Tangential Tuesday #55

Bourbon, CRISPR, Personal Brand, $ for babies

Hi - Happy Tuesday 🎉. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll likely be on a plane back to San Francisco.

I’ve been in Brandenburg Kentucky for the past few days visiting my grandma and spending some time with family. It’s been a much-needed period of slowing down. But I’m excited to get back 😃.


I took a tour of Bardstown Bourbon Company while in Kentucky. The bourbon was great. And the tour reminded me that I do actually love thinking about engineering problems in the real-world (and not just on a computer).

The most interesting part, however, was the business model. In just 3 years they’ve become the 7th largest bourbon distillery in the world. That’s insane. Jim beam was started over 200 years ago. Most famous distilleries were started at least 100 years ago.


They changed the game with a completely different business model.

Other bourbon companies work with Bardstown Bourbon Company to manufacture bourbon in their name. The company has complete creative control over the:

  • Mash bill (mix of grains used to make the whiskey)

  • Type of barrel the whiskey is aged in

  • Temperature of various steps in the process

  • Over 500+ parameters in the process that impact the flavor.

This brings me to the other genius part of the business model. As soon as the whiskey is barreled, it becomes the property of the bourbon company Bardstown Bourbon Co is working with.

To add some context: It takes ~72 hours to go from the start of the process —> barrel. Most whiskey is then aged in the barrel for 6-15 years (!). This is what typically makes it so difficult to start a whiskey distillery. You have to purchase millions of dollars worth of equipment, and you cannot even start to recoup this money until ~6 years have passed.

But because Bardstown Bourbon Company is selling barrels, they can start to recoup money almost immediately. Genius.

They’re essentially the AWS equivalent for bourbon. Bardstown can hire the best bourbon process engineers in the world to design a flexible, maintainable, and effective whiskey production process. And both them and everyone they work with benefits.

Companies working with them can focus on the more creative aspects: Branding, and crafting a unique recipe / flavor profile. Meanwhile, Bardstown handles the engineering challenges to keep the flavor consistent and help companies scale.

A few fun facts about bourbon:

  • Must be at least 51% corn

  • Rye gives spicier flavors, wheat is sweeter.

  • Can't be barreled at anything higher than 120 proof

  • Must use new charred oak barrels for the aging process.

  • A LOT of the flavor comes from the aging (we tried distillate and it was not pleasant to drink 😊)

  • All bourbon is whiskey, not all whiskey is bourbon


If you’ve never heard of CRISPR, it’s the latest advancement in gene-editing technology. It stands for Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeats.

I decided to dig into the tech a bit this week and learn more. I’m extremely happy I did. This stuff is seriously exciting (!) and I think it will make you (cautiously) optimistic about the future.

A quick overview: CRISPR is an enzyme that acts as a really tiny pair of scissors that can be “programmed” to find a gene, snip it, and then replace it with another gene.

The technology is still in its infancy and has a lot of challenges that need to be solved.

A few things that make me particularly excited:

  • Anyone can start using this technology in their garage today with some fairly standard equipment and about $150.

  • It’s already being used in some clinical trials for HIV/AIDS treatment

  • We haven’t found an organism that CRISPR doesn’t work for yet

A few WiLD potential use cases:

  • Solve the organ donor problem by making pig organs compatible with humans

  • Correct the genetic errors responsible for sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis (and more)

  • Smarter, more beautiful humans 🤓 (arguably questionable ethically…)

Best resources I’ve found if you want to learn more:

I’m hoping to play around with the technology myself in the coming months so… stay tuned for that. I have a ton more digging and learning I want to do related to CRISPR. If you have any related resources, please send them my way 😃🤓.

Learn more here.

👨‍💻Personal Brand as Moat, Personal Brand as Soft Landing

It’s important to remember that consistency is the key component of a strong brand, not excellence. As Housel notes in his piece, it’s entirely possible to build a great brand on a subpar experience — take McDonald burgers, for instance, which are consistent regardless of whether you eat them in Vienna or Vietnam.

It is for this reason that I am suspicious of people who have huge personal brands in their 20s and 30s, without the rare and valuable skills needed to justify them. My reasoning for this is that I look at people in their 40s and 50s today and find that very few of them built their brands in their 30s; nearly all of them spent that time building a rare and valuable combination of skills.

Read the article here.

Hungary government scheme sparks marriage boom. Will babies follow?

A big new scheme this year offers couples that marry before the bride’s 41st birthday subsidized loans of up to 10 million forints ($33,000). A third of the loan will be forgiven if they go on to have two children, and the entire debt wiped out if they have three.

The central statistics office (KSH) said there had already been a 20% surge in the number of people getting married during the first nine months of this year. The number of weddings recorded was the highest over that period since 1990.

Read the article here.

More to Check Out


FAR from perfect… but progress 🙂

  • Missed my first flight ever 😂🙈

  • Sooo is much happening

  • Excited for ski season

Thanks for being here.

- Tay