(Bo Garrett, Wild Turkey Distillery Brand Builder)
First of all, if you’ve been reading my recent contributions to this site, thank you! However, it recently dawned on us that you may have no idea who is doing the writing, or my connection to the bourbon world beyond being an avid enthusiast. So, if you would, allow me to give you some brief insight.
My name is Bo Garrett. I was born in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. My Father was a coal miner. So, my introduction to the process of separating alcohol from liquid was bestowed upon me by my grandfather (Poppy). As you may have already guessed, Poppy was an old school moonshiner. He knew none of the scientific terms, or chemical causes of the craft. But, he was able to explain that 1 + 1 will always add up to 2. I was left with a decent understanding of the ‘how,’ but still no academic idea of the ‘why.’
It was in my teens that I developed a serious passion for music. I was far from the best in social situations with my peers and I had a crippling insecurity around girls. So, being graciously blessed with some musical talent and a family that all played instruments, the guitar became my best friend. Sidenote: I had also noticed a tendency for young girls to like musicians! Haha!
After honing my skills for several years, playing in multiple bands perfoming multiple genres of music, I moved to Lexington, Kentucky in the early 1990's. It was there that I met a couple of guys who would become my bandmates and two of the best friends that I have ever had. Those guys were Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry. With an enormous amount of collective years between us playing in bars and constantly being broke, it all eventually paid off. I had been performing around town with Troy and Eddie for quite an extended period of time and in 1999, Montgomery Gentry signed a record deal and released their first single, "Hillbilly Shoes.” Once this happened, I was afforded the chance to spend over 20 years as the lead guitarist with this platinum selling act. Our music took us around the globe and provided opportunities that I had only dreamed of. But, what does any of this have to do with bourbon, you ask?
Around the year 2000-2001, Montgomery Gentry landed a new tour sponsor. As it turned out, a gentleman by the name of Booker Noe heard of us and apparently liked what we were doing. He also wanted Jim Beam to help us out. It was then that we began a relationship with the Noe family that would quickly develop into a friendship that extends to this day. We continued to work with the Jim Beam corporation until I retired from the road in 2019. Even now, Fred Noe is a friend that I would do anything in my power for. They are fantastic people! They make good bourbon too, by the way.
It was actually through Fred that I met another dear friend of mine. His name is Jimmy Russell. As it turns out, he and I live close to each other and the distillery. So, I now work as an Executive Brand Builder at Wild Turkey Distillery, doing everything I can to further Wild Turkey Bourbon and share the history and legacy of Jimmy and Eddie Russell. Whether it be Fred, Jimmy or Eddie, all of these men have been more than gracious with their time in helping me learn and dive deeper into the process of making great Kentucky Bourbon.
Both the Noe and Russell family have been great support and encouragement and I feel very blessed to call them friends.
This entire piece has felt as if it was one gigantic name drop, haha, but, it just happens to be the way my story has played out. I don't know how it came to be that my passion for music and bourbon could be so intertwined. But, I am beyond thankful for every day of it. Thank you again to any and all that take a few minutes of their time to read these offerings as they fall out of my mind. It is much appreciated!!
Until next time... Cheers! Bo.