January 22, 2015 § 11 Comments
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.
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!
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.
September 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
I woke up at 4:30am with the concept for this post swirling around in my head. I took some notes and tried to go back to sleep for another hour or two but my body’s olfactory system reminded me of the smell of a specific nespresso flavor that I’ve been loving recently and wouldn’t let me go back to sleep.
So, it is with the early morning sounds of the NYC garbage trucks rolling below my windows, a very dark sky and the distinct smell of the early morning mixed with my freshly made coffee that I sit and write.
To begin, I hope that you all had incredible summers. It’s such a distinctive season; a clear marker of time and one that makes you inspired to take note of your day-to-day and infuse it with more outdoor activities, social gatherings and hopefully, a vacation or two. This particular summer was a bit of an interesting one for me. I’ve written before about how challenging this journey of launching my own whisky company is (and yes, I’m still a 1 person company! #drinkbrenne) and how strange, lonely, frightening & exhilarating it is to journey from one mountain peak to another. Since my last post (~6 weeks ago), in keeping with that analogy, I haven’t felt like my usual “mountain climber” self but instead like an intense, bullish, excavator; burrowing in straight lines underneath the trails instead of wasting steps going up, over, and back down again.
When asked this past weekend how my summer was I reflected for a moment, smiled and simply said, “focused!“
With my husband traveling every week for work, my week nights were not our typical “married couple routine” of ending work at some late evening hour, eating dinner in front of the TV, cleaning up/prepping for the next day and/or trip, chores, bed. Instead, I just kept working – often late into the early morning hours (like the time I woke up today!). I felt like a human machine working through my micro and macro tasks with efficiency and excitement. I checked off my To Do lists with gusto and even started running again on a more regular basis (which only fueled the focus even more!).
The great thing is as Fall kicks off, I feel ready. I’m looking forward to a strong close of 2014 and think 2015 is going to be exceptional. Lots of exciting things happening for Brenne so I hope you all stay tuned. It’s funny, as I hit the pavement running literally (I often post photos and what thoughts I meditated on my run on my personal Instagram feed HERE if you’re interested), I regularly reflected how happy I am that whisky takes so long to make. For someone who throws a lot of balls in the air and constantly moves things forward to get these opportunities to drop, I really appreciate that at least one aspect of this business is quiet, calm and something that really truly cannot be rushed.
Enjoy your beauty sleep, Brenne. I’ll be ready for you when you’re done!
…and with that, it’s time to lace up my sneakers & fly! Happy Kick-off to Fall, everyone! I’ve got a sunrise to run towards :) ~ xo ~ Allison
July 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ll never forget the moment Fred Minnick called to interview me for his book, “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey.” I was on an NJ Transit train barreling away from NYC into the heart of New Jersey where my grandmother, Grace, was saying goodbye to family, friends and life in general.
Though it was over a year ago now, I still feel her loss daily and even reached for the phone to call her recently upon returning from a trip abroad. My grandmothers were key figures in my life for over 30 years and I lost both of them within 6 months of each other. They loved and supported me equally in their own way through my many self-reinventions and career moves.
Grandmom (Grace) was a truly remarkable spirit. She was bold, loving, courageous, curious, had an incredible laugh and LOVED to tell stories (we’d often laugh at how she say she’d have “nothing to share” but then launch into a 40min story chronicling her journey to the post office). She passed two weeks shy of her 102nd birthday and was just as strong and lively a week before her passing as she was the previous 101 years.
So it was interesting for me to be interviewed by Fred in that exact moment when I was deeply reflecting on the incredible life my Grandmother lived and the unsung gifts she had given to everyone she met from 1911-2013.
Fred and I had had a few conversations prior but at the time of the interview, had not yet met face-to-face. He had a way about him that instantly put me at ease and I marveled at how seamlessly the conversation between us flowed as the views of the city quietly disappeared and were replaced with industrial buildings and eventually trees.
When people meet me or talk to me, I don’t think “shy” is a word that comes to mind (nor is it a word I’d use to describe myself most of the time) but I remember being extremely grateful to Fred for even considering to include me in his book – and yes, when it eventually launched with great success, I was certainly shy to promote his inclusion of me in the pages with so many great women – many of whom seemed to possess the qualities I saw expressed by my grandmothers throughout the decades we shared together.
It’s a huge honor when anyone takes an interest in something you do – especially when you’ve risked everything and “put it all on the line” to do it! When I was working on Brenne the years before it was ready to be released, I sectioned off my anxiety about “reviews” and buried them deep inside as I didn’t want any fear for potential negativity to effect my innovation and drive to create something so expressive of the Cognac region and yet so different from any other Single Malt on the market.
I remember when we launched (just 19 months ago!) I’d read blog reviews of Brenne on my phone with shaking hands just praying that they’d be “at least neutral” and feeling my heart melt with happiness when it was one positive review of Brenne after another.
For my Grandmothers who were my biggest cheerleaders of all – I know they were incredibly confused when it seemed that my life took an almost abrupt turn from “ballet to booze” but they nonetheless rooted for me – even if they didn’t understand a single thing I was doing.
Walking off the train that day to sit with my grandmother that afternoon, I shared with her the news of the interview and magnitude of having someone like Fred Minnick take notice of me & my work in those early days. We shared in the excitement together as my faithful cheerleader gave me one of her memorable “I’m so proud of you!” hurrahs one final time. Grandmom was all about family and knowing that all of that cheering she’d done for me here on earth was starting to work in my favor, that maybe “this whisky thing” would work out after all, made us both proud as we sat holding hands that last time.
Fred’s book will always hold a special place in my heart especially because it marks an interesting time in my life. The inclusion of me in context with all of these incredible women in history who greatly impacted the whisky industry – a spirit & industry which I love deeply – is beyond humbling and also something I find comforting. It’s not just my family who has faith in me doing what I’m doing but also all of you – my friends, my peers, my fellow whisky lovers.
A HUGE congrats to Fred who’s book, Whiskey Women was just selected as THE Nonfiction Book of the Year in the Women’s Studies category by Foreword Reviews. It’s an incredible book that continues to climb to the top of the charts. If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can certainly do so now by clicking HERE. I strongly suggest making this your beach read for the 2nd half of the summer!
Thank you also to Drinks Business for recently naming me one of the TOP 10 WOMEN IN WHISKY!
I’m grateful beyond words at being considered one of Fred’s modern day Whiskey Women warriors and look forward to keep pushing forward.
CHEERS & HUGS TO YOU ALL
June 27, 2014 § 7 Comments
I’m super excited to share something totally fun & a little silly with you we’re calling #BrenneVoyage! Every day during the month of July, I’m going to post a photo of Brenne “out and about” and will tag the photo using the hashtag BrenneVoyage on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
As many of you may know, as the founder of Brenne Whisky (pronunciation reminder: “Brenne” rhymes with “zen”), I’m almost always in possession of a bottle of Brenne. It goes with me everywhere and in a lighthearted way, I’ve found myself occasionally referring to these bottles as having personalities and being far from the inanimate objects that they are (after all, I certainly care for them as if they were my children!).
So on a recent trip to Paris, my mother and I had a blast taking Brenne on a sight-seeing trip around town, photographing it’s journey along the way. When we got back and realized just how many of these photos we had, I thought it was only right to share them in a mini-series that you can follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by searching for the “#BrenneVoyage” hashtag. It was a hilarious way to enjoy a city that I love so much, the theme of which has now taken on a life of it’s own.
I certainly encourage you to grab a bottle of Brenne, your camera and your sense of humor and join me in this month long photographic journey shooting Brenne around town, on your vacation and hanging out with you this summer – just make sure you use the hashtag #BrenneVoyage so we can all see them! (And please respect your local liquor and open-container laws!).
Here’s a taste of the “behind the scenes” …
And below is a teaser of what’s to come …
Hope to see you around the interwebz … I’ll be the one with a bottle of Brenne in her hand galavanting around some of my favorite cities :)
#BRENNEVOYAGE STARTING JULY 1 2014
June 4, 2014 § 2 Comments
Hello! It’s that time of year again! Father’s Day is around the corner and I’m sharing some of my top picks for your whisky-loving Dad! This year I’ve decided to showcase a highbrow and lowbrow option for the each item – hope you enjoy!
Feel free to share some of your favorite whisky gifts in the comments below (no sales pitches, please).
SANDS OF TIME
To me, sipping on a nice single malt is all about the appreciation of time. The time it took to make the elegant spirit, the time we have now, the time we get to surround ourselves with those we love. Get your Dad an hourglass for him to peacefully reflect on the essence of time over his next a good dram!
HIGHBROW: Restoration Hardware Vintage Brass Hourglass ($249-$299 USD)
LOWBROW: CB2 Hourglass ($9.95 – $29.95 usd)
So you want to make some cocktails, eh? Well I think that’s a grand idea! Why not practice and hone your skills together for some quality father + daughter or son bonding time?
HIGHBROW: Private Mixology Classes by Liquid Lab NYC (price upon request)
LOWBROW: The Ultimate Bar Book; The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1000 Cocktails ($8.63- $11.57 usd)
CRYSTAL CLEAR ACCOUTREMENT
Help make his home bar brilliant with the clean lines and the sparkly shine of cut crystal or hand-blown glass! At our home, we always have at least 1 decanter filled at all times with the “help yourself” whisky (the geeky ones tend to stay in their respective bottles).
HIGHBROW: Waterford Designer Studio 2012 Copper Coast Whiskey Decanter and 4 Rocks Glasses ($2,300 usd)
LOWBROW: Lexington Whiskey Decanter ($69.95 usd)
DON’T FORGET THE WHISKEY / WHISKY!
No Father’s Day or family gathering would be complete without a great bottle of Single Malt to share! Don’t forget to pick one up or have one delivered to your husband, Papa & Grandfather this Father’s Day!
HIGHBROW: Macallan Lalique ($37,000 usd)
MEDIUM BROW: Brenne French Single Malt Whisky ($55-$65 usd) <Come on … how could I NOT include it? :D
LOWBROW: Tasting Sample of Ben Nevis 21 ’90 Ruby Bottling Note ($16 usd for 3cl)
This concludes my 2014’s Father’s Day Gift Guide. There are plenty of awesome whisky-related items out there to discover and you can take a look back through my other gift guides (collected onto a single page HERE).
Most importantly, to all Dad’s, soon-to-be Father’s, Grandparents, Godparents, Uncles and more; a most sincere Happy Father’s Day from yours truly!