In September 2020 Our Whisky co-founder Becky Paskin condemned the sexist language used to describe whiskies by one of the UK’s most well-known critics. It created a media storm, resulting in household brands such as Glenfiddich, The Whisky Exchange, Beam Suntory and the Scotch Whisky Association coming out in support of Becky’s comments, denouncing sexist language and sexism within the whisky trade.
In this panel event we talk to Becky herself, as well as industry experts about gender bias and discrimination in the whisky industry. The panel of speakers will be sharing thoughts and discussing if this was a standalone moment, or if this is widespread problem, and where do we go from here. We will be considering whether there are differences between hospitality, marketing, writing and production, in terms of how women are perceived? Is this, indeed, whisky’s #metoo moment and does the industry even need one?
Chair: Helen Foord – Just Festival
Ian Millar – Prestige Whiskies Specialist, William Grant & Sons Ltd, previously distillery manager at the Bladnoch, Mortlach, Blair Athol, Dalwhinnie, Linkwood and Glen Elgin Distilleries
Meeghan Murdoch – Head of Distilling Operations at Glenrinnes Distillery
Stephanie Murray – founding member of Shawfern Group Limited, operating boutique hotels such as The Dowans Hotel and Hotel 1881 in Speyside
Becky Paskin – whisky journalist, co-founder of Our Whisky and former Scotchwhisky.com editor
Irini Tzortzoglou – UK MasterChef Champion 2019
The session will be delivered by Zoom and will be free to attend. Questions can be posed by viewers via the Q&A section and will be moderated by one of the organisers
Just Platform is a community service provided by Just Festival to allow discussion and debate to continue during the period of Covid-19 Lockdown Restrictions. All Just Platform events are organised by third party groups, organisations or individuals. As a forum for debate some of the topics under discussion may prove to be thought provoking, difficult and/or controversial. As such the views and opinions expressed by individual event organisers, the event participants or by members of the public either participating in and/or commenting either during or after the event may not be views shared Just Festival, its staff or its supporters.
Irini Tzortzoglou is UK’s MasterChef Champion 2019.
Born on the island of Crete, Irini grew up in Athens where she and her brothers were educated. In 1980 Irini moved to London where she enjoyed a banking career in the City for over 30 years. Irini combined her work with professional (Banking Diploma) and academic (History of Art, Architecture & Design degree) studies as well as hobbies such as interior design and theatre, being both a legal director and leading lady of a London based Greek theatre company.
In 2010, Irini and her husband John left the financial world and moved to the sleepy but foodie village of Cartmel in the Lake District. In January 2020, Irini trained as an Olive Oil Sommelier and in July 2020, her debut book Under The Olive Tree (recipes from my Greek kitchen) was published to high acclaim.
Irini and her husband John have made over 40 visits to whisky distilleries, attended a weekly whisky school and love spending time on Islay and Speyside during their whisky festivals. Her dream is to visit the whisky distilleries of Japan.
Her favourite whisky is matured in sherry, sauternes or madeira casks.
Steph is a founding member of Shawfern Group Limited, a family organisation which operates a growing collection of boutique hotels such as The Dowans Hotel and Hotel 1881 in Speyside. As General Manager, she has overseen the significant growth and development of the business which, despite the impact of Covid-19 on the world of hospitality, continues to demonstrate resilient strength in a sincerely weakened market; evidence of its standing in a national and international context. Her knowledge of and passion for whisky were solidified by her attendance at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky School in 2014 and she continues to make it of pivotal importance to the business via regular events, whisky paired meals and continued marketing of The Still, the Dowans’ whisky snug, as a destination of choice. Prior to making hospitality her chosen career, she pursued a Postgraduate degree in Human Rights and International Politics from Glasgow University. Despite the move away from that field, she continues to champion the elements of her degree that were of the most pressing importance to her: equality, diversity and the pursuit of a world where the importance placed on the masculine heteronormative ‘ideal’ ceases to exist.
Prestige Whiskies Specialist, William Grant & Sons Ltd.
Born in Pitlochry Perthshire in the Highlands of Scotland in 1953, Ian Millar joined independent family distillers William Grant & Sons Ltd in 1998 as Distilleries Manager for the company’s flagship Glenfiddich and Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky distilleries.
Ian started working in the whisky business in 1971 where he worked at Blair Athol Distillery, having worked in various parts of production he was promoted into the Production Manager role in 1982.
He was also previously Distillery Manager at the Bladnoch, Mortlach, Blair Athol, Dalwhinnie, Linkwood and Glen Elgin Distilleries before joining William Grant & Sons to manage their Malt Distilleries.
Ian was an active member of Dufftown 2000 who were responsible for setting up the Dufftown Whisky Festivals now happily absorbed into the very successful Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
In 2006 Ian moved into the role of Global Ambassador for Glenfiddich where the ambassador team increased progressively to 20, he retired from this role in 2016.
Ian was invited to become a Keeper of the Quaich in 2008, an organisation created to promote the long term global success of Scotch Whisky.
In 2019 Ian was invited to join the Keepers of the Quaich Society as a Master of the Quaich.
In 2014 Ian was invited to sit in the panel of the HKIWSC as their International and head judge for the Spirits section.
In 2015 Ian was awarded the title of International Whisky Ambassador of the year from the International Whisky Competition.
In 2016 Ian was inducted into the Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame.
Ian is married to Anneke and has two grown up children and seven grandchildren, he currently lives in Pitlochry, deep in the heart of Scotland.
Thanks to the growing success of Glenfiddich and Balvenie, Ian is spending an increasing amount of time dealing with our HNW guests at Glenfiddich Distillery in his new role as Prestige Whiskies Specialist.
When not nosing and tasting Glenfiddich, or working on his numerous community projects, Ian likes to spend his precious free time playing golf at his favourite courses around Scotland and walking his dogs in the beautiful Highland countryside that surrounds his home.
Meeghan has over 25 years in the drinks industry. During this time, she has travelled the world working in the business that she is passionate about: the production of spirits, wine and beer.
Leaving her homeland Canada in 1990, she travelled to Japan – it was there that she was introduced to the world of drinks when she landed a job learning to make Sake.
Following this, Meeghan gained a wide range of experience within the wine and spirits trade in the UK by working in retail, import/export, and buying. At this time, she was also invited to join the highly esteemed IWSC & IWC judging panels.
In 2011 she obtained her degree in viticulture in and oenology at Plumpton College, which lead her to travel again – this time to the Mosel region of Germany, as well as France and New Zealand – to put her studies into practice as a winemaker.
After mastering the grape, she trained in the grain – becoming first a brewer, then a distiller and consultant within the beer and spirits industries. Meeghan received merit in the General Certificate in Distilling with the IBD concentrating on the production of Whisky and is currently the Head of Distilling and Operations at Glenrinnes Distillery in Speyside.
Becky Paskin is a UK-based spirits journalist, whisky specialist and consultant who has been writing about drinks for over 12 years. Most recently she was editor of leading online magazine Scotchwhisky.com and global trade title The Spirits Business.
She became the first journalist to gain a General Certificate in Distillation with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling – a qualification usually reserved for distillery operators, is also a judge for the IWSC and member of exclusive society Keepers of the Quaich. She was also named 2020 Icons of Whisky Communicator of the Year and listed in About Time Magazine’s Top 10 Women to Watch in Drinks 2020.
Becky is an advocate for breaking down cultural misconceptions about whisky, and in 2018 co-founded the OurWhisky movement to promote whisky as a diverse and widely accessible drink.
She regularly presents educational seminars at global drinks festivals including Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and The Whisky Show in London.