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Women Love Whiskey!

Written by: Cristina Deptula

Sheila Jackson and Natasha McCrea

Sheila Jackson and Natasha McCrea Launch a New Line of Whiskeys Aimed at Female Connoisseurs

Sheila Jackson and Natasha McCrea discovered their mutual passion for whiskey one night over dinner as Natasha sipped an old-fashioned. 

“We had connected over our love for wine and had no idea we shared an appreciation for whiskey as well!” says McCrea. 

As for their personal tastes, Jackson loves to explore a variety of whiskeys—from Angel’s Envy to Oban to Basil Hayden to the Japanese whiskey Tenjaku. McCrea enjoys smokey flavors and is disappointed that many other brands don’t lean into the smoky flavors enough. She says the smoke gets her attention, and she gets a kick out of the perfect balance of smoke, spice, and just a little bit of caramel.

Breaking Into the Market with a Taste of California

This shared enjoyment led the two to start Jackson McCrea Whiskey, the first Black woman-owned whiskey brand in California. 

Jackson had wanted to launch a brand and had already been exploring the wine industry when she got the idea for a line of whiskeys. When McCrea said she had the same idea, the rest was history. 

“During COVID, sales of wine and spirits increased by 65 percent,” says Jackson. McCrea, who considers herself and Jackson to be natural disruptors, was excited to break into that market. 

They source the finest rye they can find in the South and blend it in California.   

According to McCrea, “Jackson McCrea is inspired by California sunsets and all the things that we love about California life.” Jackson says that the state’s wine country is chief among them. They are creating their signature flavor by resting their rye in French oak and Syrah barrels to create a premium blend with a rich, smooth body and notes of caramel, vanilla, smoke, and spice.

Women, Whiskey and Wellness

Both founders hope to diversify the image of whiskey so that it’s no longer seen as a beverage just for men.

“Representation matters,” says Jackson. “Women have been almost erased from the narrative around whiskey. When 78% of the images used in whiskey ads feature men, it’s easy to position whiskey as a man’s drink. But we know from the data that women are drinking whiskey. In fact, the research shows women are largely responsible for the recent boom in whiskey sales.” 

McCrea also wants women whiskey drinkers to feel seen and heard. Toward that end, they launched a Women and Whiskey Survey, where they asked women what they liked and used those results to formulate their drinks. 

“We’re still collecting results and want to invite women out there to take the survey,” McCrea says. 

Jackson also affirms that this kind of innovation is at the foundation of Jackson McCrea. The brand will try fresh approaches to develop more inclusive marketing and advertising to change the narrative around whiskey. “We’re cultivating a new visual footprint that represents and celebrates the diversity of whiskey lovers,” says Jackson. 

Another way Jackson McCrea sets out to change the adult beverage industry is by setting up the JM 100 Fund. This will provide money and resources to other emerging entrepreneurs. 

“The grantees will be hand-selected leader-disruptors who are passionate about empowering women,” says Jackson. While their beverages are crafted to be enjoyed by all whiskey lovers, Jackson and McCrea unapologetically want to take up space as women in this industry and leverage their brand to advance the dialogue around self-care, joy, and women’s wellness. They want to champion the busy women who run households, teams, and companies.

In 2023, the JM 100 Fund will host the first annual JM 100 retreat, where they will put together a strategy and action plan.

Sheila Jackson

Sheila Jackson

Natasha McCrea

Advice for New Whiskey Tasters

Back to whiskey, McCrea offers advice for those who want to develop an appreciation for the drink. “Whiskey is like wine, in the sense that there are different flavors and qualities that come forth based on how the whiskey is distilled and/or blended,” she says. “When tasting whiskey, consider trying it neat [no ice], or add a small drop of water, which opens up the aromatics. You can really experience the unfolding of whiskey flavors by adding one large round or square cube, which is going to melt much slower, allowing the taste to evolve—which provides an opportunity for the drinker to explore different tastes and potency levels.” Jackson follows up by pointing out that much like wine, more expensive doesn’t guarantee better taste. “Explore whiskeys from different regions, read the labels, and learn the language. Become familiar with the terms used to describe the brands you enjoy, and look for those in the notes of other brands when you shop. And lastly, aromatics are as important as taste and, in fact, impact taste. So, follow your nose. Have fun!”   cropped troora favicon 1
Cristina Deptula
TrooRa Magazine
Written by
Cristina Deptula
California, USA
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