Female Master Distiller Sips Success in Spirits Industry
Written by Robin L. Flanigan of AARP
Marlene Holmes grew up in Kentucky and never planned on leaving.
But when a new career opportunity came her way at age 62, she ditched retirement plans to hike and garden more and instead moved to Blanco, Texas. She couldn’t pass up an offer to work as master distiller for Milam & Greene Whiskey.
“Somebody told me years ago that you don’t retire ‘from’ something, you retire ‘to’ something to keep you going,” says Holmes, who worked as a distiller for Jim Beam for 27 years. “I thought it would be pretty cool to get in with a new upstart and help build it from the ground up.”
In the last decade, the Lone Star State has experienced a whiskey boom. Ask any bartender, including Caudebec, and they’ll tell you that Texas, particularly Austin and the nearby Texas Hill Country, is home to some of the best craft whiskeys in the nation. And of the growing crop of new distilleries, one of the region’s clear standouts is Milam & Greene: an independent, women-owned whiskey brand.
These five new grain-to-glass releases are proof that the state’s still-young whiskey industry is developing a bold regional profile.
The Lone Star State, the largest in terms of square mileage in the continental U.S. as well as one of its most populous, encompasses a wide range of home-grown spirits. In other words, don’t mess with Texas.