UK’s Coach Stoops and wife get in on the bourbon business

Published: Oct. 31, 2020 at 10:15 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In the middle of his eighth season, University of Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops is entering a new game: the bourbon industry.

The seasoned coach and his wife, Chantel, are throwing their names into the barrel of Old Wm. Tarr bourbon.

Shuttered businesses have become the sign of the times, but in the short stretch of Lexington’s distillery district, business is booming.

“It’s been a really cool investment for several reasons,” Chantel Stoops said. "For one thing, it’s a lot of fun and it’s so neat to learn about the bourbon.”

Chantel said this makes her feel more involved in the traditions of the Bluegrass.

“This bourbon has actually got a really smooth and wonderful flavor to it and for me, it’s also the romantic part of bourbon,” she said. “It’s the glass and the big cube and the pour.”

It’s not just the taste that sealed this deal. The Stoops may be the face of this brand, but William Tarr, the man behind the bottle, is a Lexington legend.

“He was known as the money man of the Bluegrass,” said Wm. Tarr co-founder Barry Brinegar.

Tarr owned Lexington’s first federally registered distillery. Now, a new space in his name will be coming to the district.

Launching in a year that’s anything but old-fashioned, they had to have a detailed game plan for the product.

“It’s unprecedented that anybody’s going to start a business in a global pandemic,” Brinegar said. "We probably changed our business model if not once, a hundred times.”

In the Commonwealth, alcohol stores were deemed essential. The numbers show the drink helps keep Kentucky’s economy afloat.

According to the Kentucky Distillers' Association, there is a record breaking nearly 10 million barrels of bourbon in the state.

Stoops said the drink won’t only stock shelves, but can bring visitors to the home field of bourbon tourism.

The new Wm. Tarr facility is expected to be finished some time next year.

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