The vibrant Alcobev scene in India sees a number of women at the helm. As brewers, blenders and entrepreneurs, this is another male bastion that women have broken through to reach the top. Their participation in various functions such as marketers, consultants and CFOs makes the alcobev space an exciting place to be.
Here are five women revolutionizing the industry with their work and ideas.
Lalithabai, United Breweries
After completing her microbiology course and a trip to a hospital, Lalithabai’s move to Alcobev space was quite unconventional. But she’s quick to point out that it’s not entirely out of her area of expertise.
As a microbiologist, Lalithabai was fascinated by the science behind beer production. At the UBL, she first got to know the entire structure of the brewery laboratory and analysis techniques for brewing. She was then promoted to senior microbiologist, took charge of the laboratory and was subsequently promoted to quality assurance manager.
As Quality Assurance Manager, Lalitha oversees multiple processes at different stages – from receiving the raw materials to shipping the final product.
Vaniitha Jain, The Perfect Cast
Mumbai-based Vaniitha Jaiin is the founder of a wine, spirits and lifestyle consultancy The perfect cast.
One of the few trained alcohol connoisseurs in India, Vaniitha has worked with industry players such as Suntory Whiskey Group in Japan, the Four Seasons Hotel and the Taj Chambers. She has worked with brands, blending exciting flavors – whiskey with coconut water and whiskey with green tea – to introduce Indians to signature flavors from around the world.
As a consultant, she also works on training, bespoke wine and spirits based experiences, advising on building a portfolio strategy for importers, brand management, designing food and beverage programs and curating beverage menus for a variety of events and experiences.
Sonal Holland, Wine Master
Sonal Holland is India’s first and only Master of Wine, a coveted title in the wine world. She is also the founder of Sonal Holland Wine Academy, India’s first wine education institution; founded the SoHo Wine Club; India Wine Awards; and Vine2Wine, a retail wine store.
She passed one of the “toughest exams in the world” to obtain the title of “Master of Wine” from the Institute of Master of Wine in London. Sonal has launched an online course, 60 Minutes Wine Pro, for wine lovers and hospitality professionals. The SoHo Wine Club is a consumer-led platform that organizes tasting events, dinners and experiences for wine lovers.
Julieann Fernandes, Master Blender
At 30, Julieann Fernandes is one of the youngest master blenders in the world. She works with the Distell Group where she oversees the portfolio of distilleries to help produce some of Scotland’s finest award winning whiskeys. She recently oversaw the creation of 25 limited edition whiskeys and two additions to the core range of Bunnahabhain, Tobermory, Ledaig and Deanston Malts, as well as Black Bottle and Scottish Leader Blends.
Julieann has worked on Scottish Leader Original, an award-winning blended Scotch whiskey. This is currently being introduced to the Indian market by Aspri Spirits and the Distell Group.
Varna Bhat, Blisswater Industries
Varna Bhat, a serial entrepreneur, founded Blisswater Industries and launched Rahasya, a truly Indian vodka, in December 2020.
In conversation with Your historyVarna said the team sources the highest quality grain and raw materials for the vodka.
“I spent most of my time creating the secret sauce because that is what Rahasya is all about. There are very few people in the organization who know what this secret sauce is,” says Varna. This “secret sauce” is made separately and sent to the units. It is then steeped in vodka and left to rest for 35 to 40 days before being bottled.”
As a Goan, Varna says it was easy for her to find the right partners for distilling and bottling.