January 19, 2022

Keeper’s Heart Whiskey (Season 4 Episode 3)

Keeper’s Heart Whiskey is an American whiskey distilled in the Irish style from O’Shaughnessy Distilling in Minneapolis.The distillery, opened last spring by cousins and lifelong friends Patrick and Michael O’Shaughnessy who teamed up with Master Distiller Brian Nation who moved to Minnesota from Ireland.

Join us on Tuesday, February 15 at The Lexington for a one-of-a-kind, multi-course whiskey dinner. Sample newly released Keeper’s Heart Irish + American whiskey from O’Shaughnessy Distilling as world renowned Master Distiller, Brian Nation, explains each component that goes into making this unique whiskey. Guests are invited to enjoy cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres in The Williamsburg Room from 6-6:30 p.m. followed by a multi-course dinner with whiskey pairings created by The Lexington Chef, Nick O’Leary.

Space is limited so get your tickets today. *Taxes, fees, and gratuity additional

Presented by O’Shaughnessy Distilling, Stephanie Hansen, and The Lexington

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Keeper’s Heart Whiskey Podcast Transcript

Stephanie Hansen 0:03
Hello makers in Minnesota friends and fans. We have a whiskey dinner coming up featuring Keeper’s Heart whiskey made right here in Minneapolis at the O’Shaughnessy distilling company started by cousins and lifelong friends Patrick and Michael O’Shaughnessy. They both had a vision to make whiskies worthy of their rich Irish American heritage helmed by a world renowned master distiller Brian nation, they set about building a state of the art distillery in Minneapolis to produce world class whiskies and serve as a source of pride for their Irish community. At their distillery. The magic of whiskey making begins with three triple copper pots, where they make American whiskey and the traditional Irish triple distillation style. Their flagship offering Keeper’s Heart Irish American whiskey is the first whiskey that blend the very best of Irish and American distilling traditions to deliver a truly unique and remarkable taste experience. At this dinner, you’ll taste each of the components that make up Keeper’s Heart Irish whiskey, paired with food courses prepared by Nicole Leary, the Lexington Herald and chef like makers in Minnesota’s dinners in the past, I’ll be hosting but we’ll be joined by O’Shaughnessy distilleries master distiller Brian nation who will walk us through each course and help us appreciate this American Irish whiskey made right here in Minnesota. So join us February 15. At the Lexington for a post Valentine’s Day celebration. With Keeper’s Heart. American whiskey will be the exclusive diners in the restaurant for the evening. And you’ll mingle with me and toast your fellow whiskey lovers. We’ll have a limited number of tickets for this special night. And when they’re gone, they’re gone. So go to the lex mn.com and sign up via Eventbrite for their makers in Minnesota. Keeper’s heart whiskey dinner and tasting on February 15. Again, get your tickets now at the lex mn.com.

Hello, everybody and welcome to the makers in Minnesota podcast where we talk to cool people doing cool things. And today we are on Zoom. Obviously we have been for gosh going on the better part of two years now with these recordings. And I really appreciate everybody that’s made it happen today. We’ve got Brian nation and he is in Ireland actually. And we also have Patrick o Shaughnessy, who is in Minneapolis I believe. And we are talking about a new distillery that is opened in the Twin Cities and I’m super excited about it. It’s so Shaughnessy distilling company. And they are making what do we call it? Do we call it an American Irish whiskey? Do we just call it an American whiskey in the Irish form? What do we call Keeper’s Heart your new delicious whiskey.

Brian Nation 2:57
So we are at the distillery where we’re making American whiskey, no style. So effectively our philosophy is around Irish using American whiskey and americanizing Irish whiskey.

Stephanie Hansen 3:09
And Brian, you were the distiller at one of the most famous Irish distilleries in the world, correct?

Brian Nation 3:17
That’s correct. I was master distiller there for seven years. Okay, I need three years working there yet.

Stephanie Hansen 3:24
So Patrick, how did you meet Brian and convince him to come to the coldest state in the world to come and make you an American whiskey in the Irish style?

Brian Nation 3:35
Well, first of all, he didn’t have any he was cold.

Michael O’Shaughnessy 3:39
It was snowing, which it actually is snowing right now. So all tales about how warm the weather here the sweeping across Minnesota. But no, you know, we is our kind of backstory is, you know, Irish family, obviously. And we were at a family reunion. And normally, you know, you celebrate and have a good time with your family. And we were of course, drinking Irish whiskey, and is the night God on that idea, that spark of an idea of, you know, what if we could, you know, have our own Irish whiskey or our own American Irish style whiskey. And so that idea just kind of became a really, you know, just kind of a burning passion to explore. And we learned a lot about Irish whiskey history. And, you know, as we learn more, eventually, I had the opportunity to reach out to Brian, I actually didn’t have a direct connection obviously to him. So I actually sent him a direct message on LinkedIn. And everybody knows that you only get about like, 98 words, I had to be really careful or they’ve kind of paint a quick vision, if you will, that I hope would do would spark his curiosity. And to my kind of shock and surprise Brian. Actually responded to me I was. I was so flabbergasted that it actually took me a few days to know what to write back. But we connected by phone. And you know, I think Brian we, we immediately found kind of a connection over the phone that led very quickly to myself, my cousin Michael. And Gerry O’Shaughnessy, my uncle arriving in Cork, and we met up with Brian, and, and his wife, Oona. And you know, we, I think we both thought it was gonna be like an hour long kind of dinner. But five hour Brian can tell his side of the story. But five and a half hours later, we hadn’t even begun talking about whiskey. We were talking about life and family and experiences and aspirations for your life and your, your kids and all of this. And it was just magical. It was like finding a long lost friend. And I think we both knew in that night that there was a connection. But of course, Brian has his family side of how that came together, as well.

Stephanie Hansen 6:04
Brian, let’s hear your version. Yeah, absolutely.

Brian Nation 6:07
I mean, for me, when when Patrick reached out to me on LinkedIn, and my, my response to Patrick was, you know, look, I’m not actively looking for a job or anything like that. So but you know, I’d be interested to learn more about what you’re what you’re talking about. And then the phone call the follow up phone call, you really could get the passion and the enthusiasm and the belief that Patrick had about what they wanted to build, and what what the, you know, that there was a niche market there that was looking at, you know, and Irish American type whiskey as well. So from that point of view, that sparked my interest, but I’ll always remember the end of the call, because Patrick said, you know, I might be in Ireland in the next three months, would you meet me? And I said, Yeah, but I said, Look, you know, I’m not interested in in leaving where I work. And to be quite honest, which I am very happy with what I do. But if there’s anything I can do to help here, that doesn’t conflict, what I’m doing, then by all means, and I was no sooner off the call, and I was explaining this to my wife. And she was kind of saying at the time, you know, you’re very busy, you’re never going to leave Irish distillers, you know, what are you doing this for? And I said, look, nice guy, we got on well on the phone, and if there’s anything I can do to help, we’ll do it. Next thing a text came through, and I said, I’ll be in Ireland the next couple of days, with my with my cousin, and my uncle has kind of whoa, okay. So and then the meeting that happened, myself noon, I came to meet Patrick and Michael and Jerry. And to be honest, Richard, the expectation was that it was only going to be an hour and a half, two hours read a child minder, and their babysitter for two hours. And we said, you know, we’ll be back. And it was what, what I loved about it, and I only will talk about as well is that the complete, you know, really relaxation, there was no, there was no discomfort, it was actually all a very, very comfortable evening. It was like as if we knew each other before, there was a great sense of friendliness, we had the same types of values, we had the same types of beliefs, in terms of you know, it was about a family, we spent the evening talking about family, what was important to us. And by the end of that evening, and we got into the character leave, and my wife turned around to me and said, If I had no kids, I’d moved to Minneapolis in the morning. And I was shocked because she was very, you know, you’re never going to leave right knowledge. So, so that really kind of made it even more real than because I had been excited by it. And but it was a big, important fact that my family has to be it has to be behind it as well. And to be honest with you, between us actually ending up making the jump and making the decision. There were times where I would have chickened out because of, you know, different things. COVID there was delays on visas, everything like that. But owner was brilliant insofar as that she kept it going saying you know, we’ve a fantastic opportunity here for kids to go on to Salford to go on this adventure and really, really work with some fantastic people. So I’m so happy we continue that and and that we’re where we are today,

Stephanie Hansen 9:26
Patrick, it’s kind of interesting that the distillery did the distillery and the distiller, the master distiller happen at the same time, like would you have gone ahead with building the distilling company if you wouldn’t have had the relationship with Brian?

Michael O’Shaughnessy 9:44
A great question we would have, you know, we were we kind of gotten to the vision stage and then we had done kind of all of the the diligence to how do you build the distillery getting into the engine During design, so we were, we were actually well underway. And, you know, as serendipity kind of came along, that really just kind of gave us this amazing foundation, where we could do what we were doing kind of in an inspired way, led by Brian, where there was a real foundational pillar of authenticity of kind of the history of Irish whiskey that Brian is held as a master distiller over at Jameson and Redbreast. And, and just the integrity of then how he could make American whiskey and the Irish style based on kind of everything he knows at a craft level. So it really just kind of catapulted us to a new kind of platform to do what we were doing. But you know, we were, we were gonna go down the road, and I’m sure happy that our journeys intersected. And we’re now on the road together as collaborators.

Stephanie Hansen 10:58
So Keeper’s Heart whiskey is the whiskey that you all have collaborated on, and the distillery opened in the spring. And let’s be honest, that was an awesome time to open only because COVID has still raging, we’re in the middle of the Omicron virus right now. And as of this broadcast, they have just required all Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants, to have masks not only for the staff, which a lot of folks are used to being masked, but also the patrons. It’s been a hard time yet the Keeper’s Heart seems to be on every liquor store shelf, and what has gone on at retail has been a boon. So tell me about what that wave has been like?

Michael O’Shaughnessy 11:49
Oh, well, uh, you know, it’s been, I think, for everybody in hospitality, it’s, you know, when you’re kind of looking at on site, you know, bars and restaurants, it’s been a really challenging environments and restaurant tours across the board, have been under pressure and have been doing the very best they can. So as you said, it’s not the most ideal circumstances, there was kind of a wave of good news in the last few months until, unfortunately, omicron came in with, with kind of bad news to the hospitality sector. But, you know, we we’ve got a great following here at the distillery and I think it’s, it’s great to see that, you know, his Omicron kind of takes hold, if you will, that there’s a way to do it safely. And you know, we’re, we’re all about following the guidelines and keeping our team safe and our and our patrons safe. So that’s kind of the road we’re on, you know, at the physical distillery. In it, as you said, in the retail side of it at, at liquor stores and so forth, we’ve been able to partner with a Minnesota company, a family company called Johnson brothers, which is a large distributor really has a big foothold in the Minnesota market. And I think that their team, and the people that they distribute to at the liquor stores and so forth, have just really fallen in love with the kind of a Minnesota story, the story of this world renowned master distiller creating something totally unique in an Irish and American whiskey. Blended whiskey, it’s kind of almost a new category to itself, the liquid is fantastic. And I think they just really fell in love with it. And so they’ve done a fantastic job, as has our sales and marketing team, really going out and being with, you know, real liquor store owners and on prem restaurants and spending time and educating them about the whiskey and tasting the whiskey with them. And creating that moment, which is really about celebrating kind of our time together, which is really what our brand is all about. So we’re just thrilled that it’s it’s kind of kind of just been a little bit of a rocket ship here in the Minnesota market in terms of retail distribution and stores.

Stephanie Hansen 14:06
The distillery itself is just gorgeous. I mean, it is absolutely gorgeous. Yeah, beautiful outside space. You’re right. In the shadow of surly Brewing Company, which has had a lot of success from a maker perspective. You’re also in a really burgeoning neighborhood, near Malcolm yards and with the stadium and there’s a lot of youth and activity and vibrancy in the area. With If COVID wasn’t here. Let’s just project into the spring and summer because my personal belief and I’m not a doctor, but I think this could be the virus’s Last Stand is what’s happening right now where it’s affecting so many people that by the time we get to spring in summer, it will be a more normal trajectory of a virus that we’ll learn how to deal with and to it will be endemic as it as it were. So if we look ahead to spring and summer, like what do you feel like the We’ll be at the distillery distillery will you’ll be doing outdoor events, you’ve got a huge, beautiful event space.

Michael O’Shaughnessy 15:07
Yeah. And you know, I think we, you said we’ve got the distillery is a really nice showcase to bring the experience the whiskey experience to people it’s, it’s warm, its inviting it’s cozy, there’s, there’s a big main bar that is called the pod the triple copper pots that are the traditional pots of making Irish whiskey loom over the main bar. And so you get to kind of live in that production feel. And then we have an old historical potato building that that we’re in, which is kind of cool, because our roots as a family are coming over to Minnesota through the heart of the potato famine. And then as you said, there’s some beautiful outdoor spaces with a patio and an outdoor container bar. And we really hope as you do, Stephanie, that the things really do open up, and that really allows people to be here and experience something great, but we’ll be having, you know, certainly one of the big things on our radar coming up, of course, is St. Patrick’s Day. And we’re hoping you know, with with, you know, we’ll see where all the conditions are. But if we can do that, safely, we’re planning to have a really big party with an outdoor tent and still be a little bit cold. It’s March. So there’ll be hot toddy bars, and there’ll be punch bars and so forth. So St. Patrick’s Day will really launch our first kind of big event of the spring is hopefully things open up and then, you know, we probably expect concerts and so forth outdoors, to really create a fun summer.

Stephanie Hansen 16:41
Yeah, it’s such a, I was walking around this fall and was in the area. And it was struck me how it’s just a great area that you could park and really experience a lot of different things in a short period of time. You have a great neighborhood. There’s a lot of community there. When we talk about taking this product. Brian, Were you impressed with what the distilleries are doing in the Twin Cities when you got here?

Brian Nation 17:10
Absolutely. I mean, like one of her one of her real kind of goals is to put Minnesota and Minneapolis underwater whiskey map, you know, because there’s great, there’s great opportunities for what we’re doing in terms of the type of whiskey we’re making the scale of what we’re making it at as well, because, you know, we we have a fine distillery out in Malcolm Avenue. And effectively, it’s a very versatile distillery. It’s got great flexibility. But our focus will be on innovative whiskey styles in the Irish style. And like we’d be looking at triple pot, distilled, triple copper pot, distill, bourbon, triplicate, copper pot distill, right. And obviously, our American single pot stir, which we’re making at the moment, as well. So it is great to be able to do that innovation. And I think it is following on from other innovations that are happening in distilleries, and in Minnesota, in Minneapolis, across the board as well. And we just we want to be part of that trend of innovation. And we feel that we’re bringing a unique taste profile to the market that she you know, is appealing to people we’ve seen that the you know, the Keeper’s Heart, Irish American blend is, is really popular among a wide variety of enthusiasts and people that are looking to experiment. And I think that’s down to the versatility of the whiskey. Obviously, the quality of the whiskey is very, very good. But it’s also very versatile. So that means that people can enjoy it in lots of different ways. And if you look at the way people enjoy whiskey nowadays, and and enjoy their their socializing, nowadays, they want to experiment they want to try different things. And having a glass of Keeper’s Heart and be it in Neath under rocks or as a laundering, or even a cocktails. The flavors of that whiskey really do shine through. So we’re really, really happy with that.

Stephanie Hansen 19:09
It had to be interesting, too. There’s so much heritage grain that’s grown in the Midwest in Minnesota in particular. And I know for the distillers it’s really opened up a lot of innovation for them in that respect to what I know for we’re going to be having this dinner but the Lexington which is why we’re doing this podcast, it’s going to be on February 15, which we did planned, by the way because Keeper’s Heart you know, it’s opposed Valentine’s Day thing, which I thought would be super fun. But when people come to the dinner and they get the opportunity to meet you and and go through the process, how will you introduce them to the whiskey? I know we’re gonna have multiple pairings and courses but generally when someone goes to a whiskey tasting, well, how does it work so that people know what to expect?

Brian Nation 19:55
Well, effectively what we’ll do with the experience of Getting to understand people’s heart and getting to understand the different flavors associated with keep respect Irish American, we will do what we call a component tasting. So when we talk about our Keeper’s hacked Irish American, it’s actually a combination of potstill Irish particular whiskey, Irish grain whiskey, and American rye whiskey. So it’s the first of its kind, to actually take the real powerhouse flavor of Irish whiskey, which would be potstill. And take a powerhouse of American whiskey, which is right and bring these together to create this unique taste profile. So what we’ll actually do at the event, is you get the opportunity to test each of the components individually, and get to understand the process and the maturation and the flavors that are contributed by each of the components. And then you finally get to test the actual Keeper’s Heart itself. And it allows people to almost detect the different aspects that the each of the components bring to the overall taste profile and flavor of the whiskey. And it was one of the objectives we set ourselves when we were putting this whiskey together was that each of the components needed to play a part in the whiskey, we didn’t want any component in there just to be a filler, we wanted to make sure that each component gave a certain characteristic to the whiskey. And and what I love about Keeper’s Heart is that as it sits in your glass, and as you get the whiskey to actually heat up and warm up, different flavors begin to evolve. And it takes you on that journey of those components as well. And you get different taste profiles each time you go back. So the event on the 15th will be really exciting, hopefully educational, but fun as well and how to have great time with people coming together enjoying enjoying time together with Keeper’s.

Stephanie Hansen 21:46
Yeah, I’m really excited about it. I have become a whiskey. A I’m not an efficient auto. And I’m not even a lover. I’m a Laker on my way to being a lover. But I’m because I love the stories and I love the complexity of it. And for me, just to be able to be talked through that process and to storytelling with you Brian and the O’Shaughnessy family. And I just I’m really excited about that experience. Because I’m just I’m I’m on the journey with you like I want to appreciate this product, I want to learn a little more about it. And I want to at the end of the day when I order a drink, I really have a better understanding of what it is. Because I think this is a unique opportunity for someone to sit with someone of your caliber and learn about whiskey and the pairings and Chef Nicole area. The Lexington and just the Lexington in general is such an institution in St. Paul. So I’m just I’m thrilled thank you for giving us the opportunity to spend time with you. You can get tickets for the dinner at the lex mn.com. There is an event right there and we will sell out it’s generally we’re going to have a special night in the restaurant will start in the in the bar area and have a signature cocktail. And then we’ll move into the dining room and we’ll have the multi-course experience and the restaurant will be close to anybody that’s not a part of the dinner. So if this appeals to you, I think it would make a great Valentine’s Day gift. But that’s just me. We’re really looking to get you back into the knighted states Brian and to have Patrick meet you in the family in more detail. And thanks for allowing us to help bring your story to this group of people that really are interested in whiskey and it’s going to be a super fun event. Thanks for joining me today, gentlemen. While we’re delighted so much. It’ll be a great night. We’ll see you on the 15th of February. Okay, bye bye. Thanks. Bye bye. Alright, so now that you’ve heard from Brian nation, I bet you are even more excited to taste their delicious Keeper’s Heart Irish whiskey that they make right down the road at the O’Shaughnessy distillery company in Minneapolis. You can join us for the makers the Minnesota Keeper’s Heart whiskey dinner at the Lexington in St. Paul on Grand Avenue. I can’t wait to meet you and introduce you to some of my favorite Twin Cities whiskey loving friends and makers. So get your tickets at the lex mn.com But hurry this special event won’t be available long so go to the lex mn.com To get your tickets for the makers of Minnesota whiskey dinner with Keeper’s Heart whiskey

Transcribed by https://otter.ai