Isolation Interviews: Ben Baranow

Whisky & Alement is passionate about supporting our local community and keeping people connected. Tune in every week as we chat with local distributors, producers, and industry wild-cards.

To kick things off, we sat down with premium spirits importer, the owner of Baranows Emporium, Whisky & Dreams, the skating, surfing, all-round family man, Ben Baranow (virtually, of course).


What does this industry mean to you, and how did you end up in it?


To me, and most likely to everyone who is involved in this industry, it is tough, demanding and constantly changing, but extremely rewarding. It is abundant of great people, who are willing to step up in the hardest of times to help their peers (friends). The current times have proved this with so many great initiatives started by the very people who have been affected the hardest.

I ended up in this industry when I started Baranows Cigar Lounge in Hawthorn back in 2004, where shortly after opening, smoking bans came into effect and I had a “smokeless cigar lounge”. This led me to import whisky from around the world and started Baranows Emporium, distributing good quality spirits to the industry.


What is your desert island dram, and do you think now would be the time to crack it open? 


I have been eyeing off a bottle of “Adelphi – The Whisky that cannot be named” a 50-year-old un-named Speyside whisky, but I can’t bring myself to open it, as I may know a little secret around this particular whisky planned for the future!

That being said, I did open something that I wouldn’t normally open in regular times. I received a small parcel of Adelphi Dalmore 1998 – 21-year-old sherry cask at 57.2%, which I wouldn’t normally keep any. However, I decided to keep a bottle and open it, and I am glad I did.


How are you staying happy, healthy (and sane) in isolation?


Over the past few years, I have taken to training and competing in a few Triathlons each year for fun. I will certainly never win any of them, but the training keeps me honest with myself!! Earlier this year, I signed up for the Melbourne Half Ironman to be held in November. Although I am pretty sure this event won’t go ahead this year, I am continuing to train for it as it is extremely important to keep active during these times. Besides the physical benefits, it keeps my mind healthy, which is definitively the most important thing we can all do now. Also, some evening walks with a craft beer helps end the day!


So, when the cogs start turning and venues are opening their doors again, where are you going first, and what are you ordering/doing?


So many things come to mind, but what this time has done for me is put a lot of things into perspective. What is truly important to me. So, my list of things (in no particular order) I will be doing once venues start opening up again is:

  1. Have a family gathering.
  2. Take my daughter Heidi to the park.
  3. Meet up with my friends and visit some of my favourite bars, where I am sure we will drink way too much and feel horrible the next day. I would also anticipate I will have a bottle of something very special from my portfolio to share with the staff, as my small way of thanking them for enduring these tough times. It is the very least I can do for all their hard work and dedication to this wonderful industry.



Adelphi whiskies are now available for purchase at the Whisky & Alement online shop.