“Whisky was the first drink I was stealing from my parents liquor cabinet,” says Chris Thompson with some pride. That early passion has led him to his dream job: brand ambassador for Forty Creek Distillery, maker of fine whiskys.
When the Friends of Fort George decided to host a whisky tasting, they knew exactly who to involve.
Last year was the first annual whisky tasting fundraiser for the Friends, and it’s now coming up on time for the second. On Feb. 22, Navy Hall will return to its roots as a mess hall for rowdy soldiers — or locals. The fire will be lit, says Amanda Gamble, to give the hall a cozy and historic feeling. The executive director of the Friends of Fort George says, “Soldiers would have done a lot of drinking at Navy Hall, so it’s a nice connection.” She goes on to point out just how prominently alcohol featured in the lives of the men-at-arms, which is evidenced by the many — many — mentions of booze in the detailed mess rules. Vis number 14: “No Gentleman during Mess time, is to Read Books, Letters etc. without leave of the President – a Bottle of Wine to be paid for every…”
So whisky and Navy Hall and fundraising for the Fort are a perfect fit — just like Thompson at Forty Creek. “My next door neighbour introduced me to Forty Creek whisky. He said, ‘They make it just down the road in Grimsby.’ A year later I was working for them.”
And now, as brand ambassador, he gets to travel North America, geeking out about his pet passion. “I spend so much time travelling for this job, I’m thrilled to have an event in my own back yard,” says the St. Catharines resident, of the NOTL event. He’s also enthusiastic about Navy Hall “with its historic importance, and a partnership with our national parks.”
Thompson says the event will feature finger foods — from NOTL’s Sweets & Swirls cafe — each paired with a different Forty Creek whisky. There will be seven samples in total, each with its own unique story. “I’ll get up and talk for five to 10 minutes about each varietal — the weird backgrounds behind each one,” says the professional entertainer. “I’ll do a little bit of a deep dive, depending on how nerdy the group is and how much detail they want. How this whisky came to be, the trials and tribulations of each type. All of the whiskys are very different.”
He promises the night will be “a real eye-opener, especially for people who don’t necessarily appreciate whisky.” He says there will be a bit of education, and a lot of fun.
Thompson will guide guests through a structured night of sampling and food pairing, along with “good storytelling.”
Forty Creek Distilleries is donating all of the alcohol, as well as Thompson’s time.
Tickets are $45 for this Friends of Fort George fundraiser. Proceeds go toward supporting student employment at the fort. “We are hoping to continue supporting Niagara’s youth with meaningful summer employment, and events like this allow us to raise much-needed funds to cover wages,” says Tony Chisholm, president of the Friends of Fort George.
For more information or for reservations, call the Friends of Fort George at 905-468-6621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.