“Traditionally, women have been dissociated from whisky. Old leather armchairs and men in smoky bars in front of golden liquid is a perception of whisky which is still very prevalent. But where has this stereotype come from? Over a third of whisky drinkers in the UK and the US, today are women!

“The ‘workmans’ perception led to early film imagery of miners, farmers and lonesome cowboys being pictured drinking whisky.”


Annabel Thomas fulfilled her ambition to own her own distillery and make and drink her own whisky. She is the founder and CEO of Nc’nean on the Morvern peninsula at Drimnin on the west coast of Scotland.

She left a management consulting and strategy career with Bain & Co in London to make independent, organic experimental spirits and run a pioneering green Scotch whisky distillery with super-sustainable credentials. She spoke at Cop 26 in Glasgow.


The distillery has an annual production capacity of 96,000 liters or 700 casks. The latest release is the non-chill filtered Huntress 2022 which was distilled in 2018 and bottled in March. Says Thomas: “We try to make small batch whiskies from low yields and good soils which enables the underlying spirit to shine through.”

Nc’nean’s renewable energy-powered distillery on Essex-born Thomas’s parent’s farm near Oban uses organic Scottish barley. It recycles 99.97% of its waste. Production started with a botanical and aged botanical spirit. In 2020 came the first whisky. The distillery is now Scotland’s leading certified organic whisky producer.


Named after the ancient Gaelic goddess of the spirits, Neachneohain, fierce protector of nature, the Highland producer became the first whisky distillery in the UK to achieve net zero emissions.

“Zero waste takes a lot of effort and vigilance,” says Thomas.

The Scotch whisky industry set its net zero targets for 2040. A biomass boiler rather than an oil boiler, a closed-loop water-cooling system on site, and being able to dispose of waste products on my parents’ land helped Nc’nean achieve the coveted status years ahead of schedule”

Nc’nean’s inaugural single malt was Ainnir. Only 1,320 bottles were released of the unpeated, no-age-statement expression. The first ten were sold at auction to raise money for charity. Bottle one e of the original batch set a new world record after fetching £41,004 (US$54,650). The combined sale of all 10 bottles exceeded £92,000 (US$122,575).


“Quiet Rebels” series. 4,504 bottles were matured in a mix of ex-Tokaji barrels and ex-Bourbon barrels. After trails, the distillery uses yeasts like Anchor, Mauri, Chardonnay, and Fermentis.” Introducing the first release from our new spring series of whiskies, Huntress. This series is all about our ethos of discovery, of walking our own path, and is inspired by our guiding star, Neachneohain. Known as the Queen of Spirits in ancient Gaelic legend, she was a goddess of wild animals, the hills the rivers, and the moon. A huntress.

This series explores our pursuit of new flavors in whisky making and our love for creativity. This 2022 release features one of our yeast trials for the first time. Now we’ll be the first to admit that a passion for yeast is a little niche but bear with us. This humble ingredient is fundamental to making whisky, creating not just alcohol, but also the most interesting flavors in our spirit. We loved the results from this trial, which includes a yeast commonly used in rum production, and hope you do too.


For more information on yeasts and how we’ve used them in this release, click here for a short video from Annabel.

4447 bottles / 48.5% abv / 70cl / Certified organic
Natural colour / non-chill filtered.
Discount codes are not valid on seasonal releases.

Women are now leaders of new makes and legacy brands. But it was American women led the way. By the late eighteenth century in the US women were distilling at home. By 1850 it was common for prostitutes to legally sell whisky. Alongside the prohibition of alcohol in the 20s, this led to women were banned from drinking liquor at bars after the prohibition ended in 1933.

Bessie Williamson was the only woman in the twentieth century to own and run a distillery. Having worked at Laphroaig as a shorthand typist, the owner left the Islay distillery in her name.

Rita (Roberta Cowan) Taketsuru met her Japanese husband when he came to study whisky-making in Scotland.  Together they founded Nikka.

Whisky is rapidly moving away from the Old Boys’ image and chauvinistic mentality. Many whisky-loving women around the world are now rebalancing the gender bias within the whisky industry.

Laura Davies. Distillery Manager at the Welsh Whisky Company at Penderyn and Dawn Davies, MW head buyer at Speciality Drinks Group and The Whisky Exchange, are among the increasing number of female whisky influencers along with Rachel Barrie at Glendronach and Ben Riach, Macallan’s Kirsteen Campbell, Glenmorangie’s head of analytics and whisky creation Gillian Macdonald, Dewar’s Stephanie Macleod, Emma Walker of Johnnie Walker and Anna Thomas of the world’s oldest licensed distillery, Old Bushmills.

Kirstie McCallum is the master blender at Crabbie’s. “We have lots of limited editions coming out. Like our Single Malt 13-Year-Old Tokaji finish. “


Former winemaker Sarah Elsom is head distiller at New Zealand’s Cardrona Distillery,  Woodsford Reserve’s Master Taster and Assistant Master Distiller are Elizabeth McCall, a former “sensory scientist” at Brown-Forman now concepting new releases in Kentucky where also Jackie Zykan is Master Taster for Louisville’s Old Forester bourbon.

Says the biology and chemistry graduate “The smell of whisky became near and dear to my heart from a very young age. Every Christmas, my grandmother would make “whiskey cookies” with Jack Daniels.

“Sharing whiskey and tasting in a communal setting is such an impactful experience.“My role is a hybrid between global marketing and production.: Old Forester has been on the market continuously for longer than any other bourbon.”

Margie Samuels, the wife of Maker’s Mark’s  Bill Samuels, collected fine pewter, suggesting the iconic bourbon’s name as a reflection of the mark that pewter makers etched onto every piece. The bottle shape and the iconic red wax-dipped top were her ideas. Fawn Weaver founded Uncle Nearest.

With her husband Scott, Becky Harris co-founded Virginia’s Catoctin Creek Distilling Company in 2009. With a degree in chemical engineering, Harris is chief distiller, having previously worked at Amoco and CIBA. specializing in industrial processes and production systems. In 2020, Harris was appointed President of the board of directors for the American Craft Spirits Association.

Virginia claims to be the birthplace of American whisky in 1607 with Jamestown colonists as the first distillers Elijah Craig was a Virginian although the state was more famous for its rum.

Virginia claims to be the birthplace of American whisky in 1607 with Jamestown colonists as the first distillers. The award-winning craft distillery, the first in Loudoun County since Prohibition, makes Roundstone Rye. “Catoctin” derives from the Indian tribal name “Kittocton”- “place of many deer”.

“In a decade, the number of US craft distilleries has grown tenfold. Small producers, many helmed by women, have been open to taking chances in creating new expressions. Every brand should be looking to women as key leaders.”

We have resurrected a nineteenth-century business model for the 21st century,” says Louise McGuane, founder of Co Clare’s award-winning Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.


“We wanted to bring back the lost flavors of Irish whisky. JJ Corry was an innovator and entrepreneur. And my inspiration was a whiskey bonder who sold his special malt for three pennies a glass or in a jar.

“He had his shop at 63 Henry Street, Kilrush. The town was a port receiving Indian tea, Caribbean rum, French wine, and Portuguese port. He also invented a bicycle – the Gael which our first 60% malt, 40% grain blended whiskey is named after. His family still lives in the parish of Cooraclare.

“We revived bonding. It was a vital part of the Irish whiskey industry which died out in the 1930s. A bonder sourced whiskey from distilleries then matured, blended, bottled and branded it.”

A farmer’s daughter and former glass washer, Philosophy, and Literature graduate, McGuane has worked for Moet Hennessey, Veuve Clicquot, Pernod-Ricard add Diageo.

“Our Bonded Rackhouse is the only one of its kind in Ireland. It is styled after a traditional Dunnage house but also takes inspiration from the maturation houses of Kentucky and France.

Blaise Kelly, Niamh McMahon, and Caroline Sheedy Carey work alongside Louise. The portfolio comprises 16-year-old “Flintlock” single malt, “The Battalion”, named after St Patrick’s Army which fought for the Mexicans in the Mexican-American war, 1846-8.

“The Chosen made a huge impression globally. My team is predominantly female, but men work on the farm. I am a very pro-hiring woman though. What I can do is give young women opportunities, so they can go on to orchestrate change.”


In France, there’s Brenne’s Allison Parc and, in Sweden, Mackmyra’s Angela D’Orazio. Anna Bucholz is Germany’s first female commercial whisky distiller.

“Our distillery was founded in 1985, as a small manufacturer for herbal spirits and fruit-based liquors by my father,” says Anna of Hercynian Distilling Co.

“My earliest memory is making a raspberry spirit. I made my first whisky in 2002.”

In 2021, the pioneering whisky meister in won two golds at the World Whiskies Awards, and in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible received three Liquid Golds.

She continues the German whisky-making heritage established by the Jim Beam (originally Bohm) family and George Dickel, the Coffee County, Tennessee whisky man. Dickel came from Grunberg in the Hessen province. He was a cobbler who opened a liquor store in around 1870 and then began selling “Cascade” whiskey. Production is still based at Cascade Hollow.

“I know of two other female distillers in Germany.  Britta Rust of Van Loon in Bremen and Michaela Habbel in Sprockhovel.

“German whisky has become really unisex.”