NYBS Bartender Series
I started out my whiskey journey by joining a local club called The San Diego Whiskey Enthusiasts. As I got more into learning, I offered to do photography at tastings in exchange for a free ticket. Eventually, I was running their social media. The club had some internal drama after a few years and broke apart. During that time, I was locked out of the club’s Instagram and lost years’ worth of photos and work. Afterwards, I realized a couple things: 1) I liked documenting my whiskey journey and 2) If I was going to start posting again, I was going to do it on my own terms. I thought a long time about what story I wanted to tell, and decided I wanted to talk about my greatest passions: travel and whiskey. So I created Whisky Nomad.
We set ourselves apart by focusing on the whiskey culture, history, and education. It’s not enough anymore to just post a picture of an expensive bottle and expect the likes to roll in. We really try to show people the human side of whiskey.
Let’s Get to Know Whisky Nomad
How did you learned about The San Diego Whiskey Enthusiasts? Sad to hear about its story but can you tell us what were your best memories of being part of this group? Did you met people in this group that really shaped your passion in the whisky industry?
I first heard about San Diego Whiskey Enthusiasts when I was having dinner with a friend at a local restaurant. I saw some men going into the back room and my curiosity got the best of me. I ended up in a Glenmorangie tasting! There I met some amazing friends. The first was Greg Bird who immediately noticed that I was unprepared for the event and without a word, handed me three glen cairns and a dropper. I also met my current Women Who Whiskey cohort, Maria Tilton. She owns San Diego Distillery and we have been great friends since. After all, whiskey is great because it's not just about the whiskey. It's about the people you meet.
Imagine you are talking to a person who has no idea about whisky. How will you introduce it as simple as possible especially sharing the best things why we should try at least once to drink it?
I love convincing others that whiskey isn't as bad as they think. The first thing I do is ask them what they already like to drink. Then I tailor a drink to their palate. For example, if they prefer dessert wines, I'll make an old fashioned or perhaps serve a whiskey finished in port or Sauternes. It's familiar and a good introduction. I view drinking as an adventure - sometimes you just gotta hook people in with what they are already familiar with and then push them just one step further. But a simple old fashioned - whiskey, sugar, bitters- will almost always do the trick.
How is the Whisky Nomad now since there's pandemic? Can you compare what your travel and whisky project before the pandemic and now?
It's been difficult for sure. How can you promote travel and whiskey if you can't travel?? I had to reevaluate why I was doing WhiskyNomad and what it's core was about. So I spent the last year focusing on the many real relationships I have made and supporting as many friends as I could.
Since I had more down time , I also helped found a separate business, the First Responder Whiskey Society. We raise money through tastings and barrel purchases and donate funds to charities and families of fallen first responders. It's been a privilege and I never would have had time for it if the pandemic didn't occur.
How do you keep updated with the trends in the whisky niche? What are online sites you check regularly to make sure your learning is aligned to the needs of the industry?
Online, I absolutely love The Whiskey Wash. They have some of the best and most educational posts out there. If I have a question, I will almost always find the answer on their site.
Aside from that, most of my friends are liquor store owners and distributors. They understand the trends more than anyone because they know what's selling and what it isn't.
How's the whisky culture, history and education before the pandemic and now?
Online tastings have really changed the whiskey community! I am Vice President of Women Who Whiskey San Diego and we have been running all our events through Zoom this year. It has made access to whiskey education easy, lowered the risk of drunk driving, and made events much more diverse since anyone from anywhere can join. It also brings the master distillers to the consumer directly! Which is fantastic. We often do combined events with other WWW groups, or other whiskey clubs from across the country. I can't wait to see everyone in person again, but I think online whiskey tastings are going to stick around for awhile.
What was the most expensive or most valuable type of whisky you have tasted or owned?
I went to Disneyland's Club 33 a few years ago. A guy bought me a drink and told me to guess what was in it. I guessed all the ingredients (I'm not super talented, I just knew what a Rob Roy was) and so he told me that I could have any whiskey I wanted. They have this gorgeous locked case of untouchable whiskeys in the back. The bartender suggested the Last Drop 48. It's an incredible blended Scotch whisky, the youngest of which was distilled in 1965.
Where do we buy the best whisky in your area and in the world?
Wellll... everyone's definition of the best is different. I think the best local whiskey in San Diego is either Liberty Call or The San Diego distillery.
In the world?? I don't know, but if I could go anywhere right now to drink whisky it would be Tasmania. They have an entire whisky trail!
Whisky is less celebrated than wine for some reasons. How would you convince us to grab a glass of whisky over wine?
Wine has been around forever. It's one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in existence. It deserves to be celebrated!But if I was going to convince you to go for whiskey instead, I would talk about my favorite combination of subjects- culture and alcohol. Specifically rituals.
Drinking is inherently a social act and often is symbolic. For example, in Western culture, drinking champagne is often synonymous with celebration. In one moment, the type of drink served can define the nature of your event, the type of relationship you have with others, and even the formality of your event. It can also represent your social status, your nationality, even your generation. We know that both wine and whiskey are often associated with prestige, luxury, and class. A nice bottle of wine is perfect to impress friends or enjoy at dinner. There is a lot of anthropological meaning behind pulling out a bottle of wine at any event. But in my opinion, wine never makes the same memories as whiskey. Whiskey is a barrier breaking, prestigious, badass spirit with an entire history around defying rules and social expectations. And if I wanted to commemorate the birth of a child, a graduation, a wedding, even a death, I would never turn to wine. I would turn to whiskey.
Are there any certifications, classes or any courses you took to officially embrace the whisky industry?
Yes, I am a Certified Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators.
What keeps you busy now in connection with anything but whisky?
I'm working on my Project Management Professional Certification and eventually my masters degree. Anyone hiring a project manager??
When not drinking whisky and creating contents to your site - what do you do on your leisure time?
I work my day job, read a ton, write, hang out with my dogs, and plan my next adventures. Obviously I love travel so I spent my time working hard so that I can travel as much as possible.
Is there anything we haven't asked from you that you think you should share to us in relation to whisky?
People get too crazy with what you should or shouldn't do with your whiskey. Don't let anyone tell you how to drink it. If u want it with water or ice or in a cocktail then do it. Also, no one can tell you what you should or shouldn't be tasting. Everyone has a different palate. So if you get hints of banana from your scotch and someone else gets chocolate, that's ok.
Can you recommend another friend or family member who belongs to the industry also and worth featuring as well?
If yes, what is her or his IG or Facebook link or email address? We'll get in touch.
My husband, Nick, runs the First Responder Whisky Society now.