Heritage Distilling Company - Award Winning Craft Distillery in Seattle

Craft Distilling? Meet Heritage Distilling Company

During a recent business trip to visit Mintaka Financial and Orion First in Seattle, I stayed at an Inn next to a very interesting and surprising craft distillery, the Heritage Distilling Company.  Heritage Distilling is located in the quaint bucolic neighborhood of Gig Harbor, Washington. My curiosity compelled me to make a visit.  Talk about a surprise. Sure, I have heard of craft distilleries but not that many and even fewer have I visited.  Keep in mind, I consider myself a bit of a bourbon snob where only real bourbon is made in Kentucky and aged a considerable amount of time in oak barrels. But I am open-minded enough to at least listen and sample.  Good thing, since Heritage Distilling Company is one of the most highly awarded craft distilleries in the nation, which is especially notable given, they are less than 10 years in existence and started by a young entrepreneurial and dedicated couple.

Part 1: Bob meets with Max Gorman, the head distiller of Heritage Distilling Company, in the Seattle suburb of Gig Harbor

Max describes the history of Heritage from a startup to a distillery that has won many awards already and creating a lot of buzz in a short 7 years.

Part 2: Max explains the impetus for allowing craft distilling to emerge.

This is a short discussion about the methods that Heritage Distilling played the distilling game a bit differently.

Part 3: Not only is Heritage young, so are its employees which is completely contra to the whole distilling business

Passion and Commitment trumps age even in a century-old industry.  Listen up to see a real-world example of the application of this new paradigm. I think every organization can relate to or learn something from this example.

Part 4: The tortured wait is over, time to taste the goods!  Up first, Elk Rider Bourbon

Bob’s Review of

Elk Rider Bourbon – This is a very light yet tasty bourbon. I enjoyed the complex flavor with no burn making it even, well, refreshing. This is a great bourbon for those that are just starting out or serious bourbon drinkers who do not want something too heavy later in the evening.  Great floral notes combined with a little smokiness reminiscent of a light scotch. Bottom line – Get a bottle! Well worth the $45.

Part 5: Up next! The internationally, award-winning BSB (brown sugar bourbon), a surprise, and BSB 103

The BSB bourbons make a phenomenal after dinner cordial or to use in baking.  The BSB 103 is a higher proof of the base BSB and would be for those traditional bourbon drinkers looking for that strength of character for which bourbon is known.  BSB and BSB 103 are very accessible as they are both under $40 a bottle. So, BSB and BSB 103 are a MUST TRY.  I understand now why Heritage was voted “World’s Best Flavoured Whisky” for the second consecutive year at 2019 Whisky Magazine’s World Whiskies Awards in London

Part 6: Wrapping up! So if you want to check out where to get some of Heritage Distilling Company’s award-winning bourbons, you will want to watch this!

Willy Herrara

An interview with Master Blender Willy Herrera

Meet world-famous master blender of fine cigars, Willy Herrera. The interview took place at my favorite cigar lounge in the US, Stogies World Famous Cigars in Houston, Texas run by proprietor Jorge Ahued. Willy and his team were at Stogies for a special evening event featuring Willy’s own new blend, Herrera Esteli from Nicaragua. Jorge, and I catch some private time with Willy on this busy evening to hear about Willy’s start and his eventual attachment to Drew Estates, one of the world’s largest fine cigar producers.

Willy Herrera Part 1: From Banking to Cigars

In this video, Willy explains how he ended up in the cigar industry from an improbable start in banking.

Willy Herrera Part 2: How Willy made it to the pinnacle of the premium cigar industry

From a start in a small family owned cigar factory to the top of the industry.

Willy Herrera Part 3: The role of a Master Blender

Willy explains what it takes to be a master blender

Willy Herrera Part 4: Where to find Willy Herrera

How to learn more about Willy

Paul Gass Interview - Founder of Eaton Financial est. 1974

Paul Gass - An Interview with a true pioneer of the equipment leasing and finance industry.

Paul, the original founder of Eaton Financial, is one of the most interesting people in our industry. Eaton was one of the very first to pioneer the small ticket leasing business along with creating the unique tools required some 40 years ago.  Paul was and is a tireless advocate for the disadvantaged and for championing many causes, from diversity in the workplace, founding of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation and extensive philanthropy. In this series of short videos, we take a look at just a few of the highlights of Paul Gass’s remarkable career.  Trust me, there could easily be a dozen more segments of the very interesting and engaging life of Paul Gass.  There is much anyone can learn from Paul.

Paul Gass – Introduction

This video will give you a sense for Paul and set the stage for the following segments.

Paul discusses how he started Eaton with an idea to fill a void in the equipment leasing industry

Paul Gass – Starting Eaton Financial

How does one start something from nothing when there wasn’t a roadmap! Paul discusses how he started Eaton with an idea to fill a void in the equipment leasing industry

Without a road map, challenges were expected but what were some of them

Paul Gass – Challenges

Learn about Paul’s philosophy on dealing with challenges

Ever wonder how application only credit decisioning started?

Paul Gass – Innovation

Wonder no longer!

In an era and an industry which was unquestionably male-dominated Paul blazed new territory well ahead of his time.

Paul Gass – Diversity Pioneer

Learn why many of Paul’s key employees were women.

Paul had an idea about leasing education and fostering research in the industry then put his money to work in making it a reality

Paul Gass – Founding the EL&F Foundation

Learn how the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation got its start.

Paul sees another need to help those with disabilities gain entry into the workplace.

Paul Gass – Help For Those With Disabilities

Hear about how Paul engaged with the Advocates, a non-profit that champions people who face developmental, mental health, or other life challenges.

We sum it all up in this segment, but we could have gone on for hours.

Paul Gass – Final Thoughts

Get some parting words of wisdom.  Do you have some questions for Paul, please comment or contact us and we will try to get Paul to answer them.

Paul Gass

Paul's Full Bio

I Will Go First!

So, here is one of my favorite cigars and beverage when given an hour or so to relax either in solitude with some great music or better with friends.


My Father Le Bijou 1922 –(see picture) Cigar Aficionado’s cigar of the year in 2015. The price is between $10-$15 per cigar depending on the size selected. The tasting notes that I can depend on are chocolate covered raisins, cocoa, nutmeg and a richness that is totally relaxing while being intriguing with each puff. Now, keep in mind that is a very individual thing since taste varies for everyone.  While the Le Bijou looks very dark, because of its oscuro tobacco wrapper, it is not strong but rather very flavorful which is often confusing to novices. Strong and dark are not the same. You can have a very light-colored cigar that is very strong (e.g. Cohiba).

Where to get them:  Stogies World Class Cigar Lounge in Houston. www.stogiesworldclasscigars.com or call 713-783-5100 and ask Andrew or email him at Andrew@stogiesworldclasscigars.com


Diplomatico Reserva Exculsiva (see picture). Price is very affordable at $35-$40 per bottle. The tasting notes that I really look forward to are: molasses, caramel vanilla that compliments the LeBijou’s tasting notes incredibly well. This pairing frankly is a real treat for the senses and easily my favorite. This bottle can be had at most fine liquor stores in your area. It should not be hard to find.


I have been smoking cigars for about 4-5 years but only became a serious aficionado for the last 3 years. I view myself as a life-long learner and always try to find out all I can about a topic I find interesting. Anyway, about 3 years ago, I joined Bells House of Tobacco, one of the quaintest “down home” cigar clubs in Cincinnati, owned by a really interesting and engaging fellow, John Bell. I used to drop in and buy a short cigar (known as robusto) and only hang out for a short while to smoke said shorty. One day, I went back to the smoking lounge early one afternoon and I had it all to myself. Mr. Bell came back about 10 minutes into this cigar (by the way, yes it was a My Father Le Bijou 2922 robusto.). As I recall, the conversation went something like this:

Mr. Bell –  “Bob, we need to talk. You like being a member here, right?”

Me – “Of course, Why”

Mr. Bell –  “Well, I have to tell you that something has to change, or you are not going to be a member much longer.”

Me – “What?”

Mr. Bell –  When you come to Bell’s you always get a short cigar, then pace, fidget, work on email and otherwise make everyone nervous with your nervousness. Bob, that has to stop. Do you ever relax?”

Me –  “Sure, I do. That is what I am doing right now.”

Mr. Bell –  “That is not relaxing Bob”. Now here is the deal. I am going to go out to the humidor and select a proper cigar for you and put on some appropriately paired music (by the way the music was classic jazz). You are going to sit here, smoke it while enjoying the music and you better not bury yourself in your phone and work.

A few minutes later Mr. Bell returned with a very long and thick cigar.  By the looks of it, there goes 2 hours of my busy time.  But I really did not want to get kicked out of my new club and friends.

Mr. Bell –  “OK! Here we go. This is a dynamite cigar that from what I know should fit your taste profile. It will take you a good hour and a half to finish it. Put your phone away.”

Me – “Alright, alright, alright!”

So I proceeded to properly cut and light the stick. I then sat back and just slowly smoked, listened to some great jazz and well started to just think. About 30 minutes later a few other members showed up and we just started to talk. Wow, I think I get it. Smoking a cigar is about really relaxing and community. Besides what else am I going to do for an hour or two while it takes to finish a cigar like this. Mr. Bell returned to the lounge.

Mr. Bell –  “Well Bob, what do you think?”

Me – “John, I think I get it. The cigar actually tasted better when not buried in email or pacing and I am not sure I have ever really relaxed in this manner.”

Mr. Bell put on his trademark broad wide infectious smile as remarked with one of his trademark expressions.

Mr. Bell –  “That’s right!   He seemed quite pleased with himself as he strutted out of the lounge like a proud peacock, obviously pleased with himself.

As I look back on that episode, I can honestly say this. He saved my life from a mental standpoint. I learned to enjoy just, well, just being in the moment and enjoying the finer points of fine hand-crafted cigars and beverage pairings with them. I also enjoyed the discourse and community that takes place in a cigar lounge. There is something about cigar lounges and the folks that frequent them. The cigar culture is one of camaraderie, sharing experiences, cigar selections, music, beverages and of course story after story.

My Conversation with Susan Carol for the Equipment Finance Advisor

I always enjoy my too infrequent visits and conversations with Susan Carol! She always asks great, thought provoking questions and makes me think. I firmly believe that the status quo in the commercial lending space is about to be disrupted in many more and unexpected ways. Fintechs started that movement years ago by exploiting vacuums in very specific niches left by the traditional lending platforms (banks). Susan and I only touch on the very surface of what could have been a 2-3 hour conversation and brainstorming session.

Link to the article on the EFA site>

October 2015 - Chairman's Speech at ELFA's 2015 Annual Convention

Video of Bob Rinaldi delivering the Chairman's Speech at ELFA's 2015 Annual Convention.