Terra Bella’s Joseph Costa Talks Bourbon


By Richard Thomas

Terra Bella, Joseph Costa.

Terra Bella
(Credit: Terra Bella)

Terra Bella first caught my attention because they were on the docket for Barton 1792’s Summer Sundown Series at the distillery in Bardstown, and they played there on August 17th. Then I noticed the country duo had a return show in Bardstown, September 15th at the Bardstown Bourbon Festival. I couldn’t make the August show and can’t make the September show due to schedule conflicts, so I had to reach out and see if either member of Terra Bella would be a good fit for our “Talks Whiskey” beat. As it turned out, Jospeh Costa was.

RT: So country is seen as a whiskey-seasoned genre, but you two are Visalia, California natives. Was bourbon something you discovered through becoming country musicians or were you already into it before you started the band?

JC: I’ve always enjoyed whiskey but I’ve really gotten into bourbon here recently because of all the shows we play in Kentucky. The science of it, the sweeter finish and all around boldness of Bourbon has me hooked!

RT: You like your bourbon on the rocks, and we’re in an especially appropriate season for that. What qualities do you think make a whiskey good for serving on ice?

JC: For bourbon on the rocks I like one that is aged a little longer so that it has that hint of caramel and smoothness. Here recently I had 1792 by Barton for the first time and I’d say that is right up my alley for a bourbon on the rocks.

RT: What are your go-to, keep on the shelf brands of bourbon?

For a bourbon and ginger I usually go for Jim Beam, Very Old Barton or Makers Mark. On the rocks I usually reach for Barton 1792 or Jim Beam Black.

RT: You’ve been based in Nashville for the last few years. It being Tennessee, I have to ask your opinion on the age-old bar debate: is Tennessee Whiskey a type of bourbon or is it its own separate thing?

JC: I would say it’s a separate thing. I feel like that extra step takes away some of the character I really love about Bourbon.

RT: Nash-vegas has a pretty vibrant nightlife scene. When it comes to places with plenty of bourbon on the shelves, can you suggest any watering holes?

Pour House is a place we used to play quite often that has a GREAT selection of Bourbon.

RT: I imagine whiskey is pretty popular in Nashville’s country music circles, but are there many enthusiasts — the type who collect, visit distilleries and make whiskey a hobby?

JC: I have a lot of songwriting buddies that love Bourbon and do visit distilleries. I doubt many of them collect it though because they can’t keep from opening a bottle after writing a great song!

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