My family asked me the same question that I get a lot from strangers, “BillyJo, why did you choose whiskey as your hobby?”
Around 2009ish, I was introduced to the craft whiskey scene. I attended a tour at a Colorado distillery and fell in love with the process to make whiskey. Like most it was a shock at first to see that the same grains that make a cereal can be turned into a distilled spirit. On this same visit I learned how to properly nose a whiskey and taste it. I learned to never put a cola product with my spirit unless it is absolutely awful. I learned that I had a new passion in my life to seek out greatness in the whiskey world and the scavenger hunt began.
Five years later, I was going through my divorce and just lost half of the whiskey collection, which is like losing any other major asset in one’s marriage. I was devastated (about losing the whiskey) and knew I needed something in my life to change my tune. Shortly after, an individual, sat me down and told me that I need to do something for myself, she told me to get a hobby. A hobby, really, I have tried hobbies in the past and they never seem to stick, but she was right I needed something that I could call my own. So, I started to think about what is a hobby that is strong enough to stick around in my life, and last longer than my marriage. This hobby needed to be outside of my kids, school and work life, so after thinking about it for a moment, I chose whiskey. Whiskey provides… a warming sensation…an experience…unique flavor and if it does not work out in in the first few minutes you can put it back on the shelf with no real regrets.
When I went back to this person and shared my idea about my hobby, I think the impression was I would be some kind of collector and have a few bottles of some very special spirits. I can remember, like it was yesterday, getting my year-end bonus three years ago and wanting a new pair of tennis shoes and a tasting of Pappy Van Winkle 23 year. I paid $185 for that pour and was so excited to try what people thought was the best whiskey out there. Oh, how things changed.
Three years later, I have my own review site, over 300 bottles of some very special spirits and a slight reputation. Good reputation I think, at least for the moment.
Three years ago, after starting my hobby I created the One Woman’s Perspective website and started getting my feelers out into the distilling world. I have met some fabulous owners/distillers, from around the country and I share my experiences as I go, but that was not enough. Last year I put a small book together highlighting the craft whiskey industry in Colorado (my home), which is available on my site (I know, my own plug, jeez).
This year I started to take classes on how to make beer. Yes, beer. Lucky for me the instructors have allowed me to tailor my projects for whiskey instead of beer. I have made my own malt whiskey (with the assistance of Colorado Whiskey Guy) and by the summer of 2019, I will have my Certificate in Applied Brewing (yes, it is a thing). Now I am putting together a business plan to co-own and operate a distillery. When I talk to people about my plans, I ask, did they think it would ever go this far? They tell me they saw it from the beginning. Now you are all caught up!
Views, thoughts, comments and experiences are all mine, which includes all of the grammar/spelling errors. I do not claim to be an English major only needed an outlet to share my experiences.