Welcome to the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award!
On the first of every month, someone is awarded the prodigious title of Whisk(e)y Warrior. A question and answer interview is conducted with the valiant warrior and then distributed to the world in a special Whisk(e)y Warrior Release. What is a Whisk(e)y Warrior? Find out more by clicking here.
And now, we proudly present your Whisk(e)y Warrior.
She’s a whirlwind of whiskey activity who’ll have a tropical storm named after her someday. She’s the Bourbon Queen of Grand Rapids. She’s a generous bourbon host and a road-trippin’ Whisk(e)y Warrior. She is…
Kristin Nipke, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: Kristin congratulations on winning the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award! We’re so excited to be interviewing you! Now, I know you’re a big bourbon fan, so how long have you been into bourbon?
Kristin: I’ve been into bourbon specifically for probably about 4-5 years now. And I do enjoy Irish whiskey once in a while, but really I’m a bourbon girl.
Zac: What got you interested in whiskey?
Kristin: Well what happened was that we had a good friend who’s our neighbor who was really into whiskey. My husband and I were driving back from Florida because I was a huge road tripper, and [our friend] said, “You have to stop, if you don’t stop anywhere else, you have to stop at Buffalo Trace distillery.” Because it’s beautiful and he knew that we both are interested in American history. He said, “Even if you don’t like bourbon just stop there for the beauty of it and the history.” So we did and that was the first time I actually had good bourbon. And I was hooked from there. So that’s how it all started.
Zac: So then, where did you go from there?
Kristin: I started doing a lot of reading about bourbon. I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t have any friends who were into bourbon but I found a women’s bourbon association and I went to a couple of their events in Chicago. And so as soon as I started drinking it I really started diving into the education part of it, and learning about bourbons and learning about how to taste it, how it’s made and things like that. I never do anything half way, I either do it like over the top or I don’t do it at all.
Zac: Has Bourbon ever opened up an interesting experience you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Kristin: Oh yeah for sure! I mean, through the Kentucky bourbon affair I’ve been able to have these crazy experiences, like skeet shooting with Jimmy and Eddie Russel and opening up barrels in the rickhouse with friends I know. All these crazy things that I thought I’d never get to do.
Zac: What advice would you give to new whiskey drinkers?
Kristin: The thing that I love about bourbon is that whatever you like, you like. There are so many times you go to a bar and if you order ice with something somebody will give you a hard time. Or if you ask for a cocktail to be made with a really good bourbon, somebody will give you a hard time about it. And I have to say that one thing that I learned, going to different classes and at Moonshine University, was you know what, there’s no right or wrong. If you like something, then who cares, have it any way you want. And don’t listen to what other people say you should or should not do.
Zac: I agree 100%. That’s great advice, thanks for sharing!
Kristin: Yeah, I mean I just…let wine people have their snooty air. They can have it.
Zac: What’s your day job?
Kristin: I co-own 3 women’s clothing stores here in West Michigan.
Zac: That’s really cool! So, I think we can tell you’re Team Bourbon all the way.
Kristin: Oh yeah, for sure.
Zac: So what’s something you appreciate about Scotch?
Kristin: I think Scotch is also amazing because of the neat history that is behind Scotch. You know I would love to go to Scotland and Ireland and check out the distilleries and find out all about that.
Zac: Kristin, thank you so much for all you’re doing to support the whiskey community, and congrats again on winning the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award!
Kristin: I think it’s just fun and exciting and I’m really flattered that whoever nominated me thought of me and I do try to give back to the community. I go to as many events as I can, I was just last month at the Whisky Chicks’ charity event. I did Michael Veach’s Bourbon Institute which is just awesome. If anybody has any interest in history that class is really history focused and was so fascinating. So I really do my best to try to support the community and people who are involved. I just think it’s awesome that you’re doing this.
Zac: Thank you. It’s our pleasure to get to help say “thank you” to great people like yourself. For everyone reading this, if you want to stay up to date with Kristin’s bourbon adventures follow her on Instagram @heythisiskris.
The next award will be released November 1st. We’ll see you then, and remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for making this award a reality!
— Zac Smith