Hear from Creola Dickerson, Lead Single Barrel Ambassador, New Riff Distilling in this week’s Meet the Makers to find out more about how she got into the industry, her experience at New Riff and her excitement about how the industry is changing and where it’s heading. Our favorite quote: ” Bourbon is not just a random spirit on the shelves. It has a life, a culture, and a history all on its own.” We agree, Creola!
BW: How did you end up working in the industry? When did you discover you wanted to work in the bourbon industry?
CD: I started as a bartender just a couple days a week at our event center. When our juice was ready for release in 2018, I knew I wanted to take on a larger, more permanent role. The excitement throughout the company was contagious and I wanted to be a part of that energy.
BW: What was something surprising you learned in your early days at New Riff?
CD: I was surprised to learn how serious a lot of people are about their whiskey. Bourbon is not just a random spirit on the shelves. It has a life, a culture, and a history all on its own. There is no end to the vast amount of information to learn and experience.
BW: What lessons from your background / past experience do you apply to your role now at New Riff?
CD: My diverse background and life experiences are what I apply most as a brand ambassador. I moved A LOT as a kid —six states and 10 cities. I always had to make new friends and became naturally curious, genuine, and friendly. It’s instinctual for me to make quick connections. I love meeting people and am eager to leave a lasting impression. At New Riff, I’m able to show up every day doing what comes naturally to me. Most of the time it’s not even like work, it’s pure fun.
BW: How long have you worked at New Riff (and in the industry in total)? What are some of the changes you’ve seen?
CD: This will mark my seventh year with New Riff. I’ve witnessed a lot of change from a startup near its founding, the dumping of our first barrel to the thousands bottled since. With respect to industry changes, I am most excited about the noticeable increase in the number of women, black folk, and other people of color drinking, blogging, building companies, and participating in the industry as a whole.
BW: What does your day-to-day life in the distillery/organization look like?
CD: At New Riff, single barrels are a way of life. The bulk of my time is spent facilitating single-barrel selection experiences. My team and I work closely with countless retailers, restaurants, aficionados, and countless groups of friends across the country. In addition, I work with our sensory panel and serve as co-chair of our diversity, equity, and inclusion group. Needless to say, my days are full.
BW: What advice do you have for women who want to have similar jobs?
CD: Brand ambassadors are what I consider to be the face of a brand. Our distilling team continues to put out solid, innovative, award-winning products so it’s easy to share New Riff with everyone that crosses my path. For any woman looking for a fulfilling career in hospitality, sales or marketing, the spirits industry is the place to land. There are also careers in science, logistics, engineering, and operations. The spirits industry has it all!
BW: Tell me about your perfect whiskey weekend in Northern KY, Cincinnati
CD: My ideal whiskey weekend here in Northern Kentucky would start Friday with a rare pour at the local vintage bottle shop. Saturday evening would start with a dram of our New Riff 6-year malted rye — a little “toddy for the body” as my dad would say — before heading out to dinner. I tend to eat local, someplace where I can grab a neat New Riff single barrel and finish with a nice old-fashioned. I am an admitted lightweight.