The Story Behind The Bourbon Whiskey Library

An L.A. transplant turned his love of whiskey into a full-time job
Charlotte, North Carolina December 5th 2022 : The Bourbon Library With Anthony And Andrea Riccardi In The Library Photographed By Peter Taylor In Charlotte, Nc. December 5, 2022.

The subdivision’s brick-and-stone entrance signs, flanked by topiaries, read “Providence Heights” in stately gold letters. On a rainy day in November, I arrive at a two-story red brick house with a small, manicured front lawn and press the button on a brushed-bronze Ring doorbell. Anthony Riccardi invites me in. He’s sporting a gray golf shirt embroidered with the words “The Bourbon Whiskey Library” in white. The colors complement his tidy salt-and-pepper beard. He shows me around the common areas, introduces me to his three cats, and strikes up a conversation about the seven surrealist paintings by artist Michael Cheval in the dining room. 

His wife and college sweetheart, Andrea, comes down the stairs to join us, and the pair lead me into the room I’m here to see. They refer to it as “the library.” Before they even open the French door to the former office, I can see the wall of built-in, floor-to-ceiling, dark-wood bookshelves that house the couple’s 1,100 bottles of whiskey. 


Charlotte, North Carolina December 5th 2022 : The Bourbon Library With Anthony And Andrea Riccardi In The Library Photographed By Peter Taylor In Charlotte, Nc. December 5, 2022.

“A social club is kind of what my vision is,” Anthony Riccardi says. “I’m Italian. It’s in my nature. I want to have a good time with people.”

Anthony is wrapping up his first year in business as The Bourbon Whiskey Library, which offers tastings for a fee. But his love of whiskey isn’t new. He got his first taste before he could walk, and it’s been his drink of choice ever since. “To stop me from crying when I was teething as a baby, my mother would give me a thimble of Jack Daniel’s,” he says with a laugh. “I like to think that’s where I developed a taste for whiskey.” 

As a teenager, Anthony drank Jack and Coke at parties because it’s what his dad drank. His father was a member of the Tennessee Squire Association, an elite club of Jack Daniel’s super-fans and ambassadors. Before his dad died three years ago, he nominated Anthony as a squire, too. 

“I probably don’t have the most bottles in Charlotte,” Anthony, 41, says looking over his shelves with a grin, “but I’m very close to having a lot.”

Anthony offers group tastings and teaches attendees about whiskey—the history of brands they’re drinking, how to tell whiskies apart, the difference between bourbon and Scotch. He hosts some in the library, others at distilleries, corporate offices, and online. He also posts whiskey reviews and “Whiskey of the Day” highlights on the library’s Instagram page, which has more than 25,000 followers. 

Andrea, 39, built The Bourbon Whiskey Library’s website and, last year, completed Stave and Thief Society’s bourbon education course alongside Anthony. The pair are now certified bourbon experts. But as we sip Blade and Bow in the library, Andrea tells me that, though she enjoys whiskey, the collection and business is “all Anthony.” 

Anthony shakes his head. “She’s Mrs. Bourbon Whiskey Library. Trust me—she has a lot more say than she says.” 


Anthony and Andrea moved to Charlotte from Los Angeles in July 2018 for Andrea’s job as vice president of operations for insurance company Amwins Group, headquartered in SouthPark. In L.A., Anthony had worked as an oil and petrochemicals laboratory manager, but he couldn’t find a similar job in the Charlotte area.

He was more interested in whiskey, anyway. He understood the science behind it—“There are a lot of similarities between labs for oil and labs for whiskey,” he says—and had consumed a lot of it. He began to host tastings for friends in his library or back porch. Friends asked if they could bring more friends. Distilleries sent him bottles and asked him to review them on his Instagram account. The more Anthony posted photos on Instagram, the more followers asked for tastings, and he discovered an online community of whiskey enthusiasts like himself. In March 2020, he co-founded a club called The Bourbon Thieves, which now has more than 200 members around the world. 

As his online following grew, Anthony realized that he had the makings of a business. In June, the state incorporated The Bourbon Whiskey Library as an LLC. “I don’t sell liquor,” Anthony clarifies. “What I do is I sell the education and experience.” He says he’s mostly hired to host tastings for private groups or corporate events. 

During The Bourbon Whiskey Library’s first year, Anthony hosted only a few tastings a month as he built the backend. But in 2023, he plans to “really get out there” and book a lot more. He also hopes to one day move his business out of his house—something Andrea supports enthusiastically—and open a social club where people can gather to drink their favorite whiskies and discover new ones. 

“One of my mottos,” he says, “is, ‘If it’s whiskey, I want to try it.’” 

Tess Allen is the associate editor. 

Categories: Food + Drink