In the business of drink, the job of whisky ambassador is one of the top positions.
The perks are undeniable—global travel (in better times, that is), access to fine whiskies to add to your home kit, and endless opportunities to evangelize to nascent whisky enthusiasts. Yes, there is something religious about it all—preaching, socializing and anointing with holy water. Pretty good gig.
Ottawa native Mike Brisebois—the self-proclaimed Whisky Explorer, which is his handle on Instagram—fell heavily for whisky around 2005 and started a tasting club. Six years ago, he tasted Bunnahabhain, and his world stopped. He proclaimed his love to anyone who would listen, boosting his social media following along the way. Then he reached out to Distell Malts Distilleries and lobbied to represent their portfolio of fine whiskies. In 2015 they sent him to Scotland for full immersion. “One of my fondest memories was enjoying a dram of the 18 while overlooking the Sound of Islay at the Bunnahabhain distillery.” Today Brisebois runs regular live tastings on Instagram, building the whisky community one sip at a time. “I’ve never been so busy as on Instagram. I answer everybody every question—I do it right away. A lot of people are new to whisky, and they will ask: ‘If I were to start with one whisky, where do I start?’ People want to explore something new, something different.”
With casual confidence, Brisebois invites his acolytes into his living room (virtually, of course), where an impressive collection of whiskies resides. And that’s how the preacher connects with his people in these interesting times. —Dick Snyder