May 8, 2017
He's a born and raised Calgarian with a passion for wine, whisky and travel.
“I've always loved wine, and it’s experimenting with wine that made me discover whisky. The more I learned, the more captivated I became,” says Chris Sikorsky, Manager of Co-op's World of Whisky.
Chris has his level two ISG in Wine and Spirits. He is an expert in everything whisky and has tasted hundreds of different types over the years.
“It's not just about Scotch, there are incredible whiskies from Japan, Taiwan, India and France – and of course you can't forget American and Canadian whiskies,” Chris adds.
The store in downtown Calgary is the first of its kind in Canada, selling approximately 850 different styles of whisky.
Surprisingly, Chris wasn’t always in this line of work. He was a paramedic for nearly two decades before turning his personal passion for wine and whisky, into his next career.
“I was a paramedic for 18 years. I also taught at STARS Air Ambulance, and was also an acting superintendent with Calgary EMS. I felt it was time for a change and I have never looked back,” Chris says.
In addition to his formal education, there are many learnings and opportunities that have molded Chris into the whisky connoisseur he is today.
“Travel is another passion for me, I've been lucky to have visited many places in Europe, spending a lot of time in France, Spain and the U.K.,” he says.
“Every time I visit a distillery or winery – I learn. I make a point to sit down with the master distiller or winemaker and taste a number of items while I’m there.”
Chris has been at Co-op for the last year and says it's the people that make him enjoy coming to work each day.
“It's such a social and relaxed environment, everybody wants to be here. People are happy to see you and I really enjoy that human aspect, talking to and engaging with our customers.”
Having access to hundreds of amazing whiskies doesn't hurt either.
“I don't have a favourite, I love them all,” he says. I do enjoy scotches from Speyside Scotland, a region within the Highlands. It's a small area that has some of the most interesting and diverse scotches in the world. I also love bourbon; there are some great places in New York, Iowa and Montana that produce incredible bourbons.”
Even when he’s not at work, Chris is living and breathing the industry.
“Continuous leaning is important to me. I’m always reading a number of scotch books and online research. My most recent read is the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2017.”
And what would his ideal Friday night look like?
“To have a great day at work, then go home and enjoy a delicious meal, glass of wine, and a nice whisky to finish it off.”
His transition into the world of whisky has been a unique journey for Chris, and one that he is very proud of.
“Opening this store was a dream of our Director, and to be entrusted and empowered to make it successful is an incredible opportunity. My ultimate goal would be for World of Whisky to become internationally known, with people from around the globe coming to us for our unique, collectible products.”
From gin, to vodka and even that favourite of the tropics, rum, Alberta is producing an amazing variety of spirits.
It’s been 150 years since Canada’s Confederation, and a notable reason to celebrate our great country.
We’ve got the rolling prairies, the towering Rockies and a reputation for being the friendliest province in the country.