Margie Samuels – Co-Founder Maker’s Mark and Kentucky Bourbon Hal of Fame Member.
The spirits industry is made up of many colorful characters. Women have been a part of the industry in one way or another all along though rarely as the face of the brand but that’s changing. In fact, way back in 1953, Maker’s Mark, one of the world’s most famous whiskey brands owes it iconic dripping red wax and several other Maker’s trademarks to Margie Samuels. Could you imagine Maker’s without that wax? Margie was recognized for her efforts in 2014 when she was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. As the world of craft spirits continues to grow more women entrepreneurs are taking on more roles in the distilling business including titles like founder, owner and master distiller.
As U.S. laws continue to change and craft spirits distilleries pop up all over the country there are more and more women getting involved in the industry. In 2011, recognizing a need for women’s voices to be heard in an industry dominated by men, Samantha Katz founded Ladies of American Distilleries (LOAD). It was an organization created to advocate for gender diversity and equality in craft distilling through education and training and to foster work environments that help women thrive and excel. In early 2018 when Karen Hoskin, owner of Montanya Distillers and a founding member of LOAD, took over as interim leader of the organization in February, one of the first things she did was change the name to The Women’s Distillery Guild. And that was just the beginning.
Women’s Distillery Guild to Become Subgroup Under Women of the Vine & Spirits
The Women’s Distillery Guild and Women of the Vine & Spirits have announced they will formally join forces to maximize resources and bring their niche interests together to accomplish a shared vision. By coming together, instead of competing against one another, the two organizations have a unified mission to help women thrive in the alcohol beverage industry and to amplify their voice. Both organizations felt it made sense to capitalize on strength in numbers.
“I have long been vocal about the importance of collaboration over competition,” noted Karen Hoskin, Founder of Montanya Distillers and founding member and President of the Women’s Distillery Guild. “I was unaware of Women of the Vine & Spirits when Women’s Distillery Guild began. Very quickly, the industry began to connect us. Since then, it has been so gratifying to learn how we can be stronger together.”
Karen Hoskin Founder and Owner of Montanya Distillers.
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Under the new partnership, the Women’s Distillery Guild will dissolve as an external nonprofit and will become a subgroup, and full members, of Women of the Vine & Spirits. This subgroup will specifically focus on craft distilleries and craft spirits.
“This is a true testament to women coming together and collaborating for the greater good of the cause. I am pleased to have the Women’s Distillery Guild board members as committee chairs of the subgroup to continue the great work they have started and to tap into our resources, global network, platform, tools and more,” said Deborah Brenner, Founder & CEO, Women of the Vine & Spirits.
With the Women’s Distillery Guild now part of Women of the Vine & Spirits, the members will continue to dedicate time to what both organizations have always focused on: mentorship, training, support, empowerment, and advocacy for women in the alcohol beverage industry. This will include the following for craft women distillery owners, distillers, and staff:
- Scholarships through the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation
- Global Symposium
- Career pathing
- Entrepreneurship education
- Diversity and inclusion advocacy.
Another sign of the rising voice of women across all industry sectors is that Women of the Vine & Spirits will soon launch its “Women Owned & Certified Program”, which will serve as a pathway to supplier diversity programs.
And finally, to close the loop on Margie Samuels. A close reading of the Maker’s website now rightfully identifies her as Co-Founder of Maker’s Mark and notes that Margie graduated from the University of Louisville in 1933 with a degree in chemistry. Booyah!