Shortly after graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1934, Elizabeth “Bessie” Williamson began working as a temporary secretary at the Laphroaig Distillery on the Scottish island Islay. Williamson quickly found herself joining the boys in the tasting room, studying the distillation process, and winning them over with her knowledge of Scottish whisky. After the owner of Laphroaig passed away, Williamson took over the prestigious company and became the spokesperson in America for the entire Scotch whisky industry. Impressing clients and showing her passion as the Scotch Whisky Association’s trade ambassador, she soon gained fame within the industry.Whiskey Women tells the tales of the women who created the industry, from Mesopotamia’s first beer brewers and distillers to America’s rough-and-tough Prohibition bootleggers. Women have long distilled, marketed, and owned significant shares in spirits companies, including Bushmills, Johnnie Walker, and Maker’s Mark. Williamson is one of many influential women who greatly influenced Scotch, bourbon, and Irish whiskey. Until now their stories have remained untold.
Wall Street Journal best-selling author Fred Minnick, once an army journalist in Iraq, writes the award-winning American Whiskey column for Tasting Panel Magazine and Toasting the Hunt column for Covey Rise. A regular contributor to Caviar Affair, Costco Connection, Whisky Magazine, and Whisky Advocate, Minnick has written widely about the spirits industry, traveling around the world covering everything from Limoncello in Sorrento, Italy, to Malbec wine in Mendoza, Argentina. Minnick is a member of the Author’s Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Meridith May, publisher of Tasting Panel, calls Minnick “one of the best whiskey storytellers in the business.”
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
A Note to Readers
1. Before Whiskey
2. The First Distillations
3. Tough Irish Women
4. Early Scotch Whisky Women
5. Early American Women
6. The Targeted and Early Marketers
7. Temperance Women
8. Women Moonshiners and Bootleggers in Prohibition
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