Chad Brizendine Forges His Own Path with O.K.I. Bourbon

With Jake Warm, Brizendine took over O.K.I. in 2020 looking for a way to stay true to tradition while charting new bourbon territory.

In 2016, BFFs Jake Warm and Chad Brizendine, former investor/equity partner and co-owner, respectively, of bourbon brand George Remus, found themselves free agents in the distillery world. Looking for a way to forge their own path but also stay true to the legacy inherent in the state’s long-standing distilleries led them to O.K.I. in 2020.

Jake Warm and Chad Brizendine of O.K.I. Bourbon.

Photograph courtesy Chad Brizendine

What inspired you to make the leap from working at a distillery to owning and operating a distillery?

We love the industry and are proud of its growth over the last decade…bourbon is an industry that’s welcoming, social, and caring all at once [which is] pretty rare.

What led you to O.K.I.?

O.K.I. was originally founded and owned by New Riff before we purchased the brand from them in 2020. O.K.I., an acronym for “Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana,” alludes to the fact that 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is made on these states’ soils. As a longer-standing distillery, O.K.I. developed a cult following among bourbon enthusiasts, and we were ecstatic to build on that foundation.

In what ways have you and Jake added to O.K.I.’s legacy?

We have a single barrel waitlist that has over 9,500 applicants for the 40 barrels we made available in 2022! We are proud that so many bourbon enthusiasts have shown an interest in O.K.I. and we hope to serve them all someday in the future as our supply grows.

Your favorite drink?

Within our portfolio, O.K.I. Bourbon barrel No. 23 was my all-time favorite. It was the most well-balanced five-year bourbon I’ve ever had, and I just love the 36 percent high rye bourbon mash bill. Outside our portfolio, I’m a huge rye whiskey fan (we named our daughter Rylan, Rye for short) and I’d have to say what New Riff is doing with experimental ryes is so exciting!

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