NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Whiskey like Jack Daniels have an age-old history in Music City.
However, there’s a new beverage brand guiding the way for minority businesses and budding entrepreneurs. It’s called Guidance Whiskey.
“Guidance is new in itself,” said Jason Ridgel, founder and owner, “We’re only aged two years. We’re only 80 proof. There’s a lot of ways that people make whiskey that people said it really wouldn’t work.”
The self-proclaimed country boy fell in love with corn liquor as a teen. That love was reignited when he stumbled upon a lucrative business opportunity.
“I was working for a health care facility out in California,” said Ridgel. “And we were spending about a quarter of a million dollars a year on entertainment for doctors. Half of that budget was all on alcohol.”
Ridgel now owns one of just a few minority-owned whiskey brands in Nashville.
“It’s been a roller coaster and it’s been eye opening,” said Ridgel, “There’s been days when people wouldn’t talk to you. There’s been days where people brought us in without even tasting the brand just because we were minority. Just because I graduated from TSU.”
Guidance is now sold in liquor stores and added to cocktails in local restaurants all across town. One of the more popular features is at The Standard in downtown Nashville.
“This is actually the first place to serve Guidance on premise,” Ridgel said, “So, we launched here in 2018. They were the first to give us a chance on premise and they actually made it the house whiskey.”
Ridgel says he also makes it a point to partner with small, locally-owned and minority-owned businesses.
“I love the word intentionality,” Ridgel said, “A lot of times it just slips through the cracks. But we go out and we seek out business owners to work with in any capacity that we can.”
For him, Guidance isn’t just a moneymaker, it’s a door opener for other minority entrepreneurs.
“We get a chance to hold the door open. The things that took me four years to do will take the next person two years, and hopefully the people they help will only take them one year,” said Ridgel.
Guidance Whiskey is now featured in over 80 restaurants city-wide.