When Karen Hoskin, owner of Montanya Distillers and a founding member of Ladies of American Distilling (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 (WDG).

“I did a survey of the 700 people who were involved with the predecessor organization, and two out of three asked for a name change,” said Hoskin. “They also wanted a membership non-profit organization and a clear mission with state and city chapters. So with this input, those have been my first tasks. It all came together pretty quickly.”

The group will have state, city and country chapters worldwide that focus on supporting gender diversity in craft distilling by:

  • Building visibility of women leaders in the industry;
  • Providing education, mentoring, support, and training for women professionals in the distilling industry;
  • Overcoming barriers and inspiring women to enter and advance in the profession;
  • Fostering work environments that encourage women to thrive and excel;
  • Assisting with media outreach and promotion of the industry;
  • Serving as liaisons to other industry associations and to the bartending community;
  • Developing financing and equity for start-up and later-stage craft distilleries owned/lead by women;
  • Providing scholarships for training;
  • Providing forums for communication and job listings.

“This year marks ten years for me in this industry and while we’ve made progress, there is still so much to be done,” remarked Hoskin. “I want to make sure women are seen as having equal potential and as a legitimate force in craft distilling. The stories I have heard from my peers trying to enter and advance can be distressing. I look forward to seeing how our work will shake up the craft spirits industry. The timing is excellent.”

The first event of the new WDG organization was held at the American Distilling Institute annual conference in March. Sixty women attended, and new industry entrants had unprecedented access to veteran women on topics like distilling, fermentation, entrepreneurship, brand building, safety, compliance and more.

“Although the distillery world is male-dominated, many women are involved, not just as owners or distillers, but passionately working in other valuable areas of the beverage industry,” noted Louise Newsome, a member of Women’s Distillery Guild and co-owner of Olde York Farm Distillery & Cooperage. “Women’s Distillery Guild empowers women through support and education, helps the spirits industry work towards inclusion, and amplifies our voice.”

Right now, The Women’s Distillery Guild is recruiting members as well as nominations for all board positions. Elections will be held on May 23, 2018. To join the organization as a regular, affiliate or sponsor member, visit The Women’s Distillery Guild’s website at www.womensdistilleryguild.org and click Join Us. For Board nominations or to recommend potential members who may not know about the organization yet, email admin@womensdistilleryguild.org.

“We need female founders and female industry disruptors because otherwise there will never be more of us. It will always feel too unlikely for those coming along. We need to change this narrative for women.” 

Katia Beauchamp from BirchBox, Vanity Fair Founders Fair 2018

About Women’s Distillery Guild
Women’s Distillery Guild is a non-profit membership organization of women working in, dedicated to and/or supporting the craft distilling industry. Our mission is 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. Join today or support the organization at the Join Us link at www.womensdistilleryguild.org.

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