Launched on the fourth anniversary of OurWhisky, the OurWhisky Foundation is the world’s first nonprofit organisation dedicated to supporting, recognising and empowering professional women in whisky across the globe, while advocating for a more inclusive and diverse industry.
The Foundation will offer qualification and internship schemes, a mentorship programme, as well as seminars and workshops, all designed to help women successfully progress within the industry. On top of the educational initiatives, an annual summit and awards will be held, showcasing key speakers and industry leaders, providing the opportunity for in-person networking, and recognising talent.
Finally, the Foundation will also give a voice to women in the industry through its new online magazine, The Cut, with features focusing on careers advice, diversity and inclusion initiatives, interviews, and much more.
The not-for-profit organisation has been launched by OurWhisky's founder, whisky writer and expert Becky Paskin, and will be assisted by an advisory board of industry leaders including Jennifer Robertson, founder of SPEY (Whisky Magazine's Icons of Whisky award winner for best PR agency in 2020); Gráinne Saunders, global marketing manager for Glenfiddich; Tracie Franklin, spirits educator and NJAI distillation apprentice; and Jennie Noorish, founder of Yellow Shoes consultancy and former director of global communications for Chivas Brothers.
Paskin, who has been an established drinks writer for over fifteen years and was named 44th most influential person in the drinks industry in 2021 by Drinks International, said, “OurWhisky began in 2018 as a social media movement to champion diversity among whisky drinkers and those within the industry. After four successful years of showcasing the face of the modern whisky drinker and dispelling the spirit’s many myths, it’s time to evolve.
“By working in collaboration with the global whisky community, the OurWhisky Foundation’s aim is to challenge whisky’s outdated gendered image and help women to thrive in their careers.
“This is such an exciting time to be a woman working in whisky, and it’s my ambition that the Foundation will be a positive driver in ensuring the current and next generation reach their potential and be celebrated as part of the wonderful world of whisky.”
The Foundation is now inviting women across the global industry to apply for its mentorship programme – whether they are looking to get into distilling and blending, start their own brand or work in a non-production role in whisky, the mentorship programme is designed as the perfect place to start or build on a career.
Industry leaders with backgrounds spanning areas such as distilling, blending, brand ownership, bartending, ambassadorship, marketing and journalism have already been confirmed as mentors. They include Dhavall Gandhi, whisky maker at The Lakes Distillery; Louise McGuane, founder of JJ Corry; Dawn Davies, head buyer at The Whisky Exchange; Nicola Riske, brand ambassador for The Macallan; and Lew Bryson, whisky journalist and author.
The Foundation will also work alongside various stakeholders within the whisky industry, providing diversity and inclusion training and workshops, and collaborating on a variety of meaningful initiatives to support and recognise women in the industry. As one of its first initiatives, the Foundation is working with founding partner Glenfiddich on an ongoing programme exploring this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Break the Bias.
Gráinne Saunders, global marketing manager for Glenfiddich, said, “We are extremely proud to come on board as founding partner for the OurWhisky Foundation and fully support the drive to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in the whisky industry and to challenge conventions. Becky has done an inspirational job in projecting a positive image of the modern whisky drinker, one we absolutely endorse. In collaboration with Becky and the OurWhisky Foundation, we have developed a series of ongoing initiatives that support our collective goal and look forward to jointly announcing these over the next few weeks.”
The Foundation launches alongside OurWhisky’s new subscription club, which aims to be a fun and inclusive space for whisky drinkers, regardless of experience. Every month subscribers will receive whisky samples direct to their door to enjoy alongside an expert-led tasting. Members will also receive discounted tickets to exclusive events, tours and tastings. Individuals can sign up to OurWhisky’s subscription club here.