Mike: So, now that I had a couple of hours to compose a few thoughts (and digest some questionable Mexican food), I am still quite impressed with the amount of expansion at Boardroom Spirits. I guess our last visit was around their 3rd anniversary and Marat was pulling some whiskey for us to taste from barrels in the back room behind the fermenters. Today, as Boardroom closes out year 6, they need not one, not two, but THREE buildings. What did you think of the new layout?
G-LO: Ever go back and visit your old elementary school or high school? What seemed so big when we were kids feels so small when we go back for a second look as adults (or in our case, “adults”, because we’re not really). Revisiting Boardroom Spirits three years after our first visit was the exact opposite experience. It’s pretty amazing to see how much they’ve grown. Not only have they grown in square footage, but their product offerings have exploded (figuratively speaking, because a literal explosion would be very very bad). Can you imagine the logistics involved in pulling that off, i.e. keeping up with regular production AND expanding operations AND creating new products? It’s mind boggling!
Mike: And it’s being done with just a handful of employees. Our host for the evening, Tim Mokes, had indicated that it was really just two guys running the stills and then only a few more working the packaging lines. Looking at the machinery, they are making the most out of automation.
What did you think of the trip into the super-secret lab? That alcohol analyzing machine looks like something out of CSI. The high-tech nature of the industry astounds me.
G-LO: We’ve done quite a few deep dives into independent distillers over the years and it’s amazing how much they can do with so few hands on deck. While this may give you Terminator “the machines are taking over” vibes, it’s heartening to know that even with all of the automated production, you still need people to come up with recipes and evaluate the end product.
That visit to their lab was an eye opener for sure! And that tabletop booze analyzer machine was quite fascinating (as small as that Theranos machine, but this one actually works!). Wishing I had one to analyze what I eat on a daily basis because every time I step on the scale, I keep asking myself, “did I really eat THAT much?”. Then again, there is such a thing as too much information.
I love these deep dive visits and am always amazed at how much tinkering happens as new products are developed. You brought up the citrus issues that Black Button Distilling had while developing their Bee’s Knees canned cocktail. Talking with Tim reinforced how much trial and error is involved on a daily basis. I’m sure it’s hard work, but it sure sounds fun too! Where do I sign up?
Mike: You do realize that there would be actual work involved, not just sampling all of the “errors”. Plus, I fear your “error” rate might be a little too high to make the business profitable.
In terms of the work Tim has done, what did you think of that Brandy? A wine maker finds something off and Tim takes it, distills it into a brandy, and turns what was once undrinkable into a really nice product. Clean, bright, viscous without being sticky; just a nice spirit. It’s just a shame that this is a limited release because when it’s gone, it’s gone.
G-LO: You just love to burst my bubble don’t you? Of course I realize that there’s actual work going on at Boardroom Spirits. After 25+ years of Excel spreadsheets and pivot tables, perhaps I’d like to dream about what could have been if I’d been born with a taste for fiscal risk taking. Damn you and your reality check.
The Brandy story is pretty wild! I guess it’s true what they say; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! As far as the taste goes, that Brandy was quite drinkable! First impressions were rock solid. Curious to see what we think of it when we saddle up to The Murder Table for a more formal tasting. How’s that for a teaser?
Speaking of The Murder Table…
Thanks to Tim and Mike’s generosity, they certainly weren’t shy with the parting gifts. We’re gonna be busy for the remainder of the year! Brandy. Spiced Rum. Nocino 2021. Ready to Drink bottled and canned cocktails. Two words: OH MY! Our poor livers.
What did you think of their do it yourself cocktail bar? Really liked the concept and the set up, but I kind of miss having an army of bartenders behind a bar shaking and stirring up some mixed drinks. That’s one of the things I missed most about life under lockdown. It’s all about the show, ya know?
Mike: When Mike & Tim had talked about shutting down the bar and opening it as retail/event space, I was a little puzzled as I just didn’t get the whole DIY cocktail concept. Of course, after the tasting, when they took us up front, the reality sunk in. Why spend a whole lot of time catering to an individual nursing a drink or two when you can open up the space for the housewives looking to come in and stock up for their evening or weekend get togethers. Custom cocktails seems to be the way to go. And, you can either buy the pre-mixed, ready-to-drink cocktails in 100ml or 750ml bottles or make your own at the cocktail bar complete with their bourbon, vodka or gin, the flavored vodkas (rather than simple syrups) and then all of the fruit juice or garnishes that you could possibly need. It’s like the build-your-own frozen yogurt stations but with an adult twist.
I really appreciate how much thought has gone into each and every decision at Boardroom. It’s not just the product. It’s the bottles, the labels, the cocktails, the customer…
They really seem to be thinking outside of the box and positioning themselves for the long-term.
Any final thoughts?
G-LO: Totally get that from a dollars and sense perspective. A $200 sale of cocktail making supplies is much more lucrative than a drink here and a drink there for sure. But I still enjoy watching the pros behind the bar. I say again: SHOWMANSHIP! I miss it.
Going back to what I said at the beginning of this chat, it’s really fun to watch independent distillers like Boardroom Spirits grow and evolve over the years. And they’ve REALLY grown and evolved over the years! I’m really curious to see where they go next, and I’m really REALLY curious to try that single malt that they have aging in their new warehouse. They were kind enough to let us sample their work in progress last night. It was pretty yummy as is, but Tim said it needs a little more time. Just goes to show how little I know. Guess we’re going to have to wait a little longer for the fully aged version.
How about you? Final thoughts?
Mike: My final thought is why are we so far away from them? While the drive wasn’t terrible, it would be really nice if we lived around the corner from them. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Boardroom. And, like you I hope it will be that single malt. That was so good and so well-rounded. I can only imagine how it will change in another couple of seasons. Now, our real work begins as their generous box of parting gifts will take several Murder Table sessions to complete.
G-LO: Yes yes! To The Murder Table we go! In my best Darrel Waltrip impersonation…
“Boogity boogity boogity! Let’s go drinking!”