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.
She pushes past the land’s frozen bounds. She knows where she’s been. She knows what she wants. She whiskey raids to the South, bringing home rich reward. Her hands dip in dripping golden life’s elixir. Like a fated fable, fields of fortune formed copper await. She is…
Mary A. Allen, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for work?
Mary: I am born and raised in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I work for the state of Wisconsin so physically stuck in the state. I’ve been a parole officer for the last 21 years. So, the whole bourbon thing is a complete departure from that.
Zac: How did you get started with Bourbon?
Mary: How I got involved with that is my friend and I went down to the Kentucky Derby for the first time, that was six years ago, and did the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. I had been a Jack fan at that point and then realized bourbon was much better and fell in love with Basil Hayden. That was my first bourbon love and kind of just went from there. I joined the Whiskey Chicks organization by Louisville Kentucky one year I was down.
Zac: What made you decide to be more involved in the whiskey community?
Mary: I’ve shared a lot with my really close friends and now they’ve come to love bourbon as well. They’ve traveled down to Kentucky with me frequently so just sharing that, sharing the history. I love the history part of it as well. It’s kind of one of those things, sharing with other women, teaching them about it.
Zac: So far in your whiskey journey what have been some of the rewards for your involvement?
Mary: A couple different things. It’s fun to share knowledge and teach somebody something that they didn’t know and they too can appreciate. So, I really do like the teaching aspect. Also, just experiencing the spirits, trying different things. Different you know networking and opportunities that have taken place. But I’d definitely say probably the sharing. Sharing spirits with somebody is a form of love so they appreciate it as well.
Zac: Do you think visiting different distilleries has helped propel your foray into whiskey?
Mary: Absolutely, I think when you look at the source you really get a feel for it and just a deep appreciation for it. See how it’s made, to meet the people that make it, see their enthusiasm about it and the history that’s shaped all of it. I really think it helps you appreciate more and I think it just makes it taste better as well.
Zac: Do you have any future whiskey goals?
Mary: I do. 2019 I’m going to take the Executive Bourbon Steward course though the Stave & Thief Society. I have six years left of my regular job, after that I hope to become a full-time brand ambassador for a distillery that will have me.
Zac: Mary, any distillery would be lucky to have you. So, for any distillery owners reading this, heads up. Put it on your calendar if you want to have this amazingly friendly, personable, passionate, and knowledgeable lady represent you.
Zac: What advice would you give new whiskey drinkers?
Mary: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to learn about it, don’t be afraid to you know make some mistakes, try some things. You’re not always going to know what the notes are, the nose, the pallet. Stuff comes with time. But just learn. Look stuff up, travel to the distilleries, talk to people. Listen to what they have to say. You learn so much from people who know what they’re talking about. Just develop a better appreciation for it. Don’t be afraid of it.
Zac: Do you have a favorite whiskey and TV show paring?
Mary: I’m an Ocean’s 11 person, so I just feel like that’s got the whole rat pack vibe so anything to do with that. Like anything Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin.
Zac: Do you have a favorite whiskey and food pairing?
Mary: I like whiskey and BBQ. Southern food and whiskey is my favorite.
Zac: What are your top budget or best value for the money whiskies?
Mary: Johnny Drum is one of my favorites. Usually get it about $23 a bottle. Also, I’m a fan of Cooper’s Craft. You can’t get that in Wisconsin, you have to travel out of state to get that. And I think Larceny is a really good one as well, a lot of good flavor in there. That’s usually about $25 a bottle. I do like Old Overholt too and that’s like $16 a bottle.
Zac: Great line up.
Mary: Yeah, you can get a lot of good stuff that’s not super expensive. I tell people all the time, just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s going to be what you like. Drink what you like, if it’s $10 a bottle then drink it.
Zac: If I was visiting your area in Wisconsin is there a whiskey destination you would recommend stopping in at?
Mary: Oh absolutely. First, we’d take you to the Great Lakes Distillery, that’s probably our most popular distillery and they have a tour and tasting room right there in downtown. That’s one of my favorite places.
Zac: Very cool. Where can people connect with you on social media?
Zac: Mary, it was such a pleasure talking with you today. Thank you for all the enthusiasm and support you lend the whiskey community. I hope you the best in your whiskey goals and future career.
Remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here. The next award will be released February 1st. We’ll see you then.
— Zac Smith