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Meet the Women Who Shaped Your Favourite Brands

If it wasn’t for a woman’s vision, champagne might not taste the way it does today... Château d’Yquem might not exist... while Glenmorangie whisky might never have made it out of Scotland. For International Women’s Day 2021, we’re raising a glass to 3 women who led the way at our favourite Houses in days gone by. Read on to learn their stories and discover those who follow in their footsteps today.



Not for nothing was Madame Clicquot known as the grande dame of Champagne. In 1805, when she was just 27, her husband (whose father had founded Maison Clicquot) died, leaving her a widowed, single mother. At that time, women were not allowed to work or even hold a bank account. But having got to know the business at her husband’s side, she did the unthinkable – and took helm at the champagne house. That wasn’t all, though. Determined to create the most high-quality champagnes, this audacious businesswoman perfected new techniques, inventing the riddling table, the first vintage champagne and the world’s first blended rosé champagne. Her peers were so impressed, she became known as the “Grande Dame”. Today, her House (Veuve Clicquot is French for ‘Widow Clicquot’) honours her inspiring ways with its vintage bubbles, La Grande Dame – one of our International Women's Day champagnes of choice.


In 1843, Anne Matheson and her husband William founded Glenmorangie’s single malt whisky distillery on a farm in the Scottish Highlands. But when William died, Anne found herself with nine children to care for – and a Distillery to run. Undaunted, Anne took charge of Glenmorangie for the next 25 years – and proved herself the family’s most imaginative pioneer. As long ago as the 1880s, she was adventurous enough to begin shipping Glenmorangie to America and to Italy. Like this, she set the fruity and delicate whisky on its way to becoming one of the world’s most enjoyed single malts – loved by men and women around the globe today. In tribute to Anne, we’re celebrating IWD with a Glenmorangie Long Zest cocktail. Made with Glenmorangie Original, it is garnished with a flamed orange zest – a nod to her entrepreneur’s spark.


Château d’Yquem’s history stretches back 400 years. But had it not been for Françoise Joséphine de Sauvage d’Yquem, this famed Sauternes wine’s story might have been a whole lot shorter. Like Madame Clicquot and Anne Matheson, it was her husband’s death in 1788, which thrust Françoise Joséphine into the driving seat at Yquem. By then, its wine was already renowned by connoisseurs, with U.S. President Thomas Jefferson among its fans. Soon after she took charge however, the French Revolution began. Despite being thrown into prison twice, Françoise Joséphine managed to hold on to her family’s estate, and helped Yquem to prosper. She took the daring step to build a new wine cellar in 1826, turning her estate into a business of international renown. Becoming known as ‘the Lady of Yquem’, she also perfected the method of harvesting grapes in multiple passes, to ensure only the best are selected. We’ll toast her determination with a magnum of the splendid 2013 vintage, a triumph from a difficult year... and our most loyal female friends.


There are many pioneering women making waves at our Houses now. Take Krug champagne’s President Maggie Henriquez, as a shining example. Maggie, who promotes excellence, craftsmanship and sustainability in Champagne, as well championing women in the wine industry, has recently been appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honour in France – it doesn’t get much more prestigious than that. Then there is Julie Cavil, Krug’s Cellar Master, Sandrine Garbay, Cellar Master at Château d’Yquem, and Glenmorangie and Ardbeg whisky’s Gillian MacDonald, who became The UK’s first female distiller when she joined the industry in 2003. This IWD, Clos19 salutes them all.