Hello From the Other Side…Of 1952

womenwhiskeyI woke up a few mornings ago to a Cease and Dissist letter, not the greatest start to the day. The most offensive thing about the letter however, was not its actual content, which has been taken care of now fairly amicably, rather its opening assumption that our company is run by a bunch of dudes. It read “Dear SIRS: We act on behalf of etc. etc.”

I have not really acknowledged gender a huge amount in my career as I always felt drawing attention to it was pointless and preferred to just prove myself to anyone who might have any doubts about my capability. I appreciate there is a gender pay gap, but in my corporate years I was equally compensated, so I never had to deal too much with the issue and the gender bias out there.

Recently however out here in Entrepreneur world  in Ireland  where I am an unproven entity I’ve noticed that is still apparently 1952 in certain circles.

A few weeks ago I was incensed, irate and incandescent (yes all three) to receive an invitation from a reputable business promotional organisation. The invite was for a networking evening for “Business Women” which included and I quote “A Hair Demonstration” followed by “A Make-Up Demonstration.” First of all, what is that? What does it even mean? How does one DEMONSTRATE hair? What goes on at such an event???  It is utterly unfathomable to me.

If I am going to take time out of my schedule to network and meet like minded women, it will not be to learn how to do my hair and make-up, which I have been doing perfectly well for about 25 years now. I can watch a 3 minute YouTube video tutorial if I feel the need to know how to do a smoky eye or contour my face like Kim Khardiasian……

Instead, I would perhaps take time out of my day to hear someone speaking about ANY of the following subjects, to name a few, which are relevant to me as a business PERSON:

  1. Social Media Strategy
  2. Scaling a Business
  3. The upcoming Millennial Consumer
  4. Raising funds
  5. Packaging trends
  6. Crowd Funding
  7. Retail trends
  8. CRM
  9. Negotiation skills
  10. Market Segmentation Strategy

I would be very keen to know the agenda at the Businessman’s  networking evenings arranged by the same organisation. I have no doubt there will be an arm wrestling demonstration followed by an erotic dancer demonstration. This would fit their stereotyping theme appropriately. I am a bit disheartened  by the fact that this influential organisation spent time, money and energy conceiving and then organising this absurd event. It shows me what they  really think of female business leaders. If this is the level they perceive  I am  at in terms of professional/personal development, what hope do I have of convincing them to get behind and provide support for my plans of running a global business?

Anyway, I could not attend that event even if I wanted to. I’m busy negotiating with contractors on pricing the construction of our first Rackhouse, in addition to organising timely delivery to Ireland of the Grade A Bourbon barrels that I personally sourced and did a  purchasing deal on in Kentucky.

But Golly Gosh, I hope my hair and make-up look OK when I’m in that meeting solo next week negotiating a 3 year contract and financing terms on our high quality whiskey supply……..#MayTheForceBeWithMe


I’ve Seen the Future & It’s Hairy A Note on The Emerging Whiskey Consumer

IMG_4504I’ll be honest, I sometimes find whiskey festivals crushingly boring….The geeking out on lost bottlings, the absurd Male to Female ratio, the seriousness of it all, its exhausting. My philosophy for whiskey or wine, for that matter, is much different. I love it of course, but I explore it for fun. If I manage to get my hands on a rare bottle, I’ll open it rather than put it on a shelf to worship. I’m in the Dave Broom camp of enjoying the stuff. Mix it,  put ice in it, add water, put green tea in it, do whatever enhances YOUR personal enjoyment of the Water of Life.  That is most certainly our whiskey making philosophy here at Chapel Gate I want to make whiskey that will fuel not only conversation and discovery but also fun. I was heartened then last weekend to go along to Whiskey Picnic in London. The event was started a few years ago in Edinburgh as a celebration of all things whiskey, but also as a fund raiser for Movember the men’s health awareness campaign that personally I blame for the proliferation of facial hair we see around us these days….

IMG_4533It was a genuine whiskey enthusiast event with some big hitters like Compass Box and Grant’s in attendance. The beginning of the evening was centered around meeting the makers all of whom had dressed in Tweed, which was the dress code for the night.. So, some great whiskey knowledge to be had, as the night progressed the cocktails started to flow and some of London’s biggest bartending names, were flinging some delicious whiskey cocktails out. Then of course the mad dancing started etc. etc. It was a really great night and my idea of what a Whiskey Festival SHOULD be. Edutainment filled rather than seminar filled. Best of all it was a great opportunity for me to observe our target consumers in the flesh….The average age of attendance was about 26 I would say, the male to female ration was even and the commonality all attendees shared was a real interest in Whiskey. (The other commonality was beards, pretty much every guy had a serious beard….)

These are the people that are fuelling the current whiskey boom. These are the people who will make or break all the upcoming and planned Irish Whiskey brands. They demand not only quality, but authenticity and independence.  I’m excited to rise to that challenge with our little planned portfolio.