Campari America

Behind the Barrel 2018 Recap

By Alexandra Williams posted 07-09-2018 20:44


USBG Behind the Barrel is a deeply impactful educational experience about bourbon, sponsored by Wild Turkey, a Campari America Brand. Wild Turkey is more than just a brand, it's a family, who epitomizes Southern hospitality, experiential learning, entertainment, comfort, and over 150 years of spirit heritage.

This year, we received 292 applications for 60 available positions for the two Summer Sessions. There will be two additional sessions in the Fall. The USBG started this program in 2014 with one 30-person tour, and in 2015, another 30-person tour. In 2016, we added a second tour for 15 people. Last year, the program increased to four trips, and we are continuing to offer four sessions to be able to extend this incredible educational opportunity to 120 participants. This program also brings a group of mentors on each trip—all mentors have been on a previous Behind the Barrel trip, and are there to help the rookie BTB attendees get the most out of their experience!

One of this year's summer session participants, Gabrielle Maser of USBG Hawaii, shared an experience about her time at Behind the Barrel. We feel that this genuine, heart-felt description really captures the true essence of both the Behind the Barrel program, and the mission of the USBG:




Now that I have moved past my jet lag, I just wanted to follow up on my once-in-a-lifetime experience at Behind the Barrel, first of all I wanted to say thank Lisa personally for helping me with flights and organizing and working with me to get to Behind the Barrel. Thank you!!

Second, I wanted to rave about everything on this trip: the mentors, the reps, the USBG rep, the Campari team and the BFG team. They were fabulous. Also whoever is picking the participants couldn’t have done a better job! The bartenders were from everywhere: all ranges of the spectrum, from just starting out to seasoned bartenders, everyone was in awe of how lucky we were, and no one took advantage or got out of control. Each unique person brought something to the group. I have made more then a few life long friends.

Third, I could rave about the Russell family for hours. They made us feel like we were visiting family in Kentucky, not some random liquor company. Jimmy, Eddie, Bruce and [Jimmy’s wife] Joanne are authentic, classy, kind, generous and very experienced and knowledgeable hosts. We even had an opportunity to dine and chat with Jimmy’s wife… what a treat I tell you.

All in all, this was one of the best times of my life and I can honestly say I left a piece of my heart in Bourbon Country. I had no idea it was so stunningly beautiful, green hills and old oak trees. And I haven’t even mentioned the delicious products that Wild Turkey crafts, or how epic the distillery tour was, or the fact that I shot a shot gun and hit the clay pigeon!! I could go on but I’ll end here by saying thank you from the bottom of my little bartender heart!!

Aloha and my deepest mahalo,

Gabrielle Maser
Head Mixologist
The Pacific Club
Honolulu, Hawaiii




Another Summer session participant, Peter Hannah of USBG Orlando, eloquently described the impact of his experience at Behind the Barrel:

These men make some of the finest bourbon you can get your hands on. Spending time in the presence of Jimmy, Eddie, and Bruce Russell at Wild Turkey Distillery over the last few days has been one of the pleasures of my life for sure. Already legends of the game, they all get up every day with a renewed vigor for what they do and carry out their business with a commitment to excellence and integrity seldom found nowadays in most walks of life. They exemplify a rule to live your life by, and one, I think, that a lot of us in the hospitality industry at large appreciate more and more: find out what you love and then go out every day and try to get better and better at it, helping other who need it, treating absolutely everyone as you want to be treated and learning off everyone as you go. Not necessarily trying to be “the best” (whatever that means) but trying to be the best YOU. That kind of passion and commitment is so infections and I’m truly thankful to have been reminded of it by all my fellow homies here, the special, special Russell family and the USBG. I buzz off being in this game so, so much.



Are you inspired by these epic personal tales of education, camaraderie, and a collective dedication to elevating the craft, in an environment where a true investment in the community is palpable?

Applications for the Fall sessions are currently open!

To apply now, 


1 comment



09-02-2018 11:00

I can't wait! After having to turn down my acceptance to the first two sessions due to accepting a spot in Tiki By the Sea, I got into session 3! Thanks to the USBG for helping with this program!