This past Saturday night, January 6th, in Nashville, country music singer and producer John Rich of hit duo Big & Rich held a press conference to announce the release of his brand new line of whiskey. At a unique, in-home presentation, John opened the doors to his massive hilltop estate and invited the media to join him in the club level where he announced that Redneck Riviera Whiskey would begin distribution next month. Standing behind his very own bar, a very patriotic Rich explained why it was important to him to create his own brand, what went into the process and how important the brand is to him.
Redneck Riviera is a name affectionately given to beautiful beaches by members of the working class who couldn’t afford a high-end trip to the French Riviera. It is often said it’s located along the Florida Panhandle and Lower Alabama but also has been stated to exist in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and South Padre Island, Texas among other places and is more accurately described as a “state of mind” with no set coordinates; kind of like “Margaritaville for country music people.”
Rich explained that as a child, his hardworking father would take him to the Redneck Riviera and recalled fond memories spent with his dad there. As an adult, and as his success grew with his band, he sought other ventures as an entrepreneur and began working on a lifestyle merchandise line. He had a name for the company in mind, but he ran into a problem. Redneck Riviera wasn’t trademarked but Rich was originally denied his application because “you can’t trademark a geological location.” After some discussion, he was awarded his trademark by proving the Redneck Riviera has no set coordinates.
Soon after launching his clothing and home decor line he announced the idea for the first of a chain of restaurants with the same name in Las Vegas. This food, drink and live music venue has been a great success and a second location is currently wrapping up construction in Nashville, with plans of opening it’s doors in the next few weeks.
After entering the welcoming gates of “Mt. Richmore” adorned with a sign that read “No Trespassing, violators may be shot”, guests strolled down an exceptionally long red carpet to the door of John’s home that he graciously refers to as “the house that music built.” While waiting for John to emerge we sat in awe of his awards and memorabilia adorning the walls. The approximately 4000sf club holds around 200 people and boasts it own stage, fully-stocked bar, floor-to-ceiling windows, balcony, saddle-shaped disco-ball, VIP room, guitar-shaped toilet lids and a stunning view of the Nashville skyline and Rich’s custom Gibson J-200 shaped color-changing pool.
John’s latest pursuit was creating a whiskey with the company motto “work hard, play harder.” Rich made it clear that he wanted a “premium quality, moderately priced” whiskey but he wasn’t willing to cut corners with it’s production; “this is not some royalty deal for me, I own it, my name is on it.” “This brand is an extension of my music,” “I’m proud of it” he exclaimed as he went on to explain the process of it’s creation.
Partnering with award-winning Eastside Distilling of Portland, Oregon, Rich worked closely with the company to create the perfect whiskey. The first hurdle being that John wanted an “American Blended Whiskey” but there was no such thing and “what would that taste like” if there were? After roughly 7.5 months and over 100 mini sample bottles, all of which Rich saved, he had finally found the perfect blend. “It’s not unlike writing a hit song, you just know it.” Even his 86 year old Granny Rich approved. John was also happy to announce that a portion of each sale will go to non-profit Folds of Honor, who’s mission is “to provide educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members.”
Redneck Riviera Whiskey will be available next month at both of Rich’s restaurant chain locations and will begin launching at liquor stores throughout the country, with hopes to have it in all 50 states by the end of the year. “Who wants to drink some of it?” Rich excitedly exclaimed as he wrapped up his press conference and slipped off into the VIP Room for one-on-one interviews. A special cocktail menu had been created for the event and a Redneck Riviera open bar ensued. I have to say, I am not a whiskey fan myself; to be honest, I cringe at the thought of it. After one sip though, I was hooked. This stuff is smooth, maybe too smooth (let’s not get into my morning-after headache.)
The night was just beginning. Rich returned after his interviews and took to the stage to perform some of his favorite songs and a few of his own hits. John’s friends started filing in to celebrate his birthday which was the following day (January 7th) and they too joined him on stage.
In attendance, the Redneck Woman herself- Gretchen Wilson, heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold and of course Rich’s partner Big Kenny. What a blast.
I look forward to watching the success of Redneck Riviera Whiskey grow through the year. Head over to redneckriviera.com to keep up to date on when it will be available in your area.
Written by Josie Bisto