Freedom and flexibility lure Henley away from Diageo’s George Dickel Distillery
Today marks Allisa Henley’s first day on the job in her new role as Master Blender at the Popcorn Sutton distillery in Newport, Tennessee. What’s that, you say? Henley’s departure from George Dickel, where she served as Distiller, was quiet. Deafeningly silent, even. In typical Diageo fashion where their George Dickel brand is concerned, fanfare was abandoned and replaced with an addition to their collection of world’s shortest statements on major events.
After a bit of cajoling and a short time after Henley’s departure, Jeff Parrott, George Dickel’s Brand Director, provided a few brief comments. “While we’re sad she’s moving on, we’re grateful for all the hard work Allisa has done for George Dickel over the last decade including her recent tenure as Distiller. We wish her and her family nothing but the best.”
Parrot sites “other opportunities” and more family time as Henley’s reasons for leaving and goes on to say, “It will be business as usual at George Dickel’s Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tullahoma, Tenn.” Perhaps that “business as usual” was a deciding factor in Henley’s resignation. According to Henley, her opportunities include “the freedom to create new products that represent my home, the Volunteer State” and “the flexibility to develop new products from liquid to packaging.”
It appears that barrels aren’t the only thing that Diageo is having difficulty keeping track of. Just a little over a year ago, Allisa replaced John Lunn following his surprise departure from Dickel. She now rejoins Lunn, who similarly left Dickel to move over to Popcorn Sutton as Master Distiller in March of last year. Diageo offers no suggestions on who (or even if) they will put in the vacant Distiller position.
Allisa plans on spending her first few months on the new job at the distillery with Lunn, learning the ropes. “John and I will work side by side on every product that is made at the distillery.” Allisa doesn’t plan on leaving her hometown of Tullahoma (230 miles from Newport), though, as she will eventually assume the responsibilities of traveling the country, educating consumers on the Popcorn Sutton brand. “Tennessee has many legendary figures. George Dickel is one of them & I am proud of everything I was able to contribute and accomplish over my 12 year tenure. I am even more excited to represent another Tennessee legend, Popcorn Sutton. I look forward to carrying on his tradition and building upon it in the future.”
John & Allisa both express excitement about the reunion. Says John, “Allisa and I worked together for over 10 years. During that time, we had many accomplishments because we each had skills and abilities that were very complimentary. I have really enjoyed my time at Popcorn and knew Allisa would be a perfect addition to our team. It feels like the band is back together again with many new hits to come.” Allisa echoed John’s sentiments, “I am excited for the opportunity to work with John again, along with Megan Kvamme, CEO of Popcorn Sutton, and we are looking forward to a very bright future.”
Popcorn Sutton is named after the legendary distiller and bootlegger who chose suicide over jail time in 2009. His death came less than a year before his beloved hobby was made legal in Tennessee. When asked if she ever had the occasion to taste some of Popcorn’s untaxed spirits, Allisa says, “Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet Popcorn himself nor share a drink with him.” She goes on to say she’s “looking forward to continuing Popcorn’s legacy while starting to build our own legacy as well.”