BOOZY WOMEN

Alcohol may seem like a macho business, but women play an unparalleled role in wine and liquor production. From managing popular spirits like Rémy Martin Cognac to establishing acclaimed wineries, women are increasingly the industry’s taste-makers. Here are just 10 of today’s most talented makers of fine alcohol.

Helen Turley creates critically acclaimed Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays as owner of Marcassin Vineyard. The quality comes from her years of experience with the country’s best wineries, including important work with Bordeaux varietals. In fact, Marcassin has a long wait-list and the highest domestic Pinot Noir prices in the world.

After earning degrees in Biology and Enology, Cathy Corison gained experience winemaking with various companies. Then, in 1978, she crafted the first Corison vintage, and has continued handcrafting Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons as the owner and winemaker of Corison Winery. This is available on spiritedgifts.com and makes a timeless gift.

Heidi Peterson Barrett had already worked in the German and Australian industries before becoming head winemaker for Buehler Vineyards at the age of 25. She quickly became a star winemaker and worked with some of the world’s most sought-after wines. Barrett continues her work as the “first lady of wine” with her own label, La Sirena.

As another younger distiller at only 28, former financial analyst Bridget C. Flirtle founded small-batch rum distillery, The Noble Experiment, in east Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2012. She creates products connected to local history, including Owney’s NYC Rum, named after a Prohibition-era bootlegger. Flirtle oversees 10 distilling rums per month and bottles and delivers the liquor herself.

Joy Spence has acted as Master Blender for Jamaica’s Appleton Estates for the last 13 years. She joined the industry in 1979 as a chemist with Tia Maria Liquer and quickly became Chief Chemist at Appleton Estates. Alongside her 60-person Quality & Assurance team, Spence now manages over 250,000 barrels of aging rum.

Pierrette Trichet became the first female Cellar Master of a major Cognac house when she joined Rémy Martin in 2003. As the fourth Master, and first woman, Trichet oversees the creation of cognac through its blending of the eaux-de-vie, or waters-of-life. Having started in a research role, she will retire later this spring.

Rachel Barrie has built on a chemistry degree and work at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute to become the Master Blender first for Gemorangie and, most recently, for Morrison Bowmore. In the latter role, she manages the company’s spirits, testing and crafting blends from over 5,000 casks.

Allison Evanow started off as a bartender at Thunderbird Graduate Business School Pub in Arizona. But, after earning an International MBA, she moved on to work with Jose Cuervo Internatinoal. Finding vodka more versatile, Evanow co-founded Square One Vodka with her sister based on their singular grain vodka.

LeeAnn Maxwell, Jenny Policky and Carrie King formed Vixen Vodkas based on their strong friendship and the common goal of making liquor by women, for women. Vixen relies on the group’s overlapping experience in finance, marketing, and sales, and, in the future, they hope to offer grants to help women fulfill their dreams.

Even before establishing low-calorie cocktail company Skinnygirl,Bethenny Frankel was a well-known actress and reality TV star. As a former natural foods chef, she founded Skinnygirl Cocktails to provide healthy mixed drink recipes, but later sold the company to pursue her career as a talk show host, author, and entrepreneur.

The next time you find yourself wondering what drink to order at your favorite bar or restaurant, inquire about the fine wines and spirits crafted by these talented artisans of alcohol. And remember that, even in a field dominated by men, women have the talent and skills to stand out.

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