The state's liquor distilling laws look set to become a little looser after a Monday vote in the House of Representatives that followed some contentious debate focused in part on who was advocating for the changes. Representatives voted 57-31 to allow distilleries in counties that had been exempted by a 2009 law as well as benefit a Gatlinburg project in which local lobbyist David McMahan has invested. (That venture was denied a certificate by Gatlinburg city commissioners in February.) Andrea Zelinski has the full breakdown here.
Brown-Forman Corp. has announced Tommy Beam, senior vice president and general manager of Jack Daniel’s production operations in Lynchburg, is retiring after 48 years of service, effective July 31.
Larry Combs has been named Beam’s successor by executives at Louisville-based Brown-Forman, the parent company of Jack Daniel’s.
“Tommy Beam has had a truly remarkable career in one of the top jobs not only within Brown-Forman but in our entire industry,” Jane Morreau, Brown Forman senior vice president and chief production officer, said in a release. “For the last eleven years he has led our entire Jack Daniel’s production operations while overseeing several expansion projects during a time of significant growth for the brand. Tommy has been a great leader and we wish him nothing but the best during his retirement.”
Beam joined the Jack Daniel Distillery in 1965 as an accountant and served in a succession of roles with increasing responsibility until being named general manager of all Jack Daniel’s production operations in 2002. During this time, Beam led a team of 435 employees to record levels of production, reaching shipments of about 11 million nine-liter cases of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey worldwide during fiscal 2012.
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday morning voted unanimously in favor of the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013, the push launched early this year by craft brewers seeking to overhaul the fiscal regime that is based on price, not volume. Next up this afternoon is a vote by the House Finance Committee. A full floor vote could come as early as next week.
The Black Abbey Brewing Company will locate its production facility and tasting room to a building located at 2952 Sidco Drive in South Nashville.
Lease terms of the structure, last home to Southern Library Bindery Co., are not being disclosed.
Carl Meier, founder of the Nashville-based craft brewing company, said the 11,000-square-foot facility will include brewing equipment as well as a tasting room that will serve as a retail outlet for beer and other merchandise. Construction is expected to begin this week, with production slated to start in the third quarter of 2013.
The tasting room should be open shortly thereafter, he said.
“We have a portfolio of unique and delicious beer that we are excited to deliver to the Greater Nashville market,” Meier said in a release.
The Black Abbey Brewing Company is being backed by a group of primarily local unnamed investors. Its tagline is “Created. Not Made.”
Meier said The Black Abbey brand is “thoughtfully influenced” by the story of Martin Luther, father of the protestant reformation. The company will craft Belgian-inspired ales (one of which is seen here in a photo courtesy of Doug Brumley) that are “creative, accessible and unique," relying on 600 years of brewing tradition and starting with styles that Luther himself might have enjoyed.
“Luther and his wife brewed beer for the community surrounding Wittenberg Germany, creating an opportunity for fellowship around good conversation and great beer,” Meier said. “We love the idea of bringing people together and promoting community through common interests. We want our tasting room to become a ‘Fellowship Hall’ — a place where people can get to know one another, and get to know us and our personable beers.”
Collier and McKeel announced Monday it has both integrated industry-standard 53-gallon barrels into its production and unveiled a new label.
To date, the Nashville-based craft whiskey maker has used 15-gallon barrels. In a release, the company did not disclose what it has spent to purchase the new equipment and to make the label change.
“Nothing can take the place of time, but the 15-gallon barrels allowed us to age the whiskey a little more quickly to start,” Collier and McKeel Proprietor Mike Williams. “We’ve gotten some gratifying response, but we’ve been really excited about what’s happening inside the 53-gallon barrels. Whereas we’ve done a few larger barrels in the past, we’ll be doing primarily 53-gallons moving forward, and fewer of the smaller barrels.”
The new label is a “significant departure” from the initial gold-on-black design, according to the company. It includes the distillery’s 560-gallon, hand-hammered copper still known as “Pappy,” an iconic barn from the family farm, the Big Richland Creek in Humphreys County.
“This new label is much more readable and eye-catching, both on a package store shelf and on the back of a bar,” Williams said. “We’re looking forward to introducing it to several new states in the coming months.”
Collier and McKeel — the only Tennessee whiskey to be made in Nashville — was featured in the New York Times Holiday Gift Guide in December. The company’s clear un-aged White Dog whiskey, straight from the still, won silver at the American Distilling Institute in 2012.
Distilled on the Speakeasy Spirits campus in West Nashville, Collier and McKeel was introduced in 2011 as one of Tennessee’s first new sour-mash whiskeys in generations. It is the only handcrafted brand to be distilled in the state, following the Lincoln County process of charcoal mellowing that defines Tennessee whiskey.
Now this is clever enough to make us want to quaff a cold one or two. Nashville-based Yazoo Brewing and fine folks at Calfkiller Brewing out Cumberland Plateau way have teamed to create some humor highlighting Tennessee's progressive beer tax.
From the Yazoo Facebook page:
We bottled "The Beacon – a TN High Tax Ale" today – our collaboration brew with the guys from Calfkiller Brewing! That's the good news. The bad news? The label is taking longer than we expected to be approved by the Feds so we can't get them labelled and out to you yet."
SEE ALSO: Group launches push to reform beer tax
Tennessee's emerging distillery sector gave birth Wednesday to a trade association for both the well-known historic brands and start-ups quickly making a name for themselves. The Tennessee Distillers' Guild is officially based at the Marathon Village home of Corsair Artisan. Attorney Will Cheek passes along the basics and even has a few feisty words on how Tennessee's distillers should outshine Kentucky's Bourbon Trail on the tourism front.
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