This year has been major for LoCLE Grown in so many ways. But if you've been listening to recent episodes, you might have picked up on us talking about Cleveland Whiskey in almost every episode. That's because the week before our LG Live event, we were connected through a mutual friend (shoutout Jackson!) with Cleveland Whiskey, who as of recent have become our first official sponsor!
We did a Q&A with Johanna Barnowski, Director of Marketing for Cleveland Whiskey, to get you a little more acquainted with our first sponsor, see below!
1. Your name/ position at Cleveland Whiskey. How/ when you started, what drew
you/ attracted you to start working for Cleveland Whiskey?
My name is Johanna Barnowski or JB and I am the Marketing Director at Cleveland
Whiskey. I started with Cleveland Whiskey back in February 2023, so I’ll be coming up
on one year soon.
When I started here, I was looking for a company that would allow me to do
something creative and would be fun. We definitely still work hard, but being a part
of the spirits industry has its perks. More importantly, I was looking for a company
that treated their employees like real people with real lives and I found that here.
2. When/ how did Cleveland Whiskey start? What was the product line like when it
started compared to how it is now (in variety, flavor, distribution, recipe, etc)?
There’re a few versions of the Cleveland Whiskey origin story depending on where you
want to start, but the inception started long ago (the ‘70s lol) when our Founder, Tom
Lix, learned distilling in the Navy. Being the innovator that he is, he started Cleveland
Whiskey as a project about 12 years ago. Our first products, Black Reserve and 87, are
celebrating their 10 th anniversary this year along with the distillery. From what I’ve
been told, they truly were not great at the beginning, but after a few years of
dedicated fans, new formulations, and some tweaking, they are delicious.
Since then, we’ve expanded to 16-ish states with a whole range of products. We now
also have our Cleveland Underground line that features 4 products that are finished
with a secondary, specialty wood using our technology. Our process allows us to use
woods like black cherry, sugar maple, apple, etc., that you typically could not make a
barrel out of. These are not flavored or sugared products—they are flavored using the
wood, just like the oak.
We also have two great wheated bourbons, (think Maker’s Mark or Weller Special
Reserve) Bridge & Main, and Wheat Penny, which is also finished with black cherry
wood. Newer to the family is our flavored chocolate peanut butter Magic Rabbit
Whiskey, and everyone’s holiday favorite, Christmas Bourbon.
We also do special releases that sometimes are partnered with local organizations like
our Honey Barrel bottles we have collaborated on with Akron Honey, or our most
recent Holiday Reserve.
3. What's your personal favorite product and what is the best seller?
Our best seller is our Bourbon Whiskey Finished with Black Cherry Wood from the
Cleveland Underground line. My favorite is probably Wheat Penny, which is basically
the wheated version of the black cherry. Right now though I am definitely reaching for
Christmas- ‘tis the season!
4. Why did you choose to partner with us at LoCLE Grown?
At Cleveland Whiskey, we are different. Our process leaves us open to criticism and
ridicule because we do things in an unorthodox way. We explore different ways to do
things and value the ability to create. We want to support the makers and the doers
and the people in our community that are sharing their artistry just like we are
Plus, the hosts are awesome.
5. Moving into next year, what is something that you're looking forward to for
2024 with Cleveland Whiskey?
Hopefully saying this doesn’t jinx us, but we will FINALLY be moving into our new
facility in the South Flats! *air horns* This has been a long time coming with many
setbacks, but we are excited. We are aiming for a late spring grand opening.
We will have so much to offer in the new space in addition to tours and a tasting
room, we will be able to host events and have a lot of fun ideas for next
year—hopefully some involving LoCLE Grown!
6. Where can people find out the latest and purchase Cleveland Whiskey?
If you’re in Ohio, you can find us in the majority of liquor stores. The easiest way to