HOW WE MET – Written by Holly, because of course it is.
“Knock, knock, knock”. As I sat in the tasting room tucked away in one of the rickhouses at Maker’s Mark, I think I was the last one to hear this knocking. I guess it could be ignored because it was a one way mirror and I couldn’t see out, only they could see in. Our host went to open the door and see what was up as I saw Charles poke his head through and say “Holly, Her Whisky Love?”. I jumped up alerting everyone that yes, that was me! We quickly said hello and I remembered him emailing me a few weeks prior asking about Tasmanian Whisky.
The rest is history as Charles and I have been friends ever since. He would come with members of his Saratoga Whisky Club to the retail shops I was working at in Boston and we would all wander around the store, debating the nuances of each whisky on the shelf. His whisky and food tourism company was really starting to take off and I was fortunate enough that he asked me to help co-lead a tour down in Kentucky on the Bourbon Trail. We would lead a small group of whiskey lovers through exclusive distillery experiences, tastings and mouth watering Southern meals. As I took on the role of Ambassador with Bacardi’s Single Malts, I seized every opportunity to sneak my malts into the conversation so I could escape the city and head north to visit this amazing whisky community that he had built right here in Saratoga Springs, NY.
After more trips to Scotland and dozens of hikes in Adirondack High Peaks, we decided it was time for us to truly spread our love and passion for the hidden corners of the whisky world. Charles and I have always viewed whisky as a life-long journey of exploration and friendship. It shouldn’t stop at that one Glenlivet you tasted or that distillery down the road you visited. It also is not just about the most expensive bottle you bought at auction or the allocated Bourbon you snagged. There are so many aromas and flavors to discover within the independent bottling world, single casks and all of the new countries and regions producing their own style of whisky. We are in this for the long haul and can’t wait to see where this whisky world will take us. So are you ready to join us? No pretension, no stereotypes, just darn good whisky and good friends to share it with.
After relocating to NYC for my first “adult job” I was handed a glass of Lagavulin 16 neat at a sales meeting. I had never smelled anything like this in my life and it quickly became my go-to drink of choice. A few years later, all the while pushing outside of peated Scotch into Bourbon and Rye, did I start to wonder if my business skills could be utilized within the whisky world. I sat at my kitchen table one evening, with Nikka Pure Malt in my glass and mapped out my “Whisky Education Program”. I would save up over the next few months, leave my job, put everything in storage and travel the world for almost a year visiting distilleries in Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Australia/Tasmania and the United States. This networking tour led me to opportunities such as working at anCnoc, Knockdhu Distillery in Scotland and earning my Certificate in Distillation from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling at Midleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland.
This education journey became known as the “Her Whisky Love” blog and Instagram which would eventually lead me to join a small liquor retail chain in Massachusetts as their Whisky Specialist. The education program I had built for myself was finally paying off although I still don’t think my family and friends understood what I was doing quite yet. Since then I have continued to visit distilleries in Scotland, Tasmania around the world and more recently spent two years with Bacardi as the North American Brand Ambassador for their Single Malts.
Over the years Charles has gone from whisky friend, hiking friend to family. After our first trip to Kentucky together, I could immediately tell we enjoyed whisky in the same way: sharing it and spreading the word about the amazing places it can bring you. There is no one else I would want to open this whisky shop with and we can’t wait to share it all with you!
Growing up in San Francisco was an incredible experience. You take for granted all that you have around you, from cultural diversity to international food. Living now in Upstate NY via Nashville has made me aware of different cultural traditions across the United States.
It was in Nashville that I fell in love with my first whisky, the Oban 14 Year Single Malt Scotch. I was living in the heart of Jack Daniels’ country, but it was the Scotch that allured me. This was over 20 years ago. Since then my passion for travel and learning has taken me to well over 100 distilleries around the world and I started a travel company, Rascal + Thorn, to bring people with me! During the last 6 years, I led over 10 whisky tours to Scotland, Japan, Ireland and Kentucky. And to complete the full circle, the Oban Distillery was the first distillery I visited in Scotland.
I am so excited to work with my great friend Holly! We have co-led two whisky tours now, one to Kentucky and one to Scotland, and this dream of opening a curated whisky shop focusing on independent bottlings and single barrels has finally happened. Exciting times ahead, great whisky and travels!