Whisky lovers around the world are being asked to raise a dram to the women who are shaking up the industry and breaking into the boys’ club.
The first ever International Women of Whisky Day has been declared on May 3 to recognise the growing number of women working in the industry and sipping Scotland’s national drink.
The global day of celebration has been organised by the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which is doing its bit by hosting a number of events with some of the most influential women in the business.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival chairman James Campbell hopes that whisky drinkers will mark the day no matter where they are in the world.
Mr Campbell adds, “The perception of whisky being a man’s drink has been completely altered over the past decade – it’s now estimated that nearly one-third of whisky drinkers in the UK alone are female.
“We are also seeing a growing number of women taking on key roles in the industry, from production managers to brand ambassadors. Women are now hugely influential and we felt it was about time that we celebrated the contribution they are making.
“It seems fitting that Speyside should be the focus for the very first International Women in Whisky Day, since it is home to Cardhu which was founded by Helen Cumming in 1824. To this day it is still the only malt whisky distillery pioneered by a woman.”
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place in Scotland’s most prolific whisky producing region from May 1 to 5, and will host a day-long programme led by women on May 3. It takes place at The Aberlour Hotel in Aberlour and will be complemented by other events led by women during the five day Festival.
The day kicks off with Introduction to the Sensipedia of Whisky with Johanne McInnis, a Canadian whisky writer and judge known as Whisky Lassie. She will be teaching people how to use all five senses to appreciate and enjoy Scotch.
Another Canadian – Alwynne Gwilt – will be leading a whisky and chocolate pairing session. Alwynne – also known as Miss Whisky and now based in London – is the current Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival International Ambassador of the Year in recognition of her efforts to educate people about Scotch whisky.
Renowned whisky writer Annabel Meikle will be shedding light on tasting notes by exploring the language of whisky, explaining where the aromas come from. Participants will then be tasked with creating their own tasting note after a blind taste test. In addition to writing about whisky, Annabel has her own consultancy, The Whisky Belle.
Master blender Angela D’Orazio from Mackmyra Distillery in Sweden will be introducing revellers to the unique whisky expression at her event. She will be sharing the story behind the distillery, and will be sharing some of the Mackmyra drams.
Ann Miller is international brand ambassador for Chivas Brothers and is also one of the directors of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. She will contributing to the programme by running a guided walk – the James Fleming Trail – looking at the story of the man who founded Aberlour Distillery, and a tasting which deconstructs Aberlour’s double cask maturation.
She says, “International Women of Whisky Day is a fantastic way to recognise the contribution made to the industry by women not just in Scotland but all over the world.
“It will also help to underline the opportunities that exist to develop a career in the whisky industry, which is no longer the once male-dominated place that it used to be. It is essential that we encourage new blood – whether female or male – into the Scotch whisky industry to ensure it continues to go from strength to strength.
“The programme taking place at Aberlour is one of the most anticipated events of the Festival – each of the women participating is an authority of whisky in her own right and although these events are hosted by women, they are not just for women, but for everyone.”
“The inspiration for this day came in part from the enormous influence of whisky writer and expert Martine Nouet, who has been a regular participant of the Festival for over a decade. She has led a range of not to be missed events over many years and this year Martine will host a number of events at Glen Rothes Distillery.”
A Twitter hashtag has been set up for International Women of Whisky Day - #IWOWD. There are events led by women taking place throughout the Festival, including distillery tours and whisky tutoring.

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