The World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay is set to take place on September 21 and a group of dedicated employees from O.Z. Tyler hopes to bring some hardware back to Owensboro. While the relay is an annual tradition at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Ky., this marks only the third year that O.Z. Tyler has competed.
After finishing last in their first two appearances, barrel team coach Zach Maysey is confident that his team will perform better in this year’s outing. In addition to coaching the barrel team, Maysey is also a processing and logistics manager at the distillery.
“We’re pretty antsy to get out there this year,” Maysey said. “We learned some tips and tricks last year from some guys at other distilleries – we’re confident that we’re going to turn things around.”
The relay is an integral part of the festival, which is going on 25 years and features teams from an array of bourbon brand fan favorites. Per the festival’s website, the event consists of men, women and multi-player distillery teams racing against the clock as they roll 500-pound barrels around a 40-foot course and swiftly assemble them into a mini rickhouse structure.
The relay is far from easy, but it doesn’t compare to the strenuous labor that the rickhouse workers at O.Z. Tyler perform every day.
“This is not an easy job — rolling barrels on a daily basis. These guys are tough guys,” Maysey said. “They really have a practice mindset all year long – they’re getting practice in the warehouse whenever they’re moving barrels around.”
The team’s most recent efforts include constructing an exact replica of the course they will compete on in Bardstown. The distillery hopes to conduct try-outs to finalize their team and begin practicing on the course sometime next week.
The group is sponsored by Red Wing Boots, who provides them with shirts and boots that the competitors are able to keep following the competition for use at work.
Maysey loves what the relay does for the work environment at O.Z. Tyler.
“It gives us something to look forward to every year,” Maysey said. “We use all the same techniques from the relay within the warehouse — it’s pretty neat — it really is.”