Did you hear the one about the coastal engineer who traveled the world to find the perfect whisky?
If not, then welcome! I’m Koray Özdemir, The Whisky Monster, a globetrotting, WSET Level 3 spirits certified whisky specialist, judge and consultant, who has made his home in San Francisco by way of Turkey.
Years ago, playing the saxophone was the perfect breather from my suffocating master’s studies. One night, my nerves crept up on me as I was getting ready to play “Got a Match,” the bar manager handed me a glass of Laphroaig 10 Year. From then on, I knew my heart was with another — Whisky!
My next destination brought me one step closer to committing to my dream when I bartended and studied in Denmark. Here, I encountered whisky (and beer) professionally for the first time. I yearned to understand and discuss not just the subtleties of a smooth whisky’s taste, but how it got there — the grains, the casks and the love the distillation process requires to get to that sublime tasting experience.
When I returned to Turkey in 2011, I started ‘Keyif Adamı‘, which quickly became the top alcoholic beverage blog in Turkey. Thanks to the support of my thousands of followers who drank up the content I poured my heart out into, I was lucky enough to visit distilleries, organize tasting events and lead public education sessions.
In 2016, I turned whisky from a passion into a full-time career. I quit my engineering job. Not even a year later, I packed my bags for San Francisco and realized I had created a Whisky Monster! Since then, I’ve built relationships with other whisky (or whiskey) brain trust members across the US and I meet more like-minded people during every Whisky Monster excursion.
In the Bay Area, I’ve continued to expand my repertoire into the wine realm by working as the Spirits Buyer for Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant at the world-famous Pier 1 in San Francisco. I’ve also advised various whisky brands on building their market presence, which has led me to my current position as West Coast Operations Manager for Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky in the USA!
If you want to learn more about my whirlwind journey, collaborate, or debate why Japanese whiskies are not my favorite — don’t hesitate to contact me!