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Buckhead entrepreneurs create bourbon company
by Nicole Dow
July 23, 2014 09:42 AM | 1212 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo / Savannah Bourbon, hailed as Georgia's first distilled bourbon since prohibition, launched in January with two products - Sweet Tea Lemonade, left, and Savannah 88.
Special Photo / Savannah Bourbon, hailed as Georgia's first distilled bourbon since prohibition, launched in January with two products - Sweet Tea Lemonade, left, and Savannah 88.
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Enjoying a great glass of bourbon is merely part of the job for Buckhead residents Jim Valentine and Charles Barfield and their friend and business partner, Dan Rosenbluth, of Denver.

The trio founded Savannah Bourbon Co., a bourbon line launched in January by Smyrna-based United Distributors.

“We make the claim we’re the first distilled bourbon in Georgia since Prohibition,” Valentine said.

He said the three all have a passion for bourbon and wondered why none was produced exclusively in Georgia. He and Barfield are entrepreneurs who have teamed up on business ventures before. Valentine said Rosenbluth brings to the group over 10 years of experience as a brand manager for Blue Moon, a craft beer company founded in Denver.

“His contacts were very key in getting this thing off the ground,” Valentine said.

Savannah Bourbon creates its products using grain and corn from the Savannah region. The liquor is distilled in Milledgeville.

“We decided we wanted to make a product in line with the farm-to-table, locally grown [concept],” Valentine said.

He said all three founders have strong ties to the lowcountry.

“Hands down [Savannah is] our favorite city,” Valentine said. “We all want to retire down there.”

The company makes two lines of its bourbon — Savannah 88 and Sweet Tea Lemonade. The former is an 88-proof straight bourbon, while the latter is a 70-proof flavored bourbon using all-natural ingredients such as cane sugar, tea extracts and citrus extracts, Valentine said.

“We knew that the flavored bourbon space is going to be exploding with the popularity of bourbon,” he said. “The [Sweet Tea Lemonade] is unique in the flavored space because we only use our premium bourbon as the base. A lot of flavored spirits don’t use a premium product. They blend it with a bunch of stuff.”

Valentine said their bourbons stand out from others because they are smooth and lighter on the palate but still have complex flavor profiles. He said it took about two years to perfect the flavors.

Since launching, business is going well and the product has received positive reviews, Valentine said.

“We went from zero to … over 700 accounts in just a few months,” he said.

The liquor can be found in restaurants, bars and package stores throughout the state. Valentine said the company plans to expand out-of-state to South Carolina in the fall or early winter.

Calls to reach Barfield and Rosenbluth for comment were not returned by press time.

To learn more about Savannah Bourbon Co. and find out where to get the products, visit www.savannahbourbon.com.

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