Although Abov certainly would not exist were it not for whiskey, it is about more than just the bottles. What makes the whiskey world so great is the amazing community of people that share a passion for that brown water we all love. To that end, we are starting a new feature where we want to highlight some of the fascinating people that make Abov what it is.
Whether it’s an impressive collection, a unique journey into the world of whiskey, or just a fun conversation, we want to share your stories. Keep an eye out for more monthly profiles where we “Share a Dram” with your fellow Abov fans!
We’ll get started with an interview with Jeffrey Cohen, founder of Voyage Air Guitar, and an Abov member since 2021.
ABOV: Jeffrey, thanks for taking a little time to chat with us! Tell everyone a little bit about who you are, where you’re from?
JEFFREY COHEN: Originally from Philadelphia, I currently reside in Las Vegas. Previously, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 25 years founding medical technology companies focused on new medical devices to help improve outcomes for patients in a variety of medical fields.
Along the way, I founded a guitar company; Voyage Air Guitar. Voyage Air is a high quality full size guitar that folds in half and fits in a back pack for easy travel.
ABOV: Voyage Air has been featured multiple times on Shark Tank! Guitars seem pretty different than medical devices; how did that get started?
JEFFREY: Shark Tank has been a lot of fun and we’ve been fortunate to get quite a bit of publicity from it. We were on the first 5 seasons and then Kevin O’Leary and I did 20/20, ABC News, Good Morning America and quite a few awards shows. Here’s a link to my final episode on Shark Tank.
Years ago, I was a collector of fine guitars and inlay art. I was fortunate enough to meet a worldclass luthier and inlay artist, Harvey Leach. Harvey had a crazy idea to make a very high quality guitar that could actually fold for easy portability.
There are basically 2 types of guitars; bolt on necks and glued on dovetail necks. Harvey’s idea was to create sort of a hybrid, whereby we use a glued on dovetail neck and then insert a custom hinge with an accompanying bolt. This ingenious, yet simple, design allows the user to “unbolt” the guitar neck in a few seconds and easily “re-bolt” it to put the guitar back in the play position in just a few seconds.
The bolt doubles as the strap button on the bottom of the guitar and is completely invisible when you are in the play position. And yes, incredibly, after you fold and then return the guitar to the play position, it’s still in tune!
ABOV: And how are things going today with Voyage Air Guitar?
I founded the company about 15 years ago. We’re still small, having made and sold about 15,000 guitars to date. Like a lot of other businesses, we got slammed by Covid and nearly went out of business, but we’re coming back and expect to launch a whole new line by the end of the year!
ABOV: Switching gears, what got you interested in whiskey and how did your journey begin?
JEFFREY: For the last 15 years or so, I’ve been seriously interested in learning about whiskies from Scotland and Ireland. I’ve traveled a lot for business and pleasure and always make an effort to visit a distillery when I’m in Scotland. I guess I’ve visited 30 or so distilleries at this point, most of them in Scotland.
The more you learn, tour and taste, the more you like the diverse expressions! I have limited experience with American made whiskeys, but do hope to correct that over the next few years…
ABOV: From checking out your profile on the app, it looks like you have a pretty large collection. How many bottles do you have currently? Any interesting stories about a specific bottle or collecting experience?
JEFFREY: At this point I’ve got about 350 bottles with roughly 275 different expressions. Each year I travel to Scotland to golf, visit distilleries and bring home bottles that are not available in the US. They say that a real collector buys 2 of every bottle; one to drink and one to save. I buy what I like and enjoy every bottle.
This summer I spent a couple weeks on Islay, golfing at The Machrie and visiting some fabulous distilleries; including one of my favorite Islay distilleries, Bruichladdich. They have an extremely broad portfolio of whiskies, ranging from the unpeated Classic Laddie to heavily peated Port Charlotte and the super heavily peated Octomore. They do a lot of experimenting with terroir and barley grown on farms on Islay.
There’s not a lot of older bottles here in the States, but I’ve found some old bottles in Italy and the UK. There’s a lot of wonderful old bottles on the shelves of some whisky shops in London. You just need to know what you’re looking for. I recently picked up a very nice bottle of 30 year old Bruichladdich 1986 Rare Cask Series at Wally’s in Resorts World right here in Las Vegas!
ABOV: I’ve always thought whiskey and music go pretty well together. Do you have a favorite song about whiskey, or generally some favorite music to listen to while drinking whiskey?
Jeffrey: I’m a fan of country music, (I love acoustic guitar and vocals) but I’m also a fan of Bruno Mars and enjoy listening and relaxing with a dram or 2. Although I do enjoy a nice dram while listening to Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again”…
ABOV: Last question. Whatcha drinkin?
JEFFREY: Recently, my go to scotch is Tomatin 18. It’s a fabulous unpeated scotch that spent its life in oloroso sherry casks. They are a relatively small Highland distillery and they make wonderful scotch.
Another easy drinker that I recommend to friends is Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask.
I’m also a big fan of Bruichladdich Octomore – the 9.1 is my favorite. Good for sipping and certainly not for everyone, as they are all cask strength and very heavily peated. But there’s something magical about Octomore. It just works!
ABOV: Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us and share some of your stories!
We hope you all enjoyed our very first Abov Community Profile, and enjoyed hearing from Jeffrey as much as we did. You can find him in the Abov App as username: jmcohen to check out his full collection. If you are also into music, check out Voyage Air Guitar for yourself at https://voyageairguitar.com/