Meet the Educator: Lia Niskanen
Lia Niskanen is the founder of Barrel Strength Talent, a bespoke whisky events and education business. Her focus is on connecting the public with the people behind the scenes who make the industry tick. She is also a consultant to the local craft spirits industry in the USA.
How did you get into spirits education?
I started out in the industry developing tour and events programs for local distilleries here in New York City. It’s a great way to learn about the industry and hone your storytelling chops.
What do you love about teaching?
I am very passionate about whisky and sharing that with people is just so much fun. At Barrel Strength Talent, we offer educational public and private events with master distillers, blenders, and coopers, for instance. Whisky was meant to bring people together!
What excites you most about working with Edinburgh Whisky Academy?
The EWA has set such a high bar for whisky certification. The course work is just incredible and touches on every aspect of the industry, so you come away feeling that your knowledge has really expanded and wanting to learn more.
What advice would you give someone wanting to learn more about whisky/get into the whisky industry?
Absolutely go to work in a distillery: There is no substitute for that. Being on the spot where the whisky is made and surrounding yourself with the people who make it is invaluable.
Quick fire questions
First whisky you ever tasted?
Oh lord, that’s going back a way! I think it was probably Dewars.
Best whisky you have ever tasted?
Recently, the SMWS Cask No.4.296 called “Life Affirming”
Favourite distillery to visit?
Buffalo Trace in KY., but I’ve got a long list of places to visit in Scotland yet!
Favourite non-whisky drink?
Favourite whisky and food pairing?
Caol Ila 12 with freshly shucked oysters. I’d make that every day if I had my druthers!
What person, dead or alive, would you most like to share a dram with?
That’s an easy one: Dave Broom.
Lia is teaching EWA's Certificate in Sensory Appreciation:
📅 4,5 December 2023 (11am - 4pm)
📅 5,6 February 2024 (11:30am - 4pm)
📍 Carl Hansen, 251 Park Ave South, NYC