How Allison Parc Disrupted the Male-Dominated Whisky Industry with Organic Single-Malt Brenne Whisky

Allison Parc in More Sunday Silk With Brenne Whisky

How does a professional dancer disrupt a male dominated whisky industry? Allison Parc spent her early career as a professional dancer. A the age of 23 she began her journey to create an entirely different whisky - one that is organic, single malt, and distinctly French. Join us through our conversation to understand how Brenne Whisky got it's start, how the liquor business has been impacted by COVID and how a busy entrepreneur finds space to relax.

In 2017 and 2018, Allison was named World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year by Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky, USA, becoming the first woman to receive the award. Additionally, Brenne received two World Whiskies awards in 2016 and 2017, furthering the global recognition of this new taste experience within the single malt category.

1. What inspired you to get into the whisky business?

I love whisky; I love the taste, the stories, the incredible amount of time & dedication it takes to just 1 single batch of whatever whisky is in your glass, and I love the merging of art and science. You can’t make great whisky without both … the whisky process from grain to glass feels like one big rom-com to me and when I realized no one was making a single malt the way I thought it possible, I realized it was up to me to be disruptive - while still respecting traditions - in this historically male-dominated industry. 

allison parc more sunday silk loungewear

2. Were there skills you learned from being a professional ballerina that you feel have prepared you better for becoming the rockstar business owner you are now?

Totally. In ballet, you learn self-control, self-drive, visualization, sacrifice, and you learn to embrace negative feedback. In ballet, we would visualize ourselves mastering that work of art, the steps, or that turn, just as I visualize myself being successful in a negotiation, delivering an incredible presentation, or closing that sale in business. In both cases, you have to learn what it’s going to take to reach that goal and have the self-control and self-drive to do it. If you really want something, then you have to make sacrifices to even have the opportunity to attempt to reach that goal. Nothing is a given, not even waking up every day, so I always advise people coming up behind me to figure out what you really want and make that the carrot that dangles in front of you every day. And above all, embrace joy and remember to be playful (dance!) along the way!

3. What was that first step you took to get Brenne started?

Research! I often hear people tell me their “new” idea without even realizing it already exists. Do your research!!! Just when you think you’ve done enough, do more. Then, take action and never, ever, stop. :)

4. What makes Brenne whisky different from other options?

Everything! Brenne tastes like creme brulee, bananas foster, and blueberry muffin tops and does so naturally. There are no added flavors in Brenne, it’s even certified 100% organic by EU standards (more demanding than USDA). We’re made 100% in the Cognac region in France and use all local ingredients. Because of that, we’re the first single malt in the entire world to be aged exclusively in new French Oak barrels AND ex-Cognac barrels, which greatly contribute to our elegant, approachable taste!

 

5. What’s a protip you can share with us ladies that signifies we know what we are talking about when it comes to whisky?

Whisky (or whiskey … same thing) is the category title like Wine is a category title. Underneath wine are the types of wine (cabernet sauvignon, pinot, etc) and then where they’re made (France, California, etc). Just like in wine, with whisky we have types of whisky (Single Malt, Bourbon, Rye, etc) and then where they’re made (USA, Scotland {aka: Scotch}, France(!), Ireland, Canada, Japan, etc). Just as we would never offer to someone, “Would you like a glass of wine, champagne or pinot noir?” we should never say, “Would you like a glass of whisky or Scotch?” or “Would you like a glass of whisky, Scotch, or bourbon?” (both of which I hear all the time!).

Whisky is to Wine like Bourbon, Single Malts, and Rye are to Pinot, Cabernet and Champagne. Scotch just means any type of whisky that is made in Scotland.

So, Brenne is a Single Malt type of whisky that I produce organically in France. :)

Et voila! You’re now bonafide whisky experts!

Allison Parc More Sunday Silk Loungewear Sets

6. Overall, sales of alcoholic beverages soared by 58% for the week ending March 21 according to Nielsen. How has your business changed during this COVID-19 pandemic?

This is a correct fact and it is not the complete picture. Alcohol beverage sales in retail in the US went up 58% that week, however, restaurant beverage alcohol dropped by over 92%. Additionally, some states (like Pennsylvania), closed the liquor stores in the state after that first week so a large part of that 58% was people stocking up (like they did with toilet paper!). Next, when you look at what types of products were being purchased in bulk, it was the economy brands (which have been on steady decline over the past 5 years), so think boxed wine and handles of vodka. This spike did not touch the premium or super premium spirits numbers that much, which is Brenne Whisky’s category. In fact, over 50% of our revenue is made in the restaurant business which typically, in the pre-covid era, is a significant sign of health for a premium whisky brand. So, we were gravely affected by Covid and had to ask ourselves some very tough questions in those early months. 

Thankfully, however, our community rose up and shifted their Brenne purchasing habits to shop for it online and we have been able to pull through. I am extremely grateful for our Brenne friends -- we wouldn’t be here without them.

Allison Parc More Sunday Silk Loungewear Set

7. What’s next for Brenne Whisky? What are you excited about for the future?

The whole world is changing! We sell Brenne in over 10 countries so I’m curious to see how this pandemic affects (or not) liquor laws & drinking habits in the many places in which we operate. In selling alcohol, you have to rely on an extraordinary number of successes that are outside of your control just to get your brand off the ground so it’s a miracle that Brenne was even born, much less has been successful for a decade already! I’m excited to see how the world will reopen once we have a vaccine. That will be a very historic time and I’m looking forward to being fully involved

8. As a busy entrepreneur, what are ways that you make yourself a priority? Do you have a routine you follow to unwind and relax?

Yes! I’ve learned over the years that I have the most self-control to not work in the mornings -- so I make sure I’m up ideally 2 hours before I start working to do all of the things that provide me with the feelings of fulfillment. For example, in the mornings is when I’ll journal and/or meditate, do some sort of exercise, read the news, have my coffee, sometimes set 20-30 minutes aside to read in whatever book I’m working through at the moment, and spend quality time with my puppy. I’ve started really protecting this time over the years and now my mornings have become sacred. If I get “my morning” then I’m set up for a better possibility of success the rest of the day.

9. What’s Your Ideal Sunday Like? 

Mmmmm Sunday’s are the best! I really enjoy working so I make sure that I take 1 FULL day off each weekend (usually Sunday’s) and that becomes my day of indulgences! In the Summers, I love waking up “late” (by 9:30am) and walking onto the deck of my beach house to journal & sip coffee while my Frenchie stretches and naps in the morning sun. The rest of the day is spent on the beach; taking walks while talking to loved ones, doing yoga, fishing with my boyfriend, Clint, & my cousins, splashing in the waves, etc. I also like to dedicate about 1-2 hrs to learning more about any topic I’m interested in to stimulate my mind. In the evenings, we’ll wrap the day with a big, cozy, delicious dinner made by Clint and a long, leisurely stroll with the dog .... ideally with a glass of whisky in hand!

9. You’ve got to share with us your favorite summer cocktail recipe!

YES! I’m OBSESSED with a Brenne Boulevardier and Parisian Highballs. Both incredibly easy to make!

Brenne Boulevardier (this is for anyone who loves a negroni!)

1oz Brenne Whisky

1oz Campari

1oz Sweet Vermouth

Stir with ice, strain, serve up or over a single large ice cube. 

Garnish with an orange peel

 

Parisian Highball

1oz-2oz Brenne Whisky

Seltzer or sparkling water (like Perrier)

Pour Brenne over ice in a tall glass, top with sparkling water.

Garnish with a lemon wheel

Cheers Allison Parc More Sunday Silk Loungewear Sets

YOU CAN SHOP ALLISON'S FRENCH CHIC LOOK HERE: 



FLASH ROUND ANSWERS:

  1. Current show you're watching: Schitt’s Creek … again

  2. Favorite time saving app:  iCal!

  3. 1 Thing you need to relax: My dog & a glass of whisky (that’s 2, sorry!)

  4. First place you'll go when quarantine is over:  To my distillery in France!

Be sure to checkout Allison and @BrenneWhisky!  

What is Sunday Spark? Join us Monthly as We Sharing Stories and Conversations on How Entrepreneurs of All Types Got Started on their Journey to Spark YOUR Start.

 

 

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Shop now

"I can't emphasize how much I love sleeping, lounging and going out in my silk set. Fitted but not tight, both the top and bottom can be worn everyday...and every way. I'm obsessed! The silk is so buttery soft too."

Ellen F.