These distillers are rising with the American whiskey boom

ANDREA WILSON I can actually remember being in college and friends walking out of this state and calling me and saying, “There’s no Kentucky bourbon here.” It just wasn’t an outside of Kentucky thing. I can remember when you walked into a fine steakhouse and maybe found a bottle of bourbon on a back bar. Now you go to bars and restaurants and there are maybe 500.

AUSTIN It went from a passion project to a degree almost overnight to play with the big boys. In Kings County, we really tried to reach for the stars. And even with that view, we underestimated what this industry could do and the interest that would come from it.

THE TONE RISE I think it’s a good problem, but it’s still a problem — especially at a fast-growing company like Michter’s.

WILSON Being a big company like Diageo and a small family business like Michter’s are two very different experiences. When I was at Diageo I had the opportunity to work with so many great people in so many great brands, big brands, brands with millions of cases. At Michter’s, the owners, the Maglioccos, are a truly wonderful family who are passionate about American whiskey. And in a small business, passion matters. It ensures that you are on fire. I mean, you chose to be there too, right?

WILSON I remember when I first started here I was in a leadership meeting with some people I didn’t know. And they talked about what was great about the company and they said, “Oh, we make decisions so quickly.” And I looked around and I was like, “Am I in the right meeting?”

AUSTIN I’d say I had a similar trajectory to yours Andrea, but just came up with it from the opposite direction. It wasn’t until I joined Diageo that I really felt respected and treated as a professional and I appreciated that. When I was 26, I wasn’t making super educated decisions, and I didn’t really understand or appreciate how important that part was.

THE RICE And now, in 2022, the two of you are able to shape those cultures even as the companies grow rapidly.

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