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.
When dawn pries back night’s tight grip as distant horizons crack the sky, he’s already moving. Like a thunder clap his presence is undeniable. His nose knows the smell of adventure and proof for the sake of proving. He raids and plunders whiskey wares. Don’t stare. It’s not polite. From his battle ax drips rich spoils like honey from the comb. He’s not afraid of tasks that are hard. He’s one hundred percent Viking home grown. He is…
Erik Hasselgärde, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: First, congratulations on being the first Whisk(e)y Warrior outside of the U.S.! Now, I know you’re originally from Sweden. Where in the world are you now, though? And what’s your day job?
Erik: I actually just moved from Stockholm to Copenhagen, leaving my day job running a Swedish non-profit, creator-centric music artist development organization. I currently just finished an internship at a new Copenhagen distillery which are doing some amazing things like making their own koji for saccharification and low-temperature vacuum distilling. You should see the place!
Zac: Wow that sounds super cool! Especially to a whiskey nerd like me. If I’m ever in Copenhagen I’ll be sure to stop in. Here’s a non-whiskey related question: If you could pick one song as your life’s theme song, what would it be?
Erik: Will you stare at me with a look of both pity and confused amazement like most of the people that ask me about my musical preferences, only to get a 20-minute monologue and afterward realize they’ve made a huge mistake in asking? I’m a huge prog-rock nerd, and a sucker for long songs that takes you on a journey, which in this case seems fitting, so I’ll go with The Great Nothing, by Spock’s Beard.
Zac: I’ll have to check it out. Now back to whiskey. What first got you into whiskey? Do you remember what your first one was?
Erik: This is a good time to tell you that I am a bourbon drinker through and through. I remember having early turnoffs by Scotch single malt, and it is, to this day, a flavor profile I cannot appreciate. But by way of a casual fling with port wine and wine spirits, I made a conscious effort to get into American whiskey. One summer in 2010 I bought a bottle of Bulleit bourbon (a new bourbon in Sweden then) and I instantly fell in love. No learning curve, no hesitant small sips–it just clicked right away.
Zac: So, what took you from that first sip of Bourbon to launching a whiskey blog? What motivated you to start Northern Bourbon?
Erik: So far, Northern Bourbon is mainly a Medium publication and an Instagram account. I use writing as an information retention exercise, so writing articles on Medium is my way of trying to understand different aspects of American whiskey enough to then explain them in my own words. Instagram is a more spontaneous outlet to interact with the whiskey community.
Zac: What have been the challenges of running Northern Bourbon?
Erik: To guard it against becoming anything else than pure self-indulgence. I want to inform others if I can, but with Northern Bourbon, I have no interest to please anyone other than myself. I only write about the things I have an interest in learning about, and I am 100% aware that my writing is understandable at best, so there’s no performance anxiety :) Same goes for Instagram with pictures.
Zac: I know firsthand that running a whiskey blog can require some effort. What have been the rewards of starting Northern Bourbon and getting involved in the whiskey community?
Erik: This is one of them, for sure! I’m not looking for recognition because it is so much a selfish endeavor. So, when other people appreciate what I do and also tell me it means the world to me. There are so many things on the internet to read, watch, listen to etc. etc., so when people find my stuff and they take their time and interact I make sure to cherish that. Other than that, I’ve made some wonderful friends!
Zac: What are your whisk(e)y goals?
Erik: I have a vision to, in my lifetime, see bourbon become the bestselling whiskey category in the Nordic countries. All my personal whiskey goals are positioned towards that vision.
Zac: I’m impressed that you can so succinctly state your goal. That’s remarkable. If there’s anything we can do to contribute to your vision please let us know!
Zac: What advice would you give new whiskey drinkers?
Erik: If you have the luxury, do things out of curiosity and because you love to. Form your own opinions, and find out what you do like before you tell everyone what you don’t.
Zac: Where can we find you and/or your content?
Erik: You have the best chance to see me in person in Copenhagen. Second best option would be to visit www.northernbourbon.com, where a simple little landing page will direct you to where I’m active at the moment. My main outlets are on Medium, where I write 3-10 minute reads in both English and Swedish, and Instagram, where I post pictures of what I am currently drinking.
Zac: Erik, 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 March 1st. We’ll see you then, and remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here!
— Zac Smith