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Living in the Moment: Trey Zoeller, Founder, Jefferson's Bourbon

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Photo by Trey Zoeller

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When Zoeller isn’t busy crafting his small-batch whiskey, which he started with his father, Chet, in 1997, the Louisville native loves to seek out a spontaneous travel adventure. Read on to find out where the master distiller is dreaming of going next. 

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
I have three places on my list: South Africa, Argentina, and the Amalfi Coast.

The Amalfi Coast on the southern edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula in Italy

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)
New Orleans. I went to school in the Big Easy, where the food, music, and attitude got into my blood. Somehow, I always make excuses to go back.

Do you have a travel ritual? 
Always have at least two days with zero plans. I do that so I can gain knowledge and hit the places that only locals could direct me towards.

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
I try to get on local time as quickly as possible. And then I try to immerse myself as a local and explore.

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
I was in Cartagena earlier this year. The assortment of fruits, seafood, and spices was unbeatable. I could live on that combination for eternity.

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What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Don’t be scared! Try as much localized food, drink, and immerse yourself in local customs.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
On a whim. 

The streets of Caragena in Colombia, where Trey loves the regional cuisine

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?
Spontaneous. I typically plan the first and last day. The in-between days call for a detour.

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire? 
I brought a Turkish Backgammon set back from a bazaar in Istanbul 20 years ago. I carry that thing with me on most vacations, so that would come with me, along with my photo albums.

What book/movie most inspired you to travel?
The Sun Also Rises.

Who’s your ideal travel partner?
Besides a loved one, Bill Murray or my old Chocolate lab, Ballou, who is no longer with us.

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
Unplugged. I try to use time on a plane to read, rather than watching movies.

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
The work days in Spain. I tend to eat late anyway. And who doesn't love a good siesta?

The Grand Via in downtown Madrid, Spain

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
A good bar!

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
A massage from a local on the beach where applicable.

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What’s your first travel memory?
When my family and I took a trip out west, our RV broke down on a Navajo reservation. We were stuck for a few days, but I was in heaven—I love an adventure.

>>>Next: Next-Gen Hotelier: Sonia Cheng