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!

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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.

Long Dress 1

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

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Want more? FOLLOW ME on Instagram: @allisonparc

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. 😉

Allison Patel Parc

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 Patel Parc

Parc_2.0

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. :)”


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Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts from Laval, Canada

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) 😀

Brenne_French_Single_Malt_Whisky

(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 😉

~Cheers~

 

 

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.

hand-and-spinning-globe

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!

WorldWhiskies

A little sampling of what I’ll be digging into this weekend!

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

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Me in Paris with a bottle from the first batch of Brenne made for France!

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.
january-calendar

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.

Cheers#DrinkBrenne

 

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.]

Brenne Turns 2

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.

Bike Brenne

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. 

On the product side, Brenne is the most exciting surprise/discovery in years.  A great new wine at a good price is always fun, but seldom does one find a unique take in an existing category of spirits that so exquisitely succeeds.  There we were in Lewes, DE at this darling new brasserie…  We had asked for Oban, and the manager said let me bring you a sample of something we just got in!  (see, everybody “gets it”)   It had us at the first sip ~ a soft velvet hint of Armagnac and flowers and elegance…  so very mmmmm! So, yes, it’s on the Christmas list! 
OMG OMG
I am having a Brennerific moment
Been talking up this fine whiskey at my local liquor store–The Bottle Shop in Spring Lake
Just popped in and what did I see???
Brenne
In all it’s blue label glory
Perched upon the shelf
I grabbed one and skipped (ok that’s a stretch) bounced over to the counter with a big smile on my face and the gentleman said:
“Yes we carry it now. It’s been doing great. People are buying it–not just you. We are real happy. I can’t wait to try it myself.”
Yay! I now have Brenne literally in my backyard!
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So from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. Last year, we celebrated Brenne’s 1st Birthday with a little party and since then, it’s been a whirlwind of activity, travel and hard work.  This year, I plan on sitting quietly with a good glass of Brenne, mindful of how far we’ve come already – and how much more I want to do.
PLEASE check out Brenne’s Event Page and come out to see me if I happen to be coming to a city near you! http://drinkbrenne.com/events  I’ll continue to do my best to post here, on FACEBOOK, TWITTER & INSTAGRAM.
BagPipes
And in the strangest of life’s moments, there is a bag piper playing on the sidewalk below the window of my NYC apartment. I’m tempted to throw on my tartan-best and have a dram now! 🙂

Welcoming Fall

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.

Espresso

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.

Me in Cognac, France analyzing a barrel sample of aging Brenne

Me in Cognac, France analyzing a barrel sample of aging Brenne

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

running

Whiskey Women Book & Me

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.

WhiskeyWomen_Book_Title

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.

Here she is at 101! (She loved to dance!)Dancing_Grandma

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.

Grace - Close-up

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.

My husband, Nital, & I with Grandmom at her 100th Birthday
Grace_Patel

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.

Whiskey-Women-Cover-393x590

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!

Learn more about Fred Minnick on his site HERE (http://fredminnick.com/) and also follow him on Twitter HERE (@FredMinnick).

Thank you also to Drinks Business for recently naming me one of the TOP 10 WOMEN IN WHISKY!

top-10

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

 

 

Brenne Is Walking

April 25, 2014 § 15 Comments

My mother jokes that Brenne is her grandchild.  I appreciate the joke as Brenne Whisky certainly feels like my first born!  And this little baby of mine is gearing up to be a toddler at 18 months old!

Lately I’ve gone through a little internal adjusting and it’s been an interesting game of realization, reflection and a touch of soul searching.

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Taken from the window of a moving train entering NYC last week. I’ve been highly aware of the sunsets and changing of season lately … perhaps it’s my way of having closure with one chapter of Brenne and seeing the vitality in the next!

Like in life, whisky also takes its time to come into maturity. I'm certainly growing with Brenne.

Like in life, whisky also takes its time to come into maturity. I’m certainly growing with Brenne.

Last Friday my good friend Jackie Summers (of the ridiculously delicious Sorel liquor and yes, he is the Jack From Brooklyn) stopped by to drop something off in advance of a photo shoot we’re doing together next week for an article (yay!). When he arrived, I was not in my usual 100mph, multi- stimuli and multi- everything pace.  Instead, I opened the door, hugged him and went back to my living room floor where I laid down, face first.

Kinda like this ... but sans beach (unfortunately!) :)

Kinda like this … but with no beach (unfortunately!) 🙂

This journey I’m on is truly incredible. I couldn’t be more blessed; we’re exceeding our goals, leaping over our sales projections, YOU all have continued to be here with me (thank you!), I love when I travel and have the opportunity to meet people in the flesh from all over who we’ve been in contact with on social media (hey #whiskyfabric!), the press & fellow bloggers continue to help me get the word out and I have the BEST team of Brand Ambassadors (via Classic Imports, yay!) out there every day sharing my vision and my little whisky.

Sometimes – the reality of which just smacks you upside the head.  Even with all of that support – I’ve still bitten off a LOT.  And in my own tiny, super small way, just that fact that I’m still here is a huge accomplishment for me. But WOW – there is still just so much work ahead and on that day, I felt like life had just rushed ahead and left me in the dust.  I kept asking myself how am I ever going to get to the tops of these mountains?  And man have I have chosen some massive mountains to tackle!!! I was lying on the floor covering my head because the view from my tiny peak was making me nauseous just as much as the realization of how much farther and higher I want to climb!  I see plenty of other people climbing these mountains too, but they all seem to have huge teams, fancy gear and a documentary entourage in tow! Yikes.  I’m still climbing solo.

This is not an easy road at all.  Naturally, I only share publicly the highlights of this journey, but I tell people who are thinking about starting their own _X_ in the spirits world to not be fooled by the happy-go-lucky social media sharing; everything looks easier then it seems, even the stuff that looks impossible.  But (there’s always a but!) – the moment when you start to realize your dream is becoming a reality is unlike anything else.  It’s deep, exciting and can rock you to the core. 🙂

Brenne has only been on the market for 18 months (which feels like 3yrs) and I realized on that Good Friday that I needed to cut myself some slack.  (For example, in that very moment I was getting mad at myself for lying on the floor missing out on valuable work time – I’m my best critic!) My goals and dreams are big – really big, as are any entrepreneurs. And despite the fact that the things I’ve put in motion are, for the most part, farther ahead of where I thought they’d be at this point, it’s still no where near good enough for me and I was in a bit of shock at just how much work I need to do before I get to my next mountain peak.

And here’s where life get’s funny.  There I was last Friday feeling like a baby ant in the world of the spirit giants and after spending some quality soul-revitalization time with Jack <@TheLiquortarian on twitter (which included grabbing a slice of pizza and visiting a few accounts together, naturally) this happened:

I decided to walk home after I departed ways with Jackie and popped into a great little store called The Wine Hut NYC along the way.  As soon as the store was empty, I pulled out my bottle of Brenne Whisky and introduced myself to the man behind the counter, hoping to get an appointment with the buyer. The store manager looked at me and pointed to a shelf directly above him where Brenne was already sitting!  Shocked I asked how he knew about it. He gave me a quizzical look and said matter of factly, “Well, it’s in all the magazines … how would someone not know about it?” (Ummm because I still don’t believe that my baby has sprouted wings!?!). Then 3 people approached the register with 2 bottles of wine and said, “we just need to add a bottle of whisky to our purchase.” Without missing a beat I said, “Oh! Get Brenne! Here!” and popped the cork from my bottle for them to smell & taste it. Without even asking the price – they grabbed a bottle and said, “yup, that’s our new favorite whisky!”  I walked out feeling a little better.

The next day, I went up to the country for some much-needed fresh air and some quality time with my oldest friend. 

Allison Patel Country Sunset Country

On the drive to catch the train back to NYC, she suggested we pop into her local liquor store, saying that there was something she thought I’d want to see. Walking in, right there on the counter was a display of craft whiskies with Brenne front and center. Best part is she had nothing to do with it (with the exception of apparently doing a dance in the store the first time she and her husband saw it on the shelf!)!

Depot_Wine_LiquorsI get tweets, texts and FB comments from people somewhat regularly letting me know where they’ve spotted Brenne.  It’s simply glorious. (Please keep them coming! I live for them!)

It’s such a weird mix of feelings.  I’m out there every day talking about Brenne and the people I meet rarely have heard of it prior to meeting me. But then, there are these incidents of learning about Brenne in places for which the sales had nothing to do with my direct facilitation.  On one level I’m well aware that people are learning about Brenne far beyond my direct reach (thank goodness!) – but it’s a fantastic shift to have to alter my thinking (and therefore selling approach) from “absolutely no one I meet has ever hear about Brenne” to “some people may have heard of it!”  

I felt like the arm floaties have been removed recently and I’m standing on the edge of the pool watching Brenne swim … not sink … and it feels incredible. Still so much work that needs to be done but at least it’s continuing to grow!

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Thank you all for your amazing love & support as I keep trudging forward. Thank you, truly, for bearing with me!

The post I had been prepping for this week was a review of a particularly special night in LA where fellow blogger, Rob Gard of The Whisky Guy blog and author of the recently published “Distilling Rob” and I co-hosted a magical evening of story telling and whisky sipping.  Thankfully, Aaron (guest writer on the It’s Just The Booze Dancing blog) just published this magnificent article re-caping the night in far better and more entertaining detail then I ever could!  Click HERE to be taken to their awesome post!

 

 

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