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5 questions with the founder of Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey

Published: Jan. 25, 2017 at 9:30 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2017 at 3:59 PM EST
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Paul Tuell
Paul Tuell

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Here in Kentucky, it's all about bourbon. But let's face it, for many people (including me) it's also all about chocolate.

A local man, Paul Tuell, has combined both in Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey.

Tuell, a former Brown-Forman and Papa John's executive, founded Ballotin in 2015. He calls himself a late blooming entrepreneur. The beverage comes in four flavors – Original Chocolate, Bourbon Ball, Chocolate Mint and Caramel Turtle.

The whiskey is currently available in most liquor stores in the states, and many bars and restaurants.

Here are my five questions with Paul Tuell – founder of Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey

1) What made you come up with the idea of combining whiskey and chocolate in a drink?
You must admit it's hard to find a better pair, right? But it wasn't as much about combining as it was about enhancing what was already there. Bourbons and whiskeys are chocked-full of this beautiful, varied spectrum of flavors. Some are forward and prevalent, especially in bourbons - the oak, grain, and char, for instance, that characterize our state spirit. Other flavors are subtle and illusive; unexpected even - floral notes, fruit tones, spicy aromatics. Ballotin was created by bringing some of these more subtle bourbon flavors that everyone loves; the chocolates, nuts, caramels, mints, and vanillas, into greater prominence and balance with the complementary flavors of traditional whiskeys.
The result is a wonderful, approachable, drinkable whiskey that tastes like a bourbon expression of your very favorite chocolate indulgences.

2) What's been the biggest challenge in launching Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey?
The challenges are not at all unique to Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey. It is just a very competitive consumer marketplace. Innovation is encouraging consumers to explore products and brands and categories they've never considered before. And consumers' thirst for innovation is driving big companies and entrepreneurs alike to challenge tradition and convention to deliver new ideas and new products that consumers are demanding. Luckily, Ballotin is a brand that is easy to love, so our biggest challenge has simply been keeping up. Since launching last year, we are in 10 states and we hope to grow to 18-20 states by the end of the summer.

3) I'm sure the four flavors are like children – you can't pick a favorite. But what's the best recipe you have we could recreate at home?
No ugly babies here! We do love all our flavors. They're each great simply on their own – neat or on the rocks – and they all mix beautifully with other spirits and mixers. Try a "Chocolate Mule" with our Original Chocolate and ginger beer; or a "Chocolate Mint Julep" with our Chocolate Mint and crushed ice, a tasty twist on a Derby tradition. For Valentine's Day coming right up, you can make your sweetheart a "Satin and Lace", which is our Original Chocolate, a splash of cream and a dash of maraschino cherry juice. Our team's current go-to favorite is a "Dirty Bourbon" an easy and delicious cocktail that's ½ Ballotin Original Chocolate (or your favorite Ballotin flavor) and ½ bourbon. You'll
love it!

4) How did you come up with the four flavors?
We wanted to deliver flavors that did three things; tasted great, had a flavor profile that maintained a strong connection to bourbon's natural flavors, and that delivered on consumers' expectations. That is, when consumers see "Bourbon Ball" – especially around Kentucky - they have a built-in expectation of what they are going to get – lovely, smooth buttercream, hazelnut and chocolate…with a warm, bourbony finish. That is exactly what they get with Ballotin Bourbon Ball Chocolate Whiskey. Same with all our flavors. What you see is truly what you get. We say, "Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey tastes like a bourbon expression of your favorite chocolate indulgences." If you say that, you better deliver.

5) How did you come up with the name?
In 1915, the wife of a Belgian Chocolatier invented a box that could be used to present and sell her husband's fine chocolate creations. She named that box a "Ballotin" which is based on the French word, ballot, which means "a small package." Still today, over 100 years on, that chocolate box, the "Ballotin", remains a symbol of sophistication, indulgence, and love. We are continuing that tradition Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey.

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