The Whiskey Professor
Louisville’s Lubbers releases third printing of bourbon book
He is sought out as a bourbon expert and entertainer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 2016) – Known to many as The Whiskey Professor, former standup comedian Bernie Lubbers of Louisville, Ky., has made a name for himself as the Whiskey Ambassador for Heaven Hill Brands. So knowledgeable on the subject of bourbon is he that his book, “Bourbon Whiskey - Our Native Spirit,” is in its third printing edition.
Lubbers, 56, said he has “added quite a bit” to this third edition of the book, which was released in early May. Roughly 50 pages have been added. “There are different ways to shine light on bourbon. The more I travel and see and learn, I want to tell people about it.”
“Bourbon Whiskey - Our Native Spirit” contains a bourbon timeline, points out that Louisville was a relevant part of bourbon’s history, and also teaches readers how to read a label.
“Many people shop for whiskey by looking at the label,” Lubbers said. By knowing what to look for on the label, “a product that costs $15 to $20 might reveal itself as good or better a product than one that costs $100.”
In Lubber’s book he puts his own “spin on it. I’m lucky enough to be in the industry.” Lubbers said the book is “good for beginners, and even aficionados can learn something from it.”
In his role as a Whiskey Ambassador for Heaven Hill, his job is different every day. Lubbers said his primary duty is to “be the face of the whiskey brands here at Heaven Hill and educate and train people on them.”
Since the master distillers are not able to travel as much as Lubbers can, it’s up to him to train servers, bartenders, staff and consumers in retail package store locations, and distributor partners to help them understand the brands and how they complement the whiskey category, and how best to sell the brands in retail locations.
Bernie Lubbers works as an ambassador for Heaven Hill Distilleries
In addition, he conducts consumer tastings, bourbon dinners and other types of tastings. “Heaven Hill is a family owned and operated Kentucky company. I represent Evan Williams and Elijah Craig alongside our master distillers at events like the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Whiskey Fest, Whiskey Live, and other whiskey shows.”
• Lubbers’ book can be purchased at Louisville-area Carmichaels Bookstores, Barnes & Noble, whiskeyprof.com and Amazon.com. E-versions are also available. To learn more about the book or Lubbers, visit his website at: www.whiskeyprof.com.
Lubbers said he “had a background in stand-up for 20 years before I got into the industry.” He closed his act with a routine about his father who drank bourbon every day and lived to be 94 years old. When people in the industry needed someone to represent brands, Lubbers seemed a perfect choice.
As a stand-up comic, he was comfortable being in front of large audiences, and he just seemed “to look at things differently,” he said. With the company being family owned, Lubbers said this gave him more leeway in how he could write and present a program or tasting. “They hired me to do my thing the way I wanted to do it.”
He started learning more about bourbon and realized he had several great distillers at his disposal and other individuals that were willing to impart all kinds of expertise, knowledge and answer questions. He has since put his own mark on what an ambassador does and earned the name, “Whiskey Professor.”
Lubbers sees his job as more of a teacher of bourbon and whiskey history.
When he first began working at Heaven Hill, Lubbers found it challenging to figure out a creative way to put a whiskey tasting together because the distillery produces six different types of American Whiskeys. Lubbers wanted to make his presentations educational and entertaining, so he brought the element of bluegrass music into the tastings he was giving after musician friend, Hickory Vaught, helped him figure out a solution.
After Lubbers explained to his friend his predicament of putting together a tasting that explained the evolution of bourbon in Kentucky from un-aged corn whiskey in the style of the 1700s to the single barrel and small batch bourbons of today, Vaught thought it an interesting dilemma. He suggested playing music from the different eras involved and coupling live bluegrass music with a tasting.
After almost a year and a half of writing and rehearsing, Bourbon Thru Bluegrass was born. The duo has performed their bourbon-themed show at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., representing the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau for 1,800 attendees at the Tour Bus Convention. They have performed at the House of Blues in New Orleans for Tales Of The Cocktail and have been the opening event for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Ky.
Lubbers has described his show as “a Ken Burns documentary with a bourbon tasting.”
“We love Bernie,” said Jeffrey Crowe, general manager at Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville. “He gives such a unique perspective on the bourbon industry and on our brand in particular. He’s been great for our business.”
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