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The Story founder Ailana Kamelmacher dies

The founder of food and drinks PR company The Story, Ailana Kamelmacher, has died at the age of 46.

Ailana Kamelmacher was described as ‘fearsomely smart, unfailingly generous and the most perfect cocktail companion’

Kamelmacher died on 30 October at Guy’s Hospital in London surrounded by her family, three months after her cancer diagnosis.

As founder of The Story, Kamelmacher was ‘instrumental’ in building the reputation of numerous food and drinks companies, including Sipsmith.

She enhanced the presence of Scotch whisky, particularly among new audiences, through ‘original campaigns’ with some of Diageo’s most prestigious malts and blends.

Kamelmacher – described by those closest to her as an adored wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and colleague – not only founded The Story, but also co-founded CBD drinks brand Intune with her sister, Hannah Glasson, in 2020.

She first discovered her love of food and drinks while studying classics at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was proud to be remembered as the founder of the Trinity Cheese & Wine Society.

“Ailana left a legacy in the world of Scotch whisky,” commented Gillian Cook, global head of culture, Reserve, Diageo. “Hers was a history of beautiful storytelling, fresh ideas, and genuine friendships that spanned across almost 15 years.

“She possessed a deep appreciation for the intricate craftsmanship of whisky, a profound love for the people and places within this world, and an unwavering commitment to sharing their stories with audiences near and far.

“In her time working with Diageo, she interacted with people from all walks of the business, from distillers and blenders to coopers and coppersmiths, marketeers to senior executives, and always made a positive and lasting impact.

“As a business partner, Ailana was an inspiration. Her infectious optimism was a force of nature, and she consistently held a deep belief in the magic she aspired to create for others.

“Her unique style influenced brand experiences worldwide from Talisker to Lagavulin, and Mortlach to the Special Releases Collections to name but a few – the impact Ailana had was immeasurable through her creative spirit, unquenchable curiosity, and unwavering faith in the extraordinary. She was truly beloved by all who had the privilege of knowing her and will be remembered for the contribution she made to our Scotch whisky business, and more importantly for the person she was.”

Alex Smith will continue to lead The Story as managing director, and Tarita Mullings as director.

Glasson will remain CEO of Intune.

Drinks journalist Alice Lascelles also commented: “Ailana was a true original – funny, kind, inquisitive, brave, fearsomely smart, unfailingly generous and the most perfect cocktail companion one could possible imagine. I will miss her more than words can say.”

Kamelmacher is survived by her husband Robin, two children Zhenya and Gilby, her mother Margarita, and her sisters Olga and Hannah.

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