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 with the valiant warrior is 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.
He’s a whiskey Knight-errant questing for quality. Searching for the one true warmth of a Kentucky Hug. He crusades across the rugged range, from storm slapped shores to parched dry counties. He’s a holy pilgrim sent to tame the barbarous Bourbon land. He is…
Tony Freund, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: Where in the country are you living?
Tony: I’m in Bellevue Washington right outside of Seattle.
Zac: That’s a beautiful area. Have you lived there your whole life?
Tony: Yep, I’ve lived in the Seattle area pretty much all my life.
Zac: Do you have a favorite whiskey bar there?
Tony: Yeah actually, I like a place in Seattle in the Ballard neighborhood called The Barrel Thief. They have a large selection of bourbon, American whiskey, Scotch, really good prices and they have stuff you wouldn’t normally find. Like Single Cask Nation special releases there. Stuff like that.
Zac: On the topic of whiskey, how long have you been into the brown spirit?
Tony: I got into whiskey about 5 years ago in 2014. I was just kind of looking for something new at the time. I was a vodka and coke or rum and coke kind of drinker and I tried some Makers and I didn’t know at the time but what I was feeling when I tasted it, the warmth, was you know the Kentucky hug. I just didn’t get that from anything else and I spiraled down from there.
Zac: What prompted you to take a more active role in the whiskey community?
Tony: Yeah so, the first about three years or so I was finding new bottles maybe once a week and then it kind of slowed down. I wasn’t really looking into what I was drinking, I was just looking to find a brand that I liked. But I didn’t know where it was made, what else they make, and stuff like that.
Zac: So, what changed?
Tony: I went to a local distillery for the rye release for Woodinville Whiskey. And I loved it and I was looking around on Instagram one day and I saw a review for a bourbon, and [the reviewer] also had a podcast and I wanted to learn more so I started listening to the podcast. And then I found all the Instagram bourbon and whiskey drinkers and there was so much more than just the taste of the bottle. There’s history, there’s science, and there’s also the great whiskey community; everyone here is just so friendly. I wanted to share all that knowledge that I learned as well.
Zac: If you don’t mind sharing some of your knowledge now, what advice would you give to a new whiskey drinker?
Tony: Don’t judge a bourbon by its price. Try them side by side and see if you like them.
Zac: That’s very practical. Speaking of price, what would be your top 3 budget or best bang for your buck whiskies?
Tony: Best bang for your buck, Eagle Rare is one of my go to’s. I found it early on and it showed me that there’s much more depth and flavor out there than just what I was already trying. That’s one I would recommend. Old Grand-Dad Bonded, it’s a very cheap high rye, good if you like the spice. And after that I would probably say Maker’s Mark. You can find that everywhere, in case you like something a little sweeter.
Zac: That’s a great lineup. What have been some cool things that you’ve gotten to do in the whiskey community?
Tony: I think the kick off for me was when I went down to the New Orleans Bourbon Fest last year. I hadn’t met anyone in the whiskey community, just local persons, but there I got to meet a lot of people from the community. I took some classes. I learned much more than I already knew and meeting the distillers there and finding out so much more than just what I’m drinking.
Zac: Have you gotten to visit many distilleries?
Tony: Yeah, so last year I attended Kentucky Bourbon Affair and I got the golden ticket so I was there for about 6 days or so and they take you to various distilleries throughout and then I went back in September for Bourbon Fest and talked to some of the other distillers there that I didn’t get to see.
Zac: What’s your favorite part about visiting a distillery?
Tony: What I look for when I visit a distillery is unique processes that they have as well as the people that are there. I think when they interact with the master distillers and share a lot and are friendly you get a much better experience.
Zac: Tony, thank you for talking with me today. I also just want to say, from me and from all the supporters of the Whiskey Warrior Award ™, thank you so much for contributing to our whiskey community. We really appreciate it.
Tony: Thank you! I’ve been following since the beginning.
Zac: If you’d like to connect with Tony, you can find him on Instagram @glassofwhiskey86.
Remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here. The next award will be released April 1st. We’ll see you then.
— Zac Smith