Interview with Eric Gregory, August 25, 2016

Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers Association, describes the founding of the KDA in 1880. He talks about the organization's original purpose as a liaison between distillers and the government. He talks about how alcohol has been used for centuries to fund the war effort. He talks about how the KDA's purpose has changed over time. He discusses why taxing bourbon the way it is currently taxed is detrimental to the distillers and therefore harmful to Kentucky's economy. He talks about how bootlegging is still an issue even today. He talks about how the distilling industry promotes job creation in Kentucky. He discusses some of the regulations and legislation that are harming the distilling industry in Kentucky. He talks about the importance of changing these laws in order to keep and attract more distilleries to the state. Gregory discusses some of the reasons for the current popularity of bourbon around the world. He talks about the sustainability of this "bourbon boom." talks about the rise of bourbon tourism. He talks about how distilleries and the KDA are making changes to promote more tourism. He talks about the creation of the Craft Distillery Trail as a companion to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and discusses how they work together. Gregory discusses some of the challenges the KDA is currently facing, including increasing training and awareness about driving under the influence of alcohol, making global trade easier, shutting down counterfeit products, and continuing the trend of innovation in order to prevent stagnation in the industry. He talks about how master distillers have been trained in the past, and discusses some of the ways the KDA is working to make that process easier, including training at the Distilled Spirits Epicenter. He talks about how the current master distillers are mentoring younger distillers, especially those who are opening small craft distilleries, in order to ensure the standards they set are being met. Gregory discusses the importance of documenting the history of the bourbon industry, especially the knowledge and character of the current master distillers. He laments the loss of many stories because they waited too long to begin documenting the history.

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