LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Beverage impresario Joe Heron proclaims his loyalty to bourbon loudly and proudly. But common sense told him to distill brandy instead.
“We were not interested in taking a knife into a gunfight,” Heron said during a tour of his new venture, Copper & Kings, on East Washington Street in Butchertown. “We're much more interested in the vacant space.”
Heron’s venue offers plenty of that. From barrel racks in the basement to the still-pots on the ground floor, the art gallery and offices on the second floor and his tasting room above.
“It may be the coolest distillery in the world,” Heron said.
His product will age to the strains of vintage rock-and-roll piped in on speakers. Heron and his wife have named the still-pots, to reflect their varying sizes, and “personalities.”
“We've got Isis, we've got Magdalena, and we just added Sarah, the other day,” he said.
Some of their fruits will be available to sample, when Copper & Kings has its soft opening on Friday, July 11.
“We make our brandy the same way that bourbon's made,” Heron said. “We don't chill-filter it, we don't add colorants or sugar or oat flavor or anything like that, so we're the brandy for bourbon drinkers.”
Or at least, those open to expanding their tastes. The fuel for much of the Bourbon Boom has been the niche’ appeal of new, or newly-marketed small batches.
“For new businesses to succeed today-you have to be imaginative and creative,” Heron said.
Characters Welcome, as the USA cable-satellite network might put it. Competitor James Marshall would argue it’s critical. On this day Marshall rolled out Rivulet, his craft-distilled, “Artisan Pecan Liqueur, by having a courier deliver its formula to Stock Yards Bank, where he placed it in his safe-deposit box in the vault, ala the Colonel’s “secret recipe” for Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“We will keep your recipe safe while you grow your business,” Stock Yards Bank President Ja Hillebrand promised. “And when you need more capital to grow, I ask you to call me, email me, text me.”
Marshall developed and will deliver the first batches of Rivulet from the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, Louisville’s incubator for such entrepreneurial efforts.
“No other city that I looked at had this resource,” Marshall said. “And it was this resource that sealed the deal for me, to relocate here to Louisville.”
Rivulet has scored well in national and international competitions, drawing raves for unique flavor and its smooth finish.
“We have undeniable global momentum taking place in the city right now around bourbon and our local food,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told those attending Rivulet’s formal introduction.
Marshall is quick to detail Rivulet’s Kentucky connections. It’s aged in bourbon barrels. “It drinks ‘neat’ (straight),” he said. “And it makes a nice, fine glaze for salmon or vegetables.”
Marshall’s offices for Rivulet will be at Seventh & Main, the heart of Bourbon Row.
“We’ll continue to age at Strong Distillery in Bardstown, he said. I can’t give you first-year production figures. The relevant numbers will come in about a year.”
Heron is touting a total customer experience for Copper & Kings. He’ll offer taste-testings and space for live performances and for rent to other groups hosting events.”
“This is rock-and-roll,” said Heron. “The only difference between a band and a brand is the letter R. We're a band of brandy-makers.”
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