A Conversation with Terressentia Corporation CEO – Earl Hewlette
By Pamela Graham Anderson
Earl Hewlette is the CEO of the South Carolina based Terressentia Corporation. Since 2007, Hewlette has been instrumental in the growth of the innovative technology company. The distilled spirits company’s revenues have grown from $7,000 to more than $20 million. Hewlette is a South Carolina native and decorated Marine officer with a diverse business background in law, real estate development, and hospitality management.
Terressentia Corporation was formed in 2006 and is located in North Charleston, South Carolina; tell us a little about the company:
Our company was founded with the idea that technology can improve both the quality and taste of distilled spirits. We apply our patented TerrePURE® process to a wide variety of distilled spirits (bourbon, gin, vodka, whiskey…) for the private label, private brand, and global bulk spirits markets.
Tell us more about the patented TerrePURE® process:
In 1999 O.Z. “Ty” Tyler and his stepson Edward Bailey, were looking for a way to mature whiskey in a shorter period of time as compared to spending years in a barrel. They discovered a safe, sustainable way to use ultrasonic energy to remove harsh-tasting impurities and reveal a better taste and aroma. Our company was founded around this natural process and the result is that we can produce great tasting spirits in less time and at a lower cost than traditional methods. That savings is passed on to the consumer.
The bottling facility in North Charleston is kosher certified, when did that begin?
In 2012 one of our private brand customers who markets an award-winning Chinese baijou spirit under the brand name Bye Joe initially asked us to obtain Kosher certification for his brand. Paula Dezzutti, who was our then brand manager and majority owner of our affiliate Local Choice Spirits, saw the larger benefit of kosher certification and put in place a program with OK Kosher which enabled us to offer the certification to all of our private brand customers and also to our private retail customers. Today Local Choice Spirits creates award winning spirits for the hottest names in the music and TV industry.
Your spirits can be found worldwide; how can we identify your kosher certification?
Many of our products prominently feature the OK symbol on the back label.
What has been the reaction to the kosher certification for your private label and bulk spirits customers?
The response has been very favorable. Gone are the days when food and drink are purchased indiscriminately, merely on the basis of taste or eye appeal. Consumers examine the ingredient panel on products, concerned about what they consume, as well as manufacturing procedures. The OK kosher symbol, with the monitoring and care it represents, ensures the highest quality standards to the largest and most diverse consumer audience.
I understand Terressentia Corporation has also purchased a bourbon distillery in Kentucky?
Yes, in 2013, we began looking for long term supply of bourbon whiskey because global demand was so high. We became aware of an opportunity to acquire a closed distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky and made the purchase in 2014. We renamed the distillery the O.Z. Tyler Distillery, in honor of the co-inventor of the TerrePURE® process. For the last two years we have been renovating the historic 26 acre facility and began making Kentucky bourbon in August. The distillery will annually produce one million cases of Kentucky bourbon.
Will the O.Z. Tyler Distillery be kosher certified as well?
Yes, we think that is an important distinction and we will seek kosher certification.
We believe the OK Kosher symbol is an extremely useful indication of quality by consumers of our products and, consequently, we are implementing the use of the symbol on the majority of the products we produce and label.
Finally, do you see Terressentia Corporation releasing more of its spirits as kosher certified?
We do. We anticipate that more private brand and private label customers will appreciate the certification. In 2017 we will be releasing our first national commercial O.Z. Tyler brand and one of our goals for that product is for it to be kosher certified.