Paul Tuell has had a fun but busy year. The Louisville native is the co-founder of Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, and he’s become the face of the decadent, delicious product that combines whiskey and chocolate.
Tuell has been at just about every bourbon, whiskey and, yes, even beer event that’s been held in Louisville and beyond, passing out samples of the spirit’s four flavors — Original Chocolate, Bourbon Ball, Chocolate Mint and Caramel Turtle — and getting people on board the Ballotin train.
On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Ballotin celebrated its one-year anniversary, and Tuell’s efforts can be seen firsthand as the product is now available in bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout the city.
He tells Insider there is no one flavor that is outperforming another, which is a testament to each whiskey’s profile. In general, people react well to the product, he says, but it isn’t rocket science.
“They love it, they really do,” says Tuell. “But we are not asking people to like math, you know? Or liver! Ballotin combines two things people are really interested in and generally like: whiskey and chocolate.”
He believes Ballotin serves as both a gateway for bourbon newcomers and a refreshing drink for connoisseurs.
“Our brand is definitely a ‘both-and’ proposition,” he explains. “That is, for consumers who are interested in exploring all the excitement of the bourbon and whiskey category, Ballotin can easily serve as a ‘bridge’ for those folks seeking brand choices that reward their newfound interest in whiskies.”
And on the other side of the coin?
“Having said that, if you are already a confirmed bourbon drinker, there is definitely still room in your own portfolio for Ballotin,” says Tuell.
He admits he doesn’t have a favorite among the four, and it just depends on what he’s doing and who he’s with as to which one he drinks.
“When I am home, I love Ballotin neat or on the rocks. The Chocolate Mint and the Bourbon Ball are my go-to flavors here,” he says. “Out with friends at a bar, I like a ‘beer and a bump,’ that is, a shot of Ballotin with a cold pint.”
Tuell suggests adding a bit of Caramel Turtle or Original Chocolate to a pint of pumpkin beer, or even a porter or stout. Also, many bars in the area have developed amazing cocktails using Ballotin, including a milk shake concoction at Sidebar.
We caught up with Tuell on the heels of his product’s first birthday to ask him seven very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
I don’t have a Bucket List. Is that surprising? I try to live in the moment and really appreciate what is going on around me. It goes by quick, and looking toward what I might be doing down the road takes my eyes off of what I am doing today.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
Boston’s self-titled album — featuring “More Than a Feeling” — poster. (I’m pretty old …)
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
Today, right now, I’d give it to Lamar Jackson. He’s a brilliant athlete on the field. Peerless. And from what I hear of him off the field, he’s a fine young man. First the Heisman, then the key.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
I am kind of a carnivore on the pizza front … so if this is pick just one pizza for the rest of time, it’s pepperoni, sausage and mushroom. But I also like the fig jam, arugula, prosciutto and parmesan thing, too. Never onions, and never ever green pepper.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
17 — I’d like to go back and play one more high school football game with all the parts in perfect working order.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
Barry Manilow circa 1986. How sad is that?! Or, more obscurely and for the golf enthusiast only, pro golfer Brandel Chamblee. But looks aren’t everything!
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
Like for an hour and I’m hungry? The Jimmy John’s guy on his way to making a delivery. With no hope of outside help? I’ll take MacGyver or Sheldon Cooper. Three or four hours and I just ate? Make it a storyteller — Stephen King or James Lee Burke, or maybe Hemingway (what the heck, with a couple of daiquiris in tow). If my wife Lisa is reading this, it’s you, hon. Definitely you.