This post sponsored by Kelley Construction
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Lynn House is a spirits and cocktail educator for Heaven Hill. House has a background in theater as well as in mixology and as a bar manager, and that combination makes her the perfect fit to educate others about distilled spirits.
BW: As a National Brand Educator for Heaven Hill, what does your daily job look like, and how does it differ from what most folks think you do?
LH: My current role at Heaven Hill Brands is ‘National Sprits Specialist and Portfolio Mixologist’. I became a member of the Heaven Hill Brands Team in 2013. I started as the first National Brand Ambassador for PAMA. However, my background was running high-profile beverage programs, and I have a few certifications under my belt. I brought that experience to this role. Two years later a new position was created and that was ‘National Brand Educator.’ My library of focus brands increased, but what I wanted was to officially work with the whole portfolio. In 2019 a new position was created and that is the role I currently have at Heaven Hill Brands. Hence the greatest difference with what I do in comparison to others is I work with a large and diverse portfolio. I am not a promoter of brands and spirits, but more an educator. That aspect of my role has not changed. Within our own company, outside of the owners, communications, and financial teams, I am the only one who works daily with the whole portfolio. Which at Heaven Hill Brands is quite large. As such, I do not have a typical day. Pre Covid-19 when I worked directly in markets, my day would vary upon the needs of the market. Typical activities would include bartender training, distributor training, consumer events and activities that fostered engagement with all of the above. I spoke not only about our portfolio, but also led seminars that dealt with specific spirits categories, cost-effectiveness, self-branding, and understanding trends. During Covid-19 much has shifted. However, much has stayed the same. I do internal trainings with our Heaven Hill Brands Team. I led a sprits training course last year internally. I am doing virtual distributor trainings and have participated in new spirit launches, I have led several trainings with various local chapters of the USBG, hosted Happy Hour events, participated in numerous podcasts, and I continue to develop recipes for marketing and local teams that utilize our brands.
BW: What is the most surprising thing you have ever learned about American whiskey? What is the most common misconception about American Whiskey you encounter regularly?
LH: The most surprising thing that I have learned over the years about American Whiskey is its complexity and versatility. Like a perfectly cooked meal at a restaurant. American Whiskey can be rustic and comfortable, or it can be elevated and thoughtful. I am passionate about teaching people about the contributions of the grain, water, proof, and aging. Because this is where the magic happens and what I think is the greatest misconception about American Whiskey. I can not tell you how many times I have had people say ‘I do not drink whiskey’, while they are enjoying a delicious whiskey cocktail. I tell them it’s about understanding the base and then creating balance. Corn is buttery, wheat is nutty and sweet, rye is oily and spicey and barley is earthy. Once you understand the botanical composition of a whiskey, it will help steer you towards the flavors you prefer. Taste is subjective.
BW: What advice do you have for women who want to work in the distilled spirits industry?
LH: My advice for women who want to work in this industry is #1 learn all that you can. Do not focus all of your spirits education in one direction. If you love American Whiskey, learn about the whiskeys of the world, learn about other spirit categories, learn about water, coffee, tea, and wine. The more well-rounded your knowledge is the greater of an asset you will be to a company.
My second piece of advice is do not be scared of asking for what you want. Doors do not open if you do not knock first.
BW: Tell me about your perfect whiskey weekend in Chicago.
LH: My perfect whiskey weekend in Chicago is probably sitting on my back porch, surrounded by friends, and grilling up a feast. I am a homebody and love to entertain. So I am known within my circle of friends for going a bit over the top when it comes to home entertainment. I’ll make a lighter-styled whiskey punch that we can all enjoy and then after dinner. Usually grilled fish or chicken, a ton of side dishes, and a decadent dessert will cap the night off with something yummy on the rocks. I like sipping my whiskey coupled with food and laughter.
BW: What is your favorite whiskey cocktail?
LH: My favorite whiskey cocktail is a Manhattan. I love doing twists on this classic. My Mahogany Manhattan recipe is one of my favorite versions of this classic.
- 2.0 oz Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
- 1.0 oz Dubonnet Rouge
- .25 oz tart cherry concentrate
- 3 dashes of Creole Bitters
- Stir on ice, strain into a coupe glass, and serve up and garnish with a cured cherry.
Photos Courtesy of Lynn House