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Issue 65 - Driven women

Whisky Magazine Issue 65
July 2007


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Driven women

Caroline Dewar meets the women behind the whiskies

In times when we know that women are a largely untapped market as whisky drinkers and careers in scientific or technical subjects are of dwindling interest to school students, where do women fit into the industry work-wise?

In the so-called “softer” areas of marketing and PR there are plenty of them, not to mention the many dedicated women who manage and work in distillery visitor centres.

The incorrect perception is perhaps that making whisky or any kind of production or creation role is exclusively a male preserve but there are a number of high ranking women in this part of the industry. A few interviewed have been in it for 30 years and none of them less than 13. Indeed there have been women involved in Scotch since the 19th century, some being widows like the Champagne “veuves” who took over running the business.

In the 20th century we have the famous name of Bessie Williamson, chemistry graduate who worked at Laphroaig as the secretary and was left the distillery in the owner's will. She ran it for years – hands dirty and overalls on.

It's not possible to feature all of today's whisky women in detail but here are a handful who illustrate a heartening passion for the product and the industry, and without passion you don't get whisky right.

Strangely, most of them came into whisky by default rather than as a burning ambition through their education. Though a few had family in the industry, it was only Pauline Ogilvie, now assistant manager at Glenmorangie Di...

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