Michael Frazier, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, founded Reverence Bourbon in June 2020 as a way to pay homage to a life-changing childhood experience. His mother, serving in the military, was deployed for active duty after the events of September 11, 2001. His younger sister relocated to live with family, and Michael was raised by his brother, who gave up his high school football career to become his caretaker. While the experience was traumatic for Michael as a twelve-year-old, it forged a solid foundation for his work ethic today, teaching him to face challenges and adversity to reach success. With the creation of Reverence Bourbon, he envisioned developing a spirit that is enjoyable for both the casual drinker and more serious bourbon connoisseurs and creates an experience that adds a deeper purpose to celebrations. Reverence Bourbon is an exclusive Tennessee premium bourbon that’s true to the Volunteer spirit.
CL: Hello, Michael, and thank you for chatting with us. What inspired you to create your own bourbon?
MF: It’s my preferred beverage when it comes to spirits. As I educated myself in the spirits space, I learned that bourbon is one of the more complex. Being from Tennessee, we’re more so known for whiskey. My creative juices started flowing, and I wondered what would happen if I created my own Tennessee bourbon. Therein lies my first step. My purpose was to create something unique and to bring something different to the space, so I went ahead and pursued that avenue. There aren’t many bourbons classified as Tennessee bourbon. I wanted to be one of the first ones at the forefront of this space.
CL: Why does making a good quality bourbon take so long?
MF: The rule of bourbon is that you have to use new barrels every time you age it. You can’t recycle any barrels involved in the previous barreling process. So every time I create a new batch, there are new barrels. I use charred oak, and that’s what makes it very, very unique. There are specific little details; if you pay attention as it sits on the palette, you can catch different notes. The good thing about bourbon is that it’s a drink to be sipped. I like to enjoy my bourbon; I don’t want to take shots or become inebriated. I want to enjoy the flavor and appreciate the taste and craftsmanship that goes into the creation. It’s an experience.
CL: How long do you age your bourbon?
MF: For at least four years. Having two types of barrels from two different places in Tennessee creates my own unique taste and flavor. The good thing about Reverence is that my recipe can’t be replicated. It is trademarked and copyrighted, so I own everything about it. I use a craft distillery in south Nashville. I source another type of barrel from Columbia. Blending them creates my recipe.
CL: What led you to arrive at your specific taste profile?
MF: It was a lot of love and labor. I started the creation process in January 2018. For three years, I traveled around different distilleries, whiskey tours, and whiskey trails. I sampled around 300 bourbons, trying to get my palette to understand the complexities and the nuances, what ingredients give what flavors, and the bite on the back end. Bourbon has to be 51% corn. This is because the corn soaks up the flavor from the barrel. My recipe has about 70% corn, and that creates a lot of rich flavors. The corn-to-rye ratio is precise, with a touch of barley to give the premium oak flavor that bourbon aficionados desire. The tasting notes consist of the nose filled with caramel, maple, and kettle corn. The palate is flooded with chocolate, malt, and oak. The finish is smooth and refreshing with clean hints of fresh-cut spearmint.
CL: Starting a business is always a risk. You’ve been so successful - tell us what your day-to-day looks like.
MF: I’ve done it all. In the beginning, I was my own books man, my own CPA, and my own marketing department. I was hands-on with the production with my distiller. Now I have a team, and it’s turned into a family business. My mother and my brother are both on hand. We’re partnered with other distributors, and we just locked in a national distributing contract to sell directly to consumers online, so now we can ship out nationwide.
CL: You founded the brand in 2020. When did it officially launch?
MF: We launched in 2021 in retail in eight counties in middle Tennessee. We celebrated our first anniversary this February. We were on a fifteen-month plan, and my first batch sold out in eight months, exceeding expectations. I believe in hard work and not cutting corners. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface and enjoying the ride.
CL: What’s next for you and Reverence Bourbon?
MF: I've expanded the brand into a lifestyle, including bourbon, cigars, and a merchandise line, and we’re launching an inflatable events space called Reverence Experience.
CL: Thanks, Michael, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for you and Reverence Bourbon!
Created by Michael Frazier, Reverence Bourbon is curated from two different aged barrels, offering a master blend with a rich taste and a flavor that cannot be duplicated.
We create the world's best bourbon in Tennessee, from the aged barrels all the way to the classic label and finish of the bottle. Reverence is an exclusive Tennessee premium bourbon.