Founded Based on a LOVE of Whiskey
Co-Founders Doug Hall & Joe Girgash created Brain Brew Distillery as a “product first” Distillery. Doug learned the importance of starting a business with a great product, in the 10 years he worked in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble. Joe learned it as great products are the key to success for new Bars & Restaurants. Quite simply, Doug & Joe know that product quality is priority #1, #2, and #3.
They named the company “Brain Brew” to remind the team and themselves – in order to win in this highly competitive world of Bourbon, you need to think and work smarter than competitors.
The Deming Institute completed a video Case Study on our company, our approach and our ways of working.
Product Insight Started it All
The product insight for Brain Brew was sparked over 20 year ago, when Doug was helping the Macallan brand create new whiskies in Scotland. One day at lunch, the Macallan experts explained that 70% of the flavor of Macallan and all whiskies, comes from the interaction of whiskey with wood during aging.
This reminded Doug of a time when he was a Chemical Engineer at Procter & Gamble’s Mehoopany Pulp Mill where heat is used to remove the lignins from the wood pulp. Similarly, Bourbon is created by the spirit soaking into the barrel wood during the warmth of the day and summer – bonding with the lignins in the wood – then coming out of the wood during cool nights and winters. This process plus the filtering of the whiskey through the char layer sets off a chain reaction of transformations in the Bourbon … taking it from raw and rough to rich and smooth.
Driving out Variation in the Wood / Bourbon Interaction
The pair decided early on that they would not change the process of wood interacting with whiskey. What they would do is to REDUCE VARIATION IN THE INTERACTION. Instead of variations in weather conditions and barrel storage locations, they created a process for heating and cooling that controls the temperature to within a tenth of a degree – resulting in a 99.5% reduction in variance. The result being the highest quality control of the whiskey / wood interaction in the industry.
Four Double Gold Medals won
In Just 18 Months
After thousands of experiments and hundreds of consumer paired comparison taste tests, the Brain Brew Crew won 2 of 8 Double Gold medals at the North American Bourbon & Whiskey Competition. As they sipped their award winning Bourbons, they were struck by how much fun it was to create new Bourbons and share them with family and friends. From this was born a simple belief “The world doesn’t need another Bourbon – but everyone needs their OWN Bourbon.” This would lead to new opportunities.
Reviving Custom Bourbon – the Foundation of American Whiskey
In the 1800s, farmers distilled excess grain into whiskey and sold it to barrel blenders who would custom blend Bourbons and Whiskies to match each customer’s taste preference. Cincinnati itself had over a hundred barrel blenders. In fact, in the mid 1800’s some 85% of American whiskey came from the Cincinnati area. Barrel blending occurred around the world. The most famous whiskey blender was John Walker in Scotland, famous for his Johnnie Walker blend that is today the number one selling whiskey in the world.
Doug & Joe ran hundreds of experiments to create a custom Bourbon blending experience that was both entertaining and effective at guiding consumers how to create their Bourbon to their personal taste. In the process, they created six blending Bourbons. Each are finished with unique woods and each received 92+ points, Excellent – Highly Recommended, at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. They included three Great Oaks (America, European and 200 Year Oak) and three Artisan woods (Cherry, Maple and Smoked Oak).
To make blending fast and easy, they invented and patented a unique blending ladle for fast and accurate measuring, and a step-by-step process that it easy for everyone to create their personal Bourbon.
Dexter Brand is Reborn
During Covid, the Brain Brew Crew set out to make the best Bourbon ever. The result was Dexter Three Wood, a remarkable brand that was named “One of the 12 Best Bourbons in the World” and received 95 point score by Ultimate Spirits. The brand quickly became our best selling product. It offers the quality of a $75-$100 Bourbon for $49.95.
This remarkable product is named after Edward Dexter, a famous Cincinnati Barrel Blender. He was so well known that author Charles Dickens and the future King Edward the VII of England visited with him at his home on 4th street.
The brand was introduced in a limited release on the morning of January 2, 2021. It sold out in 50 minutes! This initial success lead the team to do test markets in Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire and Kentucky. Again the response was beyond expectation. In the Fall of 2023, the team decided to create the Dexter Bourbon Company as a separate division and the home of all of our retail (off premise) and bar/restaurant (on premise) products. We are currently expanding to more states.
To support Dexter growth we built a new WoodCraft finishing and packing building. The facility has taken us from thousands to over 100,000 cases this year with the ability to expand to over 500,000 cases a year.