Whiskey Web and Whatnot

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148: Understanding Whiskey with Prime Barrel's Michael Nagdi


Show Notes

Michael shares his transition from the corporate world to the whiskey industry, emphasizing whiskey’s role in building relationships. The discussion covers a range of fascinating topics: the nuances of whiskey blends, the unique properties of Amburana-finished rye whiskey, the innovative use of blockchain and NFTs for managing memberships and allocations, and discover how AI is streamlining Prime Barrel’s operations. The episode also highlights heartwarming community stories and practical applications of AI in marketing and business.

Key Takeaways

  • [00:26] Introducing Michael from Prime Barrell
  • [04:18] Rare Character 6 Year Straight Rye Whiskey
  • [07:35] Loving or Hating Wax Seals on Whiskey
  • [11:26] Learning how to taste our whiskey
  • [18:39] Amburana explained
  • [29:18] What is a cigar batch?
  • [34:46] Is ice evil for tasting real whiskey?
  • [37:11] How should you smell whiskey?
  • [47:31] How are NFTs going in the whiskey business?
  • [01:02:55] How are you integrating AI into your work?
  • [01:05:57] Is there a worst whiskey you've ever had?
  • [01:11:45] Where can people learn more about whiskey and Michael?

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Transcript

​[00:00:00]

[00:00:05] Robbie: What's going on everybody? Welcome to Whiskey Web and Whatnot with your hosts, Robbie the Wagner, and Charles William Carpenter ii.

[00:00:14] Charles: Whom today is a Black and decker, uh, portable air conditioner. That's what you're gonna know me as today.

[00:00:21] Robbie: Yeah, so there might be some background noise. Hopefully we get it taken out, uh, in post-processing, but we have a guest today,

Introducing Michael from Prime Barrell

[00:00:27] Robbie: Michael, from Prime Barrel. What's going on, Michael?

[00:00:30] Michael: guys. Everything's good. Thanks for having me. Uh,

excited to join you guys.

[00:00:34] Robbie: on.

Yeah. Do you want to, uh, tell the folks at home, uh, a little bit about yourself and the Prime Barrel?

[00:00:40] Michael: I always have like an elevator pitch, and then also I have like a long story version, so I'll, I'll probably settle somewhere in the middle. But long story short, I, um, my, my parents immigrated to this country about 25 years ago, like 30 years ago. I, I came here when I was like 16, turned 16 here. Spent a lot of my, childhood and, and, and, you know, uh, adolescent life on an east coast. So I'm a [00:01:00] Philly guy, so everything sports, Philly sports, unfortunately, uh, is, is me.

[00:01:05] Robbie: Eagles are okay.

[00:01:06] Michael: the Eagles are fine. Yeah. Yeah. I, I've, I was, yeah, I witnessed one championship, hopefully not, not the last. Spent a lot of time on an east coast and then life took me, uh, to Los Angeles, which, which is where I am now.

My wife is from here. So you meet a girl and kinda move for

[00:01:20] Charles: There you

[00:01:20] Robbie: Mm-Hmm.

[00:01:21] Michael: Spent 25 years in corporate world, in the middle of the pandemic. Had enough of it. Um, I was just telling the guys off camera. Uh, there are like three stages in, in, in corporate life that you can kind of encounter.

One is you want to be at the meeting at the table. Second is you wanna run the meeting. Third one, you don't want to be at the meeting. And so in the middle of 2020, I've reached that third level, thankfully I should say I had a foresight in. Uh, investing in, in a business on a side.

And that business kind of grew and allowed me to kind of drop my corporate life and dedicate myself to something that I enjoy, which is whiskey, uh, and spirits, and, um, uh, buy necessity and learning of different [00:02:00] things. Uh, outside of just having retail shops, which we do have in New York, we've kinda launched this Prime Barrel thing, which, which always, always meant to serve whiskey nerds and, and, and people that kinda share the same passion and always say, uh, whiskey is really a tool.

It's, it's not a drink, it's not a spirit. It's a tool for building relationships. And if you think about, if you drink whiskey, especially if you drink whiskey, if you don't drink it, you probably don't, not gonna relate to this, but if you drink whiskey, you probably can draw a parallel to what I'm about to say, which is some of the most important things in your life happened in or around whiskey.

Like for example, when my kids were born, I lit up a cigar and I had a drink in my hand right after, uh, after the hospital, obviously. Um, I've had my, my uncle put me on to whiskey when I was 18, and we had, it was like a snowy day in New York and, uh, it was his 50th birthday and we were sitting talking about life.

And so I remember that conversation. Long story short, it's, it's, it's something that opens people up and, and, uh, allows you to make new friends. And, and through [00:03:00] the club for the Prime Barrel, I've met certain people that I would never have met otherwise. Um, we, we do things together, um, in, in a height of crypto and NFT boom, uh, there was this thing that people kinda refer, people are referred to as IRL, which stands for, which stood for in real life, and which means like you don't really live.

In, in an ether you don't live in, in, in your Zoom calls. Like there's still physical life outside of these walls that is going on. And so as a group, we travel together, we go to these distilleries. We, we drink whiskey, we select whiskey, we talk about life. I've made friends that certain people, uh, in Los Angeles where I am, uh, that I've never, I I would've never, I would've never met them otherwise.

And now they're my friends, right? And we share a whiskey and we, we, we, our families know each other. So that's the part that always drew me and attracted me to this business. And I'm, I'm, you know, I'm thankful for the opportunity to be able to support my family through it.

[00:03:58] Charles: Yeah. No, that's awesome. I didn't [00:04:00] realize you were, uh, west Coast as well. Uh, so that's good to know. Uh, next time I'm

[00:04:05] Robbie: Yeah. Drinking early.

[00:04:06] Charles: Yes. Uh, yeah, you, you can empathize. I'm in LA try to be a couple of times a year, so I'll hit you up. But all of that aside, it also seems a little weird for me to be the one to introduce the whiskey given our guest.

Prime Barrel Rye Whiskey

[00:04:19] Charles: But I'll, I'll give it a swing. Today we're having, uh, the rare character, six year straight rye whiskey. It is finished in Ana casks. Uh, it was a prime barrel pick number 76. It's 117.5 proof. It's a little hot, and I guess to be specific, it is six years, 10 months, so almost seven years. What wrong with that?

Yeah.

[00:04:42] Michael: Before you guys get into the drink, and I actually need to get, go get my tram 'cause I left it downstairs. Sorry.

[00:04:47] Charles: No, no, no worries.

[00:04:49] Michael: but I'll, I'll tell you a little story about the brand itself. Uh, so the rare character is another brand and, uh, COVID and Pandemic, it seems to be, uh, a theme, [00:05:00] uh, in today's call. That brand started during the Covid as well.

And the, the person that's behind this brand, uh, also is from Los Angeles. Uh, he actually runs a pretty successful whiskey bar. One of the more successful and. More complete whiskey bars, I would venture to say in America, uh, you can pretty much find anything that you would want in that bar, including stitzel welder distillate.

And for people that don't know what Stitzel welder is, it's what gave Pap Van Venkel the name Pap Van Venkel. Uh, what you're drinking now is far cry from what it used to be. It's now a defunct distillery that doesn't produce anymore. Uh, there, there's still battles being aged there, but they don't produce anymore.

And, uh, the guy had a lot of insight into whiskey. He has an amazing palate himself, but he also had connections in the business. And everything about this business is about connections. And so he's able to, he's not distilling producer, uh, NDP is what [00:06:00] we call him. Uh, which means he's a, he's a white labeling, right?

So he buys whiskeys and he blends them. Sometimes he blends them, sometimes he sells them as a single barrels, which means he doesn't blend and he sells barrels as is. Um, but he built a brand during 2020 and he's very successful at that. He, he has a knack for aesthetic, which looking at the bottle, you could probably appreciate it.

Uh, the top part of the label is some, something that stands out on his bottles in that, that's his way of customizing it. Yes. So that part where you see the art, that art is submitted by each person that selects a battle from him. So you'll see that being different on every bottle. Everything else about the bottle will be the same.

Uh, but that part is very, uh, kind of customized and it's, it's a far cry from what others do, which is like a sticker or a hang tag. Or, my personal pet peeve is when people put insane. What we call 'em, tater stickers on the [00:07:00] back with some clever, or they, you know, you would think they're clever names. Um, and just kind of like destroy the bottle aesthetic.

Uh, so

[00:07:09] Charles: Tater stickers. I'm gonna steal that. Oh

[00:07:12] Michael: Tater stickers, that's what

[00:07:13] Charles: You can tell the folks at home what taters are later on. We'll put a pin in that a little bit. I know you need to get glass. A glass in your

[00:07:20] Michael: yes. Lemme go grab a glass and bottle. I'll be right back. Sorry.

[00:07:23] Robbie: I hope you brought your machete to get it open.

[00:07:26] Michael: I don't need a machete. I also have a little sampler. That's a,

[00:07:31] Charles: there you go. Yes. So you got ahead

[00:07:33] Michael: of being in a business. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:07:35] Charles: Yeah.

Loving or Hating Wax Seals on Whiskey

[00:07:36] Charles: Well, that's what I say. I like the aesthetic of the wax top. You know, it's like a nice touch, but it the, at least for mine, there was not an exposed tab or anything, so I needed to bust out the leatherman to get in there.

[00:07:48] Michael: You have two camps, essentially, but either hate it or love the wax steps. Um, I don't hate it. I don't necessarily love it. I, although in this bottle it's done tastefully, so I'm okay with this. [00:08:00] The brand actually has a video on their website showing people how to open these things.

[00:08:05] Charles: Right.

[00:08:06] Michael: ' cause they, they've heard the feedback Ladder and clear. Yeah. Essentially you need like a. Very sharp knife and try to open it without slicing your own hand. Right? So that,

[00:08:17] Charles: exactly. That's the other side of it.

[00:08:19] Robbie: Not necessarily user error in that sense. It, like I said, it's a nice touch, but if you've gotta go to a website to get the info to open up, it's gonna fail for a lot of people. I don't know.

[00:08:30] Michael: uh, they actually use the wax colors strategically. So if you look at the label, uh, under the barrel number, and I'm not sure if you can see it, so under the barrel number, there are three letters, which this one says A and B that stands for Ana. Uh, but nor, and, and this is again, this is a departure from their, uh, normal, I wanna say quote unquote, traditional single barrels, which are just like normal bourbon or rye barrels.

The fans of the brand [00:09:00] know these bottles by these little abbreviations. Why? Because every abbreviation speaks to where the barrel came from. Who the alleged distillate source was. 'cause again, this is NDP and their governed by NDAs. They never disclose that information. But in the whiskey circles, if you know the Nashville, you can identify where the whiskey came from within certain level of certainty, right?

So fans are looking for specific things. And so the brand connects each line of their barrels and they match it with the wax stop color. So they're, they're used, several of them. I think they're, um, there's the red tops, there's green tops, there's white tops, obviously. And then there's a new one now, but I just selected with them.

But a month ago, they, the distillate is gonna be from will. Uh, and it's a 10 year distillate,

[00:09:54] Charles: Oh wow.

[00:09:55] Michael: it's a 10 year wallet without having a wallet bottle.

[00:09:58] Charles: Yeah.

[00:09:59] Michael: [00:10:00] Uh, and people will pay fraction of the price for what they would've paid for the actual will bottle, right? So these things will come with, I believe, yellow wax tops.

So

[00:10:11] Charles: yeah,

[00:10:12] Michael: tidbit there.

[00:10:13] Charles: yeah. That's a, that's a good to know. I remember the days when I could go into the Willett gift shop and pay $35 for some, some other stuff. Uh,

[00:10:23] Michael: Well, I mean, willed is a huge distillery, right? I mean, they're, they're produced bunch of brands. KBD makes tons. They made their names in sourcing. Uh, funny enough, I'm not gonna go too deep into the history of wallet, but suffice it to say they started, they, they were operating, then they closed and they started operating again.

And in the years that they were closed, they didn't really have any of their own distillate. So they had to come out and they, and they source stuff and they source stuff. Mostly from stood weller. They were, you know, fortunate enough to be able to do that, which made, which put them on a map. Um, uh, those single barrel selections that they've [00:11:00] done, uh, were just amazing.

Like, uh, anything over 15 years, 16 years is just unbelievably good. But you're gonna pay, uh, for those bottles. Those are few and far between. And even if you can find one, uh, it'll be a pretty pricey, um, it will have a pretty pricey price tag. Uh, so that's, that's neither here nor there. Um, let's talk about Ana for a second.

Uh, 'cause I, this is something that's interesting.

[00:11:26] Charles: Mm-Hmm.

Learning how to taste our whiskey

[00:11:27] Charles: And you, you wait. And also remember. You were gonna teach us the taste. We, you said we suck at it and we need to do better. And

[00:11:36] Michael: So, so, all right.

[00:11:37] Charles: that, that's fine. I'm, I mean, I've had a lot of whiskey, but I don't, you know, sit in nerdy circles and talk about the nuances of things.

I make up half the words, you know, how this goes,

[00:11:46] Michael: I will never be the one that tell you that how to drink your whiskey. I'll be the first one to tell you, drink your whiskey the way you want to drink it.

[00:11:53] Charles: There you go.

[00:11:54] Michael: The the best thing is as long as it tastes good, that's all that matters. As long as you like it, that's all that [00:12:00] matters. Don't let anybody sway your opinion otherwise.

With that being said, there are a few things that people should know about how to approach at least drinking cast strength whiskey. 'cause there is a huge difference between drinking stuff that people buy off the shelf, and that goes back to the blending component, uh, and then the single cast strength selection.

So let, let's talk about that in a little bit for a little bit. Blending essentially means in, in layman terms, mean means getting a batch of different barrels, let's just say 10 of them, right? And then essentially mixing them up. Like think about your chemistry class. That, that's, that's exactly what they do.

They're trying to mix and match. Uh, there, there's obviously an intent. Every barrel, uh, that goes into a blend, serves a purpose. One might be, uh, oak forward, the other one might be Fruit Forward. The, the third one might be, uh, I don't know, uh, some other note, right? And, and the blender is trying to create a certain profile that they already had in their minds.

And, and, and each brand, depending on a brand has different philosophy when it comes to it. Like [00:13:00] take maker's Mark, the maker's Mark that you're gonna buy anywhere in the United States, or for that matter, anywhere in the world, will taste exactly the same because they don't deviate from their formula.

They don't deviate from their blend. And they's on purpose. They want brand consistency. If you like Maker's Mark, you're going to like it regardless where you pick it up.

[00:13:18] Charles: Yep.

[00:13:19] Michael: Others like that, um, fluctuations, uh, not, not just fluctuations.

[00:13:25] Robbie: Variation.

[00:13:26] Michael: yeah, variations right?

You, you can call that. if we're talking about. Uh, not blends, but just single barrels specifically. It's a single barrel. It's one of one, and every barrel is gonna taste a little bit different from the next, right? Just by definition. And so people that are whiskey nerds or, or people that enjoy their whiskey certain way, they, they prefer that variations.

They want to be able to say, Hey, I have something in my collection, or I have something in my bar, my cabinet that no one else has, or very few people have, and I happen to love it. I happen to love what I'm, what I'm having. [00:14:00] Especially if you contributed to that barrel selection, right? If you were for fortunate enough to do that, not just that, uh, cast strength versus 90 proof.

So by the way, that the formula, right? So we're all math geeks here. I would, I would assume, um, A BV, uh, alcohol by volume versus proof. It is a very easy conversion formula. It's just a BV times two equals proof, right? Proof. And, and really what it talks about, it's how strong your whiskey is going to taste.

Uh, normal whiskey expressions, most whiskey expressions, and I, I, I know you guys know that, but perhaps your audience doesn't I got is, is it's probably gonna be around 40 to 50, uh, a BB range. Um, more skewed towards 40 than 50. Uh, so what that means is nothing comes out out of the barrel at that strength, nothing.

So the only way to get it to that strength is to add water to it. There is, uh, there is another business reason to do that because when you add water to any volume of [00:15:00] liquid, you multiply that liquid, you get

[00:15:02] Robbie: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:15:03] Michael: And so you sell more. Now the price is gonna be cheaper too, right? Anything cast strength is gonna be always more expensive because there is less of it, right?

This is just basic supply and demand. Um, and then depending on who you talk to. You most people will say barrel strength stuff, uh, unadulterated, uncut, unfiltered. Essentially when water isn't added to it and you drink it right from the barrel or not messed with after it was dumped from the barrel, uh, it will always going to have bold flavor to it.

It's, it's always gonna be more flavorful, but your palate needs to be trained to pick up those flavors because if it's not trained, all you're going to taste is alcohol and burn and you're gonna be put off whiskey forever. And so, like when my, uh, friends come over that, that, that don't necessarily drink whiskey, I would never pour them something that is, you know, uh, high proof or, or has a high alcohol content.

It's just not something they would enjoy. so that brings [00:16:00] us to this specific thing and, and ana specifically. So within bourbon circles, within whiskey circles, there are constant fads, uh, that take place. Started out with. Uh, finished whiskeys and finished bourbons, which means your original barrel of whiskey after aging is dumped into a secondary barrel that had something else in it before.

It could be anything. It could be rum, it could be wine, it could be tequila, it could be Scott, you name it. Any spirit other than whiskey or even if it was whiskey, like we, we call it double oaked a lot. A lot of times people take one barrel of whiskey, dump it in another barrel of whiskey, and it gets more exposure to the wood,

uh, which adds to a, which creates a certain profile.

Um, so long story short that that was a fad and it's, I think it's still a fad, but I think people are coming off of it a little

bit

[00:16:52] Charles: very saturated. So like yeah. Pinot noir and, and rum and like all of those feels like everybody's done versions [00:17:00] of that, so

[00:17:00] Michael: Yeah, and it's not new to be honest. Like when you talk about finishing, like scotches have been doing it forever, but they've been doing it with very specific barrels, uh, mostly with port barrels, right? So sherry and pork, 'cause those barrels naturally lend themselves to, um, to, to, for whiskey to be finished.

And then why, because whiskey, uh, lots of times is going to be spicy, right? That, that woody, that, that, that profile when you put it in something that held a sweeter liquid before it smooths out those rough edges and it creates a very nicely balanced, uh, expression. And so that's what Scots are known for.

But bourbon geeks then took it to a completely different stratosphere. And I've seen expressions, like insane expressions like, uh, Mexican Vanilla Coke, which is like three different battles combined in to one on like, that's just insane. I always say look. Uh, when you, yeah, especially when it comes to wine finishes.

That's [00:18:00] just my own personal opinion. It's very hard to execute a red wine finish. Why? Because you can easily oversaturated it and it becomes tannic. It becomes too dry. It be like, if I wanted to drink wine, I would drink wine. If I, if I wanted to drink whiskey, I wanna drink whiskey. Uh, now are they are great wine finished expressions?

Yes. They're few and far between for the simple fact that it's very hard to execute. And I think on Bana, like when we talk about certain things, certain things are done because, uh, the combination of bourbon or whiskey versus, like I said, uh, sherry cask or something of that nature, it's just a natural, it's a marriage made in heaven.

Amburana explained

[00:18:40] Michael: It's a natural combination versus something that feels forced. And I'm not saying Amburana feels forced. amburana has an interesting, um, history in terms of being used. First of all, do you guys know what amburana is?

[00:18:54] Charles: I don't.

[00:18:55] Robbie: Nope.

[00:18:56] Michael: Okay. amburana is a Brazilian oak. [00:19:00] It's an oak tree, and people have messed with different oaks types to build barrels forever.

Uh, obviously bird to be called bourbon, it has to be made from American new virgin Oak. Um, but there are different oak families right in the world. There's mango and oak, there's french oak up there is now Brazilian oak. And then there's all different types of wood that people use to make produce barrels.

So amburana comes from Brazil. Um, it is famous for giving a whiskey a very unique and robust profile. It also the effect of the finishing a lot of times depends on how many times that secondary or finishing cask was actually used. So, for example, uh, let, let's take.

Amburana Barrel, right? So Amburana Barrel is made from Brazilian oak. It gets transported from Brazil to America, which in the beginning stages of it was super expensive. These things were expensive, which is [00:20:00] why anything that had Amburana label on Amburana name on a label was expensive. People would dump their whiskeys into it the first time they've done it.

The effect on that, of that secondary cask is the strongest, think of it as a teabag, right? So like when you, when you seep your tea, the very first time you do, it's the strongest,

[00:20:19] Charles: a literal tea bag. Not what I do to Robbie. Sometimes when we get together, um, a different kind of tea bag. Okay. Gotcha. Yeah, no.

[00:20:28] Michael: nice. Is this PG 13 version of it? No.

[00:20:31] Charles: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, we, yeah, we can, uh, yeah, we are an adult show, so we can say fucking shit and tea

[00:20:38] Michael: Also, well, yeah, no, that, not that type of teabagging. Although after drinking this, you might, you know, might be um.

[00:20:44] Charles: up for it. Yeah. Luckily Robbie's far away for now, so, um, sorry. So yes. Think of a

teabag and the steeping

[00:20:52] Michael: of a Yeah. The more you do it, the less of an effect that secondary casket is going to be. And in certain cases it's actually for the best. Uh, it, it really [00:21:00] depends on what you're looking for in o whiskey, right? So we've done, we've done several on bar finishes, um, over the last, I wanna say three year span.

Um, because a, it was popular, let's be honest, it was very popular in the beginning. Right now it's totally and completely jumped a shark to the point where when people see Ana, they don't want it, because in the beginning stages of it, nobody knew what the hell it was. Uh, a lot of people didn't know what the taste profile was.

And the taste profile is very unique. Uh, I'm not sure if you guys tasted it, we're gonna get to it in a second, but

[00:21:33] Charles: Oh, we, we

[00:21:34] Robbie: I was

[00:21:34] Charles: I, I'm very impatient and so I had

[00:21:37] Michael: So like, what's the predominant note that, what's the predominant smell or taste that you're picking

[00:21:41] Robbie: I really get the same on the smell and the taste. Like a lot of cinnamon and licorice.

[00:21:46] Michael: Bingo. The cinnamon. Cinnamon is, yeah.

[00:21:49] Charles: yeah, I got that on the taste, on the smell. I got a bit of like dried tobacco.

[00:21:54] Michael: That's too,

[00:21:54] Charles: just, yeah. Okay, so I'm, Hey, uh, dear listener. Uh, I'm not full of [00:22:00] shit, just so you know.

[00:22:01] Michael: no, and and you're right. Uh, so those three, uh, those three specific notes, uh, uh, cinnamon, predominantly cinnamon, there is tobacco leaf for sure. There is a little bit of licorice, there's a bit of leather. People call it leather, although like,

[00:22:14] Charles: Yeah. I mean, what does that mean? Like, I

think,

[00:22:16] Michael: more of a

[00:22:17] Charles: is another way to say woodiness too. I think when you get some of that woodiness it, uh, you know, yeah. It has a leathery kind of, yeah. I have tasted a leather belt before. Just out of curiosity, so just for fun.

[00:22:30] Michael: So with any finished product, which you want to taste first and foremost. Is the whiskey itself. If you feel like you're drinking that secondary cask, like for example, if you feel like you're drinking wine and not necessarily bourbon, or if you're drinking, uh, I don't know, brandy, whatever the second finishing is, that's not uh, a whiskey that's done right

in terms of secondary finishing. You want to appreciate whiskey for whiskey, you want to pick up those traditional whiskey notes. So if it's bourbon, you still want to get some of that [00:23:00] caramel, some of that vanilla, some of that sweetness in inherent sweetness, right, that corn brings, but enhanced by some of the characteristics of that secondary cask.

And so when this came out, it was really meant for people that had. They've been tired of like your normal whiskeys and wanted to have something else and wanted to impress their whiskey, drinking friends, uh, with something that they might not necessarily have or even tried before. So the distillery that actually made it popular and famous was, uh, is a Starlight Distillery out of Indiana.

[00:23:31] Charles: Oh yeah, I know that one.

[00:23:33] Michael: yeah, those, those great folks, we worked with them closely. Um, they have, they actually, it's funny enough, they started out as, uh, winemakers, um, and they have a lot of land in, in Indiana, just over, over the river from Louisville.

And, um, uh, they, they grow everything on premises. So it's truly ground to glass operation, right?

There's a lot of talk about being grain to glass, but that [00:24:00] doesn't really mean anything, uh, because grain can be sourced from anywhere. Uh, but when it's ground to glass, that's different. That means they actually produce their own grains and. Everything, they control every step of that operation. So, uh, they've made finishing whiskeys in general popular because these guys have every finish under their sun.

Like you name it, they have it blacker and peach, brainy grapes, uh, orange wine. Like, it's just insane the amount of different finishes that they use with their whiskeys. And they made it very popular, and especially this one. And when they put this one out, uh, those things were selling out like hotcakes.

Uh, people couldn't get enough. And then like every other industry, you, you see your competitors and you are seeing a success where the product that they have, you try to mimic it, right? Um, and people started, people started to clone on Bana finishes. And not all, not all on bana are created equal for many different reasons.

Number one. Uh, when people put armana on the [00:25:00] label, that doesn't really mean that it was secondary finished in the cask in a, in, in a barrel that was made out of Amburana wood. All that means is that it had some presence of oana wood in it.

[00:25:11] Charles: That could be staves dropping staves in or whatever. Gotcha.

[00:25:15] Michael: chips as well. Um, all kinds of crazy things.

So not all lo is created equal. Then not everybody knows where that balance is, right? Like, uh, so it still comes down to your ability to blend and still comes out to your ability to say, okay, this is, this is enough. This is done. Let's pull it out, let's bottle

it. And so lots of, lots of people overdone it.

And when you overdo it, this stuff is in drinkable, like, it's like drinking cinnamon right outta the glass, and you don't really feel like you're drinking whiskey. So a lot of people got put off by that. And so like, fast forward to today, every time we introduce as a retailer, uh, an ana. Uh, selection. Not even selection like expression.

It doesn't have to be our own [00:26:00] battle selection. It just can be anything. People are not going for it anymore. I think they're completely over on, but this one. And so, and, and, and one, one other thing I'll say on Amburana is interesting in that again, like the notes that we just picked up were cinnamon. And we're leather and we're oaky.

Like all, all the spiciness, right? Of sorts. You would think when you pair it with bourbon, it's a natural pairing because bourbon is sweeter. And so when you mix sweet and oak, it's a nice balance, nice

[00:26:27] Charles: Yum.

[00:26:28] Michael: Well, we're not drinking bourbon. This is a rye expression. And what are the rice famous for?

Spiciness.

[00:26:35] Robbie: Yeah.

[00:26:36] Michael: So like spicy on spicy would think, oh shit, that, that, that could be too much. You tell me if this is too much. Uh, do you guys like this? Do you guys not like this? Like what, what's your, uh, what's your opinion on this?

[00:26:48] Charles: Uh, well this is, this is a perfect segue. I was gonna say we're, so we do a rating, it's a ar somewhat arbitrary rating system. Zero to eight tentacles. Tentacles comes [00:27:00] from,

[00:27:00] Michael: Octopus. Your

[00:27:01] Charles: yep. There you go. And, uh, and then we have to throw a zero in there because we're software people, so we're index based zero on, uh, so it's technically nine, but whatever.

We don't get caught up in semantics. So from zero to eight tentacles, zero is terrible, eight is amazing. Clear the shelves four is like, not bad, but we'll see where it goes from there. So I'm curious what Robbie thinks. He was just shaking his head. So this, this could be interesting.

[00:27:25] Robbie: no, it's, it's good. It's, uh, I don't know that we've had like a rye finished in something else like this,

[00:27:34] Charles: envy would be like a rum or

[00:27:37] Robbie: Did we do? That

[00:27:38] Charles: I think. Yeah, I think we did one

[00:27:39] Michael: is, is port?

[00:27:40] Charles: Yeah, it's port. Yeah. So, so we've

[00:27:42] Michael: it's not a

rye is it? Is it a

[00:27:44] Robbie: It's

I don't think so. Yeah,

[00:27:46] Charles: They have a rye too. They have a

[00:27:47] Robbie: do, but it's,

[00:27:49] Michael: We They do have it now, but, but yeah. well, not with our Maybe you guys did it on your own. Yeah.

[00:27:54] Robbie: I don't think so. No, I don't think, I don't think I've had any finished trial. I'll have to look through

the [00:28:00] rest of

It being kind of its own category. I'm not sure where to put it relative to others, but like on its own, it's pretty good. I don't have anything negative to say about it really. There's like on the finish, there's a little bit of bitterness, which is maybe a little bit negative sometimes. But most of the flavors are very good.

Love the cinnamon. Think it pairs well with the spice. So I would give it a seven, I think.

[00:28:22] Michael: Oh, nice. Wow. Thank you.

[00:28:24] Charles: I was gonna say, I actually like it quite a bit too. I think it's very interesting. I feel like it's deep, it's kind of coating my tongue, like it hangs out for a while, gives me a little hug without being like harsh. I don't feel like I've got heartburn coming up later. Um, it is like different, it's a different spin,

on a rye. 'cause I feel like a lot of times when you get these finished things, they are trying to make them somehow sweeter or something. I don't know. And I like this. This one has a lot of depth. It almost feels like something like, I don't really do cigars, but like once a year we used to do like family stuff and it would be that kind of thing.

Like it's a nice like [00:29:00] family thing. Let's have some pours of this and like have it. So I actually kind of feel the same. It's a seven for me as well.

[00:29:06] Michael: that's fantastic. Uh, speaking about cigars and I'm happy you picked up on it. So going back to, to Starlight, being that it was them that introduced us to the world really and made it famous. Guess what they call that?

What is a cigar batch?

[00:29:19] Michael: Guess what they called that first batch and every other batch of Amburana finished barrel.

It was a cigar batch.

[00:29:25] Charles: the cigar bag.

[00:29:26] Robbie: Oh yes, yes, yes.

I've seen people have cigar batches. I didn't really know what that meant.

[00:29:31] Michael: Uh, well, good question because it, it could mean many different things, um, for the, in a traditional sense of the word. And it, it wasn't, uh, Starlight that essentially introduced the cigar batching naming convention. It was actually another brand called, uh, Joseph Magnus.

And Joseph Magnus had, they're, they're famous for their cigar, uh, what was it? Batch, I think it's called Batch Scar. Batch, yeah. Um, the reason they call it that, uh, I think it's just a marketing ploy [00:30:00] to be honest with you. Um, but it has three different finishes, uh, of that bourbon. It's, for the most part, it's Madera, Sherry and Terrence.

Sometimes people use cognac instead of Terrence. Like it's, it's, it's a combination of those three or four spirits. And then everybody does it different. So like historically, that's what people would associate with a cigar. And the story goes is that people call it cigar because it's so robust. It could stand up to a cigar.

It could be like a very nice pairing with a cigar while talking about the robustness. This is super robust to me. I mean, and that's

[00:30:31] Charles: It is.

[00:30:32] Robbie: Yeah.

[00:30:32] Michael: a natural pairing to a cigar. And what drew us to this is, is the fact that I could still totally taste orry in this. Like that spiciness that you alluded to, even that bitterness that you alluded to, that's specific to orry or rye, is supposed to be spicy, right?

That, that that's what it is. Um, and you definitely, uh, you definitely taste cinnamon in this, but it, it's not overpowering the rye. Like you can totally say that you're still drinking the rye [00:31:00] and that's what you want in a balanced, finished. Whiskey. So the fact that it was a rye and you don't see rye finishes all that much and especially not in an ana, uh, was a draw to us.

And uh, but when we select stuff, honestly, like we're not really swayed by what's on a label. As a matter of fact, we taste everything blind. Like I don't want to know what I'm tasting, tell me after I make a selection, which results in best tasting whiskey that we can pick on that particular date, right from the options that we have.

Uh, if we're doing it at the distillery, like the options are endless and so you have to draw a line somewhere. Uh, if you do it at virtually, then they'll send you a kit of four to five samples. And so you got, you gotta pick from that. And a lot of times we actually said we don't like anything and so we just send it back and don't make a selection.

[00:31:46] Charles: yeah, yeah. Thanks. But

[00:31:47] Michael: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

[00:31:49] Charles: I am, I am gonna press you on, on giving it a rating, even though it's your own I,

[00:31:54] Michael: mine, I. Well, on its own, uh, because like, I'm jaded [00:32:00] in that, like we've done, we're up to pick number 91. We're, we're launching our own 91st barrel, uh, this Friday. So it's like having 90 kids, like, uh, which one do you like best, right? So they're all different. We pick 'em for different reasons, but on its own and speci in, in, in, in relationship to, how nicely balanced it is. I'll say six and a half, I'll

[00:32:23] Charles: I'd say that's solid.

[00:32:25] Michael: I, I've had rise that a little better, honestly. Um, uh, I've had rise that haven't been finished in anything that are better. And honestly, if you are a whiskey drinker and if you start noticing that you start gravitating towards rye more than bourbons, that means a palate is evolving.

[00:32:42] Charles: Oh

[00:32:43] Michael: look at it, I look at it as a spectrum, right? So like, if this is a spectrum, bourbon has a wider spectrum, meaning if it's great, it's really great. But if it's bad, it's really bad to the point of, it's like, it, it's undrinkable. Um, sorry, I'm sorry. That's a rye. That's right. Rye [00:33:00] has a wider spectrum.

Bourbon is, is, is a, is a narrow spectrum where it's not that bad if it's bad, but it's not that great if it's great either. Like there are some great bourbons, don't get me wrong, uh, obviously, but those

are few and

[00:33:11] Charles: is pretty wide

and you can get away with like a $25 bourbon and be like, um,

this is probably gonna be okay. Most of the time. Yeah,

for

[00:33:19] Michael: exactly. Uh, rye just has a much wider range, so there is a much more going on in the world of rice. So, um, even, even in our tastings, like we have tastings once a once a month with different brands. As a matter of fact, right after this, we have a tasting with a brand called Balcones,

[00:33:36] Charles: Oh

[00:33:37] Michael: that are, that are making

[00:33:38] Charles: In Austin. Yeah. Yeah. We've had it. Yeah.

[00:33:41] Michael: Yep. So, um, and, and we talk about as a group on these calls with these brands, uh, I just notice that people gravitate towards rye expressions more 'cause it's just that much different. It's just, it offers more to a person that has had pretty much everything,

right?

[00:33:58] Charles: I, I resent [00:34:00] that you said that though, because it's gonna make Robbie feel like he's a greater expert than he is. 'cause he is always liked the ryes which by the way, I'm gonna do, I'm gonna do a little of this just to like, see if it changes things to, uh, a couple of drops of distilled water to open it up.

See, uh, that was one of the things I learned, uh, a long time ago at the Jack Rose. They were like, you, you know, you get, uh, you get a Dr here and then they give you this and they're like, have the first bit as is and then add a couple of drops and try something else all together. And like that is a pretty cool thing.

[00:34:32] Michael: On that note, do you know why people add a big ice of, uh, big cube of ice in their drink? Why is it cube of ice? Why is it not crushed ice?

[00:34:40] Charles: Uh, because they're not Robbie

[00:34:43] Robbie: Yeah, because they, they didn't have crushed ice available.

Is ice evil for tasting real whiskey?

[00:34:46] Michael: Well, let's say you did have it available. Would you put Crush Ice?

[00:34:50] Charles: uh,

[00:34:50] Robbie: I used to use Crushed Ice and I got in big trouble for it.

[00:34:54] Charles: this is a perfect hot take actually. Yeah, I was gonna say, one of my questions was, is ice [00:35:00] evil for tasting real whiskey?

[00:35:02] Michael: No, it's not. And as a matter of fact, how you're doing it is right.

Um, because you are now giving your whiskey a second life. When you add a few drops of water into it, what it, what ends up happening is it opens up the whiskey, it, it, it smooths out the whiskey. If it's too hot for you, it smooths out the whiskey.

And by the way. That's another reason why people that know whiskey prefer cast strength, barrel strength expressions. Why? Because if it's too hot, they can always add water to it and make it to their own liking. But if it comes in at 90%, uh, 90% proof, which is 45 a BV, and it's not strong enough, well there's nothing you can do about it.

That's it. That's, that's the strongest it'll ever be. So that's another reason for it, and that's why the casting stuff is always gonna be more expensive. Um, but anyway, um, with regards to the ice question, there's actually signs behind it. So when you add a cube of ice, big block, cube of ice, it melts slower.[00:36:00]

So it dilutes your whiskey slower. It still chills your whiskey, but it dilutes it slower, uh, allowing you more time to enjoy full flavors of that whiskey before it gets diluted. If you add crushed ice to it, it melts faster. Turning your whiskey into

[00:36:15] Charles: A slushy you.

[00:36:16] Robbie: Yeah. What if you just drink really fast though? That's fine.

[00:36:19] Michael: That's fine.

[00:36:20] Charles: I

[00:36:20] Michael: Use a straw. Use a

[00:36:22] Charles: I don't know. Use a straw and get there quickly. Yeah. When we first started this show two and a half years ago, that's how Robbie would, he would drink rye, but he would drink it on crushed ice and basically just have it that way. He just poured it. I'd be like, what are you doing?

You're not even, I don't know. It all tastes like water, like whiskey slushy to you

[00:36:39] Robbie: I mean, if you're doing them all the same way though, then it's like a, a level playing field.

[00:36:44] Michael: That, that's true. That, that's, that's actually true. So when we, uh, when we do our selections, we would go, we would do several takes, right? So like the first time through it, we would just do cast strength without anything added. Uh, but the point is you always have to do it the same. So like, [00:37:00] if you're tasting five samples, they all have to be un chilled, unfiltered, without any ice.

Then the next round, they all should have ice, right? So like, you have to keep the level,

[00:37:08] Charles: yeah, you

[00:37:09] Michael: consistent at all times. Uh, yeah.

How should you smell whiskey?

[00:37:12] Michael: Um, here's another interesting fact. Factoid for you, when you're nose in, when you're smelling the whiskey, right, how do you normally do it? Show me.

[00:37:20] Charles: I do this.

[00:37:21] Robbie: yeah,

[00:37:21] Michael: Nice. Yeah, I wanna see that

[00:37:23] Robbie: does it the right way. I don't, I don't do it that way.

[00:37:26] Charles: Yeah. Uh, I mean, I learned a long time ago from like, uh, when I started, uh, getting into nicer wines with my wife. I mean, I've been drinking whiskey a pretty long time, but not always in the nicest ways. Like, you know, growing up in Kentucky, uh, well first of all, you know, you're eight years old, they hand you your first whiskey.

No, I'm just kidding. It doesn't quite go that way, but, and

[00:37:47] Robbie: old? Yeah,

[00:37:48] Charles: Yeah, exactly. Um, no, but, uh, you know, in college you get a handle of Jim Beam and some Coke and whatever, and you kind of like do that. You're whiskey's the choice, but you're kind of doing it that [00:38:00] way and. Uh, gosh, even like times in the early two thousands when I would, you know, cut, I'd be like $50.

I don't know. I can get some pretty good stuff for 20 bucks, but, you know, this comes over time. So I, I, I actually do credit learning how to drink wine with learning more about how to drink whiskey and like actually appreciate the nuance of it, so,

[00:38:22] Michael: great. Yeah, you open up your mouth because it, it, it, it helps you actually pick up the actual node off the liquid and not just ethanol. And to that point, the geeks, I don't do it, but the geeks, they would actually close one nostril. 'cause one of your nostrils always will pick up ethanol more than the other.

And so you need to close the one that picks up more ethanol. So if you try doing that, you'll see that you start picking up different things from your glass.

[00:38:50] Charles: okay. Well

[00:38:51] Michael: And I also see people like sticking their noses right into the glass. That's wrong either. Uh, uh, it has to be on, almost on your mouth [00:39:00] level, right?

So you have to let the whiskey come to you not the other way around.

So that's certain things that, you know, you can say. Um.

[00:39:09] Charles: Did you, uh, did you see Robbie's bougie, Glen Carn, where it's like, it's d it's dual layered

so that like he can hold it, uh, what are they

[00:39:19] Michael: norland, right?

[00:39:20] Charles: Yeah, Norland.

yeah.

[00:39:22] Michael: I broke all of mine. They're so like, I don't know.

[00:39:24] Robbie: If you

[00:39:25] Michael: They break easily, right?

[00:39:27] Robbie: They,

[00:39:27] Charles: If you breathe on it too hard, it's, uh, yeah, I had like a set and then I broke one, and then I just had one for a while, but I was like, I can't move this around too much.

And then they had some sort of like, replacement sale and I was like, finally, and get a,

[00:39:41] Michael: Because they know it

[00:39:43] Charles: they, they know it breaks,

[00:39:45] Michael: I've

[00:39:45] Robbie: you don't want to have the, you want your customers to come back and buy stuff again. Right. Can't, can't be

[00:39:49] Michael: that's a brilliant business model if you can sustain it. That's, that's

true. Uh, I've gotten a set for Christmas, uh, one, you know, a couple years back and, uh, they didn't last long, but I [00:40:00] did do like a head-to-head test. I poured some stuff into it and I poured some stuff into one of these things.

I prefer these, uh, tried and true.

You, I, I pick up more stuff from 'em. The glass that you're holding looks nicer, no doubt. Um, but I just, I'm able to pick up more stuff in a traditional Glen Carn.

[00:40:16] Charles: This is outta my age in or travel set, so

[00:40:19] Michael: is

[00:40:19] Charles: I really, yeah, they're like really heavy and kind of nice and I don't know, I, I, uh, I take my travel kit with me a bunch. It's just kind of

[00:40:28] Michael: We recently partnered with them, actually

[00:40:30] Charles: I saw that in a recent tasting kit with the four Roses one. I was like, want, want, uh, I can't

[00:40:36] Michael: Well, we saw one without the whiskey too, which is a lot more, uh, approachable.

[00:40:41] Charles: yeah, no, I want the whiskey. That's, that's part of it.

[00:40:43] Michael: Well, do you know the story behind why they're so expensive?

[00:40:46] Charles: Um,

[00:40:47] Michael: that are listening and not really understanding what the hell we're talking about, we have a tasting kit that we sell on, on our website, prime barrel.com.

Um, and, um, it's a, it's a, it's a tasting kit that includes. 1, 2, [00:41:00] 3, 4 different expressions. So it includes twin barrels of 16-year-old four roses, um, O-O-E-S-D,

[00:41:10] Charles: mm-Hmm.

[00:41:11] Michael: formula for the four roses geeks still now. Um, and then it has a new riff, the one and only in existence, 9-year-old single bourbon, single barrel bourbon.

Uh, nif for the people that don't know again, has opened up their doors about 10 years ago when they opened up their doors, they laid down a few barrels, obviously, uh, and they put 'em in a vault. And two years ago, Eastern Kentucky got hit with tornadoes and floods and, uh, it was, you know, big news people lost their homes and in certain cases, livelihoods and in certain cases lives, and bourbon community has always been very generous.

Uh, very always had a big heart and I. Charity auctions are, is nothing new to a bourbon community. And so there was one organized to support the victims of those [00:42:00] unfortunate events. And, uh, people, lots, lots of distilleries took place in it as well as just local individuals and just any bourbon aficionado could, uh, offer up a, a, you know, a bottle from their collection for, for sale, uh, for, for an auction.

Uh, all proceeds went to obviously to support the people in need. But as a part of that auction, uh, there were few interesting events, uh, experiences as people would call 'em. And a couple of them were, come to Four Roses, have Brent Elliot, who is their headmaster distiller, lead you on a VIP tour and then pick, uh, help you pick a barrel with him. Uh, and that was too good to pass up. And so we ended up winning an auction. Funny story there too. Uh, as chance would have it, I was going to Kentucky as the auction was ending.

And I remember as soon as my plane hit the tournament in Louisville, I was checking on my phone because that's when the auction was ending, and I was one of the last two people bidding for [00:43:00] it.

And we drove up the price in the last probably minute and a half by tens of thousands of dollars between me and whoever else it was. I actually ended up losing the auction because it's gotten to a point where I was like, as much as I can, as I wanna do this, I just can't swing it. Right? And so I'm disappointed.

I'm, I'm getting my luggage in the airport and I get a phone call from a Louisville number. I, I recognize the number. I have no idea who this is. I pick up and it's a person that runs those charity auctions. She's like, Hey, uh, we noticed you were, uh, a final a finalist, uh, for the, for the, you know, for the experience.

Unfortunately didn't win, but we reached out to Four Roses and they, um, they offered to match your highest bidding price, so that you get an opportunity to do it as well. I'm like,

[00:43:44] Charles: Oh, that's cool. Yeah.

[00:43:45] Michael: Yeah. So we agreed to it and um, and that's how that happened. And so when we came to for roses, uh, those people are unbelievable in terms of their hospitality.

Uh, obviously it's a very historic grounds. It's a very, [00:44:00] you know, famed brand for a good reason because they output some of the most fantastic bourbon in every price. At at every price point You can get a $35 four rose, you know, small batch selection in your local store, BevMo, whatever, uh,

total

[00:44:14] Charles: And it's good.

[00:44:15] Michael: And for the money, it's good.

You can't do no better. Uh, they also have their expensive, uh, expressions that are just fantastic as well, but you're gonna pay, um, when it comes to single barrel furrows, those things are like super hard to get. And probably not a topic of the conversation for, for today, but suffice it to say, retailers need to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to even have an opportunity.

To select barrels. And so what happens is, uh, it also like depends on a state where your business is operating. And in New York, it's double it. It like, it's, it's almost impossible to get it because what happens is distributors get the access to those barrels and then they do the selection themselves, and then they distribute [00:45:00] the proceeds from that barrel, the yield from that barrel to different stores in different accounts.

So you might, if you're lucky, you might be able to get like six bottles of certain selection that it wasn't even you that made it. Right. So it's not as special. And so for us being a, being from New York and not having any other opportunity to do a single barrel, let alone 16-year-old single barrel, uh, was just too much to pass up.

So we agreed to it and we came there and Brent was just outstanding, like for a person of his stature, somebody who knows whiskey inside and out, somebody who's obviously, uh, you know, holds high position in, in, in a distillery. He was very down to earth. It was, it was one of us. And, uh, it was, it was amazing.

And, um. They let us pick not one, but two barrels, because when they are that old, the yield from 'em

is lower. Right? Because

like wood, it's into your whiskey.

[00:45:49] Charles: Yeah. The, the angels share

[00:45:51] Michael: angel share, right? Right. Exactly. The, the, the barrel that we selected, uh, had like super low yield. And so they select, they let us select a second one, which is [00:46:00] what they call a si, a sister barrel.

What that means is it was sitting right next to it in the rick house and it came off the same still. So the flavor profile is very similar. Um, so that's, that's what ended up happening. But the pri you wanna know the ending price of that auction.

[00:46:15] Charles: Sure. Why not? If you wanna share it. Uh, I mean it, I feel like it's gotta be six figures.

[00:46:21] Michael: it is six figures.

[00:46:23] Charles: Okay.

[00:46:24] Michael: It was

150,000 bucks.

[00:46:25] Charles: oh my gosh. So

[00:46:27] Michael: And now do the math. I said do the math. Uh, both of these barrels yielded less than 150 bottles.

[00:46:32] Charles: right?

[00:46:33] Michael: And so that's, that's, that's why the bottle's so expensive that, that it's a simple, and then people, you know, people that don't know, um, there, and there are a lot of those always will find something to complain about.

They're like, oh, look at you, you're price gouging. I'm like, I'm not price

[00:46:49] Charles: Oh

[00:46:50] Michael: That's, this is

if, when, when when you

are in a position, right? Well, I don't even wanna explain this honestly, but when you are in a position to donate 150 grand to your charity, [00:47:00] you can do whatever you want with that. Right?

And so, like,

I don't come to your place of work and I don't, I, I, I don't, you know, spit out nonsense, uh,

[00:47:09] Charles: you could, you could go with Robbie to the Amazon building and tell him that he's doing his Ember wrong and uh, I mean, you might be right. There's a 50% chance that you're right. I'm gonna have a little more of this, but I wanna wait, we gotta swing back around to hot takes, first of all. 'cause there has to be some technical talk here.

And we will, we will do some of that, but, so Robbie really wants to ask you this question.

[00:47:31] Michael: Of course.

How are NFTs going in the whiskey business?

[00:47:32] Robbie: Well, I, uh, choked myself on some whiskey there, so I'm, uh, trying to recover. But, um, I want, I want to know, uh, what, how, like how NFTs are doing for you. Do you think NFTs were a mistake in general? Like, or are they going well.

[00:47:48] Michael: That is a loaded question, Robbie. Um,

[00:47:51] Charles: It is a loaded question because you have incentive to one degree, but you can

say the vehicle isn't working or whatever.

[00:47:59] Michael: Alright, so let, [00:48:00] let me, let me, let me answer, let me answer that question this way. Let me take you back a few years again because it'll help me and you, uh, understand the framework within which this project was born. And exists. So three years ago, again, pandemic, like everything that happened, prime Barrel specific seems to be, uh, you know, seems to have its

[00:48:24] Charles: The prime demic, you could call it the prime

[00:48:27] Michael: I'm gonna call the, I'm gonna call my next barrel that Prime Demic,

uh,

[00:48:31] Charles: Sweet. Can send me a sample. Thanks.

[00:48:33] Michael: will do. Um, back then NFTs were over rage. The crypto was over rage, I think for all the wrong reasons, honestly. Uh, because people were speculating, people weren't really investing in it for the right reasons. They were investing in it as, um, as a way of making a quick buck, basically flipping NFTs.

Right. And a lot of those NFT projects were revolving around some [00:49:00] sort of a exclusivity, some sort of an art project, right? So like your NFT itself. Became a product the most infamous or famous, depending on your, uh, vantage point. Uh, NFT project was board a

[00:49:13] Charles: Yep.

Yep.

[00:49:14] Michael: And those things were selling for six figures, high six figures, sometimes seven figures, right?

And I was always the one that's saying, what the hell are people are paying for? What, what does this fucking thing do? Like, I don't understand this, right? Like, why would people pay it? Then through like baptized by fire, once we started like going down that rabbit hole, you're starting, you, you're starting to like put the puzzle together.

And really, to me it came down to exclusivity and being a part of a sort of like a, I don't wanna call it cult community, but there's some sort of secret society, right? Secret societies has existed for ages, right? Masons like going back to Masons, right? So, uh, it was, it was a lot of that and it was like an ability to rub shoulders with celebrities and people with like [00:50:00] high net worth and all that kind of stuff.

So that

[00:50:02] Charles: Scientology is what you're saying?

[00:50:04] Michael: Uh,

[00:50:05] Charles: No, no. That's an LA joke. That's an LA joke. You get that? Yeah. Anyway.

[00:50:09] Michael: that, that's what 99% of NFT projects were. Then we looked at it in a completely different way. We wanted to capitalize on popularity on NFT, no question. But it wasn't the biggest thing. The biggest thing for us was I always understood that I am in the business of selling whiskey and promoting whiskey.

I am not in a business of facilitating or administering memberships. I'm not AAA to do that properly. It needed to be scaled, it needed to be done so that it allowed me freedom to do what I do best, which is, again, select whiskeys and market them to people and, and, and, you know, and have the community around it.

But not being like, you know, buried in lines of code and, and, and trying to, uh, trying to reinvent the wheel [00:51:00] really. Right, because like. You think about memberships, which is what we are, like, it's a membership based club. Uh, membership models existed forever. And now you have, even now you have different membership types, right?

You have Patreon clubs subscribers, you have, um, just a, like a typical membership structure where people pay you like Netflix, right? Like that kind of thing. Like people pay you on certain cadence every month. So long story short, I wanted to create, I wanted a framework and structure that allowed very little involvement from my end.

And that the membership administration in terms of recognizing who the person is, allowing them certain access based on their membership tiers, uh, all of that, I wanted all of that automated. And so the blockchain out loud for a lot of it. Um, I'll give you a perfect example. And people say, well, you can do the same thing with passwords.

Yes, you can. It's not a secure, um, I'll give you a perfect example. We were sharing a barrel with another club and. Uh, [00:52:00] we kinda agreed behind the scenes with the people that were running that club that it's gonna go on sale at a certain time. We knew it was a pretty, uh, sought after barrel so it, it would sell fast, right?

So we wanted to make sure everyone had at least an equal chance of grabbing a bottle.

[00:52:15] Charles: Yep.

[00:52:16] Michael: And both our clubs had people that were supporting the clubs for quite some time, and we always gave those people. This is prior to us launching. We always gave those people dibs on any product drops. So these people would get like notifications first.

Uh, the product page, panic landing page would be password protected. We would only share the password with that group.

[00:52:40] Charles: Yep.

[00:52:41] Michael: When we did it for our own club. It always worked great. Uh, people didn't share those passwords. They understood why they were getting first dibs. They did, they they felt special right? In return because now you, uh, incentivizing their loyalty.

And in a very simple terms, it was a loyalty card. Right. When you [00:53:00] do it with people that you don't know, um, there are always the bad actors. And so what happened in that particular time, people share the password as simple as that, and so people flock to it. Whole thing was gone in under a minute. Like I've never seen anything like that.

It was an old Forester Barrel string barrel that sold out in 90 seconds, so not under two minutes, 90 seconds. And when I started like as a, as a business, I'm not complaining. Great. You know, we sold everything out. But as someone who tries to cultivate a community around a shared passion, oh my God, there was such a blowback, like, oh, you, you, you flexed on this limited bottles and this and that and the other.

And, and like, it's, it's pointless to explain to people that it wasn't us. It was just the technology basically failed us, right? So it wasn't set up properly to handle this use case.

Fast forward to blockchain and NFTs, that doesn't happen if you don't have an NFT in your wallet. You're not gonna get access.

Simple as that. Right? So that [00:54:00] solved that particular problem. And just one example, I can give you more examples.

[00:54:03] Charles: No, I think that's a very good example and I wanna like actually like add onto it a little bit. It act, it, it, it, uh, harkens back specifically to the ideal use case that, I don't know if you know Kevin Rose, is he, he like Diggnation all that kind of stuff. Anyway, he big in NFTs as well and he was a very big advocate, especially around the membership model.

And his easy example was 'cause like he's on, uh, he's in all these different wine clubs and him and his wife, like this wine, this wine, whatever, but their wine, their wine club membership is an email in the system. And it's sort of like you wait on a wait list and then you get in at some point and now you're, you know, aligning a database and if you change your mind at any point, you go away and then someone else comes into it and you really gotta have kind of nothing for that.

Um. Commodity to a way, and it commoditizes the membership. So like there's the [00:55:00] technological simplification through, um, blockchain that allows you like access through verification, but there's also like if I'm a Prime Barrel member and I wanna resell my membership, that's a commodity that I can now resell.

And a part of it goes back to you and then that can just kind of keep going in perpetuity.

[00:55:18] Michael: Yeah. I'll give you a perfect, um, example of what you just said. So just yesterday, as a matter of fact, I had someone reach out to me. And say, Hey, I am really interested in this upcoming found North Limited release. How can I get my hands on it? And prior to the release, we advertised the fact that, hey, we only had so many bottles that got allocated to us as a retailer because of our support of the brand.

Those bottles will be first and only available to our paid members. I think as a business you have the, the entire right to say that, right? Because that you are incentivizing people's loyalty. Why should I give this bottle to someone that's cherry picking and not someone who's been with me every step of the way, right?

So that's, I think that's an easy thing to [00:56:00] grasp. And uh, so this guy, uh, sends me an email and says, say, I want, I want it. And, uh, he goes, I consider your membership. But because the price of the membership is pegged to Ethereum, uh, and crypto has been on a run list recently, it's just way beyond where it started out to be.

It's actually, I think it's increased like a hundred percent in price. Um, doubled in price. And I go, look, if you sign up for the membership. I'll include this bottle for you. Um, and so, and he signed up and then after he signed up, he goes, one of the reasons I did that, not just the bottle, I'm a terminal cancer patient and I wanna leave something behind to my daughter.

Uh, one of the things I wanna leave to her is this membership. Because we share b Love for bourbon, we share a love, and this goes back to my original point where it's a relationship building. It's something very profound that can happen to you. And so he can always just transfer his membership to his daughter.

Right? I, I hope [00:57:00] it doesn't happen for years to come. Right. But. That's always a choice, not to mention people can always sell it. Right. And, uh, well, the selling price is going to depend on how valuable and desirable the membership is. And that goes right back to the community because as a community, you're all incentivized to drive up the price of the club because it makes your individual investment in it that much more valuable.

So all and, and interestingly, that brings up a bigger point. What I quickly realized, and Robbie, this is going back to your question, whether or not I think it was a mistake, I don't think it was a mistake. Um, would I do it again? I would probably do a few things differently. What I would do, I would spend a lot more time educating people onto what NFTs are and aren't.

Uh, we ran into a, I don't wanna call it the problem, but an obstacle where people didn't wanna learn. They're like, oh, crypto, no, that's a scam. They didn't know what crypto is. That is like when you dug just a little deeper, when you ask them like two [00:58:00] probing questions, even one probing question, like, why do you think it's a scam?

Oh, it policed the environment. I'm like, what? Uh oh, what are you talking about? So like everybody came to it with the preconceived notions and it took us, that's why we created a Discord community, which turned out to be a lifesaver because it allowed people to kind of channel in into this virtual community

and

[00:58:21] Charles: just leave it to you.

There's a community of educators, right? I'm in that community. So I, I see the, the, the chatter that goes on there, like, yeah, it's really nice. I think it's funny, and also if you think about it this way, especially in like the modern whiskey landscape, if you are somebody that is trying to get rare allocations in the world right now, you're, you're creating a, a relationship in a community in some way, regardless if you're getting it right.

You're either like finding your people in Facebook groups or on Reddit, or you're, uh, going to your

[00:58:57] Michael: Neighborhood liquor store.

[00:58:58] Charles: going to your neighborhood liquor store and you're [00:59:00] probably buying a lot of shit you didn't want so that you can

[00:59:02] Michael: Just like the stores do. Yeah,

[00:59:04] Charles: exactly like, they get you to like, okay, well I buy all my wine here and I get some other stuff, and now I made friends with the, you know, the guy who, who does the stocking and the picks and all that kind of stuff.

That's what I did in DC. I made friends with my locals and that's how I got hookups, and then I worked that into my Facebook groups and all that. Like there's work to be done regardless,

[00:59:27] Michael: yeah.

[00:59:27] Charles: you know? So,

[00:59:28] Michael: I and, and look. Um, and again, like going back to the overall question about NFT being, uh, a right vehicle for something like this, I think at the end we will be vindicated, whereas. Uh, with more education, with more adoption, people will come back to it and understand that this is not a scam.

There is a actual, tangible business behind it. There's a tangible goods and services that are being provided to it. NFT itself is not a product. I am not selling you digital art. I [01:00:00] could care. Well, I, I care about the art. Oh, by the way, this is our NFT art or part of it, and I'll discuss this in a second, but I wanted the art to be on point, but that's not the value prop of the club.

The value prop of the club is very simple if you enjoy access to limited stuff, right? Uh, to Chuck's point, uh, we have twice a year we have this, what we call a randomizer. Um, and it's only named right now because everybody who is a premium member gets a shot at at least one. Uh, allocated bottle. And again, for the people that don't know allocations are there, are sought after bottles, um, in, in, in, in the whiskey world that are either limited in limited supply or limited supply.

Let's just call 'em that. Right? Um, quality can be argued, so not everybody have access to those bottles. And when you do, a lot of times those, uh, bottles are priced up several times over. So we allow our premium members [01:01:00] to buy them. At MSRP twice a year, we have a fantasy football draft, so we put everyone's

[01:01:05] Charles: proper football or that like egg ball game bullshit.

[01:01:08] Michael: proper football fantasy draft, essentially, like it's a, it's a variation of a spin on it.

So what we do

[01:01:13] Charles: Wait. You know what I mean? You know, I mean, soccer, European football, like

proper

[01:01:17] Michael: no, no, no,

[01:01:18] Charles: No, I make jokes

[01:01:19] Michael: the rugby, the rugby, the rugby stuff.

[01:01:21] Charles: There you go.

[01:01:22] Michael: Yeah. Although, like, I, I played both, I, I grew up playing soccer.

So we put everyone, everyone's name into the hat. We allow people to see a list of everything that we will have available to them, and then they basically rank every expression in the, in the order they want to buy them.

Right? And so the first person to be drafted drafting has a, has like the, essentially the entire selection, their disposal. And we go right down a list and we do it twice a year. And so people gravitate towards that, that, that builds value. And that's how they are able to, justify the, the, you know, the, the, the price point of the membership, right?

It's not cheap. So, [01:02:00] so that's one I. Secondly, the relationships again, right? So like we go, like we do these selections. 90% of the time we do 'em in person, which means we travel to distilleries. Those are experiences. What I've learned through doing this, people are more likely to pay you for experiences than they are for actual goods.

Be that bottles or anything else, because it gives you a story to tell, it gives you a story to tell to your buddies, to your family, to your kids, right? Um, and then again, you bonding over a shared passion and there's nothing more, uh, there's nothing better than that, I think. So that, that's another thing.

So our premium members get a chance to, uh, to come with us and we take, depending on where we're going, anywhere from like six to eight people at a time.

[01:02:43] Charles: Mm-Hmm. And sometimes you include quasi famous, uh, podcasters. Like, there's, you, you don't know who you're gonna meet. There could

[01:02:51] Michael: I offered you, I,

[01:02:52] Robbie: Yeah,

[01:02:52] Charles: sure, for sure. What It's gonna happen. It's gonna happen. Don't you worry.

How are you integrating AI into your work?

[01:02:56] Charles: Uh, I do wanna know, um, when are you [01:03:00] going to integrate AI into the club and the experience?

Because coming from blockchain, your na next natural jump has gotta

[01:03:08] Michael: Well, we, we kind of have already in

certain use cases. Um, so I don't, I no longer have a marketing person. I no longer have a copyright person. I no longer have even a developer.

[01:03:23] Charles: Hmm.

[01:03:24] Michael: well we do have a developers, but it's, there's less of them now. I don't know if it's a good, a good thing or a bad thing.

It's a bad thing for

[01:03:31] Charles: from the fire hose they call that. Yeah.

[01:03:34] Michael: right, that's right. Um, I know the tasks that used to take me longer take now shorter. I think it's all about your, are there pitfalls? Yes. Like you can't really take everything that the AI is suggesting for, uh, you know, at face value. You, you, you, you still have your wits about you and, and kind of like either double check or apply it in the right manner.

I think it's. I think people that actually know how to use [01:04:00] prompts, uh, for AI and know how to best integrate it to their use cases. 'cause it's not end all, be all, it's not going to solve all of your problems, you know, magically. You need to understand how to apply it. It's, it's a business tool like anything else.

So, uh, we, we, we use it for copywriting, we use it for marketing, we use it for advertising. We use it for even drawing, like randomizing things like, uh, we didn't do it today, but like in the past I would put like, let's say I have 10 bottles of, um, rare character and people want it and I have 30 people that want it.

I would put all 30 people into an AI and I say, Hey, randomly select 10 people. Boom.

It's likes 10 people from me right there. There are other tools that do that, of course, but then also we do it twice a year, remember? And so what we do for the second time around, so we do it, we call it, we do it in July, we call it, uh, Christmas in July event, and then we do it for actual Christmas.

So the, the Christmas event, the actual Christmas event is always weighted meaning if you were, uh, drafting at the top of the [01:05:00] draft the first time around, your weighted average, uh, for the next draft would be lower. And again, it's, it's very randomized. So like AI u like, it's very easy to do that in ai. So we do use it to some degree already.

Yeah.

[01:05:12] Charles: nothing wrong with that. I think a lot of people who, uh, are tuned into technology use it to some degree. Like I use it multiple times per week for various things. We just basically, it makes Google faster. Like something I might have Googled, I put it into there and then it's just faster.

[01:05:30] Robbie: yeah. Google's doing it for you though. Now if you search stuff, it just like summarizes it at the top. Like this is probably what you wanted.

[01:05:37] Charles: Oh yeah. Yeah. I've seen

[01:05:39] Michael: So does Bing. Right? So does

Bing. 'cause

they, they put a lot of

[01:05:42] Charles: wait, what's bing? What's bing?

[01:05:44] Robbie: mm-Hmm. That's when you take your whiskey bottle and you hit it with something metal. It goes

[01:05:48] Charles: Yeah. And you go bing. Oh yeah. That is kind of like a bing. Yes. There you go. Perfect.

Um.

[01:05:55] Robbie: Um, yeah, so we're, we're a bit over time here.

Is there a worst whiskey you've ever had?

[01:05:58] Robbie: One question I do want to ask, and I [01:06:00] don't know if you can answer this, being a seller of whiskey and don't want to alienate any brands, is there a worst whiskey you've ever had? Like,

[01:06:08] Michael: Yes.

[01:06:09] Robbie: okay, do

[01:06:10] Michael: For

Fireball.

[01:06:11] Charles: Oh yeah. I think we all can agree on

[01:06:15] Michael: But I, I just had an

idea

[01:06:17] Charles: and alcohol.

[01:06:19] Michael: in talking to you guys, I just had an idea. I think it's a brilliant idea. If you ever had

[01:06:23] Charles: You're very

[01:06:24] Michael: know, well, I'll give you the credit if you know what. Fireball is, and if you ever had a misfortune of trying one, it's a cinnamon bomb, right? That's like a cinnamon juice essentially.

It's not

even a whiskey.

[01:06:37] Charles: Yeah. It's disgusting.

[01:06:38] Michael: Well, guess what this is, this is also cinnamon. So I'm gonna start calling Fireball as a number on a finish and see how that goes,

[01:06:43] Charles: Yeah. Yeah. Just relabel it. See what happens there. Charge a premium. Uh, if you're not in our membership, this is what you get.

[01:06:51] Robbie: Yeah.

[01:06:51] Michael: uh, on a serious note. And I don't wanna, um, I'll, I'll answer that question on a serious note too. Um, we actually had this discussion in, in, in [01:07:00] Discord recently about, not necessarily the worst whiskey, but stuff that just undrinkable to that specific person and how people like, you know, do, uh, the drain pours, right?

[01:07:09] Robbie: Mm-Hmm.

[01:07:10] Michael: I don't necessarily believe that people actually do that. I think it's all done for shelf, for the most part. We actually had a war veteran come up and say, chime in and discord and say, Hey, don't ever do that. If you don't like it so much, send it to me. I'll drink it. I don't have money to pay. For any whiskey.

I'm here because I like it. I'm here because I enjoy the community, but I haven't bought a thing because I just can't afford it. Well, guess what happened?

[01:07:33] Charles: people

[01:07:34] Michael: guy, oh my God, he got like 50 packages, sent his way bombarded me saying, Hey, I, um, not because they were bad whiskey people were actually giving him good whiskey because he was a war veteran and you know, we, we wanted to pay respect and

anyway, so that there's a perspective, right?

So the worst whiskey, it's all an eye of the

[01:07:55] Charles: It is all subjective. And it

[01:07:56] Robbie: Yeah. Mm-Hmm.

[01:07:57] Charles: the first time I ever toured [01:08:00] Buffalo Trace a long time ago, and there was our tour guide retired person, you know how it is in Kentucky, it's like, it's often time a retired person who just likes whiskey and they're hanging out and whatever else, and they're like a bunch of, you're probably here for Pappy Van Wink.

I think it was like 2007 or something. A bunch of, you're here for Pappy Van Winkle and all that. And that's fine if that's what you like. But I always say to everyone, the best whiskey is the one you like. And if it is a $20 bottle of Weller, then good for you. And if it's Pappy Van Winkle, then

[01:08:31] Robbie: You can tell that was a long time ago.

[01:08:33] Charles: Yeah. Because, uh, even the Weller doesn't cost that anymore. I know. Like, uh, yeah. Uh, 1 0 7 Weller antique used to be my jam and I could pick it up for $25 on the regular. Yeah, that changed.

[01:08:46] Michael: Good. Good luck. Good luck with that

[01:08:48] Robbie: Yeah.

Yeah.

[01:08:48] Charles: Yeah. Nope. No, there's no

[01:08:50] Michael: PE people used to buy that one and the Weller Reserve, which is Green Label, mix 'em together and call it Pappy. Uh uh,

[01:08:57] Charles: they would. Poor man. Pappy.

[01:08:59] Robbie: Yeah.

[01:08:59] Charles: [01:09:00] Yeah.

There was a

[01:09:00] Michael: it's the same whiskey.

[01:09:01] Charles: It's the same

[01:09:02] Michael: age long. Yeah. Same asphalt.

[01:09:04] Charles: Same Nashville. So, but like you said, that's not Theit Weller juice, that's the how do we fill this void, because this is doing well. Thanks, Anthony. Bourdain. He killed himself over it, you know?

[01:09:17] Michael: If you wanna mess with, if you want to mess with people, especially people that fancy themselves, whiskey snobs. Do, do a blind tasting with them

and pour a poor Pappy 10, not pappy. Old, old rip one thing called 10 years old. To me it's undrinkable. I can't

[01:09:31] Charles: Nah, I don't like it either. And the, yeah, no, I don't like it either. Lot B is not bad, actually. I like a

[01:09:37] Michael: la beer, like.

[01:09:38] Charles: like the 15. I actually don't like the 23. It's like two.

[01:09:43] Michael: tell you one thing, um, I know we are running over, but I'll tell you one thing. So when it comes to Oak, Oak flavor in the whiskey, which is like dry tannic, you know, notes that people pick up and don't really like, some people do like it, but lots of people don't. Bourbon and scotch are completely two different animals when it comes to how [01:10:00] long, um, whiskeys being aged.

Like, so, like the longer the bourbon gets aged, 'cause remember it's a new wood, right? So all that, all the intense flavors. Uh, stay with whiskey longer. And so the longer it goes, the more oakier it's gonna get. So drinking like 25-year-old bourbon, I don't care what it is. It's like hugging a tree. Like literally, like it's that.

Yeah, it's disgusting. I think the sweet spot for bourbon would be anywhere from eight to 15, 16 years, and that's pushing right. Eight to 12 is really my

[01:10:29] Charles: Yeah, same. I agree with you.

[01:10:31] Michael: yeah. Um, scotch on the other hand, because it's, for the most part it's aged in secondary casks. So ex bourbon casks most of the time, right?

So it's not new wood. It's been used a lot of times. It's been used for years. So the effect on the wood off, the wood on the spirit is much more gentle. The longer it stays in the barrel, the more developed it becomes. 'cause it takes longer, right? So that's why you see those like age scotches, uh, demand the price that they do because they, and, and, and by the [01:11:00] way, uh, those distilleries pay tax.

On every year they don't sell it right? Like it's, they pay tax. So that accrues and that's why those age scotches are that, that much more expensive.

[01:11:10] Charles: Yeah, that's a great point. And I, so, and one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to have you on the show is that we have lots of listeners that like whiskey, they like the tech aspect, but they're always like saying to us like, oh, you guys are the experts. We really don't know that much. And we don't know that much to be honest.

Like,

sure. We're, we're, uh, you know, we're all learning what we're learning, but like. We appreciate you coming on and like helping to educate our listeners, like to the next level if like, if you're really into whiskey and you're, you know, you wanna know a little bit more what you're having, like, I think you've been really helpful there.

Where can people learn more about whiskey and Michael?

[01:11:46] Michael: I appreciate that. I, I always, uh, enjoy. Um. Coming on, on, on, on People's podcast and, and, and talking to folks and enjoy whiskey with me. I try to keep it as layman and as possible. I learn a lot from my members. Uh, and [01:12:00] Chuck, if you are in Discord, you can attest to that. Like there's, there are people that really know their stuff in there, really know their stuff in there.

And you'll learn through association. You learn through talking to them. And so if people are interested in, and really interested in about becoming a, a part of the whiskey community without having to pay a dime for it, join our Discord. It's free. Uh, and we welcome everybody.

[01:12:19] Robbie: Yeah. So where can people find links to, you know, join Discord, uh, get a membership, do all the things.

[01:12:26] Michael: I can send you a link. It's pretty simple. It's vip.prime barrel.com, uh uh, discord capital D, so VIP prime barrel.com discord. And that gets you right into our discord.

[01:12:38] Robbie: Okay.

[01:12:39] Charles: D like kind of what I do to Robbie with my teabag.

[01:12:43] Robbie: God.

[01:12:44] Michael: I knew, I knew that was coming.

[01:12:45] Robbie: Oh, boy. All right. Yeah. Yeah. Anything else, uh, that you wanna plug or mention before we end here?

[01:12:52] Michael: No, no, I, um, I think I've plugged everything under the sun. I appreciate you guys, Tom, and giving you opportunity to [01:13:00] actually talk about the club, but again, like I said in the beginning, it's all about relationships. If, if you guys want to, um, uh, meet others over the shared passion, and if whiskey is your passion, then our Discord is a place for you.

[01:13:10] Charles: for sure.

[01:13:11] Michael: And I'm, I'm happy to have both of you in there. I, I know Chuck is in there. I'm not sure if Robbie's in there, but Yeah.

[01:13:15] Robbie: I'm not. I will be though. I just, I just haven't joined yet. I should.

[01:13:19] Michael: That's okay. That's all right. That's cool.

[01:13:23] Robbie: All right. Yeah. Uh, thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to please subscribe, leave us some ratings and reviews. We appreciate it, and we'll catch you next time.

[01:13:30] Michael: Cheers.