2019 Special guests

Carla Carlton
"The Bourbon Babe,"

is an award-winning bourbon journalist, author and speaker. She is managing editor of Bourbon+ magazine and covers the bourbon industry on her website, TheBourbonBabe.com. Her first book, "Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America's Whiskey," was published by Clerisy Press in June 2017, along with companion ebooks "Still Life: The Resurgence of Craft Bourbon" and "Spirited Perfection: Building Your Bourbon Bar." She was an invited participant in "Kentucky Bourbon Tales," an oral history project produced by the Nunn Center for Oral History and the Kentucky Distillers' Association. She is an Executive Bourbon Steward and member of the Stave & Thief Society and a charter member and former board member of Bourbon Women, an international networking organization for women who are passionate about exploring bourbon and its culture. She regularly conducts both corporate and private bourbon tastings.


Jared Himstedt

Jared Himstedt, our head distiller, whetted his appetite for distilling first as a home brewer and a manager of Dancing Bear pub, a craft beer bar here in Waco, Texas. He is the creative force, product developer, and head blender at the distillery, overseeing everything from label design to barrel selection since Balcones’s inception in 2008. Being involved in an industry steeped in both rich tradition and explorative innovation is part of what keeps Jared committed to the creation of fine whiskies—that, and “getting to work alongside some wonderful, thoughtful, diligent, and creative people.” When he can get away from the distillery, Jared can be found spending time outside with family, friends, good music, and good drinks, particularly the #1 Texas Single Malt, which is still an enduring favorite.  

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Matt Booth
Founder at Room 101 Cigars

While deployed to Asia as a U.S. Infantry Marine, Booth found himself overwhelmed by the rich culture he experienced there. After returning to the States, Booth was introduced to the thriving silver scene in Los Angeles while working at the Whisky a Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard. It was this fusion of Asian influence and an obsession with custom jewelry that inspired Booth to create his own brand in 2003.

With the vision of an artist and the tenacity of a Marine, Matt Booth began blending the traditional Asian characters and motifs he first encountered during his tour of duty with a heavy dose of Los Angeles grit to create the conceptual backbone of Room101. In 2009, through close collaboration with Davidoff of Geneva’s executives and master craftsmen, Booth expanded his brand with the development a boutique line of bold cigars in conjunction with the industry giant. As Booth’s vision constantly evolves, the Room101 Brand has become the go-to for exceptional, custom-made pieces. He has created the luxury brand for those who demand quality with an edge.


Davin Topel
Originally from Minnesota I moved to park City Utah in 2004 where I did a little bit of everything a ski town had to offer including being a snow maker, ski patrol, firefighter and white water rafting guide I started distilling for High West in 2012 where I honed in on my practice. I am now the Head distiller at Real Spirits Distilling Company where I am proud to distill whiskey and gin, from grain to glass in the Texas Hill Country. When not at the distillery you will find me on the river guiding fly fishing trips for trout and native bass 

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Winston Edwards

Our National Brand Ambassador, Winston Edwards, describes himself as an evangelist and educator for all things Balcones, spreading the good whisky word and fueled by his passion for forming meaningful connections with his fellow humans over a glass of fine spirits. Having spent more than six years steeped in nearly all aspects of Balcones’ products and processes, from distillation to distribution, Winston is in a unique position to create craft whisky converts. At home you’ll find him making synth music in his studio, playing with his cats, Storm and Rogue, and relaxing with his girlfriend Brittany. When cocktail hour rolls around, Winston unwinds with a glass of #1 Texas Single Malt or, on special occasions, our Rumble Cask Reserve.


Ed Bley

Owner of Rising Tide Spirits and the man behind some of the most famous Single Barrel Bourbons in the world

Ed over the last decade has made massive waves in the Whiskey World from a little store in Northern Kentucky.
Responsible for dozens and dozens of some of the most famous single barrel selections in the bourbon game, specifically his private blend Old Baldy which took the Facebook Bourbon World by storm in 2018 and has since stepped away to begin building his own distillery, Rising Tide Spirits.


Robert and Marcia Likarish
Distiller at Ironroot and Mother of Texas Whiskey

Robert and Marcia Likarish will be in attendance at this years Whiskey Social for the third year. This north Texas Distillery has been making one hell of a mark on the category the last couple years and We absolutely love them.

This family run distillery is also a founding member of the Texas Whiskey Association.


Scott Fraser

Scott Fraser is a Regional Sales Manager for the Tomatin Distillery Company Limited. Scott is responsible for Southern Europe, Africa and the Americas. This varied role sees him travel all across the world promoting Tomatin Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Having worked in the industry for nearly ten years, Scott has worked on both the production and Sales and Marketing sides of the business. This invaluable experience has allowed him to understand the complexities of distilling with a passion for promoting quality Scotch whisky. If he is not promoting whisky then he is likely to be found on the golf course or on the family farm in the Highlands of Scotland. He has travelled the world but his heart will always be in the Highlands.


William Schragis
National Director for Barrell Spirits

A graduate of Wesleyan University and The Culinary Institute of America, William Schragis began his career as a bartender and junior distiller for Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn. After moving to Napa Valley for a year, Will returned to New York and took a job as a sommelier in Eli Zabar’s family of restaurants and wine shops. He then moved to Zachys retail and auction where he oversaw acquisition and sales for the spirits department. It was there that he met Joe Beatrice, as Zachys was one of the first few stores to carry Barrell Bourbon Batch 001.
In May of 2016, Will joined Barrell Craft Spirits as National Director. He works closely with Barrell Craft Spirit’s distributors and key accounts, and helps with product development.
Will is responsible for compliance communication, incentives, planning, and market work. He also guest lectures on distillation
science annually at The Culinary Institute of America.


Al Young
Lifelong Ambassador to Four Roses

Four Roses Bourbon’s Brand Ambassador Al Young is among the world’s whisky(ey) royalty.

Young has been with Four Roses for 47 years, serving in a variety of roles in quality control and management. In 1990, he became distillery manager of Four Roses’ Lawrenceburg, Kentucky facility and in 2007 was named Four Roses brand ambassador, a role that has him criss-crossing the country sharing the story of Four Roses and its bourbons. He is also historian for the storied 127-year old Kentucky bourbon brand, having researched archives, distillery records, news accounts, photos and artifacts in order to write the coffee-table book “Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend,” published in 2010.



The Buffalo Trace Antique collection bourbon tasting, the first of the evening, will be led by none other than Houston Local Bourbon fanatic, Wade Woodard.
Wade has been proclaimed public enemy #1 by several companies who have chosen to improperly label their whiskey, purposefully misleading the public about their product. He has been on the forefront of a grass roots effort to educate the public on federal labeling laws regarding spirits. Wade is the Compliance officer for the Texas Whiskey Association, a Certified Spirits Specialist through the Society of Wine Educators, a well known whiskey geek on social media- @wadewood, and a past seminar speaker at Tales of the Cocktail. He is a Texas A&M graduate with a BS degree in Industrial Distribution and spent 20 years in sales/sales management. In addition, he worked in the industry for as a Bourbon Evangelist for a Texas craft distiller. When he is not sipping whiskey, or trying to convince the TTB to enforce our labeling laws he currently dabbles in real estate. Wade has a no nonsense approach to America's greatest spirit and we think you will enjoy what he has to say.