At the Kentucky Derby on Saturday I ran into Chris Morris, master distiller for Woodford Reserve, the event’s official bourbon. Chris was presiding over the mixing of mint juleps in the Woodford tent, where the temperature was probably upwards of 85 degrees despite his cool, calm appearance. He said he arrived at the track at 5 a.m. to prepare for the day and had been working pretty much nonstop for the past seven days, doing television appearances, attending events and signing bottles of bourbon.
One of the biggest misconceptions I initially had about the bourbon industry was that a master distiller mostly stayed at the distillery, creating new products and maintaining the profiles of existing ones. These days, master distillers are out and about at least 75 percent of the time, and their job description should also include the words ambassador, educator, historian and entertainer. I’m sure it’s fun a lot of the time, but it has to be exhausting. So here’s to you, Chris – I hope you are enjoying a well-deserved day off.