A couple of months ago I was approached by Eddie Ludlow of The Whisky Lounge, who wanted to know if I was keen to help out the team with its new London whisky festival. He and wife (and co-founder) Amanda, were wanting to get a set of events together that might appeal to more women – whether they like whisky already or are just whisky-curious.
Since that meeting, I’ve been busy getting a wonderful set of women together who will be doing Q&A panels at the show, discussing some of their favourite drams and experiences in the industry. I could not be more excited to be doing this. Some have been in the industry for years while others are new, but they all bring an incredible excitement to the world of whisky.
The sessions will each feature three women and be happening at 1:30pm and 6pm on Saturday, 21 April – so, if you’re coming to the Whisky Lounge’s London festival and are keen to hear from some leading whisky women, then definitely grab your tickets and come have a dram with us.
So, without further ado, the wonderful women who have agreed to join in the panels with me are:
Rachel Barrie, Master Blender, Morrison Bowmore:
Rachel is a staple in the whisky industry, having worked as a master blender at Glenmorangie up until late last year where she created award-winning whiskies such as the Glenmorangie Signet and Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Previous to this, she worked at Macdonald & Muir and the Scottish Whisky Research Institute. She got into the world of whisky after following her love for it found, partly, during experiments in the lab at university. Always a proud woman in the whisky industry, Rachel will no doubt add a wealth of knowledge to the talks.
Cat Spencer, Head of Marketing, Master of Malt:
Cat is a great lover of whisky and a huge supporter of all women making their mark on the industry. She recently began her role at Master of Malt, having worked previously at the Albannach Bar in central London, where she helped to promote interesting happenings, such as the International Women’s Day event with Compass Box in aid of The Girl Effect in March. She is also founder of a new site called Whisky London, which will feature news about whisky tastings, events and more. Cat – a former New Yorker – is extremely serious about her whisky passions and will inspire even the most unsure whisky drinker to give a dram a go.
Dr Kirstie McCallum, Global Brands’ Ambassador, Burn Stewart:
Kirstie was Scotland’s youngest female whisky blender when she took over the role of head blender for Burn Stewart in 2007. She is now spreading the good word of the dram to whisky lovers across the globe. And it’s understandable why Kirstie, a Glaswegian, would love the idea of whisky: she gained her doctorate in chemistry before moving into the industry and, as many people know, whisky creation is like a really fun, giant chemistry experiment for adults!
If you’re thinking of going to Islay and you want to do something different, then Rachel is the woman to call on. Having lived in Islay her whole life, the distilleries are as much a part of her as the island. An architect by training, Rachel decided she also wanted to do something to promote the amazing whisky industry that she knows and loves, so began running interactive tours on the Islay which take in the natural landscape and whiskies. This year, she’ll be running Whisky for Girls, a new tour just for us ladies!
Helen Stewart, UK Brand Manager, Scotch Malt Whisky Society:
Helen has worked in the world of whisky for more than seven years – always at the SMWS, having moved into the company straight after graduating from Glasgow University. Like many people, she says she didn’t love whisky straight off and had many preconceived notions about the drink. However, getting to try incredible cask strength samples from SMWS soon changed that and she’s loved her drams ever since. Helen believes there is a whisky out there for everyone, and part of what she loves is finding that special dram for each individual.
Deirdra has been on the international team of Irish Distillers (the company that owns Jameson) for three years and has worked as a brand ambassador globally, from Florida to New Zealand. In September 2011, she joined the UK team as Jameson Brand Assistant, where she is helping role out the brand plan for Jameson here. While her degree is is communications, advertising and marketing, Deirdra has had extensive whisky training since joining the company and is passionate about extolling the drink’s virtues.