Women's History Month 2023 - Celebrating Women in Irish Whiskey

Posted by Irish Whiskey USA on

March is Women's History Month, an annual campaign that highlights contributions to history and contemporary society by women. For 2023, the theme is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories."
Irish Whiskey Society America is celebrating women during the month of March who represent Irish Whiskey, specifically those who have a role in telling the story of Irish whiskey.
This is the second time the IWSA is focusing on women in the Irish whiskey industry. In 2020, we featured Helen Mulholland from Bushmills, Carol Quinn of Irish Distillers, Louise McGuane of Chapel Gate Whiskey, Rosi Goswell of Tuath Glass, Mary Ferriter from Dingle Distillery, Caroline Martin of Roe & Co, and Margaret O'Lochlainn from O'Lochlainn's Bar. 
The Irish whiskey industry is burgeoning with women in all areas from making the spirit, selling the brands, and managing the consumer experience of Ireland's signature spirit. For our five part series, each Wednesday of March 2023, the Irish Whiskey Society America will raise a glass by focusing on different women who enrich our enjoyment of Irish Whiskey.


The first feature of our five-part series during the month of March is on the women from the Micro Distillery at Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork. Katherine Condon, distiller and Eva O'Doherty, apprentice distiller are responsible for the Method and Madness range of Irish whiskeys. The innovation arm at Midleton, the Micro Distillery is actually bigger than most of the new distilleries to begin in Ireland over the past 10 years. The micro distillery allows these women to experiment and learn as they develop the next generation of releases (while the main distillery focuses on producing the huge volume of global brands like Jameson, Powers, and Redbreast.)
Part of their responsibility is to oversee the core Method & Madness range which includes the Single Grain (finished in Virgin Spanish oak), Single Malt (finished in French Limousin oak), and Single Pot Still (finished in Chestnut casks). They also work to create many of the limited releases that are the hallmark of the Method & Madness inspiration including single pot stills finished in Hungarian, Acacia, Wild Cherry, Mulberry, Japanese Cedarwood, and Japanese Chestnut casks.
Two of their latest releases were the first to be exclusively produced in the Micro Distillery, the Rye and Malt and Oats and Malt varieties which fall outside of any category in the Irish Whiskey Technical File. Lucky for us, these women are not letting Technical File limitations prevent them from creating flavor profiles bound only by their imaginations. The IWSA raises a glass in appreciation of Katherine and Eva as they tell the story of Irish whiskey through the innovative whiskeys they create. You can read more about these women in interviews here and here.


The second featured woman as part of our five-part series during the month long March celebration is Karen Noble from Powerscourt Distillery. Karen joined Powerscourt in 2022 as Visitor Center Manager and oversees the wonderful new facility in County Wicklow. Karen's role is to enhance the overall visitor experience for those venturing to Powerscourt Distillery's six tasting rooms, cafe, gift shop, maturation warehouse, and of course distillery tours. The 2023 Icons of Whisky awarded the Powerscourt Distillery & Visitor Center their Ireland Visitor Attraction of the Year. One of the highlights for visitors is the Distillery tour and Food pairing experience which offers guests the opportunity to sample local artisan products along with the Fercullen range of Irish whiskeys. 

Having hosted the 2021 Irish Whiskey Awards, the Distillery and Visitor center is well equipped to "tell the story of Irish Whiskey." Under Karen's stewardship, visitors to Powerscourt Distillery are in great hands to learn and enjoy the Irish Whiskey Experience. We look forward to our group visit to Powerscourt in May where we can say hello again and partake in Karen's hospitality. The IWSA raises a glass in appreciation for Karen's efforts enhancing our Irish Whiskey journey.


The third featured woman as part of our five-part series during the month long March celebration is Donna Stewart from Lost Irish whiskey. Donna is the Ambassador, based in Los Angeles, for this new Irish whiskey brand which launched first in the USA in 2021. After great success in the US, the brand was later released in Ireland in June 2022.

Lost Irish is a unique blend comprised of all 3 styles of Irish whiskey aged in casks from 6 different continents. The brand's name recognizes the many Irish living around the world and is "inspired by a wanderlust for world travel, adventure, and the many stories of the Irish across the globe." Donna epitomizes this spirit having been born in Boston and raised in Dublin before relocating to California.

Donna has plenty of experience promoting Irish whiskey having previously worked as an Ambassador for Tullamore Dew. With an Instagram profile bio of "Spreading the good word of Irish Whiskey", Donna is a perfect representative for the 2023 theme of "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories." The Irish Whiskey Society America raises a glass of Lost Irish to Donna.


The fourth feature of our five-part series celebrating women during the month of March is on the owners of The Confession Box pub in Dublin. Sisters Pauline and Monica Keenan have owned one of the smallest pubs in Dublin for over a dozen years. Just a few blocks north of the River Liffey near the Abbey Theater, The Confession Box has a long history. Sitting in the shadow of the Pro-Cathedral, the pub's name stems from the confession provided to rebels under Michael Collins by sympathetic priests during the War of Independence. Today the pub is frequented by loyal customers who enjoy a good pint and the atmosphere created by the Keenan sisters, who work tirelessly behind the bar. 


A sort of kinship with the Irish Whiskey Society America was formed in 2022 when the pub launched their namesake Irish whiskey, a 6yr Single Malt Michael Collins edition, similar to the 10yr Limited Edition the IWSA released, both through IrishAmerican and Achill Distillery. The Keenan sisters truly represent the 2023 theme "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories" through their Confession Box Irish Whiskey whose name harkens to a time when the stories of Irish history were being retold. We raise a glass to the Keenan women and praise their commitment to sustaining a piece of Irish history.



The final woman featured in our five-part celebratory series during the month of March is Claire Canning from Slane Irish Whiskey. Claire joined Slane Distillery when it opened in 2017 and oversees the business day to day operations. Developing memorable experiences and events is also a big part of Claire's responsibility. 


Adjacent to and on the grounds of the legendary Slane Castle, the Slane venues are no stranger to telling stories having staged some of the biggest rock music concerts in history. With the distillery and visitor experience, Slane can increase its storytelling reach through Irish whiskey now as well. Visitors can learn about the history of the castle, explore the fabled grounds, tour the distillery, and experience the making of both Irish whiskey and Irish coffee. 


The IWSA is looking forward to all this as part of our group trip in May with the help of Claire. The IWSA raises a glass in appreciation of Claire's efforts to tell the stories of the Slane legend and Irish whiskey. 
Image Credits:
IMAGE Method and Madness
HotelandRestauranttimes.ie Powerscourt
Instagram Lost with Donna
Facebook The Confession Box

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