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Although 29-year-old Jackie DeMarco is easily one of the youngest people in Canada to have launched their own spirits brand, Kavi Reserve Coffee Blended Whisky, she sure doesn’t lack in understanding of the industry. Growing up in Windsor, a city whose main business has been whisky for as far back as anyone can remember, DeMarco had a head start. Through university, she gave tours and tastings at the Canadian Club visitors’ centre, and worked here and there for her dad — a lifer in the industry. It wasn’t until she’d embarked on a career in business administration, however, that she realized she missed spreading the gospel of whisky. That’s how Kavi Reserve was born.
DeMarco loves whisky but believes a lot of people are hesitant to wade into brown spirits. The inspiration for Kavi, then, was to blend whisky with a product people were familiar with — coffee — to make it more accessible and easier for her to share her passion.
One of my favourite things is the look on people’s faces after they try it. I tell them how the Canadian whisky comes through first, with that light oakiness and vanilla, and then, as you dive into the finish, it actually turns into the coffee and complements the whisky character. And then it happens, just like I said. They’re usually amazed.
Like many young distillers just starting out, DeMarco doesn’t own a full bricks-and-mortar distillery yet. Instead, she teamed up with Windsor’s Wolfhead Distillery to develop the recipe and produce the brand. Tom Manherz, Wolfhead’s distiller and owner, became a partner in Kavi, along with master blender Steve Wright and, of course, her dad, spirits industry veteran Dan DeMarco.
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