March’s Whiskies of the Month - Women in Whisky

With both Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day being celebrated in March, our team have selected six delicious whiskies with links to women in the whisky industry. From Helen and Elizabeth Cumming of Cardhu, to Kelsey McKechnie from The Balvenie, we want to celebrate the wonderful women who make the whisky industry so inspiring.

Women in Whisky themed whiskies of the month, 6 bottles of whisky with pink background with colourful flowers.
Bottle of Holyrood Arrival for March Whiskies of the Month, with flowers in background

Holyrood Arrival

In July 2019 Holyrood Distillery opened its doors, making it the first single malt distillery in Edinburgh City for almost a century. Kelly Carpenter, one of the founders of Holyrood Distillery, has a wealth of experience in the world of whisky. Not only is she a driving force behind Holyrood, but her influence extends across borders as the founder of the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The recent release of Holyrood Arrival is a testament to the distillery’s dedication to innovation.


Tasting notes:

Matured in first-fill bourbon casks, as well as oloroso, PX sherry, and rum barrels.

Bottle of Highland Park 15yo for March Whiskies of the Month with flowers in the background.

Highland Park 15yo

Following the death of her father in 1944, Ethel Greig Robertson – better known as “Miss Babs” – took charge of the family whisky businesses, with elder sisters, Elspeth and Agnes by her side. Despite Miss Babs’ initial lack of business experience, her sisters entrusted her with representing them in business matters. Guided by the wisdom of company directors and senior auditors, she embraced her duty with grace and determination. Together, these sisters exemplify resilience and solidarity. They stand as a testament to the power of unity and determination, creating Edrington, one of the largest whisky companies.

In 1961 the sisters established The Robertson Trust, which is dedicated to upholding their legacy by helping people who experience poverty, trauma or both in Scotland.


Tasting notes:

This Highland Park 15 is predominantly matured in sherry seasoned European oak casks, giving warm, spicy notes, and sherry seasoned American oak casks to provide a balance of sweet vanilla.


Bottle of The Balvenie French Oak for March Whiskies of the Month with flowers in the background

The Balvenie 16yo

In 2014, science graduate Kelsey McKechnie started working for William Grant & Sons as a Technical Graduate in the Girvan Distillery laboratory, routinely analysing fermentations and distillation profiles. While she enjoyed this position, she was keen to use her sensory palate to measure the flavours she was analysing for in the labs. When she joined the ‘nosing panel’ her talent was quickly spotted and in 2018 she was appointed Apprentice Malt Master, making Kelsey one of the youngest women in the world to achieve this title.

Following the completion of her apprenticeship in 2022, Kelsey stepped into the position of Malt Master.


Tasting notes:

An abundance of vanilla spice and warm honey notes, mixed with energising grapefruit, geranium, glazed fruit, and ginger.


Bottle of Laphroaig 10yo for March Whiskies of the Month with colourful flowers in the background

Laphroaig 10yo

Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Williamson’s legacy is entwined in the history of Laphroaig as the only woman to own and run a Scotch whisky distillery in the 20th Century. Born in Glasgow, Bessie visited Islay in the summer of 1934, where she fell in love with the island and applied for a role as a typist at Laphroaig Distillery. Owner, Ian Hunter gradually handed over many responsibilities to Bessie appointing her company secretary. 

After Hunter’s death in 1954, he left a generous sum of money, land, his home, and the distillery business all to Bessie. She flourished in this role and was considered to be an exceptional manager and leader, becoming a beloved member of the Islay community. 


Tasting notes:

Richly smoky and fully peated with a slight sweetness and a saltiness from the sea.

Bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label for March Whiskies of the Month with colourful flowers in the background

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker is the best-selling Blended Scotch Whisky in the world and at the helm is Master Blender Dr Emma Walker, the first female Master Blender in their 200 year long history. Armed with a PhD in organic chemistry, she brings a scientific approach to blending whilst keeping her focus on fun and flavour.

Dr Walker may be Johnnie Walker’s first female master blender, but their history of inspirational women dates back to the 19th Century with Helen and Elizabeth Cummings from Cardhu. Cardow Distillery (rebranded Cardhu in 1981), was founded in 1811 by John and Helen Cumming, albeit an illicit distillery at that time. While John was incarcerated for illegally malting and distilling, Helen took over the running of operations at the distillery. When new legislation came into force in 1823, the Cummings were one of the first to take out a licence, legitimising the distillery.  

They later passed Cardhu onto their son Lewis and his wife Elizabeth, who ran the distillery until his death in 1872, following which Elizabeth took on operations of the distillery. Over the following two decades, she oversaw the expansion of the distillery and trademark of Car-Dhu, eventually being sold to John Walker and Sons in 1893. To this day Helen is depicted on the front of their whisky bottles, commemorating her role in the distillery’s history. 

Jane Walker, a new Limited edition whisky, created by Dr Walker, is a celebration of how the Speyside distillery flourished under these two women.


Tasting notes:

Fruity and peaty with a touch of sherry.

Bottle of Benriach 25yo for March Whiskies of the Month with colourful flowers in the background

Benriach 25

Rachel Barrie began her career as a research scientist for the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, this is where she developed her love for whisky and came to the realisation that it was her dream to become a Master Blender. This would be a long process and require time and patience to develop the knowledge and skills she would need. Rachel took her first role in production working for The Glenmornagie Company and by 2003 she was named Master Blender.  

Since then, she has worked in several of Scotland’s leading distilleries, helping in the creation of some iconic whiskies. Today, you can find her working for BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh, having just celebrated 30 years in the Scotch whisky industry! Dr Barrie has a distinct style of maturing her whiskies in multiple cask types to create more complex flavours whilst showcasing what our Speyside malts can achieve.


Tasting notes:

Baked fruit, toasted oak spice, orange and cinnamon spice, finishing with rich caramelised smoke.