Women in Hospitality: Kate Douglas & Emma Wyatt

Be sure to view all of our previous entries in the Women in Hospitality series.

Bar & Restaurant News recently caught up with Kate Douglas, distiller for Keeper's Heart Whiskey, and Emma Wyatt, the O’Shaughnessy Distilling Co. (OSDC) Bar Manager in Minneapolis, where Keeper's Heart is made.

(Note: Emma is pictured above, left; Kate is pictured above, right.)

Kate has a passion for food science, chemistry, and blending flavors, and she holds two degrees from Colorado State University, one in Food Safety, the other in Fermentation Science and Technology. Prior to joining OSDC, she was the Head Distiller for Old Elk Distillery in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Emma manages the bar operations at OSDC, which features three unique bars, a gourmet bites restaurant menu, a spirits garden and rooftop terrace, and a full whiskey education program and tour centered around OSDC's three unique copper pot stills.

We spoke with Emma & Kate about on-premise trends, whiskey trends, and more! Read the full Q&A below.


Keeper’s Heart combines Irish & American whiskies. What makes these two types of whiskies complementary blends?

Kate: The three whiskies blend so well together! The Irish pot still has a beautiful, rich flavor with stewed fruits and nice spice and earthy notes. This blends well with the American rye since it is already spice forward. It also blends fantastically with the bourbon since it is a little sweeter with a few notes of black pepper with a hint of spice. The Irish grain brings the pot still and either rye or bourbon all together with some lighter notes of citrus and melon. The whiskey ends up having an incredible mouthfeel that highlights the best of the Irish and American whiskey.


Do you think there will be more interest in blending across whiskey types in the industry?

Kate: Absolutely.  We've already started to see a few more brands start to blend Irish and American whiskies. The whiskey drinkers of the world are starting to appreciate the art of blending types more and more.  


Have you observed any recent whiskey trends?

Kate: The biggest trend I've seen lately has been stepping away from tradition. I love that Keeper's Heart continues to lead that push as we are constantly innovating from blending types together, to blending the distillation and maturation methods from Irish and American standards.  


What whiskey cocktails do you think will be trending this fall/winter?

Emma: I think the Paper Plane is going to have another huge moment. It was popular since it first hit the menu at the Violet Hour, but there is something about its freshness, subtle bitterness, and relatively low ABV that feel very here and now. 


Are you seeing any particular trends in the on-premise?

Emma: It feels like people are either asking for an old fashioned or a low-proof cocktail. Of course, at a whiskey distillery, an old fashioned is always a great choice. 


Any advice for other women in the industry?

Kate: In terms of production, don't let someone tell you that you can't do it because you're a woman.  Women have been a backbone of this industry since its inception, men just get more of the publicity. Luckily for us, that has been changing over the last 10 years.  

Emma: Trust yourself and don't hesitate to make your opinion heard. We've seen this industry get its head turned during the pandemic, and it needed it. It still needs it. If we let men do all the talking, then the industry is going to go right back to having all the bad habits it did before. 


What’s your favorite Keeper’s Heart cocktail?

Emma: A boulevardier made with our Keeper's Heart Irish+Bourbon and a big ol' orange rip is my go-to. 

Kate: If I'm celebrating at home, I love to make a nice whiskey sour with our Keeper's Heart Irish + Bourbon Cask Strength. Give it a good shake with some simple syrups, fresh lemon juice, an egg white, and a dash of bitters. Simple and perfect.


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