Meet the Educator: Joe Cabassa
Based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Joe Cabassa is our Approved Course Provider for Latin America. He is the founder of whisky and spirits education company, Academia De Whisky.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the industry.
I am extremely passionate about whisky and spirits education. I have had the privilege of building a career of more than 20 years as an educator and industry expert, training thousands of professionals throughout Latin America and the world, in turn representing some of the world's leading brands as a Regional Brand Ambassador. This experience has led me to work in more than 70 cities in 48 countries. I have also been a panellist and speaker for various educational programs (The Perfect Serve, Taste of Rum, Tales on Tour, Bar Convent Berlin, and Miami Rum Congress). In October 2022, I had the honour of being inducted into The Keepers of the Quaich.
How did you get into spirit education?
I started as a corporate trainer for a restaurant called Hard Rock Café. From there I decided to develop educational programs on my own for bar restaurants and, eventually, brands and private clients.
What do you love about teaching?
I love to see my students receive useful education, whether it’s an industry professional looking to excel in their career, or consumers looking to gain a deeper appreciation for whisky and spirits.
What excites you most about EWA?
In my experience, Edinburgh Whisky Academy offers the most comprehensive and reliable certifications in specific whisky and spirits subjects. Also, I have a personal mission to push the limits of knowledge about spirits, and the EWA provides enough detailed information to trigger deep conversation with my students.
What advice would you give someone wanting to learn more about whisky/get into the whisky industry?
Other than taking official certifications, the best way to learn about whisky is with one or more open bottles and tasting them amongst colleagues and friends.
Quick fire questions
First whisky you ever tasted?
Best whisky you have ever tasted?
How difficult that is... one whisky I always gravitate to is Highland Park 18yo.
Favourite distillery to visit?
Favourite non-whisky drink?
Favourite whisky and food pairing?
The Macallan SO18 with a 24-month gouda.
What person, dead or alive, would you most like to share a dram with?
Jim Cryle, my first mentor in this industry.