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Women Who Have Changed Whiskey Forever

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Women have always been influential in the making of alcohol. From the original brewers of years ago to popularizing single-malt scotch in the U.S.. Still with all the influence from women in this market, it is never-the-less considered to be dominated by men. In the US women are making great headway in the world of Bourbon. It's not particularly smart to name names; but ladies like Peggy Noe Stephens, Susan Riegler, Heather Wibbles, Fawn Weaver and of course Margie Samuels are/ were pressing forward. So - Learn about "Bourbon Women" and make your mark. This wildly inclusive group puts women of like minds together- they talk, learn and create opportunities for Spirits makers and enthusiasts. They are committed to providing information, exposure, and resources to women who wish to explore the world of bourbon, and they are making a difference.

And in the world of Scotch some ladies of note

Bessie Williamson

A name that will always be associated with Laphroaig, Bessie Williamson was the only woman to own and manage a distillery in the 20th century. She succeeded in rising through the ranks from being a typist to managing the office. She increased production, managed to modernize the facilities by selling to Long John Distillers, and created more jobs for the people in Islay.

Bessie’s ultimate win is the recognition of her business’ success in a male-dominated industry.

Jessie Roberta Cowan

Masatake Taketsuru came to Scotland to learn how to make whiskey and met Jessie “Rita” Roberta Cowan, who would be his supportive wife. After the couple went back to Japan, Rita played a pivotal role in her husband’s life work. Not only was she able to provide moral support, but was also providing financial help at home by giving English classes while she herself learned Japanese so she could adapt herself well to the Japanese culture.

The business found success during World War II when the Japanese navy began drinking the whisky and is now the second largest producer of Japanese whiskey.

Rita’s story continues to receive country-wide fame in Japan as she is remembered as the loyal wife of Masatake and the mother of Japanese whiskey.

Helen Cumming

Helen founded Cardow - renamed Carhu - in the early 19th Century with her husband John Cumming. Though they had less than conventional (or legal) ways of running their business, it was her creativity and business savviness that made the distillery alive.

The couple handed Cardow to their son Lewis, but he passed so his wife Elizabeth was tasked with keeping the business running. Challenged with balancing the business and raising their children, she was able to run the farm and distillery, increase production, and even trademark Card-hu. She would, later on, sell the company to Johnnie Walker.

Keep watching what we are doing. TheBAR2GO is owned by a female. This is her dream project and the process has brought her into the thick of what is going on in the US. It is great fun to get to know some of these ladies and see what they can do.

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