5 Years Ago Today I Launched Brenne
October 1, 2017 § 7 Comments
Yes. Half a decade ago I was jumping on a Citibike in NYC with a case of Brenne in the front and started peddling around Manhattan to see if my little-whisky-company-that-could, could. Could become something that would ignite conversations of the possibilities of terroir in Single Malt Whiskies. Could become something that would be enjoyed in the homes of people I have never met. Could become something that was bigger than me.
Half a decade later, I am jumping on and off planes and just this week alone will be in 5 cities in 5 days. And the answers to my questions above is a resounding YES.
While I started working on Brenne years before I launched, there’s a lot of me that feels that Brenne wasn’t really a reality until I launched it as a completed package. And in these 5 years, I feel as though a lot of my personal growth has been in parallel with Brenne’s.
So let me start with my thanks:
- THANK YOU for saying Yes to me when I was at times a little unsure of this dream myself.
- THANK YOU for staying with me all of these years later.
- THANK YOU for talking, sharing, buying, evangelizing Brenne in all of those moments that you do – especially when I am not personally present.
- THANK YOU for asking your bartenders and stores for Brenne — trust me, that made (and still makes!) a real impact.
- THANK YOU for supporting me personally as I have grown, as I have become more comfortable talking to you, to the press, to rooms full of hundreds of people … this Brenne thing really did become so much bigger than me!
1 former ballerina with her life-savings and a single (complex) dream later…
BRENNE in a dram:
- 35 states in the USA (moving into 50!)
- 2 countries: France & US (launching our 3rd TODAY! Hi UK!)
- 100,000s of pieces of cork, glass and labels purchased and used
- 1 billboard in Times Square (what!?!)
- 3 Icon’s of Whisky Awards
- 2 World Whiskies Awards
- 2 “93 points” by Wine Enthusiast
- 2 American Graphic Design Awards
- 1 Wizards of Whisky Award
- 1 Drammie Award
- 1 Sip Awards
- 1 magazine cover
- 1 TV sighting
- 1 radio spot
- Multiple blog mentions & interviews (THANK YOU!)
- Not-sure-I-want-to-go-back-through-and-count-them-all “number” of mentions and articles in nationals and international press
- COUNTLESS of incredible connections to You — the amazing souls who carry this dream forward.
ALLISON in a dram:
- 5 years older and about 50 years wiser
- I’ve traveled to 7 different countries and 33 states in the US with Brenne
- I’ve created something that absolutely did not exist and turned it into something that continues to grow while I sleep.
- I am most proud of how I set myself up mentally every morning; reminding myself of the ultimate WHY (to build community and connection through an incredible glass of whisky) vs the WHAT (endless To Do’s, sales figures, production hiccups, etc) as it’s the WHY that helps me create the pulse and stand in front of thousands of people sharing a message I have now shared multiple times a day for 1,825 days.
- I still don’t speak French fluently (LOL!)!
- I have some well earned gray hairs that frankly, I’m very proud of.
- I am more relaxed
- I became unmarried (that took a long time & added some grays!) while working extremely hard and consciously to move through this massive life change with grace, love, gratitude, and optimism. Not. Easy.
- I changed my name!
- Some day I’ll talk more about it but for now, I’ll just share this: about a year ago, I was attacked and walked right up to deaths door … and chose life.
- After that, I became REALLY comfortable at letting go of the “shoulds” (I “should” be X, we “should” be doing Y, this “should” look more like Z…).
- I moved into my very own apartment for the first time in my life!
- I challenged myself to learn an entirely new way of looking at life and the world, at every situation, at every moment, and at how I want to shape whatever time I have on this precious earth.
- Another thing I’ll talk more about in detail later and for now I’ll share this: I made a partnership deal with Brenne + an amazing company called Samson & Surrey, another choice that has changed the course of both my life and Brenne’s.
- I have fallen in love again… and it is oh-so-extrodinary
- Despite working hard, I’ve learned the importance of and do carve out regular quality time to sit with myself, my family, my incredible friends, and make space for regular personal, mental, creative, spiritual, and emotional growth.
In all of this, just as for all of you, life truly is a journey! We wake up every day and while we may think we know what that day holds, the truth is we don’t. Every day is a big mystery with life – and possibility!- renewing each second. … This is a thought that use to be terrifying to me (too much pressure!) and now occurs for me like a big, amazing, GAME (I can let things GO as life is renewed now … and now … and now again!). So in these last 5 years, Brenne has grown a LOT, I have grown a LOT! I’ve learned a LOT, created a LOT, met a LOT of you, hope to meet many more of you(!!!!), faced death, faced life, become a LOT more relaxed, and am TRULY grateful for and enjoying every single moment and dram.
If we’ve met, then you may have heard me say this: “If we are lucky enough to realize we are alive, then the only other guarantee we have is that at some point unbeknownst to us, we will die. So thus, everything else in the middle is up to us to create.”
I am definitely drinking Brenne tonight and hope you’ll join me in raising a glass to all of you; without whom NONE of this would have been possible. That’s a fact.
With so much love, Allison
Allison Patel is now Allison Parc
April 27, 2017 § 9 Comments
Allow Me to (re)Introduce Myself
Welcome to the first day of the rest of my life. Alright, that’s dramatic. But, it’s how I’ve been feeling lately, and often, and I’m excited to finally be able to share why! But first, we have some catching up to do…
On January 1st, I woke up, smiled, and began thinking about how completely different my life would be one year from that day. I genuinely had – and on some things still have – ZERO idea how the journey, or the outcomes, might look.
Change scares a lot of people. It has definitely gripped and threatened to cripple me at times. But I have always, for the most part, been a change champion and in 2016, I challenged myself to take it a step further. I chose to change nearly EVERYTHING.
(By the way, now might be a great time to open that bottle of Brenne and pour yourself a dram. Heck, I’ll join ya.)
What am I talking about? Well, my marital situation, my dating situation, my living situation, and my business situation (yay growth!) have all changed. And today, my name follows suit! (Yes, really. Although, that’s not a “Situation”… sorry Jersey Shore fans.)
Here’s a regular debate for women: to take, or not to take, your husband’s name in marriage. There’s a lot to be said for both sides, or a variety of ways to creatively merge names if that’s your preference. When it was my turn, I traded in my French roots and swooped right into Patel, subsequently throwing off a lot of people at meetings as a white gal rocking a classically Indian last name.
But, what does a woman, who practically marked the shift from ballet to whisky in ink with her name change, do when Patel is no longer applicable? Does she go “back” to her former name – an old identity that doesn’t fully serve the woman she has become? No, thank you. We can’t go backwards in life, only forwards. So, I’ve chosen an entirely new name for myself, created by moi, by way of too many factors to list without boring you!
So without further ado, allow me to re-introduce myself. Hello, I’m Allison Parc. No more Allison Patel! (As a bonus, yes, you can still call me AP. 😉
Thank you for continuing to join me on this wild ride. Let’s raise a glass of Brenne together for all of the powerful choices we courageously make while continuing to move forward. We have but one precious life, for an uncertain amount of time. Here’s to new things, and making the most of them!
With love ~ Allison
‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
December 23, 2016 § 6 Comments
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through town, happy Brenne bottles were selling out on liquor store shelves up and down.
Fine women and men exclaimed with glee, “I never thought I’d be a whisky drinker before I tried Brenne! Wee!”
The whisky was poured by the fireplace with care, in hopes that the angels would share their share.
Hearts filled with love and laughter as great stories were told and memories of this Christmas would be forever gold.
Happiest of holidays from us to you. Every like, share & purchase really do make dreams come true.
Thank you all for an incredible year! Looking forward to creating more magic with you all in a very bright 2017.
With so much love,
Brenne Available in EU Online
September 21, 2016 § 3 Comments
As someone who regularly tries to keep her emails distilled down to just the point (very different from my emoji-filled texts), I can only assume that the email I just fired off to my social media guru may have seemed like someone has been hitting the espresso a little hard today.
It started out like this:
“This is HUUUUUUUUGGE for us!!!! SOOOOOO many people in Europe have been asking for a place to buy Brenne online — now we finally have a partner!!!!”
Believe me, the authentic excitement is warranted. It has only taken 1.5 years (yes, years) to find a suitable retailer in France who has an online shop set up, is willing to create a link for Brenne (you’d think I have been asking people for their first borns) AND who will actually ship (aka: fill orders). In my opinion, this should not have taken this long. Hence the original title to this post: Seems Easy, Was Hard.
In my experience, France is a country where, on average, whisky over a certain price is primarily bought as gifts and thus picked up after work on the buyers way to X … why put in the extra work of selling it online? “Because,” I have pleaded, “I receive a wonderful amount of requests from people who are asking me ‘from where can they order a bottle of Brenne in Europe?’ and I would LOVE to have a site to where I can direct them!!!”
“Eh…. Peut-être un jour” (translation: “(sigh) … Maybe one day”)
[Insert spike in blood pressure for one particular whisky loving entrepreneur]
But alas, on my most recent visit to France just last week, I had the absolute pleasure of touring the brand new Whisky Shop Paris, located in the very chic 8th arr. at 7 Place de la Madeleine. I told Imogen Bankier, the inspiring director of the shop, that it felt like I was in the Dior of whisky stores. It’s DIVINE inside – especially the first and currently only “House of Walker” in Europe, located on the 2nd floor (it’s so new that at the time of publishing this post, JW hasn’t even listed it on their site).
Guess what? They sell Brenne. Guess what else? They now sell Brenne ONLINE.
But wait … it get’s even better. Now through the end of 2016, The Whisky Shop Paris will offer FREE SHIPPING to anywhere in the UK, France and Belgium.
Did you just fall over?! I did. I’m so excited I just stopped my day to write this post and make this little graphic:
So, if you have emailed the Brenne website with this specific request recently, get ready to finally hear back from me with good news. 😀
Trying to Restart
September 15, 2016 § 26 Comments
I am shaking my head as I type this … where do I begin? It’s IMPOSSIBLE to share what has been going on in my world with a single post – so I am going to begin with a “restart”. I’ve had months of “publish block” — unable to hit “publish” on posts I have taken hours to write. Why? Because of fear. SOOOO appropriate considering the last post I DID publish was on how to PUSH THROUGH fear! Ugh.
So on the 8hr+ flight home to NYC from Paris yesterday, I asked myself: what are you ACTUALLY afraid of with regards to this blog? Not being perfect? (kinda, but not really). And then I realized: I just can’t talk exclusively about “whisky” … my life is so much bigger than that one topic, and since whisky IS my life, they are interwoven so tightly that I do not know how to separate them. For me to write authentically, I simply can’t just share about whisky.
“SO F*** IT” I told myself, “The Whisky Woman” doesn’t have to mean anything beyond my “nickname” so to speak. I can just share the happenings of my life because what is happening is so wild I feel like some days I am living inside a really incredible movie.
In fact, when things have become nearly paralyzingly tough this year, the catch phrase that my friends have started saying is, “Well, it’ll be GREAT for the book!” And to repeat, since my life’s work IS whisky, our favorite topic will always be invariably involved in the subjects.
In January I had a sense that this year was going to be “big” … how big I did not know. But at least I was right about that. One of the awesome things that happened was that I have been blessed to welcome Katie Schloss to my team – an incredibly savvy woman with an eye for design, a brain for social media that intimidates me in the best possible ways, and a heart as big as Manhattan. Katie has taken Brenne’s Instagram from my “of the moment/on the fly” posts to a page that actually helps tell our story and inspire people (myself included!).
My last email before boarding my flight was to Katie. In it, I shared how I wanted to recommit myself to my blog and really start sharing again. That I am going to do my best to move through my fears and actually DO IT. To that, she responded with this:
“Erin Fetherston had a collection of dresses titled “Urban Flowers” when I was a freshman in college. “Urban Flowers,” to her, are the tiny, little weeds and flowers that look dainty, but who are able to work their way through the elements, through the concrete, and grow through the surface into the light. Being one of the only women to own her own whisky company (period, end stop), going through everything you’ve overcome this year, you have a beating-the-odds story of resilience that resonates; it just needs to be told, and it’s been an honor helping shape your story and watching your brand come to life on social platforms. :)”
So with this, I am hoping I follow my own lead and truly “restart” my engagement here. No matter what happens, I am so incredibly grateful and blessed that you all are still here, still supporting me, still behind my goals of being a successful entrepreneur igniting the conversations of “French Whisky” and “terroir-driven Single Malts” around the world.
With a lot of love and a dram raised way up, THANK YOU. xo – Allison
Pushing Through My Fears
February 11, 2016 § 6 Comments
Hi! It’s been a while … a long while. When I realized I am creeping up on my 1yr mark since my last post, I wanted to make sure I pass that moment with a fresh, new, shiny post. So here I am, saying “Hello!” again (thanks Adele), and getting over my “it’s been soooo long since my last post how will I ever blog again???” fear.
“Pushing Through My Fears” could (should?) be a multi-post series as it is something I actively do nearly every. single. day. and something I know everyone faces, no matter where you are in life. My inspiration for this post came when I heard myself correcting someone after he labeled me as “fearless” — flattered as I was, I am certainly not without fear — it’s just that I do my best to not let my fears prevent me from going after my ultimate goals, no matter the size or impact of said goal.
How do I do that?
- Step 1: Address fear
- Sometimes I actually have to say out loud, to myself, “I am scared of ___!” Just doing that diminishes the fear’s power over me 8 times out of 10. If that works, jump to Step 7!
- Step 2: Allow yourself to be vulnerable
- …publicly, with your “inner circle” or even just to yourself (this is a fun one, it humanizes you!)
- Step 3: Visualize ideal outcome
- Step 4: Brainstorm all possible avenues to get to ideal outcome
- Again, solo and/or with others
- Step 5: Commit to a plan
- …while always being open to “of the moment” changes
- Step 6: Start taking action on your chosen plan
- If it feels overwhelming, break the plan down into the SMALLEST pieces possible and truly take them one at a time.
- Step 7: CELEBRATE your action-taking self!!!
- YAY! I toasted the day I first filed for my LLC! Heck, I toast every single milestone I feel I cross with Brenne Whisky still today! When they say “it’s about the journey” I believe it – so I make it a conscious choice to genuinely love the small victories each and every time.
While “fearful me” thinks I should not dare publish a post without giving you a lengthy update on all the great things that have happened with Brenne since last I blogged (like, oh … I don’t know … the fact that I LAUNCHED A SECOND BRENNE WHISKY EXPRESSION called “Brenne Ten” and that Brenne Ten WON 2 GOLD MEDALS AS “2nd World Best Single Malt” AND “Best European Single Malt” in London’s ‘Wizard’s of Whisky’ 2015 competition … AND perhaps the very important fact that BRENNE launched in FRANCE in 2015 … and in the USA grew from 24 to 32 states) the “pushing through my fear” part of me says, “just publish what you have … you can always write more posts tomorrow!”
Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd that is why I didn’t blog much in 2015. I worked really hard, didn’t know how to distill down all that I wanted to share into decently-written posts (believe me, I tried, I have 23 posts in my drafts folder!) and traveled a ton to humbly & with honor grow this “little whisky brand that can” called Brenne. You know, the one with the blue label from France? Yea … that one) 😀
(PHOTOGRAPH by the amazing SARAH BAUMBERGER of “Beautiful Tangible Things” blog and a guest writer on “It’s Just The Booze Dancing” blog!)
If you want more – please follow BRENNE and ME on Instagram. That’s where I have been most active this past year! Thanks for sticking with me!!! Be back … soon 😉
Celebrate World Whiskies
March 27, 2015 § 19 Comments
Felt compelled to write this quick post as I’ve just returned from launching Brenne in France (yay!), the always-lovely Ian Chang, master distiller of the Taiwanese company Kavalan, just won Icons of Whisky Global “Master Distiller of the Year” (Congrats Ian!), we ourselves have won a few awards for Brenne recently (a Drammie for Most Innovative Whisky and 2 gold medals from Wizards of Whisky for our up-coming Brenne Ten!) AND it’s International Whisky Day.
Point being: World Whiskies are here to stay.
The International Whisky category does not only account for the Japanese whiskies. There are a lot of amazing and note-worthy distilleries from unexpected corners of the earth making phenomenal whiskies. Just look at our friends over at Mackmyra, Amrut & Sullivan’s Cover (to name a few)!
So if you’re contemplating hosting a whisky tasting anytime soon, informally or formally, maybe think about taking a “Single Malt Tour” around the world, trying one from France, Sweden, Japan, Tasmania, Taiwan, Indian … could be a fun way to travel in the comfort of your own home!
There is certainly no shortage of passion within our whisky community and it’s really exciting to experience that expanding in every aspect from what’s actually in our glasses to the conversations we’re having on social media, at the bar and beyond. I’m honored to be part of an ever-growing category and one where I think we may find a lots of innovation now and in the years to come.
So HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WHISKY DAY to you all – I’ll raise a glass of Brenne to you all this weekend!
#worldwhiskies #internationalwhiskyday #drinkbrenne
2015 Is Definitely Here
January 22, 2015 § 11 Comments
I blinked and it was January 22, 2015. Not just January… But nearing the END of January.
Running your own business (no matter the industry) is an extremely humbling experience. Every day I metaphorically climb mountains and hike through strange new lands – each time requiring that I quickly learn the local dialect, customs and culture. Good thing I love to dance & am quick on my feet!
As a solopreneur working extremely hard to build awareness of my Brenne Whisky, I have found a bit balance this past year by running regularly and meditating (the inspirations for which I share often on my personal Instagram page). When I take stock of where things are with Brenne at the moment, I’m simply elated. By November 2013, we were available in 4 States around the USA. By November 2014, Brenne was available in 28. TWENTY-EIGHT!!!!! That’s an average of 2 states per month consistent growth over the course of 12 month. And we just opened Maine this week. The wider availability of Brenne in the US market coupled with the showering of amazing press of even just the last handful of weeks(!!) (Forbes, CBS Morning Show, Men’s Health, Boston Globe, Men’s Journal, NY Observer!!!) confirms for me that I’m on the right path.
If we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve probably tired of my “OMG, ___x___ Magazine just wrote about me/Brenne!” posts. (Sorry). I try not to do that too many times but I do want to share, shout out & give thanks for those in the press who have taken the time to share my story. Yet last week – just 7 days ago – I was in a prestigious restaurant in NYC and the after tasting Brenne, the head bartender looked up at me and said with a genuine smile on his face, “It’s really different, in a good way … Has anyone written about it yet? I mean, in the media? That would probably help bring some awareness to what you’re doing.”
Internally, I was laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. Externally, I thanked him for the advice, mentioned a few of the recent articles we’ve received but ultimately, was grateful that clearly he liked Brenne enough to try and offer his two cents as to how I could grow my business.
There is always more work to do, however, I feel that the U.S. finally has the beginnings of a great foundation. We’re growing steadily (thanks to many of you!!!!) and I have lots of hopes for this year ahead, including the release of something extremely special, super limited and, in my humble opinion, ridiculously delicious coming to you this Fall. …Yup, you’ll want to stay tuned!
In the mean time, one more lucky country is about to get Brenne … Who you ask? I’ll be back soon with the details!
So as we near the end of the first of only 12 months in what I expect to be another year of fleeting, albeit beautiful moments, I raise my glass to you: Cheers to you, your friends, families and drinking buddies. I hope 2015 is a year filled with special experiences, love and plenty of great whisky.
Join Me on YouTube
November 13, 2014 § 3 Comments
Hi Friends! Hope you all have been enjoying the change of seasons, wherever you are located in the world! For me, this has been quite a (wonderfully) crazy Fall. I’ve been to Vegas, Los Angeles, Florida, Washington DC, New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas and have had a full calendar of events while at home in New York City just trying to spread the good word of Brenne! (If you’re on Instagram, I regularly post photos of my travels & whisky shows on my Brenne and my personal IG feeds like this photo below). 🙂
It’s been a great experience getting out there and meeting so many more whisky fans. If you’re someone who has attended one of the many shows I’ve been at recently and came over to try Brenne, THANK YOU! For everyone who has continued to support me here and on various means of social media (and, well, by ordering Brenne at your local watering holes & liquor stores!), an even bigger THANK YOU. You all keep this particular solopreneur going!
In the mean time, I’m excited to announce that I’ve started a YouTube channel! My goal is to post a new video every other Wednesday (fingers crossed I can maintain that!). It’s been a really fun way to engage with people beyond the written word and photos on Instagram… and the “un-edited Me” is, well …something else!
WHAT YOU’LL SEE
CouchTalk: A series I’m developing where I invite some of my “whisky family” into my home for whisky (duh) and a chat on my couch about anything from a new book they’re launching to a review of a whisky event (like this one below!)!
How To…Cocktails: I’m asked regularly if I’m “okay” with people using Brenne in a cocktail and my answer is always YES! So I’ll be doing some “How To” videos of my favorite whisky cocktails using Brenne like these!
Vlog: I’m hoping to roll off some videos where I’m perhaps answering people’s questions or chatting about whisky news or other things going on that I think are of some value to share. I imagine these will be in a similar casual format to my “Welcome To My YouTube Channel” video like this!
So, if you’re a fan of YouTube, I really hope to see you over there! Please subscribe & like the videos (if you like them, of course) 🙂 I’m hoping this channel will evolve over time and that it gives us another avenue upon which to engage and continue the whisky conversation! But no worries if you’re not a YouTuber, I am still planning on maintaining my presence here too. 🙂 Big whisky cheers & hugs to you all. Thanks for spending your time with me!
Overwhelming Joy – Brenne Turns 2
October 1, 2014 § 16 Comments
First, I want to THANK you ALL for continuing to stay with me throughout this journey of launching my whisky, Brenne. I certainly do not blog as often as I use to but it’s amazing to me to see how many of you are still here, how many new people are following along and how much traffic comes to this site from all over the world. THANK YOU. I hope to continue conversing & sharing with each of you.]
On the morning of Brenne’s 2nd Anniversary of being on the market, I find myself having flashbacks to some incredible points over this past year. The things I think most about are not the gains I’ve made business-wise (though those are awesome!), but rather the people who have stepped into my world to cheer me along and extend a hand. You know who you are; you send me the most amazing tweets, FB comments, text messages. You write to me through the Brenne website to share with me your 1st experiences of enjoying Brenne. You’re store owners who tell me about your patrons telling other patrons about my whisky. You stand around my table at the whisky events bringing other strangers over to try what you’re proudly shouting to be “one of the best whiskies of the show!” You’re the group of Scotch distillers who told me that your brand ambassadors brought some Brenne back for you from the States and you stash it secretly behind your stills to enjoy a nip at the end of a long day (true story!!!). You’re the people who promise to come back to my tasting event with friends … and actually do. You tell me about the times in your life you pull out “the” Brenne; with your sons, your brothers, your sisters, fathers, mothers and friends – and the sweet moment you shared with that loved one while sipping my whisky. You don’t see it, but I’m holding back tears.
YOU bring me the most overwhelming sense of JOY I have ever felt in my professional life. It makes my hands shake just typing this.
My blogger friends (i.e. the #whiskyfabric) have been with me since Day 1 and have continued to support my Brenne dream. That, coupled with the incredible strength, smarts & support from my husband & Brenne co-founder, Nital, has always been my foundation. That is what gave me a confidence boost when I had to step out into the world in those very early days, pounding the pavement with an army of 1, knocking on the windows of bars and retailers around Manhattan with my face cupped to the glass, mouthing to whomever was inside if they’d let me in to have a quick sample of my whisky and, somewhat famously, delivering my hooch on Citibike.
And when that #whiskyfabric family-like support extended beyond the bloggers into the mainstream, well, that’s when my fears started to melt a little and my husband and I could look at each other and say, “this might actually, really, work!”
On the morning of Brenne’s 2nd Birthday, I wanted to highlight a few people’s comments and share with you some of your own words that have humbled me beyond anything I have known.
Allison and all the crew that helped make this extremely unique, delicious single malt whiskey. I was hesitant to purchase this product because I work for a large Scotch distillery, but I always enjoy trying other products. One day a friend/colleague said to me close your eyes and smell this, and tell me your thoughts. I said, it has the aroma of a fine single malt scotch with a semi sweet nose similar to drambue but much fainter. He said good nose, now taste! I did and said I need a bottle of this right now. I wish you much success with this truly amazing product.
I just read the reviews on Brenne, I can almost taste it! I NEED this whiskey in my life. I’m in Miami and can’t find a single retailer….HELP HELP HELP, Please… I would love to introduce this French Whiskey to my fellow female cigar snobs.
Congratulations to you on this fine accomplishment!
(Editor’s note, we’re now selling Brenne in the Miami market and I did get back to this person with a list of stores) 🙂
I’ve just started your blog, and had to pause to let you know how proud I am of your vision, your enthusiasm, and your determination.