Y’all, you peel off the roof of any bourbon or whiskey distillery out there, and you’ll find lots of women working behind the scenes in every aspect from distilling to ownership to ambassadors and so on. Of course this isn’t news to me, because I’ve been writing about these ladies for years.
I was recently tasked by The Bourbon Review to round up a handful of innovative women working in whiskey today, and my list quickly grew to more than 20 in five minutes flat. As I say in the article, this list is only the tip of the iceberg — and I feel bad I had to leave out so many others.
What was fun about writing this piece was learning about a few of the women I didn’t know as much about and reading all about their distilleries and passions and nerdy whiskey backgrounds. What wasn’t fun was rounding up all 22 photos. But that’s my job, and someone’s gotta pay some bills and feed the dog!
Here’s an excerpt from “Founders & Creators: 22 Women of Whiskey,” and for the full story, click here.
Anyone who believes whiskey is a man’s drink probably hasn’t gotten out of the house in the last decade. In fact, women make up nearly 40% of whiskey consumers, according to a recent study by MRI-Simmons. And behind the scenes, women are taking on more leadership roles in the distillery than ever.
We wanted to highlight a handful of women in the whiskey industry, and that list quickly grew to 22. This is only the tip of the iceberg. To keep it manageable, we decided to limit the list to those working in the United States and those working in distilling and/or ownership roles. Each week this month, we also will take a deeper dive with some of the women here, so stay tuned.
You’ll see the word “passion” a lot throughout the list. Most of the people below are simply following their love of science, distilling and innovation and their desire to put a fingerprint on the whiskey industry despite their gender. And they all are doing just that.
Let’s raise a toast to passion, drive and whiskey-makin’ badass women!
1. Nicole Austin — General Manager/Distiller at George Dickel (Cascade Hollow Distilling)
Nicole Austin came on board at Dickel in 2018 after learning the ropes at Kings County Distillery, Oak View Spirits and Ireland’s Tullamore Distillery. In 2019, Austin launched her first product, the award-winning 13-year-old Bottled-in-Bond George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. The chemical engineer is certainly bringing new life to the Diageo-owned distillery in Tullahoma, Tenn.
3. Jane Bowie — Master of Maturation/Director of Innovation at Maker’s Mark
Since 2016, Jane Bowie has been leading the charge of innovation at the quaint and historic Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky. Bowie started as an international ambassador for the company years earlier and then made her way to the distilling side of the operation, overseeing Maker’s Private Barrel Select program and creating new products like the wood-finishing series. Sensory analysis is what she loves most, and it shows in the novel new releases coming from the distillery.The Bourbon Review