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what does a woman, who practically marked the shift from ballet to whisky in ink with her name change, do when Patel is no longer applicable?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
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
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) 😀
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
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.
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.
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
July 17, 2013 § 10 Comments
I hope you all are enjoying your summer! There have been a few of funny and uplifting short stories about me + Brenne that I’ve shared recently with my small community on Facebook. After seeing their overwhelmingly positive responses, I felt that they might be fun to share with all of you here as a tiny collection.
Hope you enjoy them too! But first, as I sit here in the wee hours of the morning – my favorite time to write and edit posts – let’s play a game of “What’s In My Glass?” … ok, it’s brown, it loves ice, and Jim McEwan has been synonymous with the distillery for the last 10+ years…
drum roll please…
Keep in mind that I live in New York City and for this first little story, it’s helpful to note that “the roof” refers to my building’s super-special rooftop garden oasis! Ahhhh…. it’s where my sanity lives!
AS OF JULY 17th:
Last Thursday I was on the roof with the lovely Georgie Bell (SMWS Global Ambassador) & my husband, Nital Patel, when our neighbor Jesse came up to join us with his friend. It was Nick Hoult. After a while I said, “I’m sorry, I’m really bad with knowing people I should know… should I know you?” He was adorable & humble and once it came out that he’s playing the Beast in the upcoming X-Men film, he promised to take a photo of himself in his makeup with Brenne 🙂
As for the whisky: We sat up there enjoying the warm company and glowing sunset with Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye Manhattans (and cheese, plenty of creamy French cheeses, naturally!).
[side note: apparently, the production company owns the rights to photos of the actors in costume thus I won’t be able to post any pictures of Nick with Brenne in costume – but it would be fun for the personal archives if I’m ever able to get a copy! If not – it’s certainly a lovely thought!]
ALSO AS OF JULY 17th:
This morning (as of 10:30 am on Tuesday, 7/17) I got a call from my buddy Cristiano Andrade (buyer for SeaGrapes Wine & Spirits) asking me to bring some Brenne Whisky down to his store, “within the next 3 minutes.” Well I know a call-to-action when I hear one! Still in my gym clothes I ran down the street with a case of Brenne tucked under one arm. There was Don Johnson buying 1/2 the case to give as gifts … he said they were for his “leading ladies” (to which I assumed he was just some guy with a harem of women) but the more he spoke I realized he might literally mean “Leading Ladies” so I said, “Oh, are you an actor?” He said Yes. I asked if he was more into films or broadway … then he said, “I did a show called Miami Vice … maybe you know it?” He was extremely sincere – we were cracking up because I AM the WORST at knowing people I “should” know … but he asked me to sign the bottles of Brenne and off he went to board his friend’s private plane …
Not a bad week for Brenne!!! Good for me I’m not easily embarrassed! LOL
AS OF JULY 10th:
I was at an ATM the other day and the woman one machine over said, “Excuse me, but is that Brenne Whisky in your bag?” Happily surprised & a little thrown I said, “Yes! Do you know about it?” And she said, “Oh YES! It’s the best whisky I have ever had!! My friends and I drink it all the time!”
Seriously, my mouth hit the floor. I introduced myself (which in turn surprised her), exchanged cards, and told her if she or her friends ever had any questions to give me a call. After a quick show of her dog doing his tricks, I thanked her profusely and walked out of the bank a little bit taller. Still don’t totally believe it happened myself! #LittleEngineThatCould
POSTED ON JUNE 5th
So yesterday I had a meeting with a restaurant who was very clear that “they didn’t have ANY space behind the bar to take in any new products” but, because I’m a neighbor, they agreed to a meeting. I told them I’m a “no pressure sales gal” but that they should at least try it. Brenne will soon be out of stock and the next shipment won’t be ready till the Fall – so they should figure out now if they like it to get on a list.
I poured a small sip for both owners and before I knew it, one grabbed the bottle and poured little samples for every one of their regulars sitting at the bar while the other ran down and grabbed his check book. All of their regulars immediately jumped up and came over to shake my hand & tell me what a “winner” I had created, while the other owner wrote me a check on the spot and asked me to run home and grab 2 more bottles – right then and there – and to check back with them in a couple of weeks to make sure they can stock up before the shortage!
Brenne is now available at Tavern on Jane, NYC.
And since it’s summer, I’ll leave you with one easy Brenne recipe:
BRENNE WHISKY FIGS
Get some fresh figs (the bigger the better!) and cut into quarters (if they’re fresh enough, you’ll be able to break them apart with your hands).
Throw them under the broiler for just a couple minutes to caramelize their natural sugars and top with a little Brenne whisky. You can thank me later!
Here’s me with a strainer full of fresh picked figs, right off the tree!
Just a few more tales from this whisky woman’s adventures of launching her own whisky brand … who continues to be grateful and happy to learn that others share her vision – and taste! (PHEW!)