It's A Woman's World

To celebrate International Women's Day we're profiling some of the brilliant women who work in our industry, and how you can follow in their footsteps.

Dr. Kirstie McCallum

Dr. Kirstie McCallum

Senior Blender

Bunnahabhain, Islay

Single Malt Whisy

Bunnahabhain Logo

What do you love most about your job?

I love lots of things about my job, but my biggest passion is the whisky itself. I love Scotch: the tradition, the history, the complex flavours, the wide variety of whiskies available. I love experimenting with different types of casks and observing how they influence and change the taste and profile of our single malts, developing new expressions for the consumer to enjoy.

What's been the greatest moment of your career to date?

There have been lots of great moments, but some of the greatest moments I've had are from just talking to people, talking to consumers and hearing someone say how much they enjoy the whiskies I've helped develop. Seeing a limited edition or new expression being produced as a final bottled product after development is always a great moment, one I'm particularly proud of is the 1980 Bunnahabhain Canasta. I've also had some great experiences travelling to places I would never thought I would get to visit, meeting new people, making new friends and experiencing different cultures.

What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?

The main piece of advice I would give anyone would be that you've got to be passionate about what you do, for me Scotch whisky and being a blender isn't a job – it's something you really have to have a love and a passion for.

See Kirstie's Whiskies

Natalie Wallis

Natalie Wallis

Director & Group Commercial Manger

Palmer's Gin

Gin

What do you love most about your job?

I grew up almost marinated in gin. I am the sixth generation in a family of distillers, so it was only natural that this would be my chosen career path, too! I'm very lucky with what I do. I am surrounded all day every day by something I am passionate about, gin! I also get to help people turn their dreams into reality. At our Langley Distillery, we help our customers to develop their own gin. They come to us with an idea and we work with them to help them develop a brand that they can take to market. It's especially rewarding when we get to see the brand, that often started off as a few notes on a piece of scrunched-up paper, grow into a national, or even global, award-winning spirit brand.

What's been the greatest moment of your career to date?

Palmers London Dry Gin! Last year, I was responsible for driving the launch of the first gin brand we have ever launched under our own name. We have produced it in memory of my late granny, Angela Palmer, who was a real role model for me. She loved gin, so as a nod to her, we released Palmers into the global market. After solely producing gins for other people for more than 90 years, it has been a great journey to create a brand for our 200-year-old company to take it into the next chapter of its story. I was involved in everything, from the secret family recipe, to the bottle design, labelling, marketing… there were some sleepless nights along the way, but seeing the brand come to fruition was a very proud moment for me and the family. And an especially proud moment to celebrate our family history.

What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?

Immerse yourself into the industry as much as you possibly can. Ask lots of questions to people already working in the industry so that you can gain knowledge of every different aspect to see which area best suits your passion and skills. Try to gain work experience in different areas, which could be working as a brand ambassador or with distillers. No time spent in gaining knowledge and experience is time badly spent! Love your gin. I do.

Palmer's Gin Logo See Natalie's Gins

Callan Williams

Callan Williams

Founder and Winemaker

The Garajeest
Elgin Valley, South Africa

Semillon and Cabernet Franc

What do you love most about your job?

I love the chemistry from grape to bottle – the freedom to manipulate the style and create a harmony between art, science and senses. Providing people with the appreciation and understanding of one of life's pleasures, uniting with food, good company, music – wine makes the perfect pairing to every memory. I am passionate about every aspect of my job, I am in love with my life and I am blessed to be able to create wines that best represent me, and I am so honoured to share them with the world. This is not just a job to me, this is my life. And the best is yet to come.

What's been the greatest moment of your career to date?

Definitely launching my own brand, The Garajeest. Being recognised as a winemaker and businesswoman in the industry. It has been a difficult journey, and I have a long way to go, But I am fighting and making my mark! I have a vision for my brand, and I won't stop until I reach my goal, as well as improving as a winemaker with every vintage.

The Garajeest Logo

What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?

Firstly, start! Fight for it. There are no shortcuts. Work hard, be patient, consistent and never give up. The industry is tough, be tougher. And, most importantly, remember why you started.

Life. Vines. Verse. Feed it faith. Feed it truth. Feed it love. See Callan's Wines

Marianne Barnes

Marianne Barnes

Partner and Master Distiller

Castle & Key Distillery, Woodford County, Kentucky

Bourbon, Rye, Vodka & Gin

Castle & Key Logo

What do you love most about your job?

Having the opportunity to be creative can be rare in an engineering role, also being able to drink what you make! I love that I have the opportunity to create a product that enhances the experience of life, and being intimately involved in developing the flavor and all of the processes that shape it.

What's been the greatest moment of your career to date?

Being included on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list was a huge honour, but I think my greatest moment to date is starting up our new still at Castle & Key in November of 2016 after the historic site had not produced any bourbon since 1972. We created history on that day.

What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?

My path to get into the industry isn't common, finding myself in my dream job, without knowing it when I selected an internship. My suggestion would be if you can't find work in bourbon, look to similar industries – other beverages. A technical degree in science, particularly engineering is a good place to start also.

We'll be stocking Castle & Key's fantastic bottles as soon as we're able. In the meantime, find out more about the distillery here:

castleandkey.com

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