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 Warriors.
That’s right, Whisk(e)y Warriors, plural. For the first time ever we have dual winners. They’re an in the trenches husband/wife whiskey duo. There’s only fourteen level three Whisk(e)y Sommeliers in the world, and they’re two of them. They’re using their whiskey skills to help make the world a better place. Their revolutionary whiskey war cry strikes hope in the hearts of those who hear it. They are…
Kate and Joe Van Name, Whisk(e)y Warriors!
Zac: Kate and Joe, it is absolutely my pleasure to get to interview you today. First, congratulations on winning the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award! We’d like to know a little more about you. What first got you into whiskey? Do you remember what your first whiskey was?
Kate: In my 30s, I used to play professional steel-tipped darts. I am a shy person and shake from nerves. My team captain suggested I have one short drink of Jim Beam to make my hand stop shaking – which is important when throwing something sharp and pointy. It worked and so it started!
Joe: Post-college group house sipping on Makers Mark and telling tall tales. It stuck.
Zac: Kate, I know you’re one of the original advisors to the Whisk(e)y Marketing School. Your expertise is in credentialing. What made you want to use your skills to help other whiskey drinkers?
Kate: I love professional achievement in all matters. When Daniel Whittington came to me with his idea [for a whiskey sommelier school], I jumped to be part of the Whiskey Marketing School. It is unique, fascinating, and includes something I personally enjoy – Scotch.
Zac: And Joe, when did you become more than a passive whisk(e)y drinker?
Joe: Since marrying Kate, it was great taking my love of whisky to the next level with someone who also enjoys it. I particularly like that being a sommelier it has expanded my range of whiskies and travels. I enjoy traveling to the whiskies of the world!
Zac: So how have you both taken your whiskey knowhow and made real world application?
Kate: By being 3rd Level Sommeliers, we have assisted in the curriculum of the Whiskey Marketing School and have expanded our “hobby” into tastings for favorite local restaurants like Cedar Knoll near Mount Vernon, college events at Washington College, and silent auction prizes for great causes.
Zac: Very cool! So, what have been the rewards?
Joe: Chatting and meeting people. We get to share the love of whisky which leads to stories which leads to wonderful other topics. Whisky is a great balancer of all that ails the current culture.
Zac: I know you guys don’t make any money from your whiskey endeavors. How do you pay the bills? What’s your day job?
Joe: I’m a CFP and I’m the owner of Advisors Financial, Inc., a Financial Planning and Wealth Management firm in Northern Virginia.
Kate: I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Warrior Centric Health.
Zac: What advice would you give new whiskey drinkers?
Kate: Try drams at restaurants and bars before you buy a bottle. Find friends who want to share and make them friends for life! Try lots of flavors! Try everything (in moderation, of course)!
Joe: Take it easy, relax, and be at ease with the Water of Life.
Zac: What’s the biggest thing you’d like to see change in the whisk(e)y industry?
Kate & Joe: State laws that prohibit access and shipping.
Zac: Are you #teamscotch or #teambourbon, and why?
Kate: We are both [teams]. But completely leaning towards #teamscotch. Taste buds have changed over the years from sweet corn to a variety of character – but we typically have a Makers and Ginger on a fall evening before anything else.
Zac: Ok, we’re supposed to be bringing everyone together. So what’s one thing you appreciate about #teambourbon and why?
Joe: Both sides have deep passions for their favorite tastes. And both sides are eager to explore the other side and perhaps find something they love in the “enemy camp”. We love the good fight!
Zac: What are your hopes for the future of whisk(e)y drinkers?
Kate: That people are moving beyond their comfort zones and exploring everything!
Joe: We want people to love the whiskey adventure so they journey more.
Zac: Where can we find you and your content?
Joe: Spirit Ladies is Kate’s tasting group. I get to buy cool stuff for the tastings and be the resident “encyclopedia of whiskey” at tastings because Kate is too busy laughing and being a hostess!
Zac: Kate and Joe, thank you so much for taking the time out to do this interview. And from everyone in the whiskey community, thank you for all you do to help support and further your fellow whiskey drinkers!
The next award will be released December 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.
— Zac Smith