Whisky and Women

For the second year running, our Whisky and Women event proved to be a great success. The event ran as one of many during the Audacious Women Festival and was, once again, a sell out. Of course, this was due to our fantastic guests as (and I think I pointed this out on the night) I never sell that many tickets when it’s just me!

Whisky and Women: Part 2 – The Revenge kicked off with a (ahem) gin, courtesy of Lora Hemy.

Not just any gin but Cucamelon Gin from That Boutique-y Gin Company. No, I hadn’t heard of cucamelon either. We discovered that it’s a plant which, when distilled, gives a flavour similar to cucumber but with an underlying tartness.

Bearing in mind I’m neither a fan of gin nor cucumber (the only way I can describe the taste of the latter is like a soapy cooking apple), this actually wasn’t too shabby at all. It went down a treat with everyone.


Our first dram of the evening was The Macallan 12 years Double Cask, kindly donated by my good pal Karen from Angels’ Share Glass.

A new release, this whisky had been matured in both European oak and American oak sherry casks. It was a good dram to start with whilst I blethered for a bit before introducing our guests.

It’s at times like this when I realise that, no matter how much I think I know, I always have way more to learn. That became abundantly clear when listening to our guests who kindly gave up their time (and their whiskey and whisky) so that this event could even take place.

I was delighted when Louise McGuane, founder of The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company, agreed to join us. Having been following the progress of Chapel Gate on social media, I was fascinated by the process of reinstating Irish whiskey bonding to Ireland and by Louise’s determination that this should be done in a completely honest and transparent way. Louise brought Chapel Gate’s flagship blend J.J Corry The Gael and this was an absolutely cracking whiskey.


Heather Nelson is the founder and distiller of Toulvaddie Distillery. Work on the distillery has already started and the distillery itself should be up and running in July. These are exciting times and Heather’s passion and belief in making a genuinely artisan whisky came through. As to the flavour profile she is aiming for, Heather has her own ideas but, quite sensibly, will wait and see. I got the impression that Heather is looking to make consistently good whisky rather than whisky that is consistently the same flavour profile. Heather’s chosen whisky was Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 years; situated on the Fearn Peninsula means that Glenmorangie is one of the closest distilleries to Toulvaddie. Finished in both Oloroso and PX casks, this expression is full of delicious dried fruit and chocolatey flavours.


Our penultimate dram came courtesy of Lora Hemy, distiller extraordinaire. At the time of writing, the Beast From The East has arrived and I can’t help but feel it would be no match for this bottle of Ledaig 18 years from That Boutique-y Whisky Company. What a peat monster this is! Absolutely cracking whisky which (for me anyway) worked well without a drop of water. Lora talked about her arts background prior to completing her masters in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt, why she didn’t become a perfumer, her work as a consultant, with both new distilleries and with Halewood, before moving to her current post.


Following that Ledaig 18 years was going to be tricky so I opted for the Islay Malt from Cadenhead’s. With components from Caol Ila, Bowmore, Lagavulin, Bunnahabhain and a wee drop of peated Bruichladdich, it might just have managed to hold its own.


One of the most frequent pieces of feedback from last year’s event was that people appreciated its informal nature and, hence, the opportunity to ask questions. It was much the same again this time, solely due to the approachability of Louise, Heather and Lora.


This Whisky and Women event was always intended to go some small way to redress the imbalance caused by others’ blindness to women in the industry as well as celebrating the success and hard work of our three guests.

All of the proceeds for this event will, once again, be donated to Keymoves: a charity which helps, supports and works with homeless women in Edinburgh.


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