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Tennessee's first woman master distiller since prohibition honored

Master Distiller Alex Castle said her mother sparked her interest in the beer and spirits industry at an early age.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A woman has made history and challenged the status quo in Memphis. Master Distiller Alex Castle's journey hasn't been anything short of easy. 

“When I was graduating from college, I decided to send out resumes to distillers across the country," Castle shared. "That’s when a lot of them were getting started. I heard from two distilleries, only one job offer.”

It made her want to push harder to make a mark in the spirits and distillery industry, and it has paid off. 

Castle is the first woman master distiller in Tennessee since prohibition. 

She has given credit to her mother for sparking her interest when she was only in high school.

“She said, ‘Go into chemical engineering’ and I said 'Fantastic. What do you do with that?’ She said you can make beer and be a brew master or you can make bourbon and be a master distiller.’”

Something about that stuck. Her chemical engineering degree from the University of Kentucky lead to her getting a start in the beer and spirits industry.

“At the age of 21, I started distilling whiskey for the first time and I was fortunate to get on with Wild Turkey after I graduated," she said. "Got to be in their production department for four years before I got recruited to come to Memphis to help open Old Dominick.”

It made her a fifth-generation founder of Old Dominick Distillery in downtown Memphis, where she is also the senior vice president. 

Castle said that she has seen a lot of changes in this male-dominated industry.

“I would say in the last five, six years that it’s changing. We have women owning their own distilleries," she explained. "Women are master distillers, master blenders, so we are definitely seeing a shift.”

She said that she would like to continue to see the industry evolve for future distillers and customers.

Old Dominick Distillery has been in the whiskey business now for more than 150 years. 

The distillery will celebrate its fifth year in business this year. It was also the first to make whiskey in downtown Memphis before prohibition.

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