Founded Based on a LOVE of Whiskey

Co-Founders Doug Hall & Joe Girgash created Brain Brew Distillery as a “product first” Distillery.  Doug learned the importance of starting a business with a great product, in the 10 years he worked in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble.  Joe learned it as great products are the key to success for new Bars & Restaurants.  Quite simply, Doug & Joe know that product quality is priority #1, #2, and #3.

They named the company “Brain Brew” to remind the team and themselves – in order to win in this highly competitive world of Bourbon, you need to think and work smarter than competitors.

The Deming Institute completed a video Case Study on our company, our approach and our ways of working.


Product Insight Started it All

The product insight for Brain Brew was sparked over 20 year ago, when Doug was helping the Macallan brand create new whiskies in Scotland.  One day at lunch, the Macallan experts explained that 70% of the flavor of Macallan and all whiskies, comes from the interaction of whiskey with wood during aging. 

This reminded Doug of a time when he was a Chemical Engineer at Procter & Gamble’s Mehoopany Pulp Mill where heat is used to remove the lignins from the wood pulp.  Similarly, Bourbon is created by the spirit soaking into the barrel wood during the warmth of the day and summer – bonding with the lignins in the wood – then coming out of the wood during cool nights and winters.  This process plus the filtering of the whiskey through the char layer sets off a chain reaction of transformations in the Bourbon … taking it from raw and rough to rich and smooth.

Driving out Variation in the Wood / Bourbon Interaction

The pair decided early on that they would not change the process of wood interacting with whiskey.   What they would do is to REDUCE VARIATION IN THE INTERACTION.  Instead of variations in weather conditions and barrel storage locations, they created a process for heating and cooling that controls the temperature to within a tenth of a degree – resulting in a 99.5% reduction in variance. The result being the highest quality control of the whiskey / wood interaction in the industry.

Four Double Gold Medals won

In Just 18 Months

After thousands of experiments and hundreds of consumer paired comparison taste tests, the Brain Brew Crew won 2 of 8 Double Gold medals at the North American Bourbon & Whiskey Competition.  As they sipped their award winning Bourbons, they were struck by how much fun it was to create new Bourbons and share them with family and friends.  From this was born a simple belief “The world doesn’t need another Bourbon – but everyone needs their OWN Bourbon.”  This would lead to new opportunities.

Reviving Custom Bourbon – the Foundation of American Whiskey

In the 1800s, farmers distilled excess grain into whiskey and sold it to barrel blenders who would custom blend Bourbons and Whiskies to match each customer’s taste preference.  Cincinnati itself had over a hundred barrel blenders.  In fact, in the mid 1800’s some 85% of American whiskey came from the Cincinnati area.   Barrel blending occurred around the world. The most famous whiskey blender was John Walker in Scotland, famous for his Johnnie Walker blend that is today the number one selling whiskey in the world.

Doug & Joe ran hundreds of experiments to create a custom Bourbon blending experience that was both entertaining and effective at guiding consumers how to create their Bourbon to their personal taste.  In the process, they created six blending Bourbons.  Each are finished with unique woods and each received 92+ points, Excellent – Highly Recommended, at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.  They included three Great Oaks (America, European and 200 Year Oak) and three Artisan woods (Cherry, Maple and Smoked Oak).

To make blending fast and easy, they invented and patented a unique blending ladle for fast and accurate measuring, and a step-by-step process that it easy for everyone to create their personal Bourbon.

Noble Oak Collaboration Goes National

Doug & Joe partnered with Edrington, makers of the Macallan in Scotland to create and produce Noble Oak Double Oak Bourbon and Rye.  The combination of a world class product, scoring 94 points in Ultimate Spirit – Double Gold in San Francisco, plus an innovative promotion where “Every Bottle Plants a Tree®” made the brand the fastest growing super premium Bourbon in the world.

Noble Oak 2

The A.I. Powered Bourbon Wizard is Born

Experts at our sister company, The Eureka! Ranch, built and validated an Artificial Intelligence app that allows consumers to create their custom Bourbon recipe in minutes.  The process is easy.  Consumers simply answer 13 questions on what types of experiences they like – then the A.I. powered Bourbon Wizard crafts their personal Bourbon blend recipe.  The software also creates tasting notes and customized cocktail recipes for guests.   

Dexter 1862 Custom Bourbon Blender Machine

Dexter 1862 Bourbon Blending Machines

Having the A.I. powered Bourbon Wizard software sparked the idea of offering custom Bourbon by the glass at bars and restaurants.  Guests simply answer 13 questions on their phone, the Wizard creates their recipe and finally the bartender scans the QR code for the recipe from the customers phone and VOILA! – the Dexter Bourbon Blending Machine blends a glass of their custom Bourbon in seconds.

First WoodCraft Franchise Opens in Louisville

We partnered with the Hillerich family of Louisville Slugger fame to open Barrels & Billets, the first WoodCraft Bourbon Blender Franchise location.  It offers three distinct Bourbon experiences – Custom Bourbon Blending, A.I. Powered Bourbon Wizard and Flight School.  A second franchise has been sold with more in discussion.  Each Franchise location enables customers to buy their custom Bourbon by the bottle.

Download and read an Artisian Spirits Case Study on Barrels & Billets.

Dexter Brand is Reborn

During Covid, the Brain Brew Crew set out to make the best Bourbon ever.  The result was Dexter Three Wood, a remarkable brand that was named “One of the 12 Best Bourbons in the World” and received 95 point score by Ultimate Spirits. The brand quickly became our best selling product.  It offers the quality of a $75-$100 Bourbon for $49.95.  This remarkable product is named after Edward Dexter, a famous Cincinnati Barrel Blender.  He was so well known that author Charles Dickens and the future King Edward the VII of England visited with him at his home on 4th street.

The brand was introduced in a limited release on the morning of January 2, 2021.  It sold out in 50 minutes!  This initial success lead the team to do test markets in Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire and Kentucky.  Again the response was beyond expectation.  In the Fall of 2023, the team decided to create the Dexter Bourbon Company as a separate division and the home of all of our retail (off premise) and bar/restaurant (on premise) products.  We are currently expanding to more states.

Distillery Expansion

To support Dexter & Noble Oak growth we built a new WoodCraft finishing and packing building.  The facility has taken us from thousands to over 100,000 cases this year with the ability to expand to over 500,000 cases a year. 

Finishing, Bottling, Research & Brand Development 

Our sister companies, WoodCraft Bourbon Blender & the Eureka! Ranch, offer distilleries, retailers and entrepreneurs the ability to create their own award-winning super premium or luxury quality Bourbon, Rye or Whiskey products and/or brand development.  Our approach to the spirit industry is called Customer Driven Concurrent Development – CDCD.  Download a white paper explaining the methodology.  Among our clients are both start up entrepreneurs and some of the world’s largest spirit companies. 

How we can help:

  • Full Incubator Services:  You provide the business objective and/or creative vision. We can do everything else required to create, refine, and validate your project via consumer, on-trade research, and micro-testing results. Basically, everything defined below.
  • Contract WoodCraft Finishing:  We work with you to create your own Super Premium or Luxury Bourbon, Rye or Whiskey from your spirits or ours.  
  • Contract Bottling:  We have three bottling lines (manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic) that can grow with you as your business grows.  Each line is specially designed to allow for maximum flexibility in packaging without high “change over” costs.
  • Rapid Research:  We can provide qualitative or quantitative Rapid Research of your product candidates to increase your odds of competition and marketplace success.  Testing includes Sensory Product Testing (single product & paired comparison), brand positioning, packaging, and/or brand name testing.  All test methods are marketplace validated by multi-national corporations and through academic articles/protocols.  With our sister company, The Eureka! Ranch, we have the world’s largest database of consumer test results on spirit products and new to the world product concepts.    
  • Brand & Packaging Development:  With 40+ years of experience creating brands and packaging, our team can lead Eureka! Inventing projects and Create Sessions with you, your team and/or Investors to create the proper branding for your team.   Our positioning and packaging team has been named by Inc. Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CBC and CNBC, as one of America’s Top New Product Invention Teams. 


The Brain Brew Way

Looking back, the secret to our success has not been luck or magic.  Rather, it’s result of the mindset that we nurtured among ourselves and our team. We call it – The Brain Brew Way.  It’s a never ending commitment to continuous improvement in our products and ways of working.  It’s a modern application of the approach Dr. W. Edwards Deming taught Toyota, Sony and other companies following WWII and the USA manufacturing in the early 1980’s.  It’s also the foundation of the System Driven Innovation work of our sister company the Eureka! Ranch.

Doug Hall – co-founder / ceo – contact Doug

Joe Girgash – co-founder / coo – contact Joe

Yes – we actually started in the Garage at the Eureka! Ranch.  Today this is where all WoodCraft™ Finishing is done.

Our Bottling Warehouse opened in April 2020.  

The Great Room at our Eureka! Ranch tasting room.  It’s where we conduct Custom Bourbon Blending experiences in our distillery in Cincinnati Ohio.

Our founder and CEO, Doug Hall, teaching Bourbon Blending