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 gear jammin’, tire squealin’, fast as white lightning son of a gun. Son of the sun in Southern California. He’s a son on the run driving down the 101. He is…
Jon Spackman, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: Tell me a little bit about yourself, where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Jon: I grew up in Southern California, Orange County area. I live in Las Angeles now, close to the studios. Close to Warner brothers. I’ve always lived out here never lived anywhere else. Visited other parts of the country but never lived anywhere else.
Zac: How many days of sun per year do you get out there?
Jon: Oh, probably 350 or something.
Zac: Wow. I don’t know if I could handle that much sun. What’s your day-job?
Jon: For work I program home automation systems. So, I get to make people’s TV’s, music, pool control all that stuff work from iPad’s and touch panels and keypads. Audio/video home theaters, stuff like that.
Zac: When did you first get into whiskey?
Jon: So, I started with Scotch. In probably 2008 or 2009 went to a party one time and there were some guys in the kitchen trying out some scotch, which probably was some crap from Rite Aid or something, and had no idea what it was. They were like, “You want to try it?” I think we were doing it with ice and everything and I was like oh this is interesting. And in my ignorance back then I was like oh it’s really woodsy. Like a real woody taste. I later learned that was peat, but I didn’t know at the time what that was. So yeah it was kind of different, kind of interesting.
Zac: And what eventually got you into Bourbon?
Jon: Around mid 2014 my nephew came over, my brother’s youngest son, and he brought a bourbon, a couple rye’s, so I tried four or five things. And I was like, oh my god these are so much sweeter and so much more enjoyable, and I haven’t really looked back on Scotch since.
Zac: How did you come up with your Instagram name?
Jon: So, I use to have an import racing shop where we did like Honda and Acura racing stuff, drag racing, street racing back when I was younger. One day I was looking for a username for a dating site and my buddy was like, “Why don’t you just put J5 races at yahoo or whatever?” People call me Johnny 5 like the short circuit movie. I’m like sure, okay. So, he made the email and he was like here use this for your dating stuff, this was like in 2002 or something when yahoo was hot. So yeah when I switched over to Instagram, I used J5Races for a while and then I realized, well I’m not racing anymore so I should just switch it over to J5Bourbons. It would tell the people that are looking me up more what I’m into so that’s pretty much where it came from.
Zac: Nice, I love that backstory. Now, in the whiskey community, what’s your approach to how you interact with others?
Jon: So, I think when people get something that they’re excited about, some super unicorn that they may never open, I try to share their excitement by posting something like, “that’s awesome” or “enjoy. let us know how you like it.” To me it’s not about collecting. It’s not about having these shelf pieces to show people and say, “Look how cool I am, I’m never going to open this.” So, when I see people actually opening something expensive, rare, pricey stuff, special, whatever I try and share in that. Try and be positive.
Zac: Do you have a “table whiskey” that’s your go to?
Jon: Oh, I mean, Van Winkle, right? Isn’t it everybody’s? No, I’m just kidding. I always enjoy Eagle Rare. I think it’s a seriously underrated pour. It’s still a good price.
Zac: What piece of advice would you give to a new whiskey drinker or someone who is looking to get into it?
Jon: I would tell them go to a good steak house, somewhere that has a good selection and just try some pours of things to see what they like without buying whole bottles like I did. When I started, I was buying every bottle I could find for whatever it was and ended up with all these bottles of stuff I didn’t want and gave them away to co-workers, poured some out, just wasted money. So, find out what you like by trying at bars and restaurants first, and then you can spend more money if you want.
Zac: What’s been a favorite in-person whiskey thing you’ve done?
Jon: I did a meet up with guys like whiskeygrab and bourbonconnection and bourboncrews and a couple other of my Instagram friends. We all met up last year and got an air B&B in Kentucky and went around the distilleries and did a pick at 1792. I met up with a bunch of complete strangers from Instagram and we hung out and had a great time.
Zac: On that trip, what was one of the highlights?
Jon: Sitting around with those guys having whiskeygrab open his 1948 Old Fitz Decanter, sharing that with us, just having conversation just watching that thing open up in the glass three or four times throughout the couple hours while we were really nursing that pour and telling stories and spending time with those guys. It was really awesome.
Zac: If you were going to do it again what would you do differently?
Jon: Probably just get more friends to go so we could have more people share the experience.
Zac: Jon, it was an absolute pleasure talking with you today. Thanks for all your positive contributions to the whiskey community!
If you’d like to connect with Jon, you can find him on Instagram @j5bourbons.
A HUGE thank you to the Patreon supporters of this award! You can find all of their names on our Wall of Whisk(e)y Warrior Shield Bearers.
And an extra big thank you to our Pirate Level supporters Ernest Poe and Jeffrey Horner, to our Ninja Level Supporter Pat Kane, and our War Council member Don Ruger!
Remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking here. The next award will be released July 1st. We’ll see you then.
— Zac Smith