The Harlem Whiskey Festival – A Q&A With Ron Williams

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Ron Williams - Swizz Beats

Harlem has always exuded cutting edge cool. While whiskey has a long history in Harlem it took entrepreneur Ron Williams to create the Harlem Whiskey Festival. On its 2nd year, the Harlem Whiskey Festival is a 2-day, next-level whiskey experience. The festival kicks off on July 13th at Sofrito with an intimate and exquisite dinner and culminates with a Grand Tasting at Mist Harlem on July 14th. Ron Williams took some time out to talk to us about the origins of the festival as well as sharing some insights into the world of whiskey.

Harlem Whiskey Festival - Sofrito - Table

Q. What was the genesis of the Harlem Whiskey Festival?

A. The genesis of HWF grew out of a conversation over cigars and whiskey with a good friend at my local cigar lounge in Harlem.

Harlem Whiskey Festival

Q. Why whiskey?

A. I like great whiskey and whiskey is hot right now. I also wanted to share my passion for whiskey with Harlem’s growing community. Additionally, I wanted to give local & small batch distillers an opportunity to showcase their products to a captive audience that is often neglected.

Ron Donovan

Q. What was your introduction into the world of whiskey?

A. My introduction to world of whiskey and cigars coincidentally happened at the same time. I shared a bottle of Macallan 18 and a Cuban Cohiba in Toronto several years ago with my friend Michael Jordan. And as they say, the rest is history.

Q. What is the connection between Harlem and whiskey?

A. Harlem has a rich history with whiskey dating back to the prohibition.

Q. Tell us a bit of what folks can expects from the festival?

A. Attendees should expect a great whiskey tasting experience with brand ambassadors, distillers and representatives from over 20 brands, both local & national.

Whiskey Festival - Sofrito

Q. Whiskey is something that is considered a man-thing. Why is that a misconception?

A. It’s totally a misconception, especially when you learn the history of women in whiskey. Women were the first distillers. Back in the day, a man would marry a woman based on her ability to distill spirits.


Q. Any final thoughts?

A. We’re extremely excited about this year’s festival from the standpoint of major brand involvement, especially with Johnnie Walker. We’ll continue to elevate the whiskey game in Harlem by making it hip, fun, cool, sexy and accessible to women.

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