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Old Dominick Distillery dates back to the late 1800s and was founded by Domenico Canale, an Italian immigrant. Having family in Memphis, with origins in the fruit business, Canale headed to Tennessee to join the business. Realizing he’d rather make whiskey instead of selling fruit, Old Dominick, the whiskey, was born. Three days before Prohibition, Canale passed away, and whiskey production and sales ceased.
Today, Canale’s dream has been revived, and we were fortunate to be able to chat with Alex Castle, Master Distiller at the now very much alive and vibrant Old Dominick Distillery. Her story takes into account the rich history of the Canale family while crafting a future in distilling that will continue traditions while still pushing the boundaries.
Meet Alex Castle, Master Distiller at Old Dominick Distillery
Alex Castle became the Master Distiller and an integral part of the Canale venture in 2015 when the design process for Old Dominick Distillery began to take shape. Production started in 2016, and the doors finally opened in 2017, giving downtown Memphis its first distillery to make whiskey since before Prohibition.
Spending most of her childhood wanting to be a marine biologist, Alex wasn’t sure what to do when in high school she found out that she had no interest in biology. She fondly looks back at that defining moment in her life, realizing at the age of 14 she may have already had her mid-life crisis.
Instead, she fell in love with physics, chemistry, and calculus, resulting in her attending the University of Kentucky to study chemical engineering. And thankfully, for spirit lovers everywhere, following advice from her mom, she became a master distiller.
Bourbon is no longer just your Grandpa’s drink.
As a distiller for Old Dominick, not only is Alex crafting age-old, traditional spirits, she’s innovating within those traditions. Ages are shifting within the bourbon movement, and we are seeing an increased diversity in consumer palates. Alex is an expert at crafting the spirits we desire when we gather around a table with friends, and that is her main passion for distilling, creating connections and building community.
“It doesn’t matter what language you speak, where you come from, what your job is, or how much money you make. In this industry it’s about having a good product, and being able to sit around and socialize and chat whether it’s with an old group of friends or people you’ve never met before. You understand each other because you’re drinking the same thing.”Alex Castle
Chatting with Alex was like sitting back with an old friend around a cozy fireplace sipping on excellent bourbon. It was easy, fun, and enlightening. Since her goal is to bring people together over a good drink, I would say she has achieved that goal, both in the distillery and far beyond the walls that started it all. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed talking with her. Cheers to Alex and her entire team at Old Dominick Distillery.
Connect with Old Dominick Distillery
Old Dominick Distillery
305 S. Front St.
Memphis, TN 38103
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To Alex, your passion for the industry is infectious, and we love it. You have the same beliefs as us that sitting together over a good drink can bring people together. We’ve seen this again and again, and we thank you for making some of those beverages that make this camaraderie possible. We can’t wait to visit you and Old Dominick.
To Rick Barney and Gretchen Jones from Malteurop Malting Company for putting this together. It may have been meant to highlight Old Dominick and the innovation within distilleries, and that it did, but it also shined the spotlight on you two and the community within MMC.