Celebrate women in whisky with our first themed box!
Let me introduce you to our first ever themed box, revolving around women in whisky in honour of International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day this month.
You’ve probably noticed that we’ve done things slightly differently at Pour & Sip this month. With International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day lined up in March, what better time for us to celebrate the wonderful women in our whisky industry? (Not that we need an excuse, though!)
We can’t ignore that whisky has long suffered from gender stereotyping, and continues to – despite the miles of progress that have been made. What’s more, rounding up five different whiskies with this brief was much harder than we would have liked it to have been. But this is why it’s important to do – a way of celebrating how far we’ve come, while also recognising how far we have to go.
Get ready to say hello to the women in the teams behind these fabulous expressions...
Compass Box Juveniles
Compass Box was founded back in 2000, and it’s not only an independent bottler, but a blending house, too! It teamed up with Paris wine bar Juveniles Bistrot à Vins to create Juveniles, and the limited-edition blended malt was inspired by the pair’s wonderful friendship. Four single malts make up the whisky: fruity Strathmill, herbal Balmenach, waxy Clynelish, and red fruit-forward Glendullan, drawn from a combination of refill hogsheads, re-charred hogsheads, and both first-fill and refill sherry butts. It seems appropriate that this would be enjoyed with friends, though seeing as wine experts had a hand in creating the whisky, failing that a cheese board would do!
Here we’re shining a spotlight on Jill Boyd, who joined as whiskymaker (a term Compass Box itself coined) in 2018. From humble beginnings working in a whisky bar in Elgin without even liking whisky, to working in Scotch distilleries, she’s now in the blending room. Considering the many, many distilleries Compass Box sources its whisky from, it’s no small talent she’s got!
Roe & Co Irish Whiskey
Roe & Co was launched in 2017, and you’ll find the distillery in the former Guinness Power House in Dublin. It was named in honour of George Roe, an important whiskey maker who played a huge part in building the golden era of Irish whiskey in the 19th century. This is its first and (to date) only release, marrying a classic Irish blend of malt and grain whiskeys. It’s matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks, a high proportion of which are first-fill, meaning that this is the first time it’s been used to mature another whiskey. This means you’ll find that subtly tropical, creamy cask influence among the more honeyed, grain-forward notes of the whiskey itself.
What’s awesome about Roe & Co is that it’s powered by an all-female team! Head distiller Lora Hemy and master blender Caroline Martin spearhead the line-up. Hemy has been in the industry for just over six years now, previously working as a sound engineer and DJ, and then studying Fine Art – not a linear journey to distilling, but we’re very much here for it! In 2014, Martin joined the team with 30 years of blending experience. Over the next two years, she and her team trialled 120 different prototype blends, finally selecting blend number 106 as the winner – and what you’re sipping today.
Deanston 18 Year Old
Housed in an old cotton mill in the Scottish Highlands you’ll find Deanston, known for its light, waxy new make spirit. The 18 Year Old became part of the distillery’s core range in 2015, and while it was initially matured in second-fill casks, it was treated to a finishing period in first-fill American oak Kentucky bourbon casks before bottling. Expect flashes of buttery, vanilla-forward cask influence throughout spices and oily nuttiness.
Julieann Fernandez has been Deanston’s master blender since the end of 2019, though like many people in the industry, it wasn’t part of her original plan. She originally studied Forensic Science at university, transferring her scientific lab skills to analytical testing for other whisky brands. Eventually, she wanted to leave the laboratory for the blending room, beginning as blender, and going on to gain the title of master blender.
Douglas Laing is a family-run independent bottler, established back in 1948. Scallywag is a blended malt inspired by the many cheeky fox terriers the family has owned, and you’ll find a charming illustration of the dog on the bottle label. All the malts in the blend come from Speyside, with whiskies from the Mortlach, The Macallan, and Glenrothes distilleries all featuring (alongside others). A large proportion of the whisky (60%, to be precise) was drawn from first fill ex-Spanish sherry butts, with the rest coming from creamier ex-bourbon casks, adding chocolate and spices, and sweeter, creamier flavours, respectively.
Cara Laing is a third-generation family member, granddaughter of the brand’s founder, Fred Douglas Laing. What’s more, she’s also director of whisky for the company! Though she was practically born into whisky, she didn’t start her career off in her family’s own business. Her career began in 2006 when she started working for a few well-known Scotch distilleries (namely Jura and Bowmore), until she joined Douglas Laing in 2013. It was well-earned when she became one of the youngest women to be appointed as a Keeper of the Quaich in 2014, an exclusive (and invite-only) community of people recognised for their outstanding contributions to Scotch whisky!
Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old
Bulleit was founded by Thomas E. Bulleit in 1987, though it was his great-great-grandfather Augustus Bulleit who made a high-rye whiskey in the 1800s, which inspired the whiskey itself. The 10 Year Old is a lesser-spotted age statement whiskey from the Kentucky distillery! It’s produced with the same high-rye mash bill as the core, flagship expression, with 68% corn, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley, and spent its decade of maturation in charred American white oak.
Jenna Ba is Bulleit’s global brand ambassador, joining Diageo after collecting vast industry experience working in private members’ clubs and luxury hotels in London, and then consulting for bars around the world. Jenna has an eye for innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the pursuit of great drinks. Make sure you catch her on our live tasting on 4 March!
Make sure you stay tuned for the rest of this month's whisky fun on P&S Digest, and don't forget our live tastings on 4 and 18 March!