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Oscars candy will have a local flavor

Published 11:19 am Monday, January 28, 2013

Robyn Stuart spends much of her life on an assembly line.

When she isnt at her day job building cars at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, you might find her organizing family and friends to help package her homemade bourbon balls for a big event.

And Stuart is about to attend a really big event.

Stuart, owner of DB Bourbon Candy, will soon ship about 3,000 bourbon balls to Los Angeles, where she will hand them out to celebrities in a gifting lounge at the 85th annual Academy Awards.

She landed a coveted booth after making connections with people from a promotion company at the Kentucky Derby a few years ago. Her candy was in their hotel room when they arrived, she said.

Most people outside Kentucky dont really know about bourbon balls, Stuart said.

They thought it was awesome, and they asked me if I could be part of their gifting list, so Ive been dealing with them for four years now.

Shes participated in celebrity fundraisers and awards shows, but the Oscars gifting lounge is the biggest yet.

You have your own booth you set up, and the celebrities get a large bag, and they come through and get an opportunity to sample the products, she said.

You get some one-on-one time with them too and a chance to take a picture with them.

She must arrange travel to the Oscars and handle shipping of the bourbon balls on her own, but she said the expense is worth it for the exposure shes about to receive.

Stuart follows her mothers recipe when making bourbon balls.

Johnnye S. Cunningham whipped up bourbon balls each Christmas for family, friends, the garbage man and the mailman, Stuart said with a laugh.

Cunningham died in June 2002, and Stuart decided to continue the family tradition. She started DB Bourbon Candy the DB stands for Doodle Bug, her mothers nickname for her soon after.

I did it one Christmas, and a friend of mine had never tasted them, and she suggested I turn it into a business, she said. I did it just to honor my mom.

She now makes dozens of bourbon ball varieties as well as flavored truffles, chocolate covered grapes, pineapples, strawberries and cheesecake.

Stuart said her bourbon balls are different than most instead of the traditional creamy white filling, hers are chocolate on the inside.

Its more like a cake, she said.

Her bourbon sponsor is Four Roses, but she also makes the treats with other types of liqueur. Stuart likes hers made with Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored brandy blend.

Stuart mostly fills large orders for weddings and parties, but small orders are OK, too. Her busiest times are Christmas, Valentines Day and, above all, Derby Day, when she estimates she makes between 10,000 and 15,000 bourbon balls for parties.

Everything is sold through her website, dbbourboncandy.com.

Stuart plans to ship the bourbon balls to Los Angeles Feb. 14 and fly out the next day. Her best friend, Michele Harper, and publicist, Sherlene Shanklin, are going with her.

Its an opportunity that I couldnt pass up, she said. Its nerve-wracking, but at the same time, its a happy occasion, too.