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! What is a Whisk(e)y Warrior? Find out more by clicking here.
And now, we proudly present your Whisk(e)y Warrior.
He designs his own signs like a man who can defend his whiskey. He slashes and hacks at tall paper stacks with the noblest of swords; a pen. Known by the cold, he holds in one hand his golden dram, and the other writes words of Friday. He is…
Pavel Ispravnikov, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: Pavel, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you originally from, where are you living now, and what’s your day job?
Pavel: I was born in Russia. I lived there for fourteen years and then I was lucky enough for my family to move to Canada where I finished design school and now I’m working as a communication designer for a technology company.
Zac: If you could pick one song as your life’s theme song, what would it be?
Pavel: That’s a hard one. [long pause] The Times are a Changing.
Zac: By Bob Dylan?
Pavel: By Bob Dylan, yeah.
Zac: Oh that’s a good one.
Pavel: I think it’s a good song because, you know, as things change you kind of have to accept them and change yourself. You can’t always cling to the past.
Zac: What first got you interested in whiskey?
Pavel: I first started drinking whiskey because some of my friends were into Scotches. We would just buy a bottle and then try to taste and see what it was all about. But I was not very inquisitive to the flavors that it would give me. I would be just like, “hey yeah this is good, this taste like good Scotch,” or whatever but I was not really tasting tasting it.
Zac: So, you knew what you liked but you didn’t know why.
Pavel: I wouldn’t even say that I knew what I liked. I thought I liked some stuff, but over time I think the first experiences when you try whiskey as a beginner you don’t really fully understand what you’re tasting. It takes a long time for you to acclimate to a whiskey because you might be put out by the harsh flavor of the alcohol or the fumes and I think it takes a couple of years to really understand fine flavors of whiskies.
Zac: On the topic of acclimating to whiskey, what advice would you give to new whiskey drinkers?
Pavel: I think I would say that if you try something and you don’t like it try to come back to it in about a year or two and also take everything slow. So, if you drink a Scotch or whiskey and you still think it’s harsh start with cocktails or ice drinks and you know just try to get used to the flavors. And also, if let’s say you have the whiskey deductive tasting notebook, and you look at all the flavor profiles that it gives you, try to actually go and try those things in real life. So, if it says cherry or prunes or raisins or something go try those things and try to remember that flavor and how it tastes, and when you try the whiskeys you can actually pick those things up better.
Zac: Great advice! I noticed you have videos on your Instagram page where you’re explaining and giving reviews on whiskey. What motivated you to start doing that?
Pavel: I like to create as a designer and I wanted to share something that I enjoyed so much. I thought it was a great way to do that. It also started I think in the past year I’ve kind of excelled in understanding my tasting notes and flavor profiles and different origins of whiskeys and how each profile is kind of different. So, I wanted to share that with my friends and whoever else lands on it. I think in part because of the Whiskey Vault guys. They’re just so entertaining.
Zac: What’s your favorite go-to whiskey right now?
Pavel: My go to’s are probably Larceny and Booker’s. Larceny because it’s a wheater, but it’s also a very sweet wheater. It kind of taste like cookies. Booker’s because its high on malt but it kind of taste like it’s a wheater.
Zac: Do you have any whiskey ideas that you would like to see happen?
Pavel: I would like to have something finished in Moscato barrels. I see a lot of rum finishes in Tequila or Moscato barrels, but I haven’t seen it in whiskey. That kind of would be interesting to see how that would come out.
Zac: If I were visiting Toronto, is there a whiskey bar you’d recommend?
Pavel: There’s a place called The Joint. They pride themselves on being the place to offer the most Bourbons. I think they’re working up to four hundred but I don’t know if they are there yet.
Zac: And what is it that you like about that place?
Pavel: I was kind of excited to try all different Bourbons ‘cause, you know, four hundred is a big number. And when I came there the owner, the guy who runs the place, he is very knowledgeable and he will talk to you about whiskey for hours if you don’t stop him. He also makes really cool cocktails for almost every night.
Zac: If people want to connect with you, where can they do that?
Zac: Pavel, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Congratulations on winning the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award, and we hope the best for you and your whiskey endeavors!
The next award will be released May 1st. We’ll see you then, and remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here!
— Zac Smith