Ed: All right lets go to line number four right now standing by is Tom Lix. Tom Lix started a venture which is really taking off called Cleveland Whiskey. Hey Tom.. welcome to the show thanks for joining us today.
Tom: Good morning I’m glad to be here.
Ed: My Pleasure I’ve seen you on TV talking about this the past couple months you can even invest in this. that sounds like a pretty good opportunity. Well What do you got whiskeys, bourbons, what do you put together here?
Tom: Well right now all we do are bourbons we’ve got about 9 different version all bourbon whiskeys but in October we are going to release our first rye. It’s a rye that we finish with black cherry wood it’s pretty amazing.
Ed: Good. Okay. What is fascinating about Cleveland Whiskey is the process and typically when you are making whiskey it takes years. What is like 7 or 8 years to finish a whiskey
Tom: Well it depends on what you are making but generally whiskeys stay in barrels anywhere from 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 years. I am not that patient a person. So we have a technology that changes all that. It changes the time it takes but it also allows us to use things other than oak barrels. Any whiskey in the world uses an oak barrel to get 60-80 percent of its flavor. We use oak because they hold liquid, but i am using woods like black cherry, apple, hickory and honey locust and getting some amazing flavors out of it.
Ed: So how fast can you make this whiskey then?
Tom: Let me start by saying age is really irrelevant. I’ll tell you in a second but we’ve done over 3600 blind taste tests against one of the leading brands out there that takes nine years to make traditionally we’ve won 54% of the time. Their product takes 9 years to make our is done in about 24 hours. So age really is irrelevant.
Ed: You changed the process from 9 years to 24 hours… how did you do that Mr Lix? What can you tell us about that?
Tom: I am sort of an amateur chemist. I am a persistent amateur chemist. I heard about demand for imported bourbon going up in China, Europe, South America and Africa and then it also started coming back here in the states. And I thought there would be this tsunami of market demand and traditional practices means you’ve got to identify that ten years in advance, you’ve got to make the stuff and wait patiently and i just thought there would be a shortage it turns out that there was in the meantime i had been experimenting in my basement blowing up mason jars my wife was convinced that at some point the police arrive and knock down our door because a neighbor would report us as having a meth lab in the basement. She was thrilled when i moved it out into a laboratory and now we have a facility in Cleveland and we probably likely going to build a much larger faculty here in the next year or so. Right here in Cleveland.
Ed: That’s Awesome. Now from start to finish when you developed this process how long did it take you to come up with this idea and to bring it to fruition?
Tom: It took a long time. We shipped our first bottle in March of 2013 so a little over 5 years old in terms of production but I learned how to distill over 40 years ago when I was in the Navy. There is a story behind that that I don’t tell in public and when President Obama came to visit in 2015 to tour the facility I didn’t tell it then either so some things i keep close to the vest.
Ed: I understand. Well it’s good to know that what you started is really taking off. I’ll tell you I was at Twilight at the Zoo a couple weeks ago and I ran into your folks there and i used to be a big Jack Daniel’s drinker, then I turned to Scotch then I stopped everything for a while just to clean up my act and then i decided i love red wine now, but i figured walking by there okay let me check this out and I sipped that Cleveland Whiskey and it was absolutely fantastic. Absolutely
Tom: You know the beauty of our process because it’s so fast we can keep experimenting so what we make today is better than what we made six months ago and that was better than what we made the year before that so we are just trying to make it better all the time not trying to craft it back to some mythical story about a great great grandfather who had this great recipe as a moonshiner you know. We are a technology company and that is our focus. We have over 1200 individual investors because we have been doing online crowdfunding a couple times now. We are doing it now and I love the fact that we have all these small investors, many of them here in Cleveland and Ohio but as far away as Singapore, Berlin and Paris.. around the world and they speak for us and are advocates for us and it’s worked out really well. You mentioned that we were doing a fundraiser we’ve got one now that will probably close out in a couple weeks and you can read about it at Clevelandwhiskey.com/invest and for a little as $100 you can go in an own a piece of Cleveland Whiskey.
Ed: I like that. Nothing like keeping it local and raising money in your own backyard. Love that. So as low as a hundred bucks. So you got some big boys that are investing in this company as well?
Tom: Yes, we have some larger investors as well and you know but I certainly like the small investors because I think that they are our customers too so when you own a piece of the company you tell your friends you tell your family I think that’s how we are expanding. We are now distributed in 16 states and in about 5 countries and we are doing pretty well.
Ed: I like that. Cleveland Whiskey in 16 states I love it I love it. Please keep in touch with this and I might throw in a couple hundred dollars and invest as well. Hows that sound?
Tom: Sounds great to me.
Ed: Cleveland Whiskey. www.clevelandwhiskey.com another great things to come out the the city of Cleveland.