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How Whiskey is Becoming a Women’s World: Top Female Execs in the Spirits Industry

March 8, 2023

It's great to see that gender norms in the liquor industry are evolving toward a more inclusive and less stereotypical environment. Women at the forefront of prominent whiskey brands play a vital role in shifting these perspectives.

Women at the Top of the Whiskey Industry

By applying fresh creativity and having the audacity to break traditions in the spirits industry, women at the forefront of the whiskey world are changing the face of what has long been considered a male-dominated industry.

Stephanie Macleod, Dewar’s

Working her way through the ranks at Dewar’s, Stephanie Macleod secured the role of master blender in 2006. Only the 7th master blender at Dewar’s since 1846, Macleod is the first woman to receive the Master Blender of the Year award at the International Whisky Competition. She has held this prestigious title for three consecutive years.

Image - Courtesy of WSET

Dr. Rachel Barrie,Benriach, Glendronach, and Glenglassaugh

Rachel Barrie is touted as one of the most prominent women in the whiskey industry. In 2003 she became the first woman in Scotch whisky to garner the official title of master distiller.

Julia Ritz Toffoli

As a result of many years of being on the receiving end of gender prejudice, Julia Ritz Toffoli launched Women Who Whiskey in 2011. This global networking organization is a safe space for women who love whiskey to drink and talk about it. The organization now boasts over 16,000 members in five different countries.

Fawn Weaver, Uncle Nearest

This premium Tennessee whiskey brand honors Nearest Green, the first-known Black master distiller and the man who mentored the famous one and only Jack Daniel. Fawn Weaver heads up the all-female executive team that rocketed Uncle Nearest to being the top-selling Black-owned spirits brand in history in just six short years.

Image courtesy of HerStoryOfSuccess

Ann Soh Woods, Kikori Whiskey

Ann Soh Woods started her company with little experience, which she considers an advantage. She has the freedom to be creative and break the mold. Kikori whiskey, produced in Kumamoto, Japan, is distilled entirely from rice.

Image courtesy of Imbibe magazine

Pamela Heilman, Michter’s

Pamela Heilman is the master distiller and executive vice president of production at Michter’s. She is the first female to join the Kentucky Distiller’s Association since prohibition.

How Have These Women Impacted Today’s Whiskey World

Women have played an integral role in the whiskey industry for ages. However, it was mainly in the background. Now they are stepping into the light and dynamically changing the look and feel of this previously male-dominated industry. From the spirit itself to the packaging and marketing campaigns, the scope for innovation is at an all-time high. More women at the helm of advertising whiskey brands create leverage to see marketing strategies open and be less gender-biased.

Women Who Whiskey

With both production and consumption, the whiskey industry has long been considered a man’s world. However, this perception is shifting. Women are responsible for almost 40% of whiskey purchases, and 50% of master blenders are females.

If you're inspired to create your own women-driven whiskey brand, chat with us at Next Century Spirits. With a unique combination of modern technology and American distilling traditions, Next Century Spirits can help you custom develop your own whiskey brand by taking you from concept creation to bottling and packaging. See your beautiful ideas come to life with a team that will share your vision and strategy and fast-track your ROI.