How Has Your Background in Finance Blended With Ryan’s Bartending Expertise?
When we met, we were polar opposites. I was a computer guy, he was a face-to-face guy. I was right-minded and Ryan was left-minded. While our differences would lead people to assume we have a challenging business relationship, it has actually helped us excel. Where I was lacking particular skills for this business, Ryan has been there to fill the gap and vice versa. As we spend more and more time together, we are finding out that we are meeting in the middle on all of the the initial items that we varied so greatly on. I would never want to start a business with two people that only care about the business side or two people that only care about the product. The balance is necessary and sets us up nicely for the future.
Whiskey & Kansas City Love Are Both Riding a High at the Moment. a Person Could Slap Kc on Any Bottle and Have It Sell Locally, but You’re Fiercely Adamant About a Differentiated and High-Quality Product. How Are You Going About That?
Most people look at our label and say, “I love how they put the words Kansas City on it!” That’s great that they love what we’ve done. But to the Whiskey enthusiasts out there, the words Kansas City have a deeper meaning. Our goal is for Kansas City Whiskey to be a style that is synonymous with blending Sherry with Whiskey. Similar to how Tennessee, Bourbon, Rye, Canadian, etc. are all styles. We are blending a 15-year old Sherry with two different 8-year old Whiskies. Sherry was popular in the Pre-Prohibition years for blending with whiskey, but has since fallen off the map. Our goal is to make the use of sherry in whiskey so delicious and popular that other distilleries jump on the train and refer to their own versions as Kansas City Whiskey.
Do You Plan to Distill Other Spirits While Your First Batch of Bourbon Ages in the East Bottoms?
This is the easiest of the questions. In 2015, we will be distilling Bourbon, Rye, Vodka, Gin, and Absinthe – all in-house. Vodka, Gin, and Absinthe do not require aging, so we expect to release those products to the public in 2015 to complement our Kansas City Whiskey.
You’re Surrounded by Several Knowledgeable Mentors and Partners. What Have They Allowed You to Do That Might Not Have Been Possible by Yourselves?
Making decisions with confidence. That is the biggest issue I see with start-ups. The constant question of, “Am I making the best choice?” With multiple industry experts putting their names on this brand, they all carry the same vision for our distillery. When you know people are advising you with what they have learned over 20-40 years in the industry, you are able to avoid common pitfalls.
What Is Your Latest Epiphany?
We want to partner with a metal supply and crafting company to build more efficient barrel storage systems. There is going to be a lot of money to be made by supplying this industry over the next several decades and I view this project as something that would make someone very successful. I also want to partner with a programming genius on a software package and app for distillery operations.