there. That's a--

EDDINS: Yeah. You had a little part (??)--
RIDDLE: --a Van Winkle whiskey that that we bottled.
TROLAND: So those extremely old bourbons--twenty years old, of course,
is very old for a bourbon--
EDDINS: Yeah.
TROLAND: They tend to be aged in the lower levels of the house.
RIDDLE: Correct.
EDDINS: Right.
RIDDLE: That's correct.
EDDINS: Um-hm, um-hm. Yeah--
RIDDLE: If you put them up on the top floor, it would be so hot, you
know, it would really be, the flavor of it would be--
EDDINS: It'd--
RIDDLE: --it'd have a terrible bite to it.
EDDINS: Yeah, it ages too fast on a top floor. But you got to
understand, now, the top floors of Warehouse I and K, in the ninth
floor, it gets mighty hot in the summertime up there, and the pressure
on the, the liquid inside that barrel is pushing so deep into the wood,
it's pulling out a real fiery, woody taste--
RIDDLE: Right.
EDDINS: --okay? But what's on that very first floor down there, it's,
it's not. So it's under-aged. So when you take a four-year-old, this
one up here's going to taste like a six-year-old. This one down here's
going to taste like a two-year-old. So what Riddle and I'll do, we'll
pull, say, like 100 barrels of that and 100 barrels of this,
and we put
it in a 100,000-gallon tank over there of the four-year-old product.
Now you've got a good level product, you know, that's, that tastes the
same. So it's, it's good for its own use, but you've got to watch what
you're doing and how you use it. You know, that's--the upper floors,
you know, it over-ages so fast, but you've got spots that don't, you
know, that comes along slow. And so that's what he means.
TROLAND: Imagine two barrels from the same batch that are stored right
next to each other--so same level, same warehouse. Would you expect
differences between those two barrels?
EDDINS: Yes.
RIDDLE: Yes, it would be different. Yeah.
TROLAND: If so, what types of differences might you expect?
EDDINS: Yeah, um-hm.
RIDDLE: Could be the, could be the wood; it could be in the wood or the--
EDDINS: Um-hm. Yeah, you can t--
RIDDLE: --yep, airflow or whatever, yep.
EDDINS: --and you can turn one around, you--each barrel, you got to
understand, each barrel, you know, you've got thirty-one, thirty-two
staves in that, in that barrel. Okay? And the headboards, you got
seven or eight headboards on
each head. So you got fourteen headboards,
you got thirty-two staves. Okay, out of those staves, those could
be coming out of different trees, you know, and those boards do. And
those, and the wood that's in those trees, the north side of a tree
is different than the, than the south side of a tree. And so you get
down into the specs of the tree, and that will act your (??) whiskey
age differently. And then you get close to the inside of the tree,
the hard part of the wood, then it's closer grains and it don't soak as
good, so that's still going to make it age differently. So therefore
you can take twenty-six barrels and have them in a rail, and more than
likely if you really know your product real well and can pick it up,
each one of those barrels is going to have a just a hair different
taste to it. It might match our Buffalo Trace or Eagle Rare profile
that we're looking for, but the guys that does it daily, in and out, he
can tell a difference between
this barrel and that barrel. And--
RIDDLE: It might be the wood, like he was thinking of, or it, you know,
the barrel could maybe have got a little air in it or something, you
know, could have got to the product or something during the time while
they had a wormhole or something [like] that repaired. It could be a
lot of different things.
EDDINS: And it could be where the sun is shining through the window and
hitting on this barrel. It'll make--you know, you can take a, one of
them (??) over in Warehouse C. The first barrel on the south side--that
barrel, say, up on the fourth floor where that sun kindy shines in
there and hits that barrel for about a hour each day? That barrel is
going to be high spicy, but yet it's going to be a real gold, mellow
sugary taste, like a brown sugar taste to it. And that second barrel
back is going to be a different taste to it.
RIDDLE: Sure.
EDDINS: Because the sun hasn't hit that one.
TROLAND: Tell me a little bit about wood selection. I know that, just
as you were saying, plays a big role in the final product.
EDDINS: Well--
TROLAND: How do you ensure good, good wood?
EDDINS: Well, we, we have our guys when we purchase
our barrels, our--we
know the type of wood we're looking for in these barrels, and we have
our graders, we call it, up to the branch and look at each individual
barrel as we're unloading them. We want our wood to be something
that's solid, naturally, to hold our bourbon: no, no cracks in it,
no big holes in it, or splinter wood or wind shakes, we call it. And
also we want our wood to be, the grain-wise, about a medium grain,
what could we call a coarse grain and say is, is seven, seven to ten
grains per inch, you know, of the wood; if you put a ruler down on
it and you see the markings running through it, the growth grains, it
would be about seven to ten. That wood is, has growed too fast. That
means it's growed in a low-lying area in, in the country, rich soil,
and it don't age as w-, the whiskey as, as good. So we want something
in
between that ten to fifteen grains per inch, okay? And what happens
there is that slows the penetration of the wood up and lets it age in
the, in the barrels a more of a mellow taste to it. And then, so, you
know, that's kind of what we prefer to. You can pretty well look at a
piece of wood and tell where it was growed at, and the wood, and the,
and on the side of a hill, the north side of a hill, then that wood
there's going to be so tightly grained, it's going to be hard to age
whiskey in that, because it don't breathe. It's almost put like in a
con-, a metal container.
RIDDLE: You have specs on your barrels, you know, like the moisture
content of the stave and that. They have a way of te-, we have a probe
over there. You probe the barrels to see what the moisture content,
and it, what, about twenty to ten to twelve--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --would be ideal?
EDDINS: Right.
RIDDLE: You don't want anything too dry that goes in there because what
it'll do is just (??) suck the whiskey in real quick. You don't want
it real green because it would,
your whiskey wouldn't, it'd give it a
green--
EDDINS: Flavor.
RIDDLE: --taste, you know, or whatever coming out of it. So you don't
want your, your heads or your staves of your barrel to be e-, too wet
or too dry; they have to be in a certain area. They, they check those
down there where we buy our barrels as well as they do here, plus
they check the sapwood on the barrels to see if they're not sappy or
whatever. You have a, what do we use?
EDDINS: Yeah, we got a meter.
RIDDLE: The meter or--
EDDINS: Yeah, we got--
RIDDLE: --whatever they check them with.
EDDINS: --we got different ways of checking those. We got meters for
certain things, but we don't want any sapwood because that sapwood
would definitely, you know, ruin the flavor of our product. And we
don't want to pick it up any extra amount of moisture, you know, like
Riddle was talking about, you know, if it's in around the twelve, no
more than fourteen, range moisture in the wood. We don't want that
regular moisture out of that tree, so therefore we just want our wood
to lay actually for six months after it's been cut and to dry out.
And
so that's one of our specs (??) on the wood, you know, is if you
cut a tree down and saw it up into a barrel, then you have--and do it
too quick--then you've got too much of the sapwood of the tree mixed
in with it. We want a portion of that, because we want to pick up the
vanillas and the--and you got a lot of different flavors in that wood,
but we want to bring it out according to the way we want to age our
whiskey and to mix with it. So when those chemicals go reenacting with
our alcohol and the wood, then that, it creates a different flavor.
And sometimes it, the whiskey don't, or really alcohol, it don't
rea-, I guess what I'm getting at is sometimes a two- or three-year-old
barrel that's got whiskey in it, it still hasn't started changing much.
It actually starts, if it was in there, say, six or eight years, then
the chemicals go reacting more and give a
different flavor. And so the
quality of the wood plays a big part of that. And so that's, that is a
very, very important part of our operation, is having real good barrels.
RIDDLE: Yeah, I think, what, all our wood has to be aged at least, what,
six months?
EDDINS: Yes.
RIDDLE: And I know there's a lot of places they use wood that's not
six-month-old wood, and, but that's one of the requirements, one of the
specs on it. It has to be ----------(??), what, number three char, I
think is what we use?
EDDINS: Yeah. Number four char. We used to only use number three,
and now we use the number four char. But, and the reason we went to
the number four char is we wanted to pick up some "X" amount of color,
some "X" amount of caramels out of the wood. That's one of the things
that has changed over the period of years: the taste requirements I'm
speaking of earlier, that if you had a twenty-year-old, what would
taste good
to a person twenty years ago don't taste so good to a person
as of today. So then that's one thing we had to change a little bit of
the op-, what we do there. And then the type of wood, you know, it's
like that tree that has growed out here. It's a pretty white oak tree
growed out in open fields. It'd be a beautiful tree, but it's not good
for bourbon whiskey because it is got, it's picked up too fast a growth
of sapwood inside of it. It's pulled a lot of rich soil in with that
tree, and we want that tree to grow kind of slow and--
RIDDLE: Grain would be too wide in it.
EDDINS: Yeah. Grain would be too wide, and then, but see, they sour
easy. That, you know, you cut one of those trees down that got the
wide grain, and it's just got so much liquid in it, it'll sour. And so
it plays a--we always found that
trees that mainly come out of Eastern
Kentucky or Ozark Mountains are some of the top quality trees that, for
bourbon whiskey.
TROLAND: Do you select in some way the trees, the individual trees on
occasion?
EDDINS: I have done it, yes. Yeah. I have went out to inspect trees.
TROLAND: But you don't select all the trees--
EDDINS: No, I don't. No.
TROLAND: --just a small portion. What have--
EDDINS: We had--
TROLAND: --you found from these trees you've selected? What, what effect
has that had on the bourbon?
EDDINS: Well, you know, Independent Stave is a company that's a
very big company that makes barrels. Probably, I guess they're the
biggest company of all, far as making bourbon barrels, and we have
a lot of companies out there. And we've always, we had a real close
relationship with Independent Stave Company and run a lot of (??)
experimentals together. They would have a suggestion--John Boswell,
we worked together many, many year, stayed on the phone late, midnight
every night, you know, going over
things, working how we could do this
and do that and make things a little, taste a little better. So he was
the owner of Independent Stave, John, and his goal was to make the very
best a barrel could be made, you know, for bourbon whiskey. And he
always pushed for any type of change he could make to, to improve it.
So that wa-, that we done, you know, like I say; day in and day out we
would talk to one another, and he'd find time--he was a very busy guy,
but he always found time to talk to me. And I'd call him about certain
things and ask him had he tried this or tried that. And, so anyway,
their goal was, you know, to always have a top-quality barrel, so we
had a close relationship there, and we've managed to--he knows what I
wanted for the warehouses here, the type of barrels we want, so he, he
had his guys ----------(??) to meet our specs. We wrote up our specs,
what we wanted,
and he, and they go by that. So it's, you know, I think
every distillery operation has got their own specifications of type of
wood, and it depends on the type of warehouses they putting into, meets
their needs. And, but if our needs here at Buffalo Trace, and our--and
we're very fortunate here to, we have every type of warehouse that
we can age whiskey in that anybody else would have: we got the metal
houses, we got the concrete houses, we got the rack houses. We're
just f-, real fortunate to be sitting right here on the edge of the
r-, Kentucky River, get that morning fog comes in, plays a big part of
our aging process. We, even now that we're in the hot and dry summer
months, you need a little bit of moisture to make your product age
good. So we, we, we can get that off of the Kentucky River.
TROLAND: How is a rick house different from the other types of
warehouses?
EDDINS: The rick house--the rack house, we call
it--is, it's wood.
It's all built out of wood on the inside, and it, and it's got brick
on the outside. If some reason or another that the brick was to fall
away from the building, the, the barrels still be standing there, and
it don't su-, depend on the support of the concrete to hold the, the
warehouse up. Now, that's the rack house with the, with the brick on
the outside. Then we also got the rack warehouse with the metal on
the outside. Okay? And, of course, it is, the metal actually, it don't
help support the warehouse; it just helps keep the heat in and out--the
cold out, you know, and the heat, so forth. But it'll warm up quicker.
Now, the metal--
RIDDLE: A lot, a lot of your older distilleries rely mostly a lot on
your metal houses, and the reason being for that is the heat. The
metal, it attracts the heat, the sun, especially in the winter, when
they didn't
have, a lot of your houses at that time wasn't heated. And
that, the sun on that--the roof, the side, you know--would attract a
lot of that, and of course in the summertime, actually, you're going
to get a lot, and have to open them to keep them aired out. But they
would get a lot more heat from--of course, as they're going along, I
guess later forties or whenever they built these other rack houses, put
the brick on them--
EDDINS: Yeah--
RIDDLE: --most all those houses are heated.
EDDINS: Yeah, see, that's--
RIDDLE: But--
EDDINS: --one thing we didn't mention, I guess, the one thing to you,
is that our warehouses here at Buffalo Trace, all of them are heated.
We heat our warehouses through the winter months with steam heat, and
we keep the temperature around fifty-two to fifty-five degrees. We
open the windows up every time we can, air them out, heat them back
up. So our whiskey ages twelve months out of a year where a lot of
our distillery's competitors, they age their whiskey through the summer
months. Through the winter months
it gets down in the twenties, their,
their houses are not heated, so their whiskey just lays there dormant.
You know, it's not aging. And so we've got a little better control.
It costs a little--quite a bit, you know--to heat our warehouses, but
we, we, and we gain by it because we put out such a better product, and
we can take our product and turn it into what we expect it to do. We
have more control of it that way. So, and, and we can more or less,
if you wanted something that real s-, taste is outstandingly sweet,
outstandingly spicy, or whatever category or product that we want to
produce, we can do it here by aging our whiskey. And, but, you know,
we're very fortunate we, we can do this.
TROLAND: Tell me a little bit about the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.
EDDINS: This Antique Collection
is--we've got some very, very
outstanding products. The Antique Collection is something that is
checked constantly for taste-wise, quality-wise. There is a lo-, a
lot of time put into this Antique Collection. It's a very high premium
product. We have, we've put it in certain spots in the warehouses,
all these nice spots that we speak of that we try to age our products,
you know, for different types of whiskey. The Antique Collection falls
into those categories. Okay? And we are constantly pulling samples of
those, see, to make certain it's aging right. And so when we, over to
the lab, when we come up with a, a quality taste-wise of a certain type
Antique Collection, what we think is the very best high quality taste,
then we go to
hunting for that and we put this in those areas to make
it match out, you know, to age for that, for that particular product.
So there is a lot of work goes into that. There is a lot of tasting
involved. There's more than--Riddle and I play a great big part in it,
make certain it's all done right. We depend a whole lot on the lab,
a lot of tasters to get their opinions how it is doing. And so, in
order to put out a top-quality product, we want it to be the very best
can be put out there on our Antique Collections. So, and, but we don't
want to throw something out there just because they think it's going to
sell. We want it to be nice.
RIDDLE: Yeah, each one of those barrels in that, in that--let's say,
like, your George T. Stagg, for instance--each one of those barrels
are sampled and taken to the lab, and if it doesn't meet that certain
standard, then it's just rejected out. You only take the ones that
are, meets that profile for
that, what they're wanting at that time.
You may go over, what, 120 barrels or so, and then you may only dump
maybe, say, what, eighty or ninety, or--?
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: Somewheres in that area. Not that those others are bad whiskey,
but they're--product--but they just may not be just aged just exactly
right at the time, which I guess in some cases we'll either move them
up or move them down if they're not over-aged, or--
EDDINS: Yeah--
RIDDLE: --if they're under-aged we'll probably move them up to--
EDDINS: Yeah, it might not taste like the George T. Stagg fifteen-year-
old, but it might taste great--
RIDDLE: Right.
EDDINS: --for the seventeen-year-old Eagle Rare. You know?
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: It's not, it's not rejected because it's got a bad taste; it's
got the different, little different taste.
RIDDLE: Just don't have that, it don't meet that standard or that--
EDDINS: That product.
RIDDLE: --what you're looking for. It may be something would go in,
like he said, into an Eagle Rare or whatever. Same thing with your
seventeen-year-old or your William Larue or any of those products that
they have in there:
It's a, they've got a certain standard for that,
and that's what they look for. Each one of those barrels are sampled
separately. I mean, they've got a sample they take out of them, about
a half or 200 mil out of each one of them, and be sure that they do
meet that before we dump them and put them together. But most of those
barrels, when we put them all together, then we re-barrel those and
they'll go--
EDDINS: Yeah. So throughout--
RIDDLE: --put it all together.
EDDINS: --you know, the seventeen-year-old product that we pulling out
and sample, we pretty well know what it's going to taste like seventeen
years prior to that. So, you know, you start putting back, you know,
we've got some very special quality barrels. We knowed we had them in
the warehouses for years, you know, but we didn't (??) really put them
out in all these Antique Collections. But Riddle and I knowed we had
these very special products, you know, and so anyway over a period of
years with our marketing, and then, and then
Mark Brown come aboard,
and his big, he's been wonderful working with us on some of this stuff.
And so we was tickled to death to put some of these products out on
the market where we didn't used to do it. Yeah.
TROLAND: What role did you both play in developing this idea?
EDDINS: Well, we knowed that there was a lot of good pl-, spots in the
warehouses for some outstanding products, but we di-, but if you were
bottling, say, like, a six- or eight-year-old product, and you dumping
everything you can for the six- or eight-year-old product, those went
in with it. You know, because it was, you just putting this in a
100,000-gallon tanks, and they just bottling out of those 100,000-
gallon tanks. All right, but when you, on this Antique Collection, and
we found out those special products we had them there, now we get to
use them as a special product.
RIDDLE: A lot, some of those products were discovered through some of
the, I guess you'd say "experimental areas," with
maybe, maybe we were
[whistle sounds] experimenting with a different type of barrel or a
different type of whiskey, or a different location or--
TROLAND: Excuse me. Could you just begin that again? We had that noise
there.
TRAVER: Could you tell us what that noise was?
EDDINS: Yes.
RIDDLE: That was a whistle. (TRAVER and RIDDLE laugh)
EDDINS: That's for lunch, lunchtime.
RIDDLE: It's a--yeah.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: They blow the--
EDDINS: They blow the steam whistle for lunch.
RIDDLE: You see, it goes off--
EDDINS: Twelve o'clock.
RIDDLE: --at seven, twelve and 3:30.
EDDINS: Yes.
RIDDLE: I done lost my train of thought now. Oh, it's, it's like where
maybe they were experimenting with something, you know: a different
type of wood or a dif-, or not wood, but maybe a different type of
barrel or how it's put together or whate-, you know, and I think whe-,
that was where some of those ideas came from those. It were barrels
that we had, but we didn't know really what they want to use them for,
and they come up with those ideas to where to put them, you know, how
they should be aged, what the profile of that should be or whatever.
Through a
lot of it, not all of them, but some of them come through
experimental reasons or whatever.
EDDINS: Yeah. But it's, you know, I'm very tickled to death that we
get to use these Antique Collections and that we put them out on the
market. And, you know, just like myself, and I know Riddle does, too,
you know, these go out on the market and people are going to brag them.
It makes you feel good that the product you know it did you to, that
you've had a, played a real big part in aging this product, getting it
ready for the public, you know. And of course, you know, it's, it's a
teamwork deal over here at the plant. You know, we got to do our part;
the lab's got to do their part. Everybody that's involved in aging
this whiskey's got to do their part, from on down to the guys opening
up the windows certain times, closing them certain times, and they help
age this. And so, you know, it's--and taking care of our products in
the
warehouses. So, you know, of course, like I say, every time we
come in with a big award or something, and, and I get some reports, and
I look down the listing--okay, here we got five more gold medals today
or something--you know, you feel great about it, and then, "Okay, now
I've got five, but now I need eight," you know. Can we, we can, we
can beat this. You know, there's always a step above that, and so I'm
looking, I'm still looking for that perfect bourbon yet to make. I'm
still working on it.
TROLAND: Speaking of that work, right behind you both, of course, is the
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection. So tell me a little bit about
the origin and the circumstances of that, that collection.
EDDINS: Well, I think one of the things there, we have a lot of
experimental barrels in the warehouse; we have about fifteen hundred
barrels in the warehouse, experimental barrels, and these barrels are,
got different types--different types of wood. We might have some with
some different wood to come
out, different countries, we put it in at
different proofs, we've took some d-, barrels that has been old whiskey
and put it back in new whiskey barrels, maybe once or twice put in
different locations in the warehouses, and those type of experimentals.
So that's the kind what you see here, is that I think this right here--
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: --must be that--
RIDDLE: Different, different types of way they--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --fired the wood, different type of wood, like the French oak,
the American oak. The French oak has got a sort of a, I guess you'd
call it a, what, a yellow cast to it? Or--
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: --little different color with it. It's a real fine, it's a
finer grain. Now, I think that's one of those that you'll see here. I
don't, I'm not sure--
EDDINS: But--
RIDDLE: --what you're looking at. And then there's some of those are
some whiskey that was re-barreled--
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: Re-barreled in,
out of an old barrel and into a new barrel or
vice versa, or whatever. I think there's one of them that had, that we
put inserts--?
EDDINS: Yeah. We had--
RIDDLE: --into it with a different type of product in it.
EDDINS: You know, we try just about every type of experimental you could
think of.
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: If it popped in our mind, we would try it. You take a four-
year-old whiskey and put it in a new barrel. Take a six-year-old
whiskey and put it back in a new barrel. Take a eight-year-old, a
ten-year-old, and recycle that, and do that, say, maybe twice, and
that'd be, say, eight years the first time, six years the second time,
you know, something like that. What are we going to wind up with? And
so those type of experimentals--and a lot of them has turned out great.
RIDDLE: Yeah, I think some of those, I guess some of them are there.
The, the wine cask that came in--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --that we put bourbon in that wine cask that, I don't know, it
came out of, what, California? Or wherever they came from.
EDDINS: But--
RIDDLE: ----------(??), they were wine casks, and they had wine in the
beginning, and then we put--
EDDINS: Put aged--
RIDDLE: --aged whiskey in there. I think it was, what, something like
it was four, five, six years old in that barrel--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE:
--and let it sit for--God, I don't know--maybe six or eight
years.
EDDINS: So, but no, we've, it's been a, you know, we've, every type of
experimental we can think of, that's what we'll shoot for, and see what
we can learn from it.
TROLAND: You talked earlier about char.
EDDINS: Um-hm.
TROLAND: What is meant by the term "char"--
EDDINS: Okay, the char is--
TROLAND: --and how does it affect--?
EDDINS: --is, is where the barrel is actually burnt on the inside when
they're making their new, new barrels. And what they do, they'll put
the barrel together and without both heads being in it they got a metal
ring around it, all right? And then they fire--this, this barrel sits
overtop of this fire, and it shoots up through it and, and it burns
that wood on the inside.
RIDDLE: It's what gets a lot of your color into your product.
EDDINS: Yeah. So it turns, so it'll burn that barrel down till it looks
more like, we call it an "alligator skin look." It kind of opens up,
breaks open, and turns it real black
on the inside. And so you're
looking at probably an eighth of an inch thick that's burnt into the
wood. And, and by doing that, you're pushing the caramels and some of
the outer flavors of the wood back into the wood. Okay, and by doing
that, then that's when you put your product in there, and then you try
to bring it back out, and you're trying to hold that without losing it.
And, so as a, as the number three char, see, is a, is a lighter char.
So, and a number four is naturally burnt deeper into the wood. And
then we also have one we call a "toast," and we will actually, we'll
burn the barrel, take a spray of dampness in there, put the fire out,
then let it cool, and then we go back and re-toast it again. Okay, but
when you're doing that re-toast, you are, what you pushed into the wood
deep, you suck that blood (??) back out and getting it closeder to the
surface. Okay,
and when it brings it back closeder to the surface of
the wood, those chemicals and those caramels and the sugar contents,
vanillas, then your product, you can put it at a lower floor and pick
that flavoring up without going up high with it. You know, going into
the wood. So we, we make our barrels about an inch thick, and you got
to understand that the bourbon whiskey will go into that wood as it
ages a half that thickness of the, of that stave, and it'll go in, say,
a half an inch. Only there's some spots in there that wood's going to
have a little softer spots in the wood, or been a knot somewhere down
on the outside of the tree that created a little wrinkle in it. That's
going to go a little bit past that half an inch, so that's the reason
why we go, one thing, want the wood to be an inch thick. So when we
are heating this wood up to char it, we don't want that stave to get
that hot either, because you're going to kill the wood
all the way
through. So--
RIDDLE: That's what I was talking about there a while ago, like a
number three, number four char: number two char, three char, four char.
That's, that's the length of time that they, they burn that barrel. I
think a, what, number--
EDDINS: Seven.
RIDDLE: --four's, like, about fifty-s-, -five seconds?
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: When it goes through that burner.
EDDINS: Yeah, yeah.
RIDDLE: I believe it's something like that; I believe it's fifty-five
seconds.
EDDINS: Yeah, we now try some number seven char--three and a half minute
burn--and, you know, it, and the wood actually, when at that point in
time you burn it and get it that hot, it gets f-, the, you wouldn't
really think it, but it gets flexible, almost like a rag. You know, it
sort of gets flimsy, that wood will. You wouldn't think that oak would
get that flimsy, but it will. It'll get all crooked and out of shape.
That was--we tried some of those, and they, it's not too good for our
product, you know.
TROLAND: So number seven is the most-charred type?
EDDINS: That's a high char.
RIDDLE: That's a high char.
EDDINS: It's burned deep.
RIDDLE: We use a, I think we use number four.
EDDINS: Right.
RIDDLE: Used to use a number
three.
EDDINS: Right.
RIDDLE: I believe that's correct.
EDDINS: Right.
RIDDLE: Four's, I believe it's, what, fifty-five seconds they--?
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: I believe it's burned, fifty-five second burn.
TROLAND: And moving from a number three char in the past to a number
four char in the present had what effect upon the final product?
RIDDLE: Gives you a little more--
EDDINS: Okay (??)--
RIDDLE: --flavor, I guess, to your barrel. Gives you a little more
color.
EDDINS: Yeah. Really, mainly (??), you got to understand, too, see,
well, I'm--the whiskey that we was putting in the barrel back years
ago--this was several years ago now--was 110, 115 proof. Okay? And
we found out that we could put it in the barrel at 125 proof and not
hurt our flavor process. Okay, but now we lose some color, because
you got to add some more distilled water to it to bring it back down to
bottling proof. And that running that number four char, you ge-, you
pick that color back up.
RIDDLE: Correct.
EDDINS: And so now you can bring it back down. You want that good
amber-looking
color, you know, you get your bourbon goes out on the
market. So, you know, if you got to put a whole lot of distilled water
in it to bring the proof back down, then you've got a real light color,
and we wanted to keep our color, too. It played a big part in it. So,
and then we'll notice, too, that the spices has changed a little bit.
So we can actually go with the number four char and get a higher spicy
quality in less years of aging. So, and the bottom line is, if you
put the product in the barrels they produce over here in the ----------
(??)----------- and say if you're putting down around 600 barrels a day,
if you put it in the barrel at 125 proof, you've got to save the 600
barrels. If you put it in, say, at 115 proof or 110 proof, you know,
you might have 650 barrels. Okay, add the other fifty barrels that
you had purchased and stored in the warehouse: you took 50 barrels of
storage, 50 barrels of purchase, 50 barrels that you got to handle at
$5 a barrel,
you know, and then $120 a barrel for the barrels you put
it in. By the time you count all the "X" amount of cost up that went
into this, then you had a whole lot more money into your products. So,
and so then it's a chain reaction. When you get ready to sell it, you
still got to have that money coming back. So if you can make a, a,
a outstanding product at a lower cost, you know, and all distilleries
went to that. So, you know, we wasn't the only one. We might have
been the, one of the first ones, but they, all the distilleries kind of
fell in line with that 125 proof.
RIDDLE: Yeah, most of all of them in each, they have some special
products they put in less, but not--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --not too many.
EDDINS: Yeah. But now the, the, the wheated product, we still stay with
114 proof on that. Because it does, you know. But that, so that's the
reason why the number three char and number four char plays a big part,
because we went to that 125 proof in the barrel, and we want to still
have a good product put out on the market. And
then, like I say, and
it, and our c-, it, it cut our costs way, way back, too. The amount
of storage, well, space in the warehouses, the amount of barrels we
had to buy, and it cost, like I say, any time you put these barrels
into the warehouse, you got to take them back out, so you got to handle
them twice.
RIDDLE: Well, just like, you know, take talking about your difference
in your cost, like you'll probably have on your wheat whiskey and
your, your rye recipe, probably that day that you distill that, you've
probably got about the same amount of gal-, of wine gallons that you
had with the wheat as you did with the rye, wheat recipe. I mean
versus the corn or whatever. And you, you reduce that down to 114,
and you're going to get about 410, 12, 15 barrels out of that, the
wheat whiskey, whereas the rye recipe would've probably
had around 380,
385 barrels. That's the difference in the proof in the barrel at 125
versus 114, would be that many barrels a day. So you're talking about
twenty-five or thirty barrels that you would buy per day more, plus
you're taking up your storage space as well.
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: Would be quite expensive.
TROLAND: What do you think has been the most successful part of the
Experimental Collection program? What have you liked most about that?
EDDINS: Well, I'll tell you one, the one--the, the experimentals or the
Antique Collection, now? If you're speaking experimentals, I think that
one of the most exciting thing I ran into was the French oak.
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: It will definitely fool you. A French oak barrel, you can
put product in it, and for the first six years, a white oak has got
a better taste to it. Okay? And then all at once, after it goes past
the six-year point, the French oak, the--you got to understand the
chemicals are a little different in it
because, you know, where it was
raised at and the type of wood it is. So then it goes reenacting with
your chemicals in your, in your whiskey product, and then it just goes
tremendously starting going the other way. It creates this real good,
smooth quality taste, the French oak does, but it is so expensive to
deal with. You know, it's, you know, you can run a small experimental
on it and something like that, but you know, you've given six hundred
dollars for a barrel versus one hundred dollars for a barrel, too, to
store it in.
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: And then--so, you know, all that plays a part. But what
I couldn't really get over is, when I was starting to induce
experimentals on the French oak, is how can it be s-, not near as good
as the product that we were working with? Okay, then this is a failure;
it's not working too good. Then all at once it starts lighting up like
turning the light on. It just gets brighter, brighter and brighter.
And then you go from a six year, eight
year to ten years to twelve
years, and it just keeps changing. And that's--well, some of it might
be in the bottles that are behind us. You know, that is, some of the
experimentals that we've put out has been outstanding. It is something
that I was very proud of we done, and we were going to carry it on
through, and if I'd give up on it in six years, I would have lost all
that information.
RIDDLE: The experiment that I, reflects to me more than any of them is
the one that we did with a vacuum in the barrel that, where we heat the
barrel up, the vacuum or whatever.
EDDINS: Um-hm.
RIDDLE: That--what I learned from that--I don't know what everybody else
learned from it--was that you can't fool Mother, Mother Nature.
EDDINS: No, that's true.
RIDDLE: It's got to be done by Mother Nature. You can't, you can't
force it to do, to do--it's got to, got to go with time.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: That's the one we run there on--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: ----------(??) remember that thing (??) five, six years --------
--(??).
EDDINS: Yeah, and Warehouse K and the shipment--
RIDDLE: Yeah.
EDDINS: --we were in there. We--
RIDDLE:
We had a pump, and you put it in there, and it heats it up in
the day, and then it would cool down at night. And it'd try to heat it
and cool it. Of course, you had right, laying right beside of it, some
barrel aging from nature, right bes-, right beside of it.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: And the barrel was at, actually the, I thought--that's, of
course, everybody's opinion--but I thought the ones right beside of it
aged better than the ones they ----------(??) try to--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --to do it artificially.
EDDINS: What I done is run these tubes in and out of these barrels.
And I would turn, and we had them lined up, and would turn the heat
on certain times of day, and then, and it act like this unit they had
on the outside, it would, had to go through these, it pumped fluids
through these coils. And it would heat it up in the daytime, you know,
and I'd run it through a heat cycle and a cold cycle. I'd take it
down to maybe thirty-two degrees, back up to eighty degrees and that
type of stuff, and I was doing this daily. Okay? And, and
I done this
project car-, well, I used it about six years, determine, trying to see
what the outcome would be on it. And I also took those same barrels,
put right beside of it, put some on the fifth floor of K, and I took
some on up to the eighth floor of K. Well, starting off, first couple
years, boy, I've got something going here. It's just tasting great.
I'm aging it fast, you know. So this should might be something will
work out for us. At the, in the end of the experimental, this down
here I was aging daily, this up on the seventh or eighth floors aging
twice a day, because it was getting in the vacuum in the night and
pressure in daytime. Okay, where I was doing this down here, pressure
one day and vacuum next day. So I was getting twice a day on what I
had upstairs and once what I had downstairs. And so that was a long
experimental that I learned a lot from. We all did. One of the things
I could not believe, I had a vacuum on, on each barrel, too, tracking
how much vacuum or
pressure was in each barrel, and one thing I could
not believe, you know, is it'd be in the summertime, and all at once
here this big rainstorm's coming up outside. And here I've got this
pressure in the barrel, be standing there looking at it, and within ten
seconds I've created a vacuum. And as the outside pressure--
RIDDLE: Um-hm.
EDDINS: --changed when the storm was coming up, the pressure was changing
inside that barrel! And I couldn't believe that. And the re-, here
I am standing there looking at it, and the pressure's changing, and
I caught that several times and got to watch it. And the barometric
pressure was changing the pressure in my barrels. And, and here I was
forcing my barrels to take this pressure, you know. But it was the--
nature was still doing it, you know. So, and then that throwed me all,
that throwed me for a loop, because now I know that it's happening in
them all (??) warehouses this. So that I learnt from that experimental
what's going on in those barrels in the warehouses as the weather
changes, too, now. So it
was, it was actually, it was very fascinating
to go through all these experimentals and what you come up with.
TROLAND: Both of you seem to think that the French oak aged experimental
release was among the very best.
RIDDLE: Um-hm.
TROLAND: At some point in the past, a decision had to be made to buy
this very expensive barrel, or--
EDDINS: Oh, yes.
TROLAND: --perhaps several of them.
EDDINS: Yes.
TROLAND: Who, did either of you make that decision, or--?
EDDINS: Well, I tell you that we had talked about this. I tell you John
Boswell, the guy from Independent Stave, he is the guy that we'd been
purchasing our barrels from. We had talked to him about this, this
French oak. Okay? And then he says, "Okay, I will eat up part of that
cost if you want to get that barrel and run an experiment." And so,
anyway, and it wound up we agreed to go ahead and purchase this barrel
from him. And, and our plant manager back then was Mr. Lee.
RIDDLE: Um-hm.
EDDINS: E.T. Lee. And Elmer agreed it's okay. If you want
to do
that, go ahead. And so we went ahead and bought the barrel and started
experimental (??), and, and I was real tickled the way it come out.
But I was disappointed with it for a long period of time, but it
didn't wind up I was--
RIDDLE: Disappointed in the price of them.
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: Of course, in the beginning I think what it was is Independent
Stave or Kentucky Cooperage was to, for the barrel, you know, the, the,
the French oak is, is, is used for a lot of wine barrels, wine casks.
That's what they--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: And I think that's, they come out of that with a lot -------
---(??) because they're more expensive than a barrel. I mean, you're
talking about, what, five, six hundred dollars maybe--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: --for one of them versus 120, 25 for one of ours. You know,
that's--
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: But--
EDDINS: But, but we've hit in a lot of experimentals. We've got
different types of woods. I mean, not only the French oak, you know,
but we've got a lot of other different types, and we got--but we always
come on back down to the, to the white oak. That white oak is for
the
daily what people want and the quality of taste, the white oak seems to
always come back and fall in place.
RIDDLE: Like I said, you can't fool Mother Nature.
EDDINS: No. That's where it's at.
RIDDLE: (laughs) That's where it's all at.
EDDINS: That's what I was speaking of a while ago where that storm come
up. There's Mother Nature doing its work for us, and we didn't utilize
it, you know.
RIDDLE: ----------(??)---------- Yeah.
EDDINS: Yeah.
TROLAND: If somebody were to ask you, for example, Leonard, what would
you like to be remembered by for your time here at Buffalo Trace? What
is your, you feel your most important contribution or accomplishment to
the distillery's operation or the product? What, what might you say?
RIDDLE: I never really thought of it. (laughs) Never really thought
of that. I don't reckon I ever really thought about leaving, but
(laughs)--
EDDINS: (laughs) Going to wait until you get older?
RIDDLE: At least Harlen's ----------(??). You know, I don't--that's
sort of a, that's a hard question. I guess for, I want to be remembered
where I tried, tried or did
contribute to the company as far as your
work ethics, that, you know, that complete job, I guess you would say,
not wasted time. I guess that would be what I'd want them to remember
me by, you know, is, "He did the best what he could while he was here,
to the best of his knowledge" or whatever, I guess you would say.
TROLAND: What product of the distillery are you most proud of?
RIDDLE: What, what?
TROLAND: What product of the many different bourbons that the distillery
produces--
RIDDLE: The one that I would say that I was the most proud of, or--
TROLAND: The one that you personally might be most proud of.
RIDDLE: I would have to say the, the Weller whiskey. That's, that's,
since it came here, yeah, that's my, my favorite, yeah. That's it.
And, see, we didn't have that product here for a long time, you know,
since I guess it was, what, '90?
EDDINS: Uh--
RIDDLE: Early nineties, maybe?
EDDINS: Yeah. We'd made some, but it--yeah.
RIDDLE: When they bought the Stitzel-Weller?
EDDINS: Yeah.
RIDDLE: Yeah. That, out of Louisville or whatever the product. Yeah.
We made some of it here in the early nineties for Stitzel-Weller, I
guess it was '91,'92?
EDDINS: Ninety-one,'92. Yes.
RIDDLE: And then, of course, we ended up with most of their products
here. And that's, that's when I got familiar, but that's, that's
the product that I--yeah. W.L. Weller. That'd be my favorite. Not
saying that the others are not good, but I, that's my--
EDDINS: Yeah. I think that we're, we make--all of our products are
good, you know. Some of them are just better than others, so, you
know. But it's according to your, like I say, according to your taste.
But yeah, I think, you know, that is, that is an outstanding product,
I have to agree with you, you know, the Weller product we've got, the
wheated whiskey. And, but,
you know, I've always been kinda partial
to the spicy, fruity taste, you know, and, and it's, that always falls
into the E.T. Lees, Eagle Rares, and the, and the Buffalo Trace,
you know. The Buffalo Trace is, I think is, is the very, very top
quality of premium product. Actually, for the, all of the work and
time, and the--I think it's probably the, the best, cheapest product
on the market for its quality, because we, there is a whole lot goes
into the Buffalo Trace experimental-wise, checking. It is one of our
top premium products to be on the market and at a reasonable cost, you
know. I think the people that buy it is very fortunate to be able to
get that cheap, what I'm getting at (??). That
is something I'm very
proud of, that we go out and--I know myself and--we go out and when
it's picked this product out in advance, you know, and study it and
watch it before it goes, even before it goes to the lab to be sampled,
too. And so I guess I put a lot into that. Of course, I guess I'm,
gives me the room to be a little more proud of it, too, because it is
smooth and good too.
TROLAND: So, when you go home at night and possibly pour yourself a, a
short bourbon, what brand do you typically pour?
EDDINS: Well, that would, like I say, that would be the Buffalo Trace.
TROLAND: Buffalo Trace.
EDDINS: Um-hm. Yeah.
TROLAND: Someday, no doubt, in the future, there will be another history
written about Buffalo Trace Distillery, as there was one written just a
few years ago. Ronnie, what would you like to see said in that history
about you--
EDDINS: Well, I--
TROLAND: --about your contributions?
EDDINS:
--that's one I hadn't really thought about either, but, you
know, on the history of the Buffalo Trace, I would, I guess I would
like to be most known as all the experimentals and stuff that I'd,
you know, the things I accomplished throughout the bourbon industrial
is what we learnt and our experimentals in the warehouses and what
we accomplished to put out this outstanding product that we have out
on the market as of today. And I'm very proud to be a part of that,
and, and as it keeps developing--you know, this is a never-ending
situation--I'm hoping that twenty, thirty years from now, that nothing
is lost: what we had in their experimentals, these ideals, and all the
information. We've got a better way of tracking it nowadays. We've
got--used to everything was on pencil and paper, books, and you had
to go back and dig back through the books and read more, you know,
and, "Here's what I done here." But now we just throw it all on the
computer, and we can just glance at it, and there it
is. So we've got
better ways of tracking things, so I'm hoping and I feel like that,
you know, as time goes on, all the information that we've come up
with, Riddle and I, and all the experimentals will be a big benefit to
Buffalo Trace down the line, that somebody can--they're still shooting
for that perfect bourbon. And we, and sometime or another, it's going
to get--I ho-- I'd like to see it happen before I leave from here, but
if it don't, then I feel like it's still going to happen.
RIDDLE: We'll come back and have a drink of it.
EDDINS: We'll come back, yeah. There we go. (RIDDLE laughs) We'll come
back and have a big drink of it.
TROLAND: You've both been very patient. Let me just ask one final
question: Is there anything, Leonard, that I haven't asked you that
you'd like to say?
RIDDLE: No, you pretty well covered it all, I think. (EDDINS laughs) I
can't, (laughs) I can't think of anything.
TROLAND: How about you, Ronnie?
EDDINS: No. I think, you know, the only thing I could say is, you
know, if I was to pass away tomorrow, this has been a wonderful life
to me here at Buffalo Trace. And all the time I've spent here at the
distillery
is--you couldn't have asked for anything any better. You
know, to me it was like I told someone before: every day coming to
work here is about like coming to a candy factory, you know, full of
chocolates, and--because you're waiting to get one more bite of that
chocolate, you know, like the little kid at the candy store. But you
know, it's, it's so enjoyable to be here, you know, and to be part of
this as history has been made over a period of years with our products
and what we have learnt and hopefully going to pass on to others.
TROLAND: Well, thank you very most, mu-, very much to both of you for a
very informative interview.
EDDINS: Thank you.
RIDDLE: Thank you, bud.
[End of interview.]