Hiram Walker's Don Livermore blends art and science into award-winning whiskies
Livermore was named the first 'blender of the year' at the Canadian Whisky Awards
Hiram Walker and Sons in Windsor is the largest distillery in Canada.
But beyond the sheer volume of alcohol it produces every day, it's also award-winning.
At this year's Canadian Whisky Awards, Hiram Walker picked up a number of honours — including Distillery of the Year.
And one of its employees also took home a new award. Don Livermore was named the first-ever "blender of the year."
It's not an honour they necessarily plan on handing out each year — just occasionally, when somebody does something truly special.
"Livermore seems to be just taking it a step higher," said Davin de Kergommeaux, author of Canadian Whisky and founder of the Canadian Whisky Awards.
"It's more of an intelligent approach to blending. As much as he's using his palate, he's also using his science and theory to decide what things he could put together to make great whisky."
Livermore started at Hiram Walker as a microbiologist.
His research has revolutionized distillery labs across the world, thanks to a development of a process which reduced the time for detecting alcohol, sugars and acid in a sample from four hours to 30 seconds.
"I'm one of very very few master blenders in the world that has a PhD in brewing and distilling," Livermore said.
With so many variables — different yeasts, grains, barrels and ages — Livermore is responsible for more than just blending whisky that will be sold today.
He has to plan and develop spirits that will be blended by him and his successors decades into the future.
Tap on the audio player to hear Jonathan talk about his experience on Afternoon Drive.
If you'd like to try your own hand at blending whisky, Livermore offers blending classes to the public every two months. Tickets are available from the J.P. Wiser's Experience site here.