We had the good fortune of connecting with Maria Tilton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maria, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
I think a lot of outsiders are probably unaware of how diverse the flavors in various whiskeys can be. Much like wine or beer, whiskey can vary greatly depending on many factors such as ingredients used, technique implemented, fermentation and aging conditions, and country of origin, just to name a few. All of these factors can cause great variation in the flavor and mouthfeel of whiskey.
All too often I hear people say that they do not like whiskey because they are not a fan of “smoky” whiskey. But in reality, only a very small percentage of whiskey has a flavor that can be described as smoky! Part of our mission in Women Who Whiskey is to help educate people and encourage them to be adventurous and try new flavors, but in a fun and supportive way!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are the San Diego chapter of Women Who Whiskey, a national organization and experimental whiskey club originally founded in New York City that focuses on giving its members the opportunity to learn about varieties of whiskeys and cocktail culture, and also to join a network of like-minded women. Currently there are over 30 different chapters in both the United States and abroad.
I am co-owner of a local craft distillery here in town which specializes in making grain-to-glass whiskey in-house. So whiskey of all types has always been very special to me, and it is a spirit that I am very familiar with. I began to realize that I enjoy sharing our whiskey with friends just as much as I enjoy drinking it myself. And I also realized that sometimes women can be made to feel less educated than men when it comes to whiskey, and especially when drinking it “neat” (with no water, mixer or ice). This is what led me down the path of wanting to start a local chapter of Women Who Whiskey in San Diego.
I was familiar with the organization because my distillery did an event with the Los Angeles chapter, and I was surprised to hear that San Diego did not yet have a chapter. It was the president the L.A. chapter who put me in touch with the national president to start up in San Diego.
The ride has definitely not been easy! Along with Sarah, the Vice President of the chapter, I have been able to navigate through the startup and recruiting process. We work together to connect with brand representatives, recruit new members, and organize fun events. And all three of these tasks have been very challenging in the era of COVID-19! Because of COVID-19, we were forced to stop our in-person events, but fortunately we were able to quickly pivot and begin online or Zoom events. Luckily, our members really seem to enjoy our online events! Who wouldn’t enjoy hanging out at home, maybe cuddling up with your pet, while sipping on good whiskey, having fun and engaging with other like-minded people?
As President of the San Diego chapter, I am very proud to be a part of this organization which focuses on educating and empowering women in a field that is traditionally male-dominated. As we continue to grow, I am looking forward to cultivating the relationships we have already formed with our members, industry representatives, and local proprietors, as they have all been tremendously supportive in our endeavor. And of course I am looking forward to meeting new and inspiring people as we travel along on this journey!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As a self-described “foodie” and adventurous eater/imbiber, food and drink would definitely be my main focus of the itinerary. Some of my favorite places would include Not Not Tacos, Crack Shack, Lost Cause Meadery, City Taco, and Juniper & Ivy for a fancy night out!
I would also focus heavily on outdoor activities and adventures, since I personally love to spend time in the outdoors! Mission Beach to walk the boardwalk and possibly riding the roller coaster would be on the list, along with walking the pier at Ocean Beach. While in OB, we would stop for lunch at the South Beach Bar & Grill which has an amazing seafood selection. I would try to catch a few sunsets at Bird Rock, La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs. Also a morning beach walk on Coronado would be fun, along with taking my dog to the Coronado Dog Beach and having ice cream at Spreckels at the Hotel Del.
Finally a day trip to Ramona for wine tasting, and a mountain adventure to Julian for apple pie would be the icing on the cake for a great San Diego vacation!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would definitely like to give a shoutout to Kim O’Hanneson, President of the Los Angeles Chapter of Women Who Whiskey! Also a shoutout to Andrew Smith, President of the San Diego Scotch Club, who has so graciously let us “borrow” his Zoom account to host our online events! And also a huge shoutout to all of the brand representatives, bartenders, venue owners, and the many other industry professionals who help to make our events possible!
Facebook: Women Who Whiskey San Diego