Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Women in Whisky Lunch 2016

As mentioned earlier, March has been really busy, both in our day jobs and with the amount of whisky events we've attended. Kat even managed to squeeze a short trip to Scotland into our packed schedules.

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th of March, Geraldine Murphy part of the famous whisky pub, The Pot Still, of Glasgow and founder of the women’s only whisky club The Pot Stills Whisky Girls held, what has become a new tradition, a Women in Whisky Lunch.

As soon as I saw the tickets go on sale, I booked myself to go. The lunch was held in the beautiful Grand Central Hotel which is situated right next to Glasgow's Central train station. The hotel was built in the Victorian times in the Queen Anne style, which has been renovated sympathetically, keeping many of the period features. I absolutely adored the character of this place. A great feature was a row of windows in one of the hallways where you look directly into the station. I admired the juxtaposition of the old ornate Victorian window frames fixed in view and seeing the rush of modern life outside.
The Grand Central Hotel from inside the station building
It was a truly international affair. On my table was the food & drinks writer Rosemary Moon, two ladies from Switzerland, and a group of ladies from Pernod Richard including Chivas Regal Brand Ambassador Lauren Mustard who brought along the new no age statement Longmorn.
This was great easy drinking dram, especially pairing well with the trio of dessert that was served with lunch. 
Two of the fabulous desserts (photos courtesy of Crystal Coverdale)
Before we heard from the industry’s key speakers we were introduced to the chosen charity Say Women, a local charity run by volunteers who offer help and support to vulnerable young women between the ages of 16 – 25 who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault. This includes finding safe accommodation, teaching & providing financial advice, through to counselling. The aim of the charity is to help give these women gain their confidence so they can have the right to choose their own positive path in life without living in fear.

In the UK it’s common to hear that demand for small charities like Say Women exists due to a lack of services being offered by the NHS or other local government. In Glasgow, it’s no different, very tragic considering whisky is a major export of Scotland, and many of these women grew up with alcoholic parents, which is the reason why they seek help. I feel it highlights an area that the drinks industry as a whole can do more to help.

With all the money raised from the event going to the charity, it was nice to see that under whisky, a positive light was shining through to show a different side of the drinks industry, and making a positive impact. As we were waiting to hear from two women where the whisky has changed their lives in a good way, hope that some of the vulnerable women might also these stories and be inspired to choose whisky as their new career path.
Rachel MacNeill addressing the Women in Whisky Lunch 
The first guest speaker was Rachel MacNeill from Whisky for Girls. Whisky has always been part of Rachel’s life growing up on the Isle of Islay. She told us of how she used to play in the malting barns of the distillery near her home as a child, not really knowing what it was until she got older. Then she got that lightbulb moment, realised she can turn her interest into a career when it hit her that people would pay her for taking them on whisky tours, courses, and tastings on Islay! Who can blame her, this was the golden ticket other people can only dream of. 
Dr Kirstie McCallum addressing the Women in Whisky Lunch (photo courtesy of Crystal Coverdale)
The second and last speaker was Dr Kirstie McCallum from Burn Stewart Distillers. Her whisky story started differently, entering the industry by chance, her passion for whisky then grew from there. With a Ph.D. in hand, her original goal was to work in the pharmaceutical industry but as needs must, she accepted a part-time role in a distillery. This lead to her becoming the youngest female blender in Scotland, then on to Global Brand Ambassador for Burn Stewart Distillers, and recently announced, into a new role of Senior Blender at Burn Stewart. She is currently finishing the last few events of her Ambassador role. 

What is it about whisky that stole her heart? She explained this is down to the range of smells, taste, and texture that’s unique to each whisky. Truly believes that there is whisky for everyone and it’s a drink that has no gender. Telling all the ladies in the room that there is no right or wrong way to drink whisky, reminding us it’s a drink, to be enjoyed however you like as long as you enjoy tasting it! 

All in all, it was a great afternoon, with everyone ending up for a few beers and more drams at The Pot Still. I'm proud to say that over £1000 was raised this year which I'm sure the charity will put to great use. If you too would like to donate to Say Women you can do so by following the link to their donation page here: Donate here

More pictures of the event can also be found on The Pot Still Whisky Girls Facebook page

Slàinte! Kat

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