It’s hard to define someone like Julie Macklowe.
Born in Aspen, raised in Colorado, Julie completed her B.A. in Economics and B.S. in Commerce at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce and went on to a career in finance. From structuring leveraged buyouts in Seoul and Singapore to eventually running her own hedge fund in 2006.
In 2010 she closed the fund to pursue her own investments in the fashion business, including investing in BaubleBar. In 2011 came her own skincare line, vbeauté. Now, Julie has launched her own American Single Malt.
The first cask comes from her private reserves and ONLY 237 bottles will be sold for $1,500, while shots are expected to be sold for between $115 to $175. Made from the highest quality, 100% non-GMO USDA Grade 1 Kentucky Barley and distilled in column and copper doublers at an undisclosed distillery, The Macklowe has been bottled at 46% ABV and aged for 7 years in ultra-premium toasted and charred new American white oak.
We sat down with Julie and talked all things whiskey:
Pursuitist: Where did you discover your love for American Single Malt?
Julie Macklowe: I’m Julie Macklowe and this is the story of a whiskey I produced, the first Luxury American Single Malt Whiskey, called The Macklowe. It is the story of a journey I’ve been on since I discovered single malt Scotch whiskey at the tender age of twenty-one at the beginning of my career. Have you ever been thrown into deep water to either swim with the sharks or get eaten alive? And once you get wet you find you’re just as hungry, maybe even hungrier, than the sharks? That was me.
I got hungry for success at an early age. My first job was in “hard” finance: stocks and hedge funds of all things. This was a high-testosterone, “win or die” world, where the guys smoked cigars, played poker, and drank Scotch single malts, neat. Every aspect of it was competitive. Now it had me…the renegade.
So I showed up in my tailored Chanel skirts and stepped right into the middle of the arena and learned the games. I’ve since given up cigars and poker but I learned how to drink, and love Scotch single malt. I grew into a business with the feeling that men and women were essentially equal.
That’s where the whiskey obsession began and as I traveled the world for work, I started collecting whisky: the Far East, Europe, ending up in Speyside or Kentucky or Paris, everywhere I went I searched out the bottle shops and duty-free shops and stuffed my suitcases for the trip home. One bottle leads to another bottle….and now…
I’ve got a crazy, big whiskey collection, primarily Scotch single malt. The bottles in my kitchen are the ones I drink every day and then there’s the “collection”: old, rare, some of them priceless. But I drink what I buy, I’m driven by my palate, not the price, and I love the entire range of flavors available from malted barley, from fruity and spicy all the way to smokey and peaty.
I moved from the trading floors to the top strategic levels of finance, got married, and had a beautiful little girl. But investing only creates wealth, not value, and I wanted to make something of value, a product that people would love to use. I created a line of organic skincare products called vBeaute and sold it exclusively on QVC. Instead of looking at inventories and accounts receivables and logistics from a purely abstract view, I now owned them, and I invested heavily in the people who managed them for me. We started vBeaute with no guides and we made a lot of mistakes and I eventually closed the business, but I found I loved the details of packaging and sourcing, and selling.
Ten years later, I got pregnant again and had my second daughter and began to realize that you have to really love what you’re doing if you’re going to be happy with it. And after she was born I found myself in Scotland with my flask and started golfing there and thought: I should be doing this every day!
What was the process of developing The Macklowe like?
I took sensory courses to discover more about my own palate. I traveled through Scotland and into Kentucky consulting with some of the great distillers and blenders in both places. I realized I wanted to make a single malt whiskey that was luxurious but was uniquely American and inclusive of everyone who loved luxury: The Macklowe, the first Luxury American Single Malt Whiskey. A single malt of 100% barley because of the wide range of flavors that can be produced from that grain: fruity, spicy, smokey, or peaty. But I was not going to distill it myself: what I’m good at is bringing the right team together, setting up conditions so they can be the best of what they do, and directing the outcome.
Initially, I had whiskies distilled especially for me here in the US that I purchased multiple casks of: These are my private collection, my Family Reserve “Casks of Distinction”. The Macklowe is the first Luxury American Single Malt.
This whiskey is made from 100% malted barley distilled in 2014 and matured here in a char #3 new American oak barrel.
This particular barrel, Barrel #61, was chosen specifically by Ian MacMillan, one of the great master blenders in Scotland. He’s been in the business close to 50 years, was the master blender for Burn Stewart (makers of Bunnahabhain, Tobermory, and Deanston) and most recently brought the Bladnoch Distillery in the Lowlands back to life.
There are only 237 bottles of this whiskey available. They are going specifically to people that I’ve chosen to receive them. These bottles are like Ferraris: luxurious, elegant, with deep nuances that lift them from the ordinary. Each bottle was sold out minutes after our release.
These are casks that I had specifically distilled and matured for me, the Family Reserve. These are going out to only those who are part of the exclusive club of high-end whiskey connoisseurs and restaurants. This liquid is irreplaceable and limited and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
At an SRP of $1500, The Macklowe Casks of Distinction is a luxury that makes the lucky owner feel different for having it. Every bottle of The Macklowe has my own personal touch, from the flavors inside to the packaging outside. This will be a pre-allocated item, I worked very closely to select those top venues and people who get to own it. Then we’ll be releasing limited amounts for the first few years as we build inventory and prestige in the marketplace.
Who is The Macklowe Drinker?
I would say it’s definitely Whisky Afficiandos.
Where are the dream bars/hotels/lounges you would love to see The Macklowe?
I am very proud of our who’s who of the best on-premise accounts who took our product. I would say due to the fabulous quality of this liquid, it was NYC’s finest restaurants – a dream come true. These include Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Jean George Nougatine, The Mark, The Grille, Casa Cipriani’s, Sistina, The Polo Bar, Kappo Masa, and many more. A full list of restaurants can be found at https://themacklowe.com/locations/ .