Expert Staff Picks

Emily HoltEmily Holt – Certified Bourbon Steward

I am from Corbin, Kentucky. I moved to Louisville in August 2017 to attend law school after graduating from the University of Kentucky. I enjoy trying new food and beverages. When I find a unique flavor combination I usually have to buy it, my latest purchase being Spider Monkey, a serrano pepper and ginger agave spirit. I also particularly enjoy sour beers and white wine.


Beer: Anything by Upland or Funkwerks. I really like trying all of the new beers we get in, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite.

Bourbon: I really like Kentucky Spirit, especially our store picks. Early Times BiB is probably my runner-up because it is delicious and a great price.
Wine: My favorite white wine is the Custard Chardonnay because it has a lot of butter and vanilla. My favorite red wine right now is probably the Confidencial red blend.

Emily Meadows – Manager/Spirits & Specialties Buyer/Executive Bourbon Steward

I have been working in the store off and on since we opened in 2008 and have been here full time for the past 4 years. My current role is to find new spirits to bring to the store. I want to see if I can find the not so common item and bring them to our customers. Red wine and whiskey are my drinks of choice now. Give me a good cab, or a grenache, or anything on the 90point rack and I will be happy. Mezcal is what I will be drinking for the summer, probably the Bozal Cuixe.

JJ Valentine

J.J. Valentine – Certified Bourbon Steward

I was born in Mayberry (Mt. Airy, NC) and I came to Kentucky via Nebraska and never knew much about bourbon. Since being in Kentucky I’ve learned the great history of America’s Whiskey. I love tech and gaming. Not many know that I actually met my wife on World of Warcraft! We’ve been married for eight years now.


Bourbons: Old Fitzgerald Bottle in Bond. This wheated bottle in bond bourbon is my popular drink. I’m a huge fan of wheated bourbons and bottled-in-bond due to the history of the Bottled-in-Bond Act.

If I’m feeling special I will drink one of my Old Weller Antique store picks. My favorite by far is my bottle of OWA Westport Whiskey & Wine that had a dump date of 6/23/2015, which was my 40th birthday. That’s MY birthday bourbon drink.

Beer: High West Barrel Aged Ballast Point Victory at Sea which is an Imperial porter with coffee and Vanilla aged in High West bourbon and rye barrels.

Wine: Tarima is a Monastrell from Jumilla, Murica, Spain that absolutely enjoy. Fresh raspberries, floral and full bodied. I highly recommend.

Jenn Buck – CSW, Certified Bourbon Steward

I started my wine journey during my study abroad year in Avignon, France. When I wasn’t in class, I taught English to a winemaker in Beaumes-de-Venise and his family. I was paid in wine and day trips out to the vineyards which was a plus. When I got back, I took a break to finish my MA in French language and culture. I also started working part-time in a local vineyard’s tasting room. After that, I was offered a full-time teaching position, became a customer of Westport Whiskey & Wine and now work there! I became a CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) in April of 2018 and am taking the theory portion of the CWE (Certified Wine Educator) exam in December 2019.


Domaine du Possible Tout bu or not tout bu: It’s such an awesome and interesting Grenache/Mourvedre blend from Southern France. It’s organic and undergoes a partial carbonic maceration. It’s soft and easy to drink but makes you look forward to each sip as it changes in the glass. 

Felino Cabernet Sauvignon any vintage: One of my all-time favorites in the store. It’s my go-to wine whenever I just want something delicious to drink that doesn’t hurt my bank account. It’s earthy, leathery and has hints of tobacco that beat many other Cabs at higher price points.

Domaine de Bordenave Jurancon Sec: Such a good dry white wine! I use it a lot in the classes I teach at Westport because you would never think to buy it. It’s made from Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng so not everyday varietals. It’s the perfect blend of fresh, fruity and honey flavors and aromas. Probably my favorite white wine in the store right now.

Daniel WeberDaniel Weber – Certified Bourbon Steward

I joined WW&W in 2014, after having shopped here for years. I figured if I was going to hang around the store regularly, I might as well be paid for it. I love whiskey, primarily bourbon and craft beer. I love helping folks in the Tasting Room discover new favorites they’ve never tried before. A CPA by day, I am enjoying Westport as my “fun job.” I am married to Deirdre, with two children, Patrick & Nora.

Scott A. Smith – Certified Bourbon Steward

A New Yorker by birth only, I moved to Louisville in the early 80’s when my father took a job with Brown-Forman, so you can say bourbon has been a big part of my life since the early stages.  I have a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, but I’m a tried and true Louisville Cardinals fan, Chicago Cubs and Bears fan, and have lived in Orlando, Indianapolis, Champaign, Illinois, Bloomington, Indiana and San Francisco over the years.  I currently co-own a marketing agency from home with my wife during the day, and this is my fun job on evenings and weekends where I get to leave the house and interact with people who enjoy the same things I do.


Whiskeys: When it comes to whiskey, I enjoy a number of different options and always have at least one rye, one 90-ish proof, one high proof, and one bottled-in-bond open at any given time. My go-to’s are Pikesville Rye, Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch, and my favorite budget pick is Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond.

My all-time favorite is the 2016 George T. Stagg from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, clocking in at 144.1 proof!

Beer: I don’t drink a lot of beer these days, but when I do, I have a strong preference for Belgian Sours, like Duchesse De Bourgogne, which is a Flanders Red Ale, Amber Ales like Fat Tire, and Milk Stouts, such as Left Hand Milk Stout.

Krystal Williamson – Certified Bourbon Steward

I am originally from San Diego, California but have been in Louisville since 2016 working on my Undergraduate Degree in English at University of Louisville. My interest in liquor started at a young age when I was taught how to cook with various types of alcohol, and how to pair alcohol with food by both my Aunt (a prior caterer) and my Dad (a part-time private caterer). I’ve worked dozens of catering events with my Dad where he passed on his love of imported and craft beer all while my Aunt taught me about the different California wineries and shared with me her love of white and rose wine. Don’t be afraid to ask me about our vodka, craft beer, cider, and our liquor selections though! Since starting at Westport Whiskey & Wine I’ve learned a lot about Bourbon and am in training to become a Certified Bourbon Steward.


Beer: Fruit beers and rose ales are my weakness and I’ve fallen in love with The Gadget by Urban Artifact, Kapowski by Mile Wide Brewing Company, and everything brewed by Ciderboys.

Stephen Gandolfi – Assistant Manager/Tasting Room Coordinator/CSS/ Executive Bourbon Steward

I was born and raised in New Orleans, where I worked my way through college in various bars and restaurants. After a brief stint in higher education, I returned to the food and beverage industry. I transferred my passion for research and learning to the alcohol industry and decided to move to Louisville to be part of the city’s booming bourbon scene. I love interacting with our clientele, especially when they I can help introduce them to new products or answer their questions.


Personally, I enjoy robust Italian wines, lighter Speyside whiskeys, and pretty much every kind of beer.

Atticus Moore – Certified Bourbon Steward

I was born and raised in Louisville Kentucky. I went to WKU for film school and while in Bowling Green I started a job as a waiter and began to discover a love for craft beers. Soon after I discovered bourbon and fell in love with the complexities of it. I’ve worked several music festivals around the country in the past decade, though as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to slow down. In 2017 I was able to realize one of my dreams and work as the Key set production assistant on a film for Netflix. I’ve been happily married since December of 2017 and have two amazing dogs.


Bourbon: Old Ezra 7 is an absolute favorite of mine, though it’s often hard to find so I usually go for another Lux Row product in David Nicholson Reserve. I also always find myself going back to Elijah Craig Small Batch and Single Barrel selections. For a Rye I’ve recently fallen in love with Michter’s Single Barrel Rye.

Beer: I’m always in the mood for a good IPA and find that Bell’s Two Hearted is often a safe bet whenever I’m out to dinner. I’m also a big fan of Against the Grain Brewery and have yet to be disappointed by any of their products.


CJ Phillips, Certified Bourbon Steward

I am originally from Los Angeles. Born and raised beach kid. In 2012 I moved to Lexington, KY and opened a restaurant and bar with a partner. I spent 3 years there and had a blast managing the beverage program. I then moved on to Louisville in 2015. It’s my new home and I couldn’t be more excited about it. We have such a great food and beverage scene here. I plan on staying. My background is mostly in culinary, liquor retail and restaurants. I also dabble with organic gardening and working on cars.


Beer: Sours are my favorite. I also enjoy double ipa’s, huge stouts with smoke and wild ales.
Current favorites include Rodenbach Grand Cru, ATG Citra Ass Down, any sour from upland or blackberry farms and Central’s “ garden “ sour.

Bourbon: I am all across the board with bourbon. Things I look for include: color, viscosity and balance.
I normally like the age range to be 8-14 years on just about any style of whiskey. My every day sippers include Old Bardstown BIB and Legent. They are just so balanced and refined to me.

Wine: Wine is my biggest passion when it comes to beverages, especially food pairings.

My all time favorite wines are 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia and 1995 Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac.

Current store picks would include: Flowers Chardonnay, any Turley Zins, Santa Rita Medalla real Cabernet, basically ANY Gruner Veltliner and for bubbles, I’m popping Ca’ Del Bosco all day.


Timothy Van Riper – Certified Bourbon Steward

I was born in beautiful sunny Southern California and I lived there most my life. Even though I was able to travel and see many places, it’s still one of my favorite places to visit. I met my wife on a dating site over 3 years ago and quickly found myself in good ole Louisville. They say love makes you do funny things and it found me eloping in the pouring rain on the Big Four Bridge.

Bourbon isn’t really a thing where I’m from and being a fan of it often finds me on the outside looking in. It’s really a remarkable thing to be able to share with others my love and passion for this beautiful brown spirit and it not fall on deaf ears.

Here’s to the future,
Cheers Louisville.

Bourbons: My go-to bourbon lately has been Elijah Craig Single Barrel. They are relatively available and are always tasty. I consider myself a bit of a single barrel snob in general and if you haven’t checked out the single barrel selection at Westport you’re doing yourself a huge disservice; just remember, there’s no bad whiskey, only better, and if you want to put ice in your bourbon go right ahead. The best way to enjoy it really is, any way you choose.

Beer: If it’s hot I’m laying low with a full flavor sour or fruit beer. (Green Zebra by Founders or Wowie by Rhinegeist) When it cools off and I find myself around a fire with friends, I’m reaching for a barrel aged stout with some crazy adjuncts or a “desserty”milk stout.

Wine: For a nice crisp refreshing white I’m reaching for McNab Chardonnay. I really enjoy wines from Mendocino. It’s not just a beautiful area but there is such a flux in temperatures depending on the region and it provides some outstanding grapes.

If it’s red I’m grabbing a full body cab and working on my novel. Silverado Winery out of Napa has some outstanding reds; my favorite being Geo. It’s a big bold and beautiful cab that has you gazing deep into the glass as you savor every drop.


Russell Willis – Resident Mixologist, Certified Bourbon Steward

I’m from Louisville with a background in bartending and fine dining. My experience has given me an appreciation for a lot of spirits. I especially like scotch, rum, amari and liqueurs.



Scotch: Smoky Islay Whisky, especially Laphroaig, Balvenie 14 year & 17 year

Rum: Diplomatico Riserva Exclusiva, Plantation, especially Pineapple, Flor de Cana, Appleton, Bumbu, Barbancourt 8 year

Amari: Meletti, Foro, Cardamaro, Montenegro

Liqueurs: Giffard fruit liqueurs, St. George Spiced Pear, Licor 43, Chartreuse


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