You certainly hear a lot of people these days talk about changing careers, especially to start their own business—maybe a restaurant, coffee shop or microbrewery. Juliet Schmalz hears from a lot of people who are impressed that she actually did it. In her mid 40s, she left her career as a medical doctor—an anesthesiologist—to start a company that produces high-end whiskey. That company, called Fortune’s Fool Whiskey—a nod to a line in a Shakespearean tragedy—debuted its first product a few weeks ago in Indiana stores, bars and restaurants.
It’s called The Prelude. It’s a 109-proof straight rye whiskey that has been aged nearly three years, which, yes, means that Schmalz has had to wait nearly six years to see any revenue from a company she started in early 2018. In the meantime, there are another rye whiskey, a bourbon whiskey and a wheated bourbon whiskey sitting in barrels on the four-year plan.
An Indianapolis native, Schmalz is our guest on this week’s edition of the podcast. Host Mason King asks what possessed her to leave a lucrative and respected profession to make spirits for a living. They also discuss how she brought herself up to speed in a fickle industry, determined how she would position her product, and funded what by necessity is a long-term startup process.
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Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.