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!
And now, we proudly present your Whisk(e)y Warrior.
She cut her teeth on Bourbon, literally. It might be mostly a good old boy’s industry, but she’s helping to change that with enough moxie to knock your socks off. She’s a whiskey powerhouse possessing every possible Bourbon certification offered in Kentucky. She's a Louisville Slugger swinging to crush it. She is…
Christy Cates, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: So where are you from and where are you now?
Christy: I grew up a little bit everywhere but I claim Las Vegas because that’s where I spent the most amount of time. I ended up in Louisville, Kentucky. That’s where I live now.
Zac: And how far back do you and whiskey go?
Christy: My mom was a Kentuckian. So growing up we had whiskey on our teeth when we were teething. When we got sick we had hot toddies. We had shots on New Year. It was just always a part of our life growing up.
Zac: Wow, now that’s a whiskey heritage! Has whiskey always been your drink then?
Christy: In Vegas, I really got into froufrou drinks. More of the art of cocktails, not necessarily the flavor or the taste, but really the art and the history of cocktails. So, when I moved to Nashville in 2005, it was right when the cocktail scene was really getting pretty great there, so I got to learn a lot.
Zac: What did you do to learn about cocktails?
Christy: All my neighbors were musicians; they knew all the bars to go to on what night to get the cheapest thing. I’m not a musician, I’m not creative in that way, so I used to go in to spend time with the bartenders and that really kind of got me interested.
Zac: So when did the whiskey scene enter full force for you?
Christy: When I moved to Kentucky. You know bourbon is such part of our culture, every office I’ve worked at had a bar. Corporate gifts I’ve gotten have always been bourbon. I naturally kind of migrated back to my roots so to speak. And it’s funny, I started with Blanton’s because I had an employee that went on to work at Blanton’s and so she would always give me that. I had this stockpile of Blanton’s, so when I started to do whiskey I was like, “Okay, I’m going to go with Blanton’s.” Which is not a bad way to start. And then it just kind of progressed from there.
Zac: Since then, what are you doing in the world of whiskey? Did I hear you are part of a whiskey podcast?
Christy: I am. It’s a podcast of three girls that really just like to imbibe. We have been really lucky to get so much support from the community. We’ve been able to interview really great people. We’ve been able to have really fun interesting debates. It’s just like boozy brunch with your best friend.
Zac: Sounds like fun! So what’s it called and where can we find it?
Christy: You can find us however you listen to podcasts at The Drinking Darlings or find us online at drinkingdarlings.com or any social media at The Drinking Darlings.
Zac: Do you have any other proverbial irons in the fire?
Christy: I have this thing that’s going to be launching here pretty soon, it’s called Bourbon Public and basically its everything outside the bottle.
Zac: What do you mean by outside the bottle?
Christy: What I find really interesting about the industry are the people who make it work. So for the last year, I’ve been interviewing people from the distilleries. From the people who put on the label to bar owners, bartenders and people who make syrup. I’ve just been interviewing all these different people in the industry and it has really lit me up to get their take on what wakes them up in the industry. That’s going to be launching at the end of January.
Zac: That sounds very interesting. I can’t wait to check it out! And where can we find that?
Christy: At bourbonpublic.com.
Zac: Awesome. I’ll definitely be looking for that at the end of this month.
Zac: You’ve put a lot of time and effort into making something for all of us in the community to enjoy. What’s been the reward for you?
Christy: The reward is 100% the people. And that’s why I want to write about the people because the people in the industry and the people who are even on the outskirts of the industry are so kind and supportive and smart and brilliant and it’s just such an amazing group of people. 100% the reward is being a part of that community.
Zac: You’re doing some awesome stuff in the whiskey community, but what pays the bills for you?
Christy: I had a fancy-pants corporate job. I’m really good at business and business infrastructure and so that’s what I was doing. I was growing this chain of salons and gyms. I did that for ten years and I just recently left and kind of opened my own boutique consulting firm.
Zac: And what advice would you give new whiskey drinkers?
Christy: I would give them two things. Taste everything and have an open mind and then don’t let anybody influence what you like. I think the way we make this industry accessible is we allow people to explore.
Zac: If someone was visiting Louisville, what whiskey bar would you recommend?
Christy: The Silver Dollar. They have by far the best whiskey selection. They make their Mint Juleps the old school way where they crush the ice right in front of you. The Mint Julep is on their menu year-round.
The next award will be released February 1st. We’ll see you then, and remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here!
— Zac Smith