The Panel of Whiskey Experts

Interactive Tasting and Discussion
Thursday, March 31, 2016 ~ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
The Francis, 1289 N Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

*Note new location!

Join four master distillers and four brand ambassadors for this unique interactive panel and tasting as they share and discuss sixteen of their favorite spirits.  Tickets are $45 and seating is limited to 75 guests; please reserve early.   
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The Panel:

David BlackmoreDavid Blackmore

Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Master Ambassador

Master Brand Ambassador David Blackmore leads the Glenmorangie USA educational program, exciting and educating the industry and consumers on the nuances of Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky through tastings and events across the country. David was named the "2014 Scotch Whisky Ambassador of the Year" by Whisky Magazine for the third consecutive year.

Rob DietrichRob Dietrich

Stranahan's Distiller

Since 2011, Rob Dietrich has served as Stranahan's head distiller, after taking over from original head distiller Jake Norris. Stranahan's was founded by Jess Graber and George Stranahan, whom the whiskey is named after, in Colorado in 2004. In 1998, Graber, a volunteer firefighter, met Stranahan, the founder and owner of Flying Dog Brewery, while fighting a fire at Stranahan's barn. They struck up a conversation about whiskey, and were soon in business together. One of the first craft whiskey distillers in the US, Stranahan's is said to have "kicked off the Colorado distilling craze" with its whiskey and the designation it invented, Rocky Mountain Whiskey. It was Colorado's first microdistillery, and the state's first legal distillery since prohibition.

Pam HeilmannPam Heilmann

Michter's Distiller

Pam is Michter’s Distiller and Vice President of Production. Prior to joining Michter’s, Pam spent nearly 15 years at Beam Global, Inc., maker of fine whiskeys including Baker’s, Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s, and Knob Creek, and has a strong operational background. Her most recent position at Beam had been overseeing all aspects of whiskey production as Distillery Manager at the Booker Noe Distillery in Boston, Kentucky. During her years at Beam, Pam worked directly with former Master Distiller Jerry Dalton. 

Chris MorrisChris Morris

Woodford Reserve Master Distiller
Chairman of the Kentucky Distillers Assoc.

Chris Morris knows whiskey. As the second Master Distiller at the Woodford Reserve Distillery, Chris was an integral character in the development of Woodford Reserve. As head Master Distiller of one of the world’s fastest growing bourbons, he spends his days innovating and planning future releases. The mastermind behind Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Rye, and Master’s Collection, Chris knows the keys to making good whiskey are time and patience, but having a sense of good craftsmanship is also a talent that goes a long way.

Brendan Coylebrendan coyle

High West Lead Distiller

Born and raised in Minnesota, Brendan came to Salt Lake City in 1999 where he began his career with RedRock Brewing Company. After several years learning the art and science of brewing Brendan headed to Edinburgh Scotland where he gained an appreciation for distilling and completed a Masters of Science in Brewing and Distilling Sciences at Heriot Watt University. With a love for skiing and the southern desert Brendan was drawn back to Utah to join High West in early 2008.

Gardner Dunngardner-dunn

Suntory Whisky Brand Ambassador

Since joining Suntory, the results of Dunn's efforts have been clear in the tremendous growth of the Japanese whisky category, and rampant recognition of Suntory as a premier player in the market: during his tenure, Suntory has received over 80 awards.

Philip PepperdinePhilip Pepperdine

Beam Suntory Ambassador

Philip has worked in the hospitality industry for over 16 years and was trained by Sasha Petrosky on classic cocktails at Milk & Honey and The Randolph at Broome. He has represented the Beam Suntory portfolio for the last few years.

Bernie LubbersBernie Lubbers 2

Heaven Hill Ambassador

Bernie is The Whiskey Professor for Heaven Hill Distillery. Not only the best job title on the planet, but it translates to him talking about bourbon. A veteran comedian of 25 years he is entertaining, but he can also tell you more about bourbon than you ever thought you could know. He also created the “Evolution of Bourbon Tasting” where folks not only hear about the history of how bourbon came to be the native spirit of the United States, but they see, smell, feel, and taste how bourbon started as un-aged corn whiskey, and ended up as this aged pure red amber American whiskey.


Contact us if you have any questions.

Master Classes

Friday, April 1, 2016

 * - VIP ticket holders enjoy priority registration with special code until 3/7/16 BUY TICKETS 

First Session, 8:00pm to 8:45 pm

Class 1: The History of North American Whisk(e)y History One Sip at a Time with Michael Ring, Brown Forman Brand Champion

Join Brown-Forman's Brand Champion Michael Ring for an exploration of American whisky history one sip at a time. with Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, Old Forester 1870, Collingwood Toasted Maple Stave finish, and Woodford Reserve Rye.

Class 2: Michter’s: It’s All About the Whiskey with Pam Heilmann, Distiller

Join Michter’s distiller Pam Heilmann as she presents four core expressions from this historic brand, American Whiskey, Straight Rye, Sour Mash, and Bourbon.

Class 3: The Art of Blending Featuring Hibiki Japanese Whisky with Gardner Dunn, Beam Suntory Ambassador

The Art of Blending with Gardner Dunn, Beam Suntory Ambassador Featuring Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky and its Components.


Second Session, 9:15 pm to 10:00 pm

Class 4:  Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey with Jess Graber, Founder of Tincup Whiskey

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey: Founder Jess Graber presents three whiskies from the Stranahan’s Distillery in Denver, Colorado’s first legal distillery since Prohibition.  Enjoy Stranahan’s, Diamond Peak, and Tin Cup straight from the Rocky Mountains.

Class 5: Glenmorangie: Finishes and More with David Blackmore, Global Brand Ambassador

Join Global Brand Ambassador, David Blackmore for 4 ground breaking expressions from Glenmorangie Original, Lasanta, Glenmorangie Milsean, and the rare and unique Signet.

Class 6:  Cigar and Whisky Pairing with Montecristo cigars presented by Atul Solanki, owner of the Cigar Castle in Tampa and Philip Pepperdine, Beam Suntory Ambassador.

Guests are reminded that this event is for appreciation, not intoxication. Obviously impaired guests will not be allowed to remain at the event. All guests who consume alcohol are encouraged to have a designated driver. Whiskey Obsession does not tolerate drinking and driving. Take your friends and take a cab.