A lovely live podcast recording in San Antonio for Bartender's Holiday. Chatting about challenging elements in producing Still Austin with Jordan Kaiser, Starward (Jake Hukee), and Blair Ault (Milam and Greene) Lots of indie rock in the conversation and amazing interactive tasting with folks at Blue Box. We chat emo bands, wine cask treatment, and constant observation of whiskey conditions.
Ardbeg's national brand ambassador Cameron George has a lush career in Seattle's hospitality industry. The transition from agave to Scotch whiskey was all so natural given a childhood connection with the country. With a focus on intellect, inclusion, and exploration of one's self, Cameron remains a mentor and positive influence on the world of whisky. We chat lyrics, journaling, the rock of Islay, and more.
Ryan Chetiyawardana (Mr. Lyan) and his team are celebrating 10 years of bringing intrepid and bold bar concepts to the world. Starting with White Lyan, Ryan has redefined elements of hospitality and encourages patrons to think differently about flavors. What inspires him? What changes after a decade of creating? We chat below the Sea Containers hotel where the flagship Lyaness sits upstairs. Picasso, technology, and service just scrape the surface of this long-awaited (by me) chat.
Carlos Soto arrived in the United States at the age of 18 to pursue a college education. His art filled roots in Costa Rica set the perfect stage for his now 8 year journey in the hospitality industry. At first a rejected business idea in his college class, is now a flourishing business. Nosotros Tequila and Mezcal is expanding into multiple states and now Carlos is left to think- what's next? We chat John Mayer, influencers, strategy, and more.
Rachael Bloom Soto was destined to be in the hospitality industry. With a blend of food and nurturing, quite literally in her blood, she was destined to care. When a calculated move to Texas, for a different reason than you might think, ended up with her behind the bar at Rosewater She naturally transitioned into the brand role at Maker's Mark because after all, it was the only job she applied for. We chat Maker's blending components (as told through horror movies), motherhood, and robots.
Alberto Espinosa is pensive, hospitable, and superbly present. He has created a style of tasting for mezcal that is inclusive, thoughtful, and above all else, connective. His two Mezcal tasting rooms (one in Oaxaca and one in CDMX) are simply called Recia. These rooms are curated with every sense in mind and feature some of the best mezcales in the world. We chat about introspection, creativity, balance, and the absence of arrogance.
Jeff Duckhorn is the master distiller for Redwood Empire Whiskey. His career trajectory shows that sometimes if you're crunching numbers in the back of the room, they might eventually ask you to run the still. With a deep concern for the environment, balance, and attention to detail, Jeff crafts delicious whiskey in Sonoma County, California. As the whiskey markets become even more saturated with MGP marks, Jeff flourishes with unique blends and bottled in bond creations. We chat classical music, food waste, malt whiskey, and more.
Distributor, educator, importer, and more. Rion Toal has dedicated many years of his life to introducing amazing spirits to others, and creating a stage for many lesser known producers. Whether with his podcast, or co-organizing efforts for Maestros Del Mezcal, he continues to dive into the roots and scientific undercurrents of agave. Recorded in downtown Oaxaca, we talk about education, family, purpose, and more
Sergio Garnier has studied throughout the world to understand the inner-workings of business and operations. With a deep background in animal services and cattle ranching, the creation of a Mezcal brand seemed relatively incongruent. But an exploration of the region of Durango and utilizing the natural plants growing on his family's ranch, Sergio created Ultramundo mezcal. The rustic, peppery, and hauntingly fruity mezcal is beyond unique and is finally making its way across the United States. Sergio and I talk about music, art, design, and NASA.
Some years ago, I was able to speak with Niki Nakazawa of NETA spirits about her life, mezcal beginnings, and pop up life. Now that travel is back, tastings are back, and she makes her first trip to Austin, things are about to get good. We chat Oaxaca, rent, education, sustainability, and the beautiful town of Logoche.
Tequila Ocho is one of the most revered Tequilas in the world. The rich history of its founder Tomas Estes as a restauranteur and man of the people will remain at the root of the brand. But as the world rallies after his death, his son Jesse has taken the reins and lights up every room he teaches in. In a basement speakeasy, Kinfolk, we talk about life, his father's legacy, his paradigm on selling Tequila, and settle into a wonderful tasting of all things Ocho.
To think an artistic spirit and dedication to the promotion of other's artwork would translate into the world of Mezcal is an interesting twist. Alejandro Champion, a founder of Union Mezcal, has a life steeped in creativity. From familial roots in architecture to a discerning eye for art, Alejandro's journey eventually led him to the world of Mezcal. From one form of art to the next, he continues to promote agave and the work of others in his gallery in CDMX. We chat film, mindsets, agave, and more.
Pedro Camarena comes from one of the most esteemed tequila making families in the world. His new brand Tequila Primo 1861, enters the picture after many years of other entrepreneurial ventures. With projects in tech, nature, and real estate, how did Pedro finally realize it was the right time to enter the world of Tequila? Having an inventive uncle and close ties to extended family was certainly part of the recipe. We chat nature, loss, and legacy.
Kate Perry landed her dream job with La Maison & Velier after years of travel, years of pouring rum, and years of simply exploring the world. To many she is known as the Queen of Rum, but regardless of the moniker, she is certainly one of the foremost experts of Rum production around the world. But what has lined this serpentine road to rum? We chat about spontaneity, internalizing, and Hampden Estate.
Lynne McEwan is the global marketing manager for the outstanding Bruichladdich distillery. Lynne has grown up in the distillery and after some time away to explore the world at large, she returned to find her place on the team. A self-proclaimed "provocateur" Lynne's voracious love of reading and learning injects new ideas into the projects at Bruichladdich. In her first trip to Texas, we chat about technology, peat, learning, and more......
Although Cameron Holck might be new to Fidencio Spirits, he isn't new to agave. When a quest to find the source for his favorite Raicilla opened up new doors, as they say the rest is history. Cameron is a well studied and inquisitive mind that makes him the perfect companion for all of the delicious Mexican spirits of Fidencio Spirits. But now that the world is open, the roads are wide, where will he go? We talk biking, solitude, and van life.
The massive career of Ansley Coale can't adequately be captured in a mere 60 minutes, but we try. Ansley created Hanger One vodka, Germain Robin Brandy, and all of the amazing brands found at Craft Distillers A once professor turned spirits producer, Ansley lives so much in the moment that sometimes the brilliant achievements behind him are just a flash of a memory. With his new project Communidad, he dives even further into the notion that Mezcal is closer to its producers and terroir than any other spirit in the world. At 80 years old, the hits aren't stopping, and new projects are continually on the horizon. We chat 1950's, agave, lost cultures, and more.
Codigo 1530 Tequila's master mixologist Collin De Laval is as pure hospitality as it comes. He has worked as a bartender in Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland. His deep roots in serving bar patrons is accompanied by a deep compassion for people in general. He continues to explore the world of agave and self improvement. As a power lifter, he also understands how to balance the lifestyle of ambassadorhood and his physical health. We chat punk rock, the new Codigo Ancestral Mezcal, parenting, and more.
Hacienda de Chihuahua is the biggest Sotol producer in the world. They embrace cognac style elements of production and fermentation to deliver a very elegant result. But as the world of Sotol changes, what can be done for sustainability and continued growth of the category? Hector Amaya, commercial sales at Hacienda de Chihuahua, discusses the increased expansion of global sales, while detailing the popularity growth of Sotol in the United States. We chat basketball, travel, language, and more.
Jacob Jacquez is a 6th generation Sotolero in Janos Chihuahua. His family has been making Sotol for centuries and were the first to bring the delicious spirit to the US. His proper education and family history make him the one of the most knowledgable people in the world about the economics/sustainability on Sotol. Now with travel returning to normal, he's able to share his Por Siempre Sotol with many others. Further, as Texas starts to produce a Sotol spirit, the conversation around DO's and ownership of the spirit are becoming heated. We chat about colonizing, music, love, and what was once a flourishing industry of Sotol.
Even though Baijiu is the most popular spirit, by volume consumed, in the world, Americans don't really understand the category. Bill Isler, founder of Ming River Baijiu, took an interesting turn after studying in China for law. Setting out to work on business opportunities for folks coming into China, a shift into the hospitality industry came about. First starting as a volume bartender, a shift to focus on the tastier marks of Baijiu, led to a new bar project and the eventual creation of Ming River. This episode is a great deep dive into the category, where up is down, and left is right. The production details of Baijiu are unlike those of any other category. Bill and I sip through all 4 categories of Baijiu and learn about his life along the way. We chat about Beijing, cultural invitations, and funk.
The wonderful Read Spear of Cuentacuentos Mezcal offered to interview me over a chat with some coffee in Oaxaca. A month or so later, I'm hosting him and his mezcales for a tasting at my house. This is the chat we had before the amazing tasting. A bit about my life here, but for those interested, this is part of the story. So much more to come. We chat Snapple, seeds, Sotol, and more.
Asis Cortes has created some of the most influential brands in Mezcal including: Origen Raiz, El Jolgorio, Agave de Cortes, and most recently DIxeebe. His creative intuitions create beautiful flavors and aesthetics in his labels. At such a young age having accomplished so much, what is next for Asis? He balances tradition and push for new innovations, all the while staying deeply connected to his family. As the world of mezcal is constantly changing, Asis maintains integrity and inspiration. We chat Oaxaca, art, experiences, and social media.
Jack Murray has imbued Texas with his big Irish energy. With an energetic personality, partially fueled by Red Bull sales in Ireland, Jack has helped shed light on the category of Irish whiskey. As the point person for Tully in Texas, he created staple cocktails, shots, and a mainstay for Irish whiskey behind most Austin bars. COVID shifted his gears and led to some interesting situations as an Irish person with limited status as a citizen in the US. But now, he's back with a new brand and a new sense of purpose. Lost Irish is a beautiful whiskey that blends many global barrel components. From wine to sherry to rum, the resulting flavor is massive and a perfect entry into Irish whiskey. Jack and I chat about smiles, love, loss, and the world around us.
Ben Williams is not new to creating products, companies, or excitement in his community. His family has a rich history of entrepreneurialism in Houston, but sometimes you have to push yourself further. Ben's fascination with flavor and distillation led him to create the lush and delicious Highway Vodka. Learning how to distill from scratch and often under the cover of moonlight, he chose to use the highly nutritious and rich oiliness of hemp seed to ferment his Vodka. Made from scratch and batch distilled, the resulting distillate is really incredible. We talk about classicism, prejudice, Texas distilling, and more.