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Friday 29 August 2014

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Top 10 women in whisky

23rd May, 2014 by Lauren Eads

From bloggers and event organisers to distributors and distillers there are plenty of women doing their bit to shake up the typically perceived male dominated world of whisky.

Amy Seton

Amy Seton

In his 2013 book release, Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey, US writer Fred Minnick details how it was women, not men, who were responsible for changing the face of the Scotch whisky industry and turning distilleries into thriving businesses.

Not only did women invent the first stills, but were heavily involved in managing and modernising distilleries to increase their production capacity.

Notable influential characters, Minnick said, included Elizabeth Cumming who owned the Cardow (Cardhu) distillery in Speyside in the late 19th century, and Bessie Williamson, who owned Laphroaig in Islay in the 20th century.

Today women are once again leading the charge on many whisky fronts, be it from a managerial, blending, brand, blogging or retail whisky perspective.

According to Elizabeth Finn, Diageo category director of whiskies in Western Europe, nearly a third (29%) of all whisky drinkers in the UK are women.

However there is still a stigma that the world of whisky is dominated by men, according to Amy Seton, a woman credited with building Birmingham’s now thriving whisky scene from scratch.

In 2011 Amy stepped away from corporate life with a passion and idea to change the face of whisky in Birmingham. Through building up a network of distillers and local venues Amy started running whisky events across the UK’s and set up The Birmingham Whisky Club.

On average Amy hosts over 30 whisky themed events per year across the city ranging from distillery tastings to food and whisky matching experiences and in 2013 launched the first Birmingham’s first whisky festival which was attended by over 250 people with whisky from 15 distillers.

Late 2013 saw the birth of Birmingham’s Whisky Women which brings together a diverse group women and introduces them to the world of whisky.

Scroll through to see Seton’s pick of women making their mark in the world of whisky…

Do you know a whisky woman worthy of a mention? Leave a comment below.

10 Responses to “Top 10 women in whisky”

  1. Ryan Wyrick says:

    Regional to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky – Molly Wellmann is the leading lady in the cocktail/whiskey scene!

  2. Liza Weisstuch is one of many fine whiskey writers and judges.

  3. Ryan Maloney says:

    How about Liza Weisstuch. She is an editor of Whisky Magazine for the US, writes for Whisky Advocate as a contributor as well as a freelance drinks writer; a driving force behind Whisky Live events, plus a World Whisky Awards competition judge for 5 years. Probably should be on your radar.

  4. DavindeK says:

    Great list. Could we add the great unsung hero(ine) of the whisky press, Liza Weisstuch, US editor of Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate contributor, freelance drinks writer for many international mags and papers; a driving force behind Whisky Live and the World Whiskies Conference, and international whisky judge; Johanne McInnis, whisky blogger, writer, whisky judge, and personality; and Tish Harcus, Canadian Club brand ambassador and 2014 Icons of Whisky winner. In fact there are so many women making important contributions to the whisky world today that a list of the top 100 would not be long enough.

  5. DavindeK says:

    And of course, the ever-brilliant Martine Nouet.

  6. Great list! I agree with DavindeK, Chuck Cowdery, and Ryan Maloney. Really need to add Liza Weisstuch, to the list . She is a marvelous drinks writer and seems to have her hand in all things whiskey … from her contributions to Whiskey Advocate, and her service as US editor for Whiskey Magazine and her wonderful freelance work. Much of her service is behind the scenes … working on Whiskey Live events, judging competitions for the World Whiskey Awards and the Craft Distillers in the US, Her whiskey prose is magnificent and her behind the scene work is substantial.

  7. Robert Simonson says:

    I echo all the gents’ thoughts on Liza. She’s a whiskey girl all over.

  8. Christine Crnek, CEO of the company that invented the NEAT glass should definitely be in your list! The NEAT glass is scientifically designed to quickly dissipate off the nose numbing alcohol and lets you enjoy the beverage that the distiller intended for you. Less annoying nose burn makes this glass a must have for new drinkers and people with sensitive noses.
    The ability to linger over the glass and discern the ingredients of a carefully crafted whisky improves the overall experience.
    Christine’s passion for this approach to the whisky experience has spread. The glass is used in judging events like The New York Spirits Competition, the SIP awards and restaurants like Delmonico’s.
    Christine should be on the list for introducing a new way to enjoy whisky to the world.
    Cheers!

  9. Pam Pincow says:

    This is a wonderful list! Absolutely love The Lore of Whisky.
    Wanted to add another fantastic whisky woman…

    Maker’s Mark VP of Distillery Operations, Victoria MacRae-Samuels has more than 20 years of experience in the spirits industry and holds the unique distinction of being the only woman to currently hold the title of vice president of operations of a bourbon distillery. Quite amazing!

  10. Manuela Savona says:

    A big congrats to Rachel Barrie from MBD, a Savona Communications client, and to Cara Laing who I used to work with also. Fine ladies of whisky. And wanted to add a shout to Liza Weisstuch as well who is a top notch whisky writer thru and thru.

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