Top 10 women in the spirits industry

16th September, 2014 by Amy Hopkins

Rita Cowan


Often referred to as the “mother of Japanese whisky, Rita Cowan brought the techniques of Scotch whisky distillation over to Japan with her husband Masataka Taketsuru, founder of the company which later became Suntory.

In 1918, Cowan met Taketsuru while he was studying distillation at Glasgow University, eventually marrying in 1920. In 1921 the pair travelled back to Japan to set up a whisky distillery at Kotobukiya – later Suntory – before creating independent distillery Dai Nippon Kaju, which would be renamed as the Nikka Whisky Distilling Company.

By supporting her husband, Cowan was seen as having an instrumental in the creation of Japan’s now thriving whisky industry, prompting one television company to chart her life in a mini-series, entitled Massan.

2 Responses to “Top 10 women in the spirits industry”

  1. Abhinav meherish says:

    Why is abiti sankarnarayanan not featured in this article ?

  2. John Lamond says:

    What about Elizabeth Usher, the first Scotch Whisky blender?
    or Kirsteen Canpbell at Edrington?
    or Stephanie Macleod at Dewar’s?
    or Margaret Mary Clarke at Inver House?

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