Letting 100 Barrels of Bourbon Age Too Long: Donnis Todd — Just the Mistake

Letting 100 Barrels of Bourbon Age Too Long: Donnis Todd — Just the Mistake


Check out all episodes on the My Favorite Mistake main page.

This is “just the mistake” — a new experiment, the third time.

Today we’ll hear the “favorite mistake” story shared, in episode #11, by Donnis Todd, the master distiller at Garrison Brothers distillery in Texas, makers of award-winning bourbons. Today, you'll hear his favorite mistake story about letting 100 barrels age too long in a Texas summer that ended up much warmer than usual.

In the full episode, you’ll hear more of Donnis’s thoughts on creating a culture of “owning up to mistakes.” That starts with him, and it actually starts with founder Dan Garrison. In the episode, you also hear Dan’s favorite mistake story and his thoughts on how he reacted to Donnis’s favorite mistake story that you’ll hear.

Donnis and Dan are both featured in my upcoming book, The Mistakes that Make Us – learn more and be notified about updates at mistakesbook.com.

To hear the entire episode with Will, go to www.MarkGraban.com/mistake11.

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Automated Transcript (Mistakes Likely):

Mark Graban (4s):
Hi, it's Mark Graban here. This is another Just the Mistake, if you will. This is from episode 11 with Donnis Todd, the master distiller from Garrison Brothers Distillery in Texas. makers of award winning bourbons. To hear the entire episode, you can go to markgraban.com/mistake 11. You'll hear more of Donnis's thoughts on creating a culture of owning up to mistakes, as he calls it. That starts with Donnis and, and actually it starts with the founder Dan Garrison. So In the full episode. You'll also hear Dan's favorite mistakes story. You'll hear his thoughts on how he reacted to Donnis's favorite mistake story that you'll hear coming up today in a special bonus episode.

Mark Graban (46s):
So Donnis and Dan and their stories and their company are both featured in my upcoming book, The Mistakes That Make Us, you can learn more and be notified to get updates at MistakesBook.com.

Donnis Todd (57s):
My Favorite Mistake to date at, at Garrison Brothers. And it would be this chunk of 100 Barrels that I filled in 2012. And in 2015 they were a little over three, three and a half years old, 15 gallon Barrels. And I absolutely loved him. The Bourbon was small batch quality and I should have used those Barrels right then and there, but I did not. I had a great plan to age these a little longer and thinking that maybe I could make it better, a future release better.

Donnis Todd (1m 43s):
So I put 'em in back into the barns, these a hundred Barrels and aged them through 2016 and into 2017. Some folks may or may not know, 2017 was the second, second warmest summer in the history of Texas. We had over a hundred days, over a hundred degrees, and these Barrels just got hammered by Texas heat. So as five-year-olds in 2017, I had already dumped all of the barrels that I needed to make my Cowboy. When I realized that these Barrels that I should have used in '15 were almost completely empty.

Donnis Todd (2m 30s):
I should have used them in the 2017 Cowboy, but I realized it too late. So now I had to save these Barrels and put 'em into my single barrel program cast strength. I, towards the end of 17, I started using 'em in, in 2018. I used them. These Barrels as five-year-olds, very high proof, only were yielding some, made four bottles, seven bottles. They should have been making 50 bottle yields. So the average of those hundred was only 1920 bottles. So to make the math easy at 20 and I should have got 50 and those a hundred Barrels, I literally lost 3000 bottles of Bourbon that I should have just used in 15.

Donnis Todd (3m 22s):
Wow. So it, it hurt. It hurt financially. It hurt my pride to make such a stupid mistake. So I did have some positives. I learned there was a, there was a barrel, the way the Barrels went together, the front, the heads of the Barrels had a little side stave in them with our intense Texas heat and that 2017 summer and the extended aging, I learned that I shouldn't allow the cooperage to build some bear build Barrels that way with that little chunk.

Donnis Todd (4m 2s):
At towards the bottom, I learned how to make a cask strength single barrel You know up over 140 proof. So if I need that in my tool belt in the future, I know how to do that is not fill the barrel completely up and leave an extended amount of time in a hot environment. Yeah, and that will help. And it has helped future releases of my Cowboy, which is a great, great brand for Garrison Brothers because of the halo effect. We don't sell that many, we don't make that many bottles of Cowboy, therefore we don't sell that many. But we make a lot of bottles of Small Batch.

Donnis Todd (4m 44s):
So people go looking for Cowboy, but I only make a couple thousand bottles over the year. So then they buy my small batch. So there was some positives in there, but that's my to date, My Favorite Mistake.

Mark Graban (4m 56s):
So again, to hear the full episode with Donnis Todd and Dan Garrison, go to markgraban.com/Mistake11. And there is a link to that in the show notes. Next week, I think we'll be back with another full length episode. It'll be a little bit different For episode 200, big round number, I'm gonna be joined with a guest host. He is Tom Ehrenfield. He is the editor of my upcoming book, The Mistakes that Make Us. And we're gonna be talking about Mistakes I've made, not with the book, maybe that'll come later, but I'll certainly, we'll, we'll be talking about Mistakes I've made in the course of doing the My Favorite Mistake podcast. So I hope you'll enjoy that. Hopefully we'll have that ready for you next week.

Mark Graban (5m 37s):
And I've got other interviews that I've done recently with people, those episodes we'll be following shortly. So As always Thank you for listening.

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's upcoming book is The Mistakes That Make Us. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.