The festival, also a fundraiser for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children), takes place in Portland’s Pearl District and features local and national distilleries, food, music and more. We talked to WFNW Director and The Luna Foundation’s President Sam Watson about what to expect from this one-day celebration of whiskey, food, music and more.
Corey O’Hara: Why whiskey?
Sam Watson: Because of my love for whiskey, I understand the incredible desire for whiskey in Oregon. We are actually the big epicenter of whiskey, the next big push for whiskey in the United States. And I think that Portland was really desiring something like this. They wanted to have a whiskey festival, and we’re happy to oblige.
CO: What distilleries should we be on the lookout for?
SW: One that we’re very excited about is the Japanese whiskey that will be at WFNW, which is Hibiki and Hakushu, both of which are incredible. Beam has a huge portfolio there. They’ve got a really new product called Knob Creek Rye, which I’m a huge fan of. And Maker’s 46, another great whiskey. But I’m also very, very excited about all the incredible Oregon whiskeys that are going to be there. Really proud to have so many of them on board, and to be able to showcase what it is that we’re doing here in the state of Oregon.
CO: And what about the food?
SW: Oh man, we have all kinds of fun stuff. We have Southland Whiskey Kitchen. We have Brix Tavern. We have Fire on the Mountain for people who like their wings. We made it a requirement for every one of our food vendors to have at least one dish in their repertoire that was infused with whiskey. Same goes for the sweets, the chocolates, people who bring anything like that. They had to put at least one item that has whiskey in it on the menu. So lots of great food. Lots of great food with whiskey.
CO: WFNW is a benefit event for The Luna Foundation and CASA. Tell us a little about these organizations.
SW: The Luna Foundation is a newly formed Oregon non-profit. We created The Luna Foundation in my mother’s name, Leslie Watson, who spent her life working with children and making sure children and their families were working well together. When my mother passed away, we wanted to continue providing that same kind of exceptional experience for children in need and families in need. We thought the best way to do that was to create proprietary and innovative events in and around the Northwest that will allow people to have fun and build awareness for other really great organizations.
Which would lead me into CASA, the non-profit we are benefiting this year. They do incredible things for children in the foster system. There are so many children out there in the foster system that need an advocate, and we’re just happy to work with someone like CASA who provides that advocacy to children in need.
CO: Overall, what are the goals of WFNW?
SW: Our goal for WFNW is to explore and touch on the culture of whiskey, really everything that goes into whiskey, whether it’s the music you listen to when you drink whiskey, or the song that makes you want a glass of whiskey, or the food you like with a little bit of whiskey: If it has to do with whiskey, we put it under this canopy.
A huge goal of ours is to raise awareness for CASA in Multnomah and Washington County. There are a ton of children that need CASAs. Our goal for this year and for many years to come is to build awareness for that organization.
We really want to be a staple in the Portland area. We want to be here forever. We want to build this event and represent our city. We want to bring fun and proprietary events to the city of Portland and change the way we entertain our community, and all [while] doing that for a bigger cause.