Distillers Guild hires exec director

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The Distillers Guild, taking a major step toward cohesion, has hired Jill Talbert as its executive director.

The Guild, formed in early 2014, includes Short Mountain Distilleries and other smaller distillers as well as Tennessee's older, more well-known distil-leries, Jack Daniel's, George Dickel and Prichard's.

With her background in government relations, Talbert will be able to work with all parties involved to move forward on common ground towards the development of new tourism opportunities, a better atmosphere for creating top shelf products throughout the state, and the branding of Tennessee as the "go to" state for fine spirits.

"We are so pleased to have Jill on our team. She has excellent credentials and the right temperament to navigate through many large personalities and issues as we work to build Tennessee brands," says Guild president Billy Kaufman, owner of Short Mountain Distilleries.

Talbert is a licensed attorney who has spent the majority of her career in trade association repres-entation. Among other duties, she will primarily serve as the Guild's lobbyist in Nashville.

An article in Louisville Business First stated that what is actually firing up the interest in Tennessee Whiskey is the ever increasing sales in the entire category of North American whiskey. Fanning the flames is the ever-increasing growth of small batch distillers with recent changes in the Tennessee liquor laws allowing distilleries to be established in 41 additional counties. For many years, the law limited the distillation of "drinkable spirits" to just three of Tennessee's 95 counties- Lincoln, Moore, and Coffee. As a result, only a few short years ago there were only three distillers in the state. There are now almost 30.

Interest in craft beer, wine, and liquor brought on by the farm-to-table and "maker" movements have loosened the grip of the "old school" hard liquors like gin and scotch, making it an international phenom-enon. And younger drinkers' continual desire for something new has created a mixology craze. American whiskey makes a smoother mixed drink.

Growth of craft distillers and the desire for standards to insure whiskey quality across the state inadvertently created a heated legislative debate over the legal definition of Tennessee Whiskey. Reg-ardless of the final decision state lawmakers reach for the definition, all parties agree that only with a quality product will Tennessee distillers be able to compete in the global contest for customers, which means more jobs in the state.

"The exciting growth of Tennessee distilleries provides a strong link to our state's famous heritage and a promising tourism boost for Tennessee's future. I am proud to represent the Tennessee Distillers' Guild and am energized by the op-portunities ahead. We will all move forward together to help our distillers thrive and enhance Tennessee's international reputation for producing superb spirits," Talbert said.

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