Keep in mind, this is a morning interview and we are having whiskey for breakfast… no complaints here! He had some nice pastries and fruit out as well, but we didn’t get to it due to the sipping and chatting. I was intrigued by his story and the whiskey, as it was one I had never had before, so was excited to try it and learn more about the product.
One thing you should know about Han is that he is not from the hospitality industry, as most brand ambassadors are. He was actually an environmental activist with a love for whiskey. This self-proclaimed “whiskey nerd” came to his position 4 years ago via the “Making The Cut” competition (filmed as a documentary) held by Tuthilltown Distillery in search of the person to replace the co-founder and owner’s son. After spending time with Shan, I can see why he was chosen to his position. He is extremely knowledgable, passionate about whiskey in general, his product and the distillery. He’s witty, charming and charismatic (much like the other Han you’re thinking of, but don’t call him scruffy)
Tuthilltown Distillery was the first distillery in New York after Prohibition. They take pride in being ‘family’, connecting with the community and sourcing locally. They work with local farmers for their grains which are actually brought over in their own trucks, and mashed right on site. They take pride in the product and being part of the final spirit.
The distillery produces five small-batched, craft whiskey’s: Baby Bourbon (smokey, vanilla, caramel), New York Corn (clean, buttery), Four Grain Bourbon (rich, peppery, soothing), Single Malt (woody, vanilla, spice) and my favorite, Manhattan Rye (honey, coconut, sweet). If you’re one of the lucky ones, there’s also a limited edition release of Hudson Maple Cask Rye Whiskey in the fall with a palate of toasty vanilla, black tea and New York crafted maple syrup.
So what’s the best part of the role of a brand ambassador? He gets to help open bars and get creative with cocktail menus. There’s more opportunity available via today’s technology, so it’s easy for brand ambassadors to get their message out across multiple social media platforms and connect with the consumer on a more personal level. And the occasional bartending for friends weddings as their wedding gift.
When asked if whiskey should be drank straight or in cocktails, Han replied “What do you like about it that way? Find those qualities.” I still don’t know the answer because I prefer it both ways!
As I was walking out the door, I turned to him and said “One last thing”. He laughed and knew what I was about to say and said, “Yes, it’s my real name; Yes, I get compared to him all the time; but just remember - I came first.”
And so, a toast - May the Fourth (and Hudson Whiskey) Be With You.