Country Smooth’s Carcich Brings Whiskey Brand, Country Music Fest To Town
Country Smooth’s founder and CEO Lori Carcich has brought her 86 proof premium brand of American whiskey to the Louisiana market and will host the Country Smooth Fest featuring national and regional country music performers at the NOLA Motorsports Park in October.
Johnny Murphy (Johnnyshotdigital)
It’s a country strong whiskey with a smooth taste and a modern style.
According to Country Smooth’s founder and CEO Lori Carcich, her 86 proof premium brand of American whiskey is “uniquely crafted to please all of the senses, presented in medium amber glow with a toasted oak aroma and a mild spicy introduction to the taste buds, followed by savory sweet maple notes and an uncommonly smooth silky finish. It was designed to be completely satisfying, down to the comforting tobacco scent of the empty glass.”
Distilled in Indiana and bottled in Nashville, Tennessee, Country Smooth is distributed in Louisiana by International Wine & Spirits, Inc. and can be found locally on shelves in Rouses Markets, and in bars and restaurants including the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar in the French Quarter.
“Louisiana was our first state of distribution over a year ago,” said Carcich. “There is no city quite like it to me – between the people, drink, food, music and unique history and architecture. I have developed many great relationships here, in addition to truly loving the culture of New Orleans. So much so that I chose New Orleans to host Country Smooth’s inaugural Country Smooth Fest in October. We are planning a two-day, two-stage country music festival which will feature national and regional country music bands, in addition to go-carting, Louisiana cuisine, fine beer, wine and, of course, Country Smooth Whiskey.”
Carcich boasts a diverse background in financial management, development and nonprofit board experience. With a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Accounting, from California State University, Fullerton, Carcich said her whiskey brand cannot be distilled to just numbers on a ledger. She said Country Smooth is a celebration of a love for country music and the American lifestyle.
“Since I can recall, music has played a large role in my life socially and inspirationally,” said Carcich. “There were few weekends in which my parents did not have music playing from sunup to sundown. My husband John and I both enjoy attending country music concerts and festivals, as well as listening to country music daily. I have drawn much of my inspiration for Country Smooth from country music lyrics and concert and festival experiences.”
Carcich’s Country Smooth Fest will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday Oct. 21, at NOLA Motorsports Park, 11075 Nicolle Blvd., in Avondale. Musicians will perform on two stages, the Smooth Stage and the Who Dat Stage, and tickets and VIP passes are now on sale.
The country music mash-up includes performances by Austin Burke, Cody Cooke & The Bayou Outlaws, Tyler Farr, Hunter Hayes, Ray Johnston Band, The Scotty Mac Band, William Michael Morgan, Whiskey Myers, Joe Nichols, RaeLynn, David Vincent and Aaron Woods Band on Saturday, and The American Vagrants, Josh Abbott Band, Lindsay Ell, Reed Foley, Laine Hardy, Sonia Leigh, Justin Moore, Parish County Line, Granger Smith and Lainey Wilson on Sunday.
Expect Country Smooth Whiskey to be flowing by the barrel at the all-ages festival, a spirit Carcich said was born out of the desire to create a smooth tasting bourbon whiskey and to broaden the appeal of an American classic for a modern audience of men and women, whiskey lovers and novices alike.
“I was not a traditional bourbon and whiskey drinker,” said Carcich. “My friends loved drinking whiskey and making classic whiskey cocktails. However, I had a hard time finding a whiskey that could be savored the way I enjoyed a fine glass of wine. The taste had to be smooth, but not weak or watered down. I preferred a nice glass of chardonnay or pinot, but I wanted to be able to enjoy bourbon and whiskey on a regular basis at various music and sporting events, out or at home. It was important to me to have the entire Country Smooth experience reflect our slogan, ‘smooth taste, modern style, country strong,’ with the entire package being made in the U.S.A. The goal was to create the highest quality experience for all of the senses, from the smell and taste of the whiskey to the look and feel of the bottle.”
Country Smooth retails at an average of $24.99 for a 750 ml bottle, depending upon the state and location of purchase. Carcich said projections indicate 2018 sales have a shot to hit 10,000 six-pack cases.
“My long-term plans for Country Smooth include continuing to increase our reach within each of the six states which we are currently distributed in, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as to expand distribution into three additional states in 2018, and up to six additional states in 2019,” she said. “Country Smooth is being sold in chain stores including Rouses in Louisiana, Spec’s in Texas and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits stores in Florida, in addition to independent liquor stores and bars and restaurants.”
Carcich freely admits she had no experience in the liquor business prior to bringing Country Smooth to the table and that challenges in launching a liquor brand in a highly competitive space have been significant from an investment, differentiation, and sales and distribution perspective.
“When I founded Country Smooth over two years ago, I was unaware of any other whiskey female founders, which I believe has changed to date,” said Carcich. “There have been people in the liquor industry who had preconceived notions about just that, which initially presented roadblocks. But I strongly believe in the ‘Three P’s’ – Passion, Partnership and Perseverance – and have consistently applied these principles on a daily basis. As a result, we have developed an awesome team nationally, and I’m excited about the continued growth Country Smooth has achieved and will continue to achieve.”
Another asset Country Smooth has is Carcich herself. She proved she had a nose for whiskey. Now she is the face of the brand.
“I had no initial intention of becoming the face of Country Smooth,” she said. “However I have been photographed for interviews which were made public. At that point, as the female founder and driver of the company, I was asked to represent the brand in the media. Since that point, distributors, stores and customers have asked for and supported this.”
It’s also refreshing that Country Smooth’s refined experience, that can be savored on its own or with endless flavor combinations, was rooted in a sweaty pastime.
“My father was an USC grad and a 45-year football season ticket holder,” said Carcich. “Growing up, sports was what we did in my family. From an early age, my Dad either had a football, basketball or softball in my hands. The value of competitive sports from an athletic perspective was ingrained, as well as life lessons they bring, which have been applied within Country Smooth today. My family’s passion for competitive sports continues to this day, with an admiration and respect for the diverse games that America has established as national treasures within our culture. From football, basketball and baseball, to American auto racing, our national sports continue to expand domestically and globally, as does our mission to introduce quality whiskey to a new American audience.
While Country Smooth is a malted grain achievement, Carcich said it’s not her best-blended blessing.
“We are fortunate to have three healthy children, Katarina Joy, 12, Anika Belle, 10, and Johnny James, 7,” said Carcich. “All three have been an inspiration to me in this journey, and have provided me countless opportunities to share with them about the importance of working hard and chasing your dreams and overcoming challenges.”