Friends market cold brewed coffee whisky

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Windsor Star/Mary Caton

Jackie DeMarco was cleaning out the family whisky cabinet a couple of years ago when she considered the rather tired image of a home bar staple.

“It’s always status quo, an older man is the face of the brand, sitting in his study and I thought that’s not really fair,” the 27-year-old MBA graduate said. “I’ve got a lot of friends who discuss getting into whisky so why not do something different?

Now, DeMarco knows a little more than the average millennial about the beverage given that her father Dan DeMarco is a master distiller who worked many years for Hiram Walker.

“I’ve been around whisky my whole life so I’ve had an interest in it but you don’t necessarily want to do what your parents do, so I fought it for a little while,” Jackie said.

She’s up to her neck in oak aged barrels now, however, as the co-founder of Kavi Reserve, the first cold-brewed coffee blended Canadian whisky of its kind.

Her business partner, Steve Wright, himself a master blender, had been mulling the idea of incorporating coffee into whisky for some time.

Wright, 58, worked with DeMarco’s father in the business for years and both continue to do consulting work for craft distillers, including Tom Manherz, the owner of Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg.

So Wright and DeMarco put their heads together on a laborious project that saw Wright literally mix “just shy of 100” different blends before they settled on one.

Wright uses locally owned Colonial Coffee in his blend which is produced through a partnership with Manherz and Wolfhead.

Not to be confused with Wolfhead’s own coffee whisky liqueur, Wright explains as a whisky, Kavi Reserve has a different taste and alcohol content.

Kavi Reserve is double-aged in barrels, once for the whisky on its own and then again after blending with the coffee.

“It gives it a smoothness and complexity and a little oakiness,” Wright said.

A soft, easy finish makes it “a stepping stone into the whisky category,” DeMarco said.


“Everyone drinks coffee. A lot of people can relate to this, it will definitely get people into the category.”

DeMarco is heading up sales and marketing of Kavi Reserve, which just hit the shelves at LCBO outlets a few weeks ago.

“It’s exceeded expectations,” Wright said. “In fact we’ve got a back order situation in Toronto.”

Currently, Kavi Reserve is still in stock at the Roundhouse LCBO and the store on University Avenue. It will also be available in Tecumseh, Lakeshore, the Walker Road location and at Wolfhead.

A 750 ml bottle sells for $29.95.

Wright says the next phase of the business model is getting Kavi Reserve in restaurants and bars and, long range, “we want to go national with this.”

More information on Kavi Reserve is available on Facebook, twitter, Instagram or at