September 27, 2023 2:31 pm

Women In Whiskey: On The Move

As we come together this month to celebrate family, friends, and community over food and drink. We at Whiskey Network are thankful to all the women in the hospitality industry, who have taken the time to share their journeys with us, over these past few years, for our Women in Whiskey column.

So for November, we’re highlighting some of our past profiles to give you an update on what they and their brands have been up to, since we last spoke with them. 

Allison Parc, Brenne Whisky (May 2020)

Allison was our first official profile article! At the time, she had already been partnered with Samson and Surrey for a few years, to help grow her brand. Earlier this year, it was announced that Heaven Hill acquired the Samson & Surrey portfolio, which includes Widow Jane American whiskey. Allison proudly shared the news on social media, pointing out that they would continue to do “business as usual”, and operate as an independent division of Heaven hill, while retaining all of their employees.

This was big news for their 10 year anniversary! As Allison continues to advise on the growth of spreading the Brenne word, she has also been able to focus on other passions. Specifically, establishing “Dream Learn, Do More”, an activism-through-apparel brand based in the USA with the mission of bringing joy-inspiring items to “people who love the planet, democracy, and each other”. Speaking of joy, we’d also like to congratulate Allison on her recent nuptials and to wish them both many moments of joy.

Victoria Eady Butler, Uncle Nearest (October 2020)

When we chatted with Victoria, she said that a big factor in her decision to be part of launching Uncle Nearest was Fawn Weaver’s commitment to community. Specifically demonstrated by her establishing the Nearest Green Foundation, prior to setting up the whiskey company. Since then, we were excited to see them launch the fifty million dollar Uncle Nearest Venture Fund, to help BIPOC and Women-Owned Spirits Brands. 

In addition to sharing the story of Uncle Nearest, she continues to be an advocate for diversity programs in the spirits industry. She participates in panels such as  “Diverse Suppliers: Expand Your DE&I Strategy Behind the Bar”, which occurred at the recent Vibe Conference. This is an annual event geared towards venues that have on-premise alcohol sales and consumption. 

In 2021, she became the first female ever to be awarded the Master Blender of the Year title, at the American Icons of Whisky Awards. In 2022, she was the first person to win the award for two consecutive years. 

Victoria continues to expand the Master Blender edition portfolio with their newest addition: the Uncle Nearest Uncut/Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey, their first rye expression. Using rye sourced from Canada (“according to the exact American specifications required to be a Straight Rye Whiskey,” as per their press release) and matured in New York for four years. It then comes home to Tennessee, to rest and finish in its barrels before being bottled at 52.9% ABV. This expression was one of three of their whiskeys to win a Master medal at the recent Annual Autumn Blind Tasting, hosted by The Spirits Business and The Drinks, making Uncle Nearest the only American whiskey to win a Master medal at this competition.

With over 500 awards received since 2017, Uncle Nearest remains the most awarded American Whiskey or Bourbon portfolio to date, and we look forward to seeing what they release in 2023!

Louise McGuane, JJ Corry (May 2021)

When we spoke to Louise a year ago, we found out that Irish whiskey was predicted to overtake Scotch sales by 2030 in the US market. Earlier this year, with a rise of 16.3% or $185 million of Irish Whiskey sales to a record figure of $1.3 billion (as reported by the Distilled Spirits Council), it looks like that prediction is on track. DSC has also stated that Irish whiskey was the third-fastest-growing category by revenue last year, behind premixed cocktails and tequila/mezcal, and the third-fastest-growing spirit by volume, up 17.8 per cent on 2020.

Meanwhile, Louise has been busy both at homebase in County Clare, Ireland and around the world ensuring that JJ Corry continues to expand. 

  • Cask Road Trips: As she put it, she doesn’t source casks but flavors. She launched their Ten Year cask program, and has been on the road to places such as Casknolia in Spain, where they get their Sherry and Montilla wine casks.
  • JJ [Corry] on Display: Their first window display at the newly renovated James J. Fox Cigar & Whiskey store in Dublin, the go-to spot for cigar and whiskey lovers that was founded in 1881. 
  • Bond Squad: Louise made her first US hire with Jena Lane Ellenwood, an award winning bartender and cocktail educator from NYC and to date has an all-female ambassador team. 
  • Direct Delivery: In the US, she launched an online direct to consumer in 40+ states
  • UK Collaboration: Fierfield Botanical Irish Whiskey featuring Irish botanicals was created in collaboration with Ryan Chetiyawardana, owner and bartender of the White Lyan and Dandelyan bars in London, which features two expressions – Barberry and Birch.  
  • St. Paddy’s Day US Collaboration: Louise partnered with John Rhea, Master Blender of Kentucky Owl, to create a Kentucky Owl® St. Patrick’s Limited Edition Bourbon Whiskey. This whiskey comprised of Kentucky straight bourbons aged 4 to 11 years, at 100 proof, and an inventory of 6,500 cases. The barrels from this collaboration are then shipped to Ireland where she will use them for Irish whiskey projects.
  • Cyber Monday & Angels Don’t Share Game: This 20-Year-Old Irish Single Malt was vatted from two Single Malt casks distilled in 2001, and aged in second fill ex-bourbon cask. Aptly named Cyber Monday, it was created for sale online at, and bottled at 46% ABV. The promo included an online game “Angels Don’t Share”, where players have to help Louise catch falling barrels dropped by Angels, without getting struck by lightning. The campaign allowed them to compete for a chance to be entered in a drawing, to win one from the inventory of 200 bottles.

Louise also got involved with the OurWhisky Foundation, a newly established non-profit organization that recognizes, supports, and empowers women in the global whisky industry. 

Finally, after literally hitting city streets across America, Louise recently welcomed investors to County Clare, with cocktails and whiskey. The investors arrived via choppers after golfing at nearby Ballybunion Course in County Kerry.

We are simply in awe of all Louise’s accomplishments in the past year, and will try to keep up with JJ Corry adventures in the next 12 months!

On the Move: Jennifer Blair, Widow Jane now The Glenrothes (December 2021)

We’re happy to share Jennifer’s recent news that she’s now with Edrington Americas, as the New York City Market Lead for the The Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky. We’re keeping this update short and sweet as we’re hoping to chat with her again in 2023, about her new role.

Congratulations Jen!

We hope you enjoyed this brief revisit with Allison, Victoria, Louise, and Jen. We will be returning to our regular profiling format for our December issue!

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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