3.23.18 / New York / New York

Celebrating Women in Scotch With Scotland’s First Female Master Blender

A pioneer in the male-dominated industry


[Photo: Clay Williams]

In our culture scotch often has associations of masculinity, from the way it’s been portrayed in history to the way it’s advertised now. But in our eyes drinking has never really had any boundaries—aside from the one of our own good judgement. So when Rachel Barrie, a pioneering female Master Blender, decided to host a tasting of the BenRiach and GlenDronach spirits she oversees, we couldn’t pass it up.

Barrie enlisted three of New York’s top bartenders—Julie Reiner (Clover Club & Leyenda), Eryn Reece (Banzarbar), and Jane Danger (Mother of Pearl)—to come together at the NoMo SoHo Hotel and create cocktails using the two scotch brands, before guests enjoyed a tasting of the spirits themselves. There were an assortment of flavors, from the robust peat of the 10 year-old BenRiach Curiositas to the smooth and rich GlenDronach 18 year-old Allardice aged in sherry casks.”I think single malt is really following in the path of wine,” Barrie posited, “with diversity of tastes, people are really starting to understand the flavor.” Part of that is because of the culture we live in now, especially in cities like New York where cocktail bars have been growing over the last decade. “The consumer is becoming more knowledgable and educated about taste, and so that’s one way, in cocktails as well. It works tremendously well in a cocktail, and goes wonderfully with food as well.”


[Photo: Clay Williams]

Of course that passion comes from growing up in distilling country, where scotch was integral to the culture. “We’ve got everything in Scotland from smoky whiskey to fruity whiskey, sherry whisky, and there’s such intensity of flavors, I think focusing on tastes is the key.” Though Barrie originally graduated college as a scientist, her passion for scotch drew her into the industry and propelled her to becoming the first female Master Blender in Scotland over a decade ago. The event also celebrated Women’s History Month, though you may not have known that if you were there. With so many talented female bartenders in New York, it’s easy to forget that the spirits industry is still seen as a boys club by many, but Barrie always recognized that taste is universal. “There’s a lot more women coming into scotch, enjoying it, drinking it. Everyone can enjoy whiskey; there are no barriers.”


[Photo: Clay Williams]


[Photo: Clay Williams]


[Photo: Clay Williams]

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