Our bottles are reviewed by a panel of some of the industry's most passionate, opinionated and knowledgeable experts. Meet the Tasting Table.
Distiller Spirits Director & Editor
As spirits buyer of one of the most regarded spirits shops in Manhattan, ergo the country, Stephanie was afforded an opportunity most only dream of: to be paid to taste alcohol. Tasting products from bottom shelf vodka to 50 year old Single Malt Scotch, she has tasted it all. There are, however, those spirits that speak a bit louder to her and they are often of the brown persuasion. Her love for Scotch in particular was etched permanently on her heart while visiting and touring distilleries throughout Scotland. These are the spirits that truly drive her to drink. Photo: Stephanie getting barrel samples at the Bowmore Distillery in May of 2009.
Owner, Idle Hands Bar, New York City
The Idle Hands Bar was opened in 2010 by Marc Schapiro, Dave "The Rev" Ciancio and Rob Morton; music industry veterans with a keen eye for the scene around them. The bars mission statement is "Idle Hands is bringing 'Bourbon. Beer.Rock.' to the East Village in NYC."
Senior Editor in Chief at Alcohol Professor
Amanda Schuster is a freelance writer, particularly as Senior Editor in Chief of Alcohol Professor, and also a social media brand strategist for the drinks business. She is a certified sommelier, former retail spirits and wine buyer, food enthusiast, always a writer at heart. Her first taste of Scotch came at 2 when she accidentally sipped from her mother's glass (of what was likely a Talisker) at a dinner party and exclaimed, "Mmmmmm! Scotch juice!" After entering the drinks business and having the opportunity to taste many delicious whiskies, "Scotch juice" and all its international relatives became a driving passion and inspiration to share her knowledge. Furthermore, she thinks the worst thing to happen to whiskey is the Pickleback.
Independent Restaurant & Bar Consultant
Brock Schulte was pre-medicine, pursuing his life-long goals in healthcare, when the Kansas City cocktail scene pulled him in. The exposure to prohibition-era spirits, customer service, cocktail innovation, and rewarding patron interaction showed him his real calling was handling shakers, not scalpels. He moved from Buca di Beppo to M & S Grill to learn as much as he could about the burgeoning bar scene. From there, he helped open the Rieger Hotel & Exchange and its underground speakeasy, Manifesto, recruiting experience from the best in the business. Schulte finally had the chance to create his own, original bar program when the Drum Room reinvented itself in 2012. Today, Schulte brings his expertise to both new and established restaurants as a consultant. He has found his own way to ease people’s ills and stresses in the landscape of the Midwest bar scene.
Bar Manager, Longman & Eagle
Opened in 2010, Longman & Eagle has quickly become one of the most well respected bourbon bars in America. In 2012, bartender Phil Olson took over as Bar Manager and has been curating the whiskey program since.
Assistant Bar Manager, Longman & Eagle
In 2010 Eric Abert joined the team at Longman & Eagle, a well respected whiskey bar in Chicago. As a crucial part of the bar team, he helps to develop and refine the ever growing whiskey list.
Spirit Guide at Seven Grand Whiskey Bar
Pedro Shanahan, Spirit Guide at Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, helped to open Seven Grand after working for 10 years as a bartender/bar manager in Los Angeles. An enthusiastic teacher (and avid student,) he co-curates the Whiskey Society and leads the education program at Seven Grand, hosting bi-weekly tasting events. Bar Jackalope is his latest collaboration, a sipping lounge and tasting library recently opened in the back room at Seven Grand.
Bartender, entrepreneur, writer and spirits professional.
Michael J. Neff is a bartender, mixologist, entrepreneur, writer and spirits professional whose purpose in life is to make great bars and entice people to drink well in them. He was the founding partner of Ward III & The Rum House in New York City, both bars famous for bespoke cocktails, finely curated spirits selections, and a commitment to hospitality. He has worked with spirits brands from around the planet, with a focus on new products, education, public outreach, and on-premise strategy. As a consultant, he spearheaded the build and programs at Kolo Klub in Hoboken, NJ & Corvo Bianco in Manhattan. On the West Coast, he helped The Three Clubs in Hollywood re-launch their cocktail program and is currently building the five bars and programs at the storied Clifton's Brookdale in Downtown Los Angeles.
Freelance Alcohol Writer
From the time of his birth in Kentucky, whiskey has always been a part of Keith’s life (his babysitter became the master distiller at Brown-Forman). His grandfather, a Chivas man, gave him his first gulp of whisky at a criminally young age to prove it was not liquid butterscotch. Now living in New York City, Keith has become a freelance writer for Alcohol Professor as well as running his own site, Teleport City, which focuses on film, travel, and spirits -- sometimes all at once. His obsession with spotting bottles of J&B in sleazy films from the 70s and 80s borders on the disturbing. He is currently writing about the spirits and cocktails consumed by James Bond and his creator, Ian Fleming.
Fine Wine and Spirits Specialist at Hedonism Wines
With a family rooted in the drinks industry in France, it was clear that Julien, sooner or later, would himself be part of it. Moving to London was the logical step thanks to the boom of new bars, stores and a cocktail of people coming from all over the world. After working on educational and entertaining programs for wines and spirits, Julien joined the newly but already world-renowned Hedonism Wines. Dealing on a daily basis with more over 1,500 whiskey lines and even more in wines and other spirits categories, Julien has gained a true expertise in advising customers searching for whiskies, for both pleasure and investment, as well as hosting dozen of private tastings. Moreover, Julien is always looking for new discoveries and believes whole-heartedly that sharing a new dram is the right way to taste.
Certified Cicerone®, level one wine sommelier, student of 2013 B.A.R. 5 day and whiskey enthusiast, Ryan embodies the culture of craft beer, wine & spirits through his approach, education and elevated hospitality. A 20 year veteran in the industry, Ryan's ability and understanding of both product and patron have awarded him accolades such as 'Top Ten Restaurant Beer Menus in the Country' (Esquire Magazine 2011), and 'Best Cocktail Menu in Denver' (5280 Magazine 2013). Ryan's talent for menu development, staff and product management, and high volume operation, is enhanced by his superior knowledge and passion for genuine guest experiences.
Freelance Spirits & Wine Writer
Paul Belbusti has worked in nearly every facet of the wine and spirits industry. He is a Certified Sommelier, a former wine and spirits buyer for one of the largest retail chains in the Northeast United States, and has worked with small importers of esoteric wine and spirits from around the globe. Paul is dedicated to seeking out, tasting and recommending honest, inspiring, and delicious spirits, wine, and beer. These beverages help fuel Paul's hyper-prolific artistic endeavors as he is a musician, writer, and visual artist.
Drink.Well. Austin, TX
Dennis Gobis is a professional bartender based in Austin, Texas. Prior to moving to Austin in 2012, Dennis was an assistant brewer and bartender for the Cleveland Restaurant Group. Once in Austin, he spent 2 years as the Bar Manager of drink.well., an award-winning craft cocktail bar and gastropub in Austin’s vibrant North Loop district. Since he left his position at drink.well. he has passed the BAR 5 Day Program held in New York City and has been hard at work on the pending opening of two new bar concepts in Austin for 2015. Once a pre-med student and self-proclaimed ‘chemistry nerd’, Gobis married his love of science with his passion for food & beverage hospitality — first as a professional brewer and now as a rising star in the cocktail & spirits community. Dennis’ focus has long been on using quality ingredients to create delicious, balanced and accessible beverages in an environment that is reminiscent of "being in the home of the aunt that spoiled you".
Spirits Specialist at Le Du's Wines
Duncan's fascination with booze was kindled at an inappropriate early age after thumbing through some of his dad's old (and sadly disused) cocktail recipe books, but didn't consider it as a vocation until much later, after plans for careers in music, academia, culinary arts, and music (again) fizzled out. After earning his spurs in one of the nation's most comprehensive and dynamic retail spirits programs, he finally found his niche at Le Du's Wines, one of New York's most prestigious retailers, where he curates the spirits selections, as well as his other alcoholic passion, the wines of Germany and Austria. Working in the wine and spirits trade involves wearing many hats, but Duncan has always viewed his most fulfilling role to be that of an educator.
Contributing Editor, Whisky Magazine; Contributor, Whisky Advocate
Liza Weisstuch is a writer, editor and educator. As the American Contributing Editor to Whisky Magazine and contributor to Whisky Advocate, she spends her time in hot pursuit of the newest booze trends, the latest whisky releases, the oldest cocktail recipes, and timeworn distillery tales. She spent a month doing an apprenticeship at a distillery on Islay, a stint she calls her “graduate work,” then returned to the island two years later to bartend at a local pub. When she’s not working the booze beat, Liza writes about a range of lifestyle topics, from travel to design to fitness. She’s a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. Her stories have also appeared in The Washington Post, Imbibe Magazine, USA Today and others. She has judged a variety of competitions, including the World Whisky Awards, the American Distilling Institute’s craft spirit awards and the American Craft Spirits Association’s craft spirit awards. Her favorite color is single malt Scotch.
Founder, Thirsty in LA
Daniel Djang is the founder of Thirsty in LA, an award-winning cocktail and spirits blog based in Los Angeles. He is the co-founder of Art Beyond the Glass, an acclaimed annual event that showcases bartenders, their cocktails and their creative pursuits outside of the bar. He is also a member of the Advisory Board for Golden State of Cocktails, an industry conference and celebration of the historic and modern cocktail culture of California. When he’s not bending an elbow at a bar near you, Daniel is the Content Manager for Discover Los Angeles, the website of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.
Spirits Journalist & Author
Before having a spirituous epiphany, Ron Bechtol was perfectly happy as a practicing architect working on projects in New York and Paris before moving to San Antonio, Texas. He has since divided his time between architecture and writing with work in publications such Martha Stewart Living, Texas Highways, The San Antonio Express-News, and Gayot.com. He has traveled to investigate the essential spirits of Scotland, Ireland, and Mexico and has even managed to combine his two loves through his design of several cocktail bars in San Antonio including The Brooklynite and The Last Word. Ron is currently working on the second edition of “The Fearless Critic”, a restaurant guide to San Antonio, and is a food, wine, and spirits critic for the San Antonio Current.
Spirits Educator & Consultant
Lance Mayhew brings over 20 years’ experience in the world of cocktails and spirits to the table. He has served in a number of diverse roles, from journalist, to bar manager to culinary instructor and more. He is the former contributing writer for About.com on whisky and professional bartending. His original cocktails have been featured in publications including MIX Magazine, Imbibe Magazine, and Left Coast Libations; and he has discussed bartending and mixology for publications including The New York Times, MIX, and The Oregonian. Lance is a former wine, spirits and mixology instructor at Oregon Culinary Institute. Lance is certified by the Society of Wine Educators as a Certified Specialist of Spirits. Additionally, Lance is the host for the Terry Boyd's World "Spirits and Cocktails Happy Hour" on KPAM 860 AM in the Portland market.
Whiskey and Spirits Writer
Jake Emen is a freelance whiskey and spirits writer who's been published in various online and print outlets, including Whisky Advocate, Eater Drinks, Tasting Table, and a range of others. When he's not drinking whiskey, he's eating food, watching boxing, or traveling, but either way, he's always writing about it. He also runs his own local food, drink and events site, ManTalkFood.com.
Davin de Kergommeaux
Canadian Whisky Author & Expert
Davin de Kergommeaux is the author of Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert, the definitive guide to Canadian whisky. This multi-award-winning book was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2012 and 2014, and is distributed in Canada and the U.S. by Penguin Random House. De Kergommeaux has also contributed to or co-authored three other books about whisky. An independent whisky professional, de Kergommeaux has been writing about, talking about, and teaching about all styles of whisky for almost two decades. His writing and tasting notes have appeared in multiple Whisky magazines and sites.
Bartender and Retail Spirits Specialist
Working within the alcohol industry for years, it became clear to Marcus that one day that it would become his livelihood. Many a late night has been spent at a bar, whether he was working there or not, discussing with anyone who would converse with him the benefits of alcohol, what makes it great, and picking their brains for knowledge. An avid fan of whisky, his love of studying the history behind the magic and how it has shaped the world is eclipsed only by his love for the drink itself, and his intimate affairs with beer. He shares his knowledge and passion both behind the bar and as a retail spirits specialist in Mount Eliza, Victoria; a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.
Spirits Buyer: Acker, Merrall & Condit NYC
Owner: BlueJ Syrups/ The Flavor Factory
Jason has spent 9 years in the wine and spirits trade, working as the spirits buyer for Acker, Merrall & Condit; the country’s oldest liquor store and the world’s largest wine and spirits auction house, based in NYC. With the responsibility of arranging off-site spirits education, appraisals, reviews, and keeping the shelves stocked with quality product from quality individuals, Jason keeps busy and up-to-date on new releases and old favorites alike. Recently, Jason started his own all natural cocktail mixer & liqueurs company, BlueJ Syrups. This unique retail and production background has placed Jason at the front-line of both consumer and industry trends with an ability and opportunity to taste just about everything. This is a task Jason appreciates greatly.