Welcome to the Alcohol & chats, where we ask questions to interesting people in the alcohol world.
This week’s spotlight is on Chris Walters, bourbon enthusiast and owner of Nose Your Bourbon. When Chris wanted to build his nosing skills and find the aromas of bourbon, he made his own nosing kit with real ingredients for the most authentic aromas instead of expensive kits with chemical aromas. As he started sharing photos of his nosing kit in bourbon Facebook groups, it became apparent that he was onto something big, and thus, Nose Your Bourbon™ was born.
1) How did the Nosing Kit come about?
When I started down the bourbon rabbit hole, I came across amazingly descriptive tasting notes and reviews of bourbon, but I wasn’t able to detect ANY of what the authors were noting. Maybe I could pin down “spicy, sweet, and oaky” on a good day, but that was it. So, I set off to see if these writers were full of it, or if people could actually detect these nuances in their glass. What I found was it was simply a lack of experience on my end, so I started searching for tools that could help elevate my palate. I found bourbon nosing kits made with synthetic aromas with a hefty price tag of $200-$300 and immediately thought, I could make something for less than half of that! So I did, and as I started to share images of my kit and how it had helped me detect more specific notes in nosing and tasting, requests to purchase kits started to come in. And thus, Nose Your Bourbon was born!
2) How has Nose Your Bourbon grown?
Like a weed on a rainy day! Lol. I was originally taking orders via Facebook message, sending my Venmo handle out, manually printing every shipping label; it was a MESS. I knew I needed to up my online presence and make managing the business easier, so I set up an Etsy store. Etsy was a great jumping off point, and gained me a lot of visibility with online retailers like Bespoke Post and Vintage Gentlemen. I also pursued many bourbon-related podcasts, holiday gift-giving guides, as well as influencer marketing on Instagram. I just recently launched my website noseyourbourbon.com through Shopify, to gain more control over the product display and online purchasing process. Moving to Shopify has allowed me to entertain affiliate relationships, more easily track the effectiveness of paid advertising, and a whole lot more! I’ve now sold over 7,500 nosing kits, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down soon.
3) How does the kit or expansion pack work to help train your senses?
When you use the original or expansion nosing kit and smell the different ingredients, and then immediately nose your bourbon, you’re not having to rely on what you REMEMBER vanilla, dried cherries, brown sugar, and almond to smell like, because you just smelled them moments ago. And if those aromas are present in the particular bourbon you’re nosing and tasting, they’ll be more amplified in the glass because of it. The kits help put vocabulary with your nosing and tasting experience that takes it deeper than just sweet, fruity, and even the dreaded “smooth.”
4) Did you ever think this would be as big as it’s been?
Honestly I didn’t, at least, not this soon. It was born out of a passion to educate myself, but the moment that others showed interest in the idea too, I knew it would become much more than that. I’ve been blessed beyond measure, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
5) What’s your bourbon journey been like?
For me, my bourbon hobby has been very similar to other hobbies, fishing, craft coffee and beer, photography, etc. When I get into a new hobby, I dive in DEEP and read / watch everything I can get my hands on. With bourbon, there’s ALWAYS that new release to chase after so my collection grew rather quickly. With over 150 bottles now, all of them open, my purchasing has definitely slowed down, but I still fall victim to the FOMO of missing out on great bottle now and then. One of my favorite things in life to do is get a group of friends together, pour some great bourbon, and just enjoy the company. The bourbon is good, but the relationships are better.