Last month in honour of International Women’s Day I ran interviews with people who are involved in the whisky industry, which discussed the women that inspire them the most in their lives. There were so many amazing contributions that I had to run the piece over two parts, which can be read here and here.

As a part of it, I asked for your nominations of the woman or women that most inspire you as part of a competition which the folks at Bowmore whisky were kind enough to support.

I have been privileged enough to have some wonderful stories of inspiration shared with me and I feel very honoured. I can now reveal the top three stories that have really clutched at my heart for various reasons.

I hope you enjoy reading the following stories and are inspired yourself to think about those women who make a difference in your life.

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Erik Lindseth with his wife Marianne

 Erik Lindseth on his wife Marianne:

“The woman I think deserves this the most is my wife. The reason is not a typical love story where she is my love and pride, but something that shows that our love will withstand anything.

Even a bomb.

Because that’s the story.

July 22nd, 2011: we were going to meet at a mall in Oslo to buy a wedding present for a wedding the next day. I was standing outside my car when the bomb went off in a building in the street where I was standing. It was the start of the worst act of terrorism in Norway after WW2.

I was badly wounded, and after my physical wounds were healed, I still had to battle a muscle condition. For almost a year I couldn’t sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time without getting cramps that forced me awake. Because of little sleep and pain, I was always tired and angry. I couldn’t even lift a milk bottle without getting a sharp pain in my arm.

In all this my wife was always there. She helped me in every possible way. When I woke up in the middle of the night, she helped me relax and get control even if she had to work the next day. She works from home, and when I was sick, she had to work harder than before and help me at the same time.

She is always positive and helped me train my muscles back to normal again. She helped me through a hard time.

In October 2012 I was finally strong enough to start working again and living a normal life. Even if I don’t know how I can prove it, I will always be certain that without her, I would have had the condition a lot longer.

She is the reason I get up every day. All I want to do is to repay the woman of life – the one who saved my life, my best friend and wife, the woman that is my inspiration.”

Justin and Jennifer Stiefel

 Justin Stiefel on his wife Jennifer:

My nomination is for Jennifer Stiefel: president, majority owner and co-founder of craft gin, vodka and whiskey distillery, Heritage Distilling Company (HDC) in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Under Jennifer’s leadership HDC recently was awarded several medals for its unaged rye whiskey, tripled distilled vodka and soft green gin, including a Double Gold Best Gin at an international tasting review in New York.

Jennifer’s commitment to community led her to create a programme that has contributed over $10,000 in donated HDC goods and services to local and regional non-profit groups. In addition, she put together the separate “Bottling For a Cause” (B-Cause)™ programme that allows local non-profits to raise funds in a fun and new way during private interactive bottling sessions.

Jennifer’s love of whiskey and desire to share its virtues with other women as consumers also led to the establishment of the Cask Club™ and My Batch™ programmes at HDC, which allow customers – women  in particular – to help distill or custom age their own whiskey, gin or vodka. They have resulted in many new whiskey lovers and converts among the female purchasing demographic. She also looked at the word “Whiskey” and saw “his” in the middle. Not being one to accept the status quo, she conceived of and launched HDC’s “Wherskey” line of products, replacing the “his” in “whiskey” with “her”. The response from female consumers has been overwhelmingly positive.

Jennifer was recently featured on Seattle’s KING 5 Evening Magazine programme because of her leadership at the distillery and the fact that she is a trend-setter in the region for women and whiskey. She balances all of this while also helping to raise three children aged 9, 6 and 4.

She is truly an amazing person, leader and business woman who is helping to educate and broaden women’s appreciation of whiskey.

With a sly smile on her face Jennifer tells female visitors to the distillery, “whiskey ain’t just for grandpa anymore.” And from the amount of whiskey leaving the tasting room under the arms of women, they seem to be agreeing with her.

Susannah and Lynne

Susannah (left) and her aunt Lynne

 Susannah Skiver Barton on her aunt Lynne:

My aunt, Lynne, has inspired me my entire life.

When I was a child, she was the ‘fun aunt’: young, single, always living somewhere exotic like Los Angeles or Paris, working in television and dating foreign men. She introduced me to the Foo Fighters, painted my fingernails, made up silly stories, and sang me songs in a Munchkin voice. Best of all, she always listened to me when no one else did, treating me with respect, as a peer.

Now that I’m an adult, she continues to inspire me.

She holds a PhD in Film, speaks fluent French, has successfully navigated a decades-long career, and now has a wonderful family of her own. She has never been afraid to reinvent herself professionally or in terms of personal style – something I benefit from as I inherit her cast-off clothing and forge my own look! Despite the long hours of work and rush of her demanding role, she still finds the time to have dinner with me, listen to my problems, and offer sage advice.

I look to my aunt Lynne as a model for what life can be: full of hard work coupled with fun, surrounded by exciting passions and loving people.

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Thank you again to everyone who entered and to Bowmore whisky which provided a bottle of Small Batch Reserve and two half bottles of Bowmore 12 year old for the winners. For more information on Bowmore and its whisky, visit: