A fish farm, Boris Yeltsin, and a post-it note.
I don’t remember where I first heard of the fish farm at Brown-Forman in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but eventually I discovered that Steve Thompson had worked there at that time and might know something about it.
During the course of conversation he was talking about going to Russia to try to get Jack Daniel’s sold there and the bureaucratic hoops he had to jump through to make it happen. At one point he casually mentioned taking Boris Yeltsin out on a fishing boat, with some more colorful details I’m happy to share with you over a Bourbon sometime.
Yeltsin, as in Boris Yeltsin, I asked? Yes, Boris Yeltsin.
This was a story I recalled in my recent column for Whisky Magazine. Steve passed away last year. The last message I sent him was that he needed to write a memoir. I still mourn all the stories he took with him. Many in the industry mourn the knowledge he took with him.
I had this post-it note on the side of my computer for probably over a year trying to get back to it when I could find a spot for it. I still have the post-it note. The story is now lost to time.
I was talking with Chuck Cowdery a few weeks ago and he mentioned writing a column recently imploring the old guard to start writing their stories down. I guess I am here to echo that sentiment.
If you don’t know where to start, just get an audio recorder and start recording yourself telling some of your favorite stories. Reach out to the oral history programs at your local university. I recently discovered Ova Haney’s oral history. If you are more of a writer, take a few minutes a day to write down some of your favorite stories. Find a journalist like me who can interview you on tape. Start now, even if you don’t see the point.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.