Join Women of the Vine & Spirits
for a Live Chat:
Inspiring a Generation, Part Two: Meet the Female Distillers of Edrington
Thursday, May 13
9:00AM PST / 12:00PM EST
What does it take to be a successful female distiller in a traditionally male dominated role? Hear from three talented distillers as they share their experiences and insights on their careers, the day to day responsibilities of being a distiller, the most important qualities and attributes for success in the spirits industry, and what makes WOTVS Corporate Member, Edrington such a unique business model and company.
Jassil Villanueva always had a passion for rum, and she was surrounded by it through her family, so she joined the business after her studies. The Maestros noticed she had an exceptional talent for picking out notes and flavors, so the 4th Generation began to teach and train her. Once she had learnt the skills passed down through our generations and proven my ability, Villanueva was made Brugal and the Dominican Republic’s first-ever Maestra Ronera. Maestros Roneros is the name given to Brugal’s Master Rum Makers, traditionally a role that has been passed down through the generations of Brugal family.
As a Master Rum Maker, Villanueva is involved in all aspects of the rum making process but most of her focus and work is within the Aging and Formulation of Brugal. Quality cask and wood is so important for the development of Brugal rum’s flavor so overseeing this and inspecting quality is a key part of her role. This also includes developing new products and experimenting with new casks, which is her favorite part of the role. Leading the development of new products and trying to create new flavors through the combinations of casks and blends is a really rewarding part of the job. Day to day, the Maestros Roneros are exclusively responsible for the final formulation and approval of each and every rum to ensure quality and consistency. As Brugal’s flavor is achieved through cask aging, time and nature can shape and influence the flavor development of each barrel. On one hand this helps make our product so complex and adds greatly to its flavor, but on the other hand, as a Master Rum Maker, it is a challenge to consistently add all these different outputs together to ensure a consistent, quality experience from bottle to bottle, year after year.
Laura Rampling joined The Edrington Group in 2017 and was appointed as Master Whisky Maker for The Glenrothes in January 2020, taking over from Gordon Motion who held the role since 2008.
Laura learned the art of whisky blending during an 8-year tenure at William Grant & Sons, where she managed liquid quality across the full portfolio, from Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey, to non-whisky products such as Hendricks Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum.
Having honed her passion for whisky through industry roles over both sides of the Atlantic, and with a background in marketing and product development as well as whisky-making, she works closely with colleagues at the distillery and in the brand team to maintain the world-renowned quality of The Glenrothes range, while protecting the sustainability and consistency of production.
Laura is now instrumental in shaping the future of The Glenrothes while ensuring it stays true to its roots of quality, tradition and expert craftsmanship.
Outside of work, Laura is kept busy looking after her daughter Maisie, and enjoys running with her local club. During the COVID-19 lockdowns she has put time at home to good use by learning new skills in bread-making.
Diane Stuart originally hails from Speyside, the heart of whisky making country. As a result of having many distilleries right on your doorstep Stuart got a summer job working as a distillery tour guide. At university she studied Forensic Science, providing her with a sound scientific background. She combined these two areas of knowledge with my first professional job as an Analytical Scientist at The Scotch Whisky Research Institute in Edinburgh. This took the fundamentals of her scientific background and applied them to whisky instead of forensics! During her time at SWRI, her nose was tested to determine if I could be part of their sensory panel. As well as passing and becoming a sensory panelist, Stuart also got the opportunity to take on responsibility for managing the day-to-day activities of the sensory panel, which further developed into a greater involvement in flavour research. When the opportunity of a Trainee Blender position with Edrington arose, she couldn’t turn down the chance to take all the technical knowledge she had acquired and apply it in a production role. She now gets the privilege of creating liquids at the bench and seeing them move through the production process to a final bottled product for sale on the shelf.
Catherine Stanton Schiff has spent the past two plus decades in sales and marketing management in the alcohol beverage industry working on dozens of powerful spirit and wine brands. Catherine is in her eleventh year with Edrington, currently as the Director, National Accounts On Premise - Americas, representing a portfolio that includes The Macallan and Glenrothes, Brugal Rum, Tequila Partida and Wyoming Whiskey among others. Prior to Edrington, Catherine held Regional Sales Management positions at Bacardi USA, Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine, Beam Wine Estates and Pete’s Brewing Company.