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The Bourbon Industry Was Opposed to Change. Then Jefferson's Bourbon Started Changing Everything -- and Winning. Jefferson's Bourbon has upended the staid Kentucky liquor's heritage.

By James Higdon

This story appears in the May 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Cristiano Rinaldi

Trey Zoeller walks into Jack Fry's, a Louisville bistro founded in the 1930s by a beat cop with the winnings from a fixed horse race (or so the story goes), takes a seat at the bar and orders us a couple bourbons. And then a couple more. And then some more. And as time drifts past and Jack Fry's fills with diners and drinkers, and more bourbon flows, Zoeller -- a tall, slim, engaging man with blue eyes and a dimple in his chin -- tells the story of how he became a heretic.

Related: How Two Entrepreneurs Turned an Idea Into a Blooming Floral Business

In April 2008, Zoeller flew to Costa Rica to celebrate his 40th birthday with a group of childhood friends from Louisville -- including a guy named Chris Fischer, who was also turning 40. Fischer and Zoeller were well along their own unique life paths: Zoeller had been in the bourbon business for 10 years by then, and Fischer was on his way to distinguishing himself in the field of great white shark research.

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