A Reckoning and Revelation

I am often asked by writers of articles on cocktails or whiskey for a little snippet from my perspective. It’s always an honor and I am happy to oblige.

The October issue of American Whiskey Magazine happened to include me in a couple of their snippets about cocktails and podcasting, and I was very excited to see how these articles turned out. What I didn't expect to see, and what I was even more excited about, was the evidence of the industry’s evolution coming to fruition that was reflected on the pages in front of me in such a beautiful and bold way.

This is not the first time I have written or spoken out about the lack of diversity and inclusion in the spirits industry, specifically the whisk(e)y business. This is something I’ve seen our industry faced with since I began working in the business 20+ years ago, and it has also been prevalent from the beginning of this industry. That is why seeing this down on paper was so profound for me.

The industry has always been predominantly white and male - no surprise there - and as a young woman breaking into the business, being “made welcome” was simply not on anyone’s radar. Assumptions were made that, being a woman, I would be better suited to working with wine or vodka, instead of whiskey, while, at the same time, men would be grabbing my butt at tastings. Because of the prevailing discrimination, and unacceptable behavior that I was exposed to, it became extremely difficult for me to make advancement, even with years of experience. In addition, I didn’t often see myself reflected in any of the whiskey heroes I looked up to. So… screw them all; I’m still here in the whiskey business!

That is why this issue of American Whiskey Magazine means so much. Not only for me, who prevailed, but to all the women who are being given the recognition they so well deserve. Over the years, I’ve witnessed some pretty cool stuff in my industry, things that were long overdue and I am proud of that. More women are gaining recognition as distillers, blenders, production managers, ambassadors. And now, I am not only witnessing the inclusion of African Americans in the industry, but I am working for the first African American owned American whiskey brand; I am a part of the change that is happening. Sometimes it absolutely takes my breath away!

I have often wondered whether consumers see this. Do consumers know how much has changed, even in the last ten years? And then I opened this issue of American Whiskey Magazine and I was just blown away!

I encourage you to pick up this issue; I encourage you to read it from front to back. There is so much relevant content that goes beyond just the discussion of whiskey, but keeps it right at the center, as well, and doesn’t shy away from discussing what’s currently happening in our industry due to Covid-19.

I am so proud of the women involved: Phoebe Calver, Maggie Kimberl, Peggy Noe Stevens, Marianne Eaves, Fawn Weaver, to name a few.

Full of pride, full of love and in damn good company!

Cheers, Sailor.