Shaylyn Gammon joined Blue Run Spirits as Whiskey Director on February 10, 2022. She came to the pandemic start-up whiskey company from Campari Group, where she led innovation projects on brands such as Wild Turkey, Russell’s Reserve and Longbranch. She was also a new mom. With her one-year anniversary upon us, we asked Shaylyn to share some insights on her first year with Blue Run:
What Blue Run Spirits whiskies did you work on and launch in 2022?
I picked barrels, blended and/or oversaw the dumping process for all releases for 2022:
- Reflection I Bourbon
- High Rye Bourbon
- Golden Rye Whiskey (Batch #2)
- Flight Series Bourbon Micro-Batches (major blending project, largest of the year)
- Emerald Rye Whiskey
- Winter Solstice Single Barrel Bourbon (12 Days of Bourbon)
How would you describe your first year at Blue Run?
It was like a dream. It was so nice to be able to get down to work with the full support and enthusiasm of the team. There was a real sense of “what can we do” versus “what we can’t do” as we discussed projects. As a startup turned small company, I had huge amounts of flexibility, creativity and the ability to quickly adjust when needed. Everyone at Blue Run absolutely loves the product, the brand and what we are trying to achieve. It’s inspiring.
What was most surprising about your first year at Blue Run?
The pace at which we needed to act to meet our new product plans was very new to me. I’ve found that less-established companies don’t have the layers upon layers of bureaucracy that can stifle creativity and innovation. Blue Run’s innovation pipeline was as intimidating to me at first as it was exhilarating, but what I loved about it was how quickly we would know the reaction from our Blue Run fans as we dropped whiskies online and at retail. I didn’t have to wait years to know if a product had lived up to its potential. It really helped me better understand who our customers are, what they wanted and how we have helped to disrupt the industry.
What was the most challenging about your first year at Blue Run?
Having nearly the entire team working remotely was a challenge for me, coming from a very big company. I missed that face-to-face connection with my peers, with the chats in the lunchroom and just passing in the hallways. But in some ways it was also a positive, as it allowed me to keep my head down and really concentrate on my craft. That said, I am really looking forward to the opening of our new distillery in Georgetown, Kentucky.
What was your favorite whiskey and why?
Ha! That’s like asking someone which of their children is their favorite. I probably say a different whiskey each time I am asked this. I would say Flight Series is the top of my list at the moment. It was such a professional challenge because it was a massive blending project and so fun to tackle. It also allowed me to create my ideal whiskey profile. After the Flight Series, I think I would lean towards either Golden Rye or Emerald Rye Whiskey. Golden Rye is a bright, captivating, 95 proof Rye Whiskey that is instantly approachable, while Emerald is a bit of the opposite: mysterious and keeps you coming back for more in an effort to understand all the layers better. Emerald was Jim Rutledge’s (Blue Run’s Liquid Advisor) first Rye Whiskey he produced since coming out of retirement and it was such an amazing experience working with him on that project.
What woman outside the company provided you with the most support?
Peggy Noe Stevens is a living legend and has gone out of her way to support me in numerous ways. Knowing her is an absolute privilege. Working alongside other amazing women, like fellow scientist Meghan Mattingly at Bardstown Bourbon Company, is inspiring and keeps it fun.
How was it being a new mom and starting a new job?
Having the privilege of flexibility that Blue Run provides to balance work and motherhood has made the transition far easier than I ever could’ve hoped. Additionally, it has been so important to have a very supportive partner at home where we work together to get it all done. As my son grows, the challenges shift from baby to toddler in nature but the goal remains to be able to partition my work from my family life as much as possible (even when working from home). I’ve found that intentionally setting up very clear boundaries in terms of what is work time versus what is time that will be time spent with my family, helps maintain the separation… and my sanity. Leaving the house helps a lot, too.
Any notable “ah ha” or notable moments in 2023?
The reception from most everyone in the industry has been a huge source of drive and inner strength for me. Specifically, the Louisville Courier Journal article referencing my 2021 blending successes as well as the positive feedback to my Blue Run Flight micro-blends was really validating. It’s an amazing feeling to know it’s not cliché to say “If I can dream it, I can do it” while serving as Whiskey Director at Blue Run, having the complete backing of my wonderful team and so many friends and family. I feel completely empowered in my new role.
Article courtesy of Raptor Communications.