Whiskey Women Changing the Game
Heather Greene – Master Distiller, CEO & Founder at Milam & Greene Whiskey
By Meredith Kay
Photography courtesy of Milam & Greene Whiskey
When you first meet Heather Greene, you immediately know that this is a woman in charge. Her confidence is perfectly balanced with her warmth, and you can tell that she absolutely loves what she is doing. Heather is an accomplished author, and her book, Whiskey Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life, has helped her gain much recognition as a leader in the industry. Currently, Heather is the Master Blender and co-founder of Milam & Greene Whiskey in Blanco.
Greene began her career as a bartender in New York City in 2005. She quickly learned what consumers liked and which spirits they were drawn to, but it was during her years in Edinburgh, Scotland, that she truly began to fall in love with whiskey and dive deeper into the process of how it is made. In fact, she even earned recognition as the first American woman to serve on the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society Tasting Panel.
Upon returning to New York, she became the Director of Whiskey Education at The Flatiron Room, where she worked closely with spirits industry pioneer Tommy Tardie. Her whiskey classes sold out regularly, and she became an expert in whiskey consumer behavior. This led to Greene’s reputation as the “go-to” whiskey expert. In fact, Anthony Bourdain, himself, was quoted saying, “If I had a question about whiskey, she’d be somebody I’d call.”
Greene became a consultant for small distilleries, helping them figure out everything from proper batching techniques, to flavor profiling, to marketing. This led her to Texas, where she met Marsha Milam and Marlene Holmes and saw an opportunity to create her own whiskey utilizing her years of experience to produce something truly special.
Milam & Greene produces several different bourbons, and they blur the lines of tradition without deviating from the strict rules of bourbon production. The distillery has become a pioneer in blending whiskeys that cross state lines, and this has allowed them to produce innovative and creative flavor profiles. Several times a year, Heather and Marlene will travel to Kentucky and Tennessee sourcing aged whiskeys to blend with their Hill Country cured whiskeys.
Greene states, “My goal is to make great whiskey, but it’s about being brave. Sometimes we cook in another kitchen, which allows us to get creative within the rules of bourbon. Hill Country weather seasons our whiskey, and when we blend that unique flavor with more traditional flavors found in Kentucky or Tennessee, the result is something truly innovative and interesting.”
Milam & Greene is now in 12 different states and recently took home the title of “Best in Show” out of 550 participants at The American Craft Spirits Association. This amazing growth, and the impressive awards, can all be credited to Heather Greene and her amazing team of whiskey women who are blazing a trail for others to follow with their creativity and authenticity.