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Whisky revisited by Merle Wilkening | 31st August, 2023 | Interview

Annabel Thomas wants to spearhead a transformative movement within the industry and imbue whisky with an elevated allure accessible to all.

You were a management consultant before founding Nc’nean. What prompted the switch?

My family had been fostering the idea for a long time. Knowing that I was ready to leave my job in London, I finally sat down and wrote a business plan. It took two years to raise the money and another two years to build the distillery on my parents’ farm on the west coast of Scotland. We started distilling in 2017 and released our first whisky in 2020.

What do you, as a young company, intend to do differently than traditional corporations?

Everybody says: “We’re doing things the way they’ve always been done,” and I can understand wanting to uphold tradition. But none of the Scottish distilleries I visited were focused on sustainable production.

You make certified organic whisky that’s produced with renewable, on-site energy. You also follow a ­zero-waste concept.

That’s always been important to me. Our goal is to pioneer sustainable production and make delicious and creative modern spirits.

Whisky is often considered a male drink, and there are not many women in the industry’s top leadership positions. What’s your take on that?

The industry isn’t exactly doing much to change that stereotype. But in my view, a lot more women like whisky than people think. And although the industry appears to be male dominated, there are actually plenty of women involved. Our team is split exactly 50/50. I want to encourage more people to try whisky, regardless of gender.

How do you set yourself apart from your male counterparts?

Having as many women as men in the company brings diversity of thought and perspective, and maybe that allows us to think outside the box. Also, being female in a male dominated world makes us memorable.


Nc’nean uses only Scottish-grown organic barley and production is powered by 100% renewable energy. The modern-looking, illustrated bottles are made from recycled glass.

IssueGG Magazine 04/23