Let me introduce ourselves …
We’re Ken and Lou Jaremco, and we’ve been partners in life and business for 40 years. We’ve traveled the world in pursuit of business opportunities and for pleasure, and after decades in the manufacturing business we think we’ve found the perfect retirement project. Best of all, it’s all about whisky: our love of whisky, our friendships with the people we’ve met through whisky, and our desire to save precious drams of whisky from going down the drain.
My first exposure to scotch was J&B in the late ‘70s. I developed a taste for it and decided I should explore other brands, which at that time were limited to blended scotch. One Christmas, Lou bought me a bottle of Chivas Regal. It was as good a gift as a man could ask for. I drank blended scotch for many years and continue to do so as the mood strikes me.
Then, one fall day, our neighbours Michael and Barbara Smith changed our lives forever when Mike introduced me to single malt scotch. This was nearly 20 years after my introduction to blended scotch and I never looked back. Over the years that followed, Michael and I enjoyed hundreds of different single malts and never found a bad one. Some are better than others and some have an acquired taste. There are so many ways to describe them: smoky, peaty, sherry, oaky, hints of citrus, vanilla, spices, chocolate, coffee, honey-flavoured, and so on. At first, these are difficult to detect, but over time taste profiles became easier to identify. Mike shared freely his vast collection of knowledge and spirits in the manner in which it was meant to be shared: unreservedly and without conditions.
In 2004, I joined the West Coast Whisky Society, a club with about 100 members based in Vancouver, BC. It was a new and wonderful experience to share a dram with like-minded people in an environment where chitchat and precious spirits were abundant. The club presented many a good whisky during tasting events. At first, Lou endured my desire to attend, and—the wonderful wife she is—drove me to and from these events so I could enjoy the whiskies without worrying about keeping under the legal limit. But somewhere along the way, she also developed a fondness for some of the spirits, especially the sherry or port finishes.
This presented a dilemma: who would drive us home? Most of the events were too far for us to take a cab. So Lou would have a tiny sip and the rest went to waste. I can’t count the number of times we had to leave drams on the table because of this. Then, the solution dawned on us: we needed a way to bottle up the extra whisky that we were leaving on the table. Eureka! The Whisky Connoisseur® kit was born. We quickly developed a prototype and found that the more we used the kit, the more uses we found for it. The next step was to try it out on the perfect test market: our fellow whisky club members.
We built a basic kit with collection bottles and some foam inserts shaped to hold our whisky society monogrammed glasses, added a funnel, and presented it to our whisky club members. The response was overwhelming. The first batch of 90 kits sold out within a few months. Word of mouth was infectious. At every meeting I would get bombarded with inquiries. The fun came from hearing the comments from members about what a good idea it was. I especially love hearing the glowing reviews from the customers who continue to bring their kits to society tasting events and practice responsible drinking on a club-wide scale.
Since then, we have painstakingly improved and modified our original design based on feedback from that early prototype, resulting in the Whisky Connoisseur® Travel Kits, which come in Deluxe Leather or stylish Duck Cotton Canvas Fabric cases, the Share-A-Dram Kit, which is ideal for transporting spirits to share with friends, and the Master Class Kit, perfect for when you attend a tasting and don’t want to leave any of the special sips behind.
Each component was built on a central theme of connoisseur quality and how it contributed to the overall feeling when tasting whisky with friends. Every element had to reflect the history of the whisky industry in the old world. It also had to pay homage to the skilled people in the industry: the coopers who make the barrels, the stillmen who craft the spirts, the distillery managers who never lose the vision of pioneers before them, and the global ambassadors who travel the world plying the trade of well-made spirits to the masses.
Our whisky club members were invaluable in providing feedback, most of which focused on responsible drinking, which meant sharing a dram at an event and packing up the majority to sip in the comfort of your home. Many commented that the kits were such a simple idea, yet so useful. Sip. Save. Savour.
The more Lou and I used our kit, the more we found places to take it on our travels. So much so that now we bring two kits, one for Lou and one for myself. Like they say, double your pleasure – double your fun. Our whisky kits are now an integral part of any travel plans we make, and at club tasting events, not a single drop of the precious spirit goes down the drain. Good for the environment, good for the pocket book, good for the conscience and good for the soul.
I have sampled many whiskies, each unique unto themselves. It’s an adventure to be sure: travelling to places around the world, meeting and chatting with folks who also enjoy a good dram, all wrapped in a special spirit called whisky. My friend Michael has since departed, but every dram I raise in his name brings back fond memories of the good times we had. Mike, you’d never believe the adventure we’re on to now. Whisky Travel Kits, who knew?
In the spirit of all the friends we’ve met along the way, and to you, our fellow whisky connoisseurs, Slainte Mhath!
Owners & Creators, Ken & Lou Jaremco