March 21, 2024

Meet one of Ireland’s female entrepreneurs aiming to turn a male dominated industry on its head. Having worked for the bones of a decade across some of the world’s most well-known whiskies (including Jameson, The Glenlivet and Chivas), Alice Carroll returned to Ireland with an ambition to disrupt the whiskey industry for good. Starting with the launch of the unconventional whiskey, Foxes Bow, in November, 2021.

Speaking about the whiskey category, female entrepreneur and co-founder of Foxes Bow Whiskey, Alice Carroll says; ‘There’s still very much a perception that whiskey is a man’s drink and honestly, that notion is so outdated. I think whiskey brands have a lot to answer for when it comes to bucking the trend. Even the representation in whiskey ads skews massively male. And a lot of the time when brands do try to target female drinkers, it either feels like a blatant CSR initiative or else horribly condescending. We’re not living in the stone age. There’s no need for a ‘female version’ of a whiskey. The pink washing is painful and creates more of a separation between female and male drinkers, when there needn’t be one.’

‘We’re a brand for anyone. But we won’t be for everyone’ says Alice. ‘Our whiskey exists to tear up the rulebook and make whiskey more accessible across the board. We’re already seeing that that ruffles the feathers of the purists. But we really want to break this notion that whiskey is only for certain people or that there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to enjoy whiskey. It makes whiskey unnecessarily intimidating.’

So how has Alice’s ambition to disrupt gone down so far? Well, pretty well by all accounts.

In November 2022, Foxes Bow won Gold for ‘Blended Whiskey – non age statement’ at the Irish Whiskey Awards. ‘We normally don’t care about awards because a lot of them are ‘pay-to-play’ meaning you have to pay to enter. And they’re expensive for new brands. We think those awards are very misleading because if you’re awarded ‘Best Whiskey’ it really means ‘Best whiskey of the whiskies that paid to be here’. But with the Irish Whiskey Awards it’s free to enter and blind judged by a mixture of whiskey experts and enthusiasts, meaning it’s based completely on merit. I like to think too it’s annoyed the purists who don’t like what we’re doing around breaking the category norms. If the whiskey is winning awards based on blind tasting, what can they really give out about?’ Alice jokes.

They’re also listed in over 200 retail accounts across Ireland, with listings in SuperValu, O’Brien’s, Donnybrook Fair, Centra, Carryout and as of March they’ve rolled out a national listing with grocery giant, Tesco. That’s not to mention the countless bars across the country stocking the whiskey.

Further afield, they’re enjoying early success in Germany and Italy and are in the process of expanding to new markets including Northern Ireland and South Africa.

And there’s no sign of slowing down; ‘We’ve just signed on with MHW as our importer in the US and with Green Light Distribution, one of the leading distributors in Texas, which is huge given how competitive the US market is for new entrants. Both of these partners fully understand and back what we’re trying to do, and are both disruptors of the status quo in their own right. So we’re absolutely thrilled they chose to work with us’ says Alice.

Foxes Bow Whiskey is a blended Irish whiskey, finished Rye casks – a highly unusual finish in Irish whiskey which makes for a layered but deliciously balanced whiskey with a touch of spice.

Foxes Bow Whiskey is available now in Ireland in select Tesco and SuperValu stores, Celtic Whiskey Store and online through irishmalts.com and is available in Texas at The Austin Shaker and SPEC’s.

Follow Alice Carroll on LinkedIn here.

To follow along on the Foxes Bow journey, follow Foxes Bow on Instagram.