Women In Gin
The spirit world is a very male-dominated one. Only a few women can call gin brands their own, and those who can have worked hard to achieve their goals. We want to introduce five of them to you, so the next time you buy a premium gin you can support the great women who create the finest spirits with lots of knowledge, experience, and dedication to their craft and deserve to be on top with their fellow male spirit producers.
Tina Warner was born in Ireland and grew up on a potato farm with three brothers. With her help, Tina’s parents’ farm was transformed into a thriving international business and crisp brand, and that is only the beginning of her success story: After already being involved in the business for a while, she began working full-time at Warner’s Distillery in 2015 with her husband and took the brand from a start-up to a highly acclaimed business. She and her husband met at a bar and with them having similar backgrounds, they quickly fell for each other. Even though both of them had no experience in the drinks industry, Warner’s Distillery grew fast. With her experience working in private equity, Tina was and is the perfect woman for looking after Warner’s business strategy and financial management and the numbers show it. Warner’s has become a successful business, seeing strong sales over the last years, and was recognized as the fastest-growing independent drinks brand in the UK in 2019 and 2020 at the Fast Track 100 Awards.
Women Support Women
Additionally, Tina uses her position in the business to employ more women in the male-dominated gin world – about half of the staff members are female. Warner’s produces fantastic gin and non-alcoholic spirits and is a sustainable brand that has been awarded several times, for example, gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2020 and more recently at The Spirits Business’ inaugural No and Low Alcohol Masters for their range of 0% Botanic Garden Spirits.
Freeland Sprits, the craft distillery in Portland, launched in 2017 and is one of the few women-owned distilleries world-wide. Freeland is named after the founders’ grandmother (“meemaw”) who, even though she did not consume alcohol, instilled a healthy sense of empowerment in Jill Kuehler which led to Jill founding Freeland with her childhood friend Jesse Brantley as Director of Sales. Since women receive way fewer small business loans than men do, raising capital to start the brand was a challenge, but one Jill faced head-on.
Fight for Your Right to Distill
She encourages every woman to do the same, fight for their dreams and support other women on the way. Jill’s partner, Molly Troupe, is a Master Distiller who (according to Freeland) was born “wearing a pair of chemist goggles” and studied both chemistry and then distilling and brewing in Scotland, home of the whiskey. She creates the fine spirits Freeland is now known for with a unique infusion process, using both traditional and innovative methods. Molly is also the youngest female distiller in the US and sits on the board of directors for the American Crafts Spirits Association. All these accomplishments have gained her a spot in the Forbes “30 under 30” list. Freeland celebrates women in all areas of spirit making, from growing the grain to working the still, women run this company. Freeland Gin involves 19 botanicals and is distilled in a still affectionately called “Hell Bitch”.
Kirsty Black is Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery’s Master Distiller. Like Freeland’s Molly Troupe, Kirsty has studied at Heriot-Watt University after coming from an engineering background. Combining her love of plants and spirit production, Kirsty made her hobby her job. After she was approached by the Stirling family at University, she ultimately secured a job with them. Kirsty uses the region’s biodiversity to create unique spirits, Arbikie’s spirit “Kirsty’s Gin” is even named after her.
After researching Scottish gin botanicals for a whole summer, Kirsty had extensive knowledge about the local fauna when she came to work for the Stirlings, making it possible for her to capture the flavors of the surroundings in a bottle of gin. Kirsty is also a trailblazer on the environmental front, producing the world’s first climate-positive gin, which is made out of peas. Kirsty has been awarded Young Scientist of the Year Scotland by the Institute of Food Science and Technology for her studies of legume crops. Involved in every step of the production, Kirsty is keeping a close eye on quality and the process. She wants to encourage women to seek careers in non-traditional, male-dominated sectors, saying that gender should not matter if you can prove yourself in your field. Kirsty wants to elevate Scottish Gin to the level where Scotch Whiskey is right now and finds it important that spirit companies produce their own base spirit as Arbikie does.
Natasha Bahrami is the woman responsible for not one, but two innovative gin projects: The Gin Room and Ginworld. Café Natasha, a Persian restaurant Natasha’s parents named after her, was the starting point: She transformed half of it into the Gin Room, dedicated to our (and her) favorite spirit. After being a “Martini Girl” for the longest time, Natasha tried a Gin Martini once and became enchanted with the spirit: A dry martini with a Knickerbocker Gin from the brand New Holland Artisan Spirit is her personal favorite. Of course, both Natasha and the Knickerbocker Gin come from the Midwest in the United States, a place not exactly famous for gin, but Natasha seeks to change that. Her Gin Room is a success, housing over 300 different variations of the spirit and even offers seminars and classes next to the obligatory creative and classic cocktails, tonics, and martinis.
The Biggest Gin Festival in the US
Then in 2015, Natasha founded Ginworld. The online platform created a gin festival in St. Louis, Missouri, which became the largest gin gathering in the United States. Natasha’s influence on the gin world is remarkable: She educates people about the fascinating spirit in a fun way. The gin festival was not about her, but rather the St. Louis bartenders, restauranteur, and barflies coming together to celebrate gin. The Ginworld Team consists only of women, namely Jessi Weinstein, Kelli McMullen, and Angela Ortmann.
Pam Brook is not only a trailblazer in the gin world, but also when it comes to the environment. She was born in Melbourne and after studying at Melbourne University, Pam and her husband Martin bought an Australian rundown dairy farm. They planted 4000 macademia trees and 35,000 rainforest trees on the 96 acres of land. When they learned about all the great botanicals, fruits and spices that grew in their new forest, they wanted to make use of it and started their own gin business. The gin they produce features the native products you can find on their land and Pam even encouraged other farmers in the region to do the same and start relying on the native bush foods.
Sustainable & Native
The Brook’s farm is also a zero waste and zero emissions farm and their passion for regeneration and the environment runs through everything they pursue. By now you can purchase Dry Gin, Sloe Gin on their website-both have been awarded numerous times and gained both Australian and international recognition. The Brooks offer guided tours through their rainforest and distillery, where you can both see how the gin is produced and which native plants are used in the process.
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