The Empowerful Podcast was created to share the profound stories of movers and shakers who are positively impacting the world. Together, we believe we can amplify that change. We live by the motto of an old African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
The world is full of color, and we're telling stories about them. Stories of people and places we've been shaped by throughout our pursuit of empowering people for a better future. Learn more about and shop our new color collection here.
In today's episode, we continue our Empowerful Podcast: New Color Series with a conversation alongside Chris Riesbeck from Westland Distillery. Along with his official title of Commercial Director, Chris takes on many roles at Westland — including spokesman, resident whiskey connoisseur, and advocate for local agricultural workers. Chris is the type of guest where you don't want the conversation to end. Between his positive mindset, passion for his craft, and oversized personality, we hope you have as much fun listening to this podcast as we had recording it!
Chris is serious about whiskey. Beyond the collection of amazing whiskey bottles throughout his house, he also has the accolades to prove it. In 2015, Chris was honored as the youngest-ever American to be inducted into the Keepers of the Quaich, an organization dedicated to promoting the values and image of scotch whiskey across the world. In the same year, Chris was recognized by Whisky Magazine (which is spelled without the "e" in Scotland) as a highly commended Scotch whiskey ambassador.
However, Chris' passion for fine spirits extends beyond the distillation process, all the way back to the raw materials. Chris wants to know where the barley and wheat involved in Westland products are being grown. His goal is to develop a relationship with that farmer, empowering them to develop long-term, sustainable agricultural processes that seek to do things the "right way," not the "easy way." Ultimately, Chris' passion and intention is to be involved in the whiskey supply chain from start-to-finish.
Westland, like MiiR, has origins rooted in the Pacific Northwest. A fellow Seattle company, Westland has always found their identity in the producing "whiskeys that reflect the distinct qualities of our region." Along with their pride in a sense of place is pride in local sourcing. Washington state sourcing has long represented the "secret sauce" for Westland American Single Malt Whiskey's unique taste. Recently, Westland has turned its eyes on the barley being grown in the Skagit valley, located just a few hours outside of Seattle. The valley's barley lends itself to the distinctive taste and sense of place that is so key to Westland. Skagit Valley represents the heart of Westland's character to Chris, and he jumps at any opportunity to head to the valley and spend a day on the farms.
The valley also represents the inspiration for MiiR's new color, Basal. During our time working with Viva Farms on our give project to "plant the seeds of empowerment," we fell in love with the valley and the thick marine mist that envelopes the region each morning. Basal is a tribute to those early mornings in the Skagit Valley and represents pride in our Northwest roots.