In a break from my normal posts, this blog has come about through a transatlantic alliance of the shared love of whiskey in both Ireland and America. I hand you over to the Whisk(e)ySmiths.
Welcome to the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award!
My name is Zac Smith and my wife LeAnne and I created the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award (WWA) to help make the whiskey community even tighter and more close knit. So many of you are making wonderful contributions to the world of whiskey and not asking for anything in return. We want to deliver a big thank you from all of us in the whiskey community.
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’s a Whisk(e)y Warrior?
A Whisk(e)y Warrior is someone who is passionate about whiskey. They devote their evenings and weekends to being active in the whiskey community. They’re the first person you think of when you hear “whiskey enthusiast.” They’re also the first one you turn to when you need recommendations, reviews, or have questions.
Would you like to say thank you to the Whisk(e)y Warriors in your life? Then click this link, Whisk(e)y Warrior Award, and nominate them! Further instructions and details are on the nomination page. Thank you for helping your whiskey community come closer together.
And now, we proudly present your Whisk(e)y Warrior.
She produces a nonstop supply of whiskey-food creations that will shatter your concept of delicious with a five-finger sucker punch of flavor. She’s a hardworking cohost of The Bourbon Daily podcast five days a week. She might barely break five feet tall, but she’s breaking stereotypes of what women can do and be. She is…
Chrissy Martin, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: Chrissy congratulations on winning the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award. You’re the first woman to win this title and that’s awesome! LeAnne and I hope, as this award continues, that there’ll be a long list of women Whisk(e)y Warriors. Before we get into all the whiskey specific questions, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Chrissy: I am a very proud Jersey girl currently living in Kansas. It’s kind of crazy to say still to this day. Never once did I think I’d grow up and be like, “I’m going to go live in Kansas!” But you know, I’m very proud of where I come from. I grew up in an Italian family. It’s very important to me the values of family and how food and drink revolves around our everyday life. And so that’s the core of what I am. My family and food. That’s the gist of it. I like to cook. I like to feed people. I will bring you into the home and let you drink some bourbon, and probably fill you up with some bread and pasta and whatever else I can.
Zac: Ok that brings a question to mind. In a typical Italian family, wine is very important. So at what point did Bourbon enter the scene?
Chrissy: Bourbon didn’t enter the scene for me [until later], because like everything revolved around a lot of wine, from what I remember as a kid. I remember some Bourbon, but growing up on the East coast in an Italian family, it was very much more wine heavy. So for me not until my twenties. I would go out and have drinks and stuff. And the bar tenders that I knew would be like, “Make it pink, make it sweet, and they’ll drink it.” And I couldn’t. I hated it. I hated the way I felt afterwards and I wanted something that just by itself tasted pretty good. And so my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, introduced me to Makers. That was it from that point on. It was all Bourbon all the time and nothing else.
Zac: So at what point did you decide you wanted to be more than just a passive whiskey drinker? What motivated you to launch your website and become a whiskey sommelier?
Chrissy: You know it probably started about four and a half years ago. Especially with my husband’s job we’ve moved around so much. And for me I wanted something, that whether it was a passion project or whatever it could turn out to be, I wanted something that I could take with me and actually have a little piece everywhere I went. That’s really what started it. Because I wanted something of my own. Of course along the way I started collecting Bourbon and I was going a little bit more hard core into Bourbon events. I would travel to Kentucky all the time and go to Bourbon festivals, Bourbon dinners, meet with the master distillers and from that point I just got hooked. How welcoming the community itself was and that right there blossomed everything. And I was like, “What more can I do with this?” Then I found the whiskey school and tons of opportunities come from there.
Zac: I have to say, what you are doing with food and Bourbon is phenomenal. If people want to know about food and Bourbon, then you are the resource to go to.
Chrissy: Aw thank you. It’s one of those things I get a lot of mixed reviews about it. Especially when I first started people thought I was absolutely nuts. A lot of questions were like, “Are you really going to take a bottle of Pappy’s twenty-three and cook with it?” Yeah, one hundred percent! As long as it works with whatever recipe I’m going with. It’s just like if you were to cook with wine. That’s what I learned from growing up with my Gram. You cook with what you drink and you don’t vary from that. If you want to cook Chicken Marsala, then you go and buy Marsala wine. It’s just as simple as that. People just think about the fact that the alcohol is going to cook out, and not remembering or thinking about the flavor that it has a chance to leave behind.
Zac: Speaking of your Gram, do you have a specific memory that you cherish from being with your grandmother?
Chrissy: Gosh, there’s so many. The one that I remember [is that] we would sing together a lot. She would have me use the back porch and that was my stage. I would sing On the Good Ship Lollipop and that is one that I remember. I had to have been about two or three years old so that’s one of my earliest memories. It’s one of my favorites.
Zac: Do you remember how old you were the first time you cooked a full dinner by yourself?
Chrissy: I would say I was probably about nine years old.
Zac: Wow that’s awesome.
Chrissy: My other two sisters didn’t get as much as what I got with Gram, [but] that’s because I wanted to be in the kitchen with her. We would watch Julia Child together and would mimic her. You’d have an old crooner in the background because we’d listen to Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra. So like, when I am in the kitchen and I’m creating a recipe for the blog or if I’ve got people coming over, that’s the kind of stuff I put on to get myself in the right mindset. The sounds and the smells are all connected to your memory and it’s just the best feeling to bring those all back.
Zac: Thanks for sharing those personal memories with us. Now looking to the future, what are some things you hope to accomplish in regard to whiskey?
Chrissy: I’m loving to see how involved women are becoming more and more in the whiskey and Bourbon business. So for me, I hope that I can help. My goal is to continue doing what I’m doing – cooking, working with The Bourbon Daily, and writing – but also to help open doors so that it’s ok for females to come in and feel ok about being serious about whiskey. It’s not just a guy’s drink anymore.
Zac: I agree and I hope you get to help open those doors. What’s the biggest thing you’d like to see change in the whiskey industry?
Chrissy: I would love to see more women master distillers and more women coming forward and changing the game. I love seeing how more and more men are becoming more accepting. There’s much more acceptance for women now than there ever has been and I love it. I love seeing it and I would love to continue to see more of that.
Zac: I’d love to see more of that too. This probably doesn’t need asked but, are you Team Scotch or Team Bourbon?
Chrissy: Team Bourbon.
Zac: I figured. So what’s something you appreciate about Team Scotch?
Chrissy: I really appreciate the nuances of Scotch. The depth of which Scotch has, you know kind of like Bourbon.
Zac: Very good. So where can we find you and your content?
Zac: Chrissy, from everyone in the whiskey community, thank you for all the contributions you’ve made! We eagerly look forward to seeing what the future holds for you and we hope you continue to open doors for women in whiskey.
End of interview
We’d like to give a HUGE thank you to the Whiskey Nut for running the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award this month. If you enjoyed the interview and would like to see more, please let the Whiskey Nut know!
The next award will be released July 1st. We’ll see you then, and remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here!
– Zac Smith