No matter how elevated a woman\u2019s position is\u2014senator, CEO, chief justice, etc.\u2014to her children, she\u2019s just \u201cMom.\u201d She may be able to command rooms, run staffs of thousands and transform industries, but children often don\u2019t get to witness that side of her in real life. The reverse can be true, too. The mothers of those with high-powered jobs may be inspired and impressed by their child\u2019s demonstrable workplace prowess, but it\u2019s frequently difficult for parents to see their children for the adults they\u2019ve become.\n\n\n\nSo, what happens when mothers and their daughters decide to go into the spirits business together? In the world of spirits, where men often rule the roost\u2014fewer than 8% of distilleries in the U.S. are owned by women, according to craft beverage marketing enterprise Women in Distilling\u2014the results can be both surprising and delicious. These unique partnerships leverage the innate spark of love and fierce loyalty often inherent in mother-daughter relationships.\n\n\n\nHere\u2019s a look at how mother and daughter duos are shaking up the spirits industry.\n\n\n\nAutumn (left) and Joyce Nethery (right) of Jeptha Creed Distillery / Image Courtesy of Trina Whalin\n\n\n\nGrowing Apart and Together: Joyce and Autumn Nethery at Jeptha Creed Distillery\n\n\n\nLouisville, Kentucky\n\n\n\nWhen mother-daughter duo Joyce and Autumn Nethery opened Jeptha Creed Distillery in Kentucky\u2019s Shelby County in 2016, they knew there was a lot on the line. To start, Jeptha Creed was the first distillery to open in the county since before Prohibition. It was also the first distillery in the state owned and operated by women, and neither Joyce or Autumn had recent experience in the spirits industry.\n\n\n\n\u201cWhen we started, it was really my first job outside of waitressing,\u201d says Autumn, explaining that she was finishing her marketing degree at University of Kentucky when her and her mother made the decision to open the distillery.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\u201cI have a master\u2019s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville\u2019s Speed Scientific School,\u201d adds Joyce. \u201cI worked as a process engineer in distillation, taught chemistry and physics and high school and then became the CFO for my husband\u2019s company. On paper, it looks like a bunch of crazy career moves, but it has all come together here.\u201d\n\n\n\nThe Netherys always knew they wanted to launch a distillery together, with Joyce as distiller and Autumn running marketing and sales. It's certainly a family affair, though. \u201cMy husband grows 1,500 acres of corn for us as a hobby, and he claims it\u2019s a relaxing break from his full-time job as a dairy farmer,\u201d says Joyce. \u201cMy son works with my husband, but has trained as a distiller and helped us build out the distillery itself. We\u2019re all involved and part of it, to greater and lesser degrees.\u201d \n\n\n\nBut it\u2019s clear that together, Joyce and Autumn are calling the shots. Finding the balance between work and life remains a tricky business, though. \u201cIt\u2019s difficult to keep things separate, with clear duties and lines between family and work, but Autumn is the one handling marketing, so I just force myself to not look over her shoulder,\u201d says Joyce.\n\n\n\n\u201cWe share an office, so we are staring at each other all day so it\u2019s not always easy,\u201d Autumn admits. The biggest shift, they both say, has been subtle, and a product of perception.\n\n\n\n\u201cWatching Autumn grow personally and professionally, seeing her develop incredible leadership and organizational skills has been an honor,\u201d explains Joyce. For Autumn, watching the brand her mom created from the ground up win awards and expand into markets across the state, region and world has been inspiring.\n\n\n\n\u201cBeing able to see your mom as a mom and a CEO at the same time is so cool,\u201d she says. \u201cI see a side of her most kids don\u2019t get to see, and it has been incredibly empowering.\u201d\n\n\n\nChristine (right) and Lauren Riggleman (left) at Silverback Distillery / Image Courtesy of Abby Riggleman\n\n\n\nCombatting Stereotypes: Christine and Lauren Riggleman at Silverback Distillery\n\n\n\nRockfish Valley Highway, Virginia & East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania\n\n\n\nSilverback Distillery was founded in 2014 by Christine \u201cHooch Mama\u201d Riggleman, master distiller, and her daughter, Lauren \u201cBaby Hooch\u201d Riggleman, co-master distiller.\n\n\n\nThe pair don\u2019t have a traditional spirits background. Christine is a business school-major-turned homemaker, while Lauren was an undergrad at University of Virginia at the time they decided to launch, with a focus in psychology. (\u201cHer degree has come in handy in unexpected ways in this line of work,\u201d jokes Christine.) No one in the industry was holding their breath for a major success story, the founders admit.\n\n\n\nBut almost immediately, the pair proved they had what it takes. In 2015, Silverback's gin became the first Virginia-made offering to win a Double Gold Medal Award for taste at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The brand has gone on to win more than 20 other prestigious competitions. More recently, in April of 2023, Silverback took home six awards at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival, including Best in Festival.\n\n\n\n\u201cWe knew we had a lot to prove,\u201d says Christine. \u201cWe don\u2019t enter every contest, but we enter major ones that taste your product blind. That\u2019s what we want to be judged on.\u201d\n\n\n\nNot only do mother and daughter work side by side as co-distillers, Lauren, at 30, is the youngest master distiller in the U.S., according to the company website. But it wasn\u2019t always smooth sailing. Before the two opened the Silverback, Christine trained at a distillery out west. The experience left a bad taste in her mouth.\n\n\n\n\u201cI don\u2019t name them because I don\u2019t want to give them any credit for my current success,\u201d she says. \u201cBut what I encountered there taught me a lot about what I would be facing when I launched the business.\u201d No one took her seriously or listened to her questions or thoughts, she says, "simply because I\u2019m a woman.\u201d\n\n\n\nEven now, after she and her daughter have proven themselves\u2014with awards, two production and tasting room facilities in Virginia and Pennsylvania and availability in 39 states\u2014some people are still dismissive.\n\n\n\n\u201cPeople walk up to my husband all the time and give him credit,\u201d says Christine. \u201cAnd he tells them, \u2018No, she\u2019s the CEO, owner, creator and distiller. She deserves the credit.\u2019\u201d Christine is also quick to give her daughters credit. \u201cI watched Lauren work her butt off to earn the title, training in Scotland and mastering every aspect of the process,\u201d she says. \u201cWe always say, \u2018She\u2019s the craft and I\u2019m the science.\u2019 We\u2019re better and stronger together.\u201d\n\n\n\nChristine\u2019s middle daughter, Abby, is their digital media director, and her youngest is still in school, but helps when she can. And no, Christine can\u2019t leave her mom hat at home.\n\n\n\n\u201cI still bring them lunch, snacks and coffee,\u201d she admits. \u201cThings get ugly if they\u2019re hangry or un-caffeinated. But sometimes I do tell them that quite literally I\u2019m taking my mom hat off and putting my boss hat on so we can discuss something that needs discussing. And they understand that.\u201d\n\n\n\nSydney (left) and Karen Block (right) at Catedral De Mi Padre / Image Courtesy of Catedral de mi Padre Mezcal\n\n\n\nOvercoming Fears: Karen and Sydney Block at Catedral De Mi Padre\n\n\n\nSan Francisco & Oaxaca, Mexico\n\n\n\nLaunching and running mezcal brand Catedral De Mi Padre has been both humbling and uplifting for husband-and-wife-duo Karen and Jeff Block and their daughter Sydney Block. In 2022, the family launched the brand as a culmination of their personal skills and passions. It\u2019s already earned impressive industry kudos, including two gold medals and one double gold at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.\n\n\n\nJeff serves as CEO and Karen as Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Sydney, meanwhile, does a bit of everything, from branding to creative operations. Both Jeff and Sydney are the company's public faces, while Karen works more behind the scenes.\n\n\n\n\u201cOur motto is \u2018Sip Spiritually,\u2019 and our goal is to elevate the men and women behind the bottle, and to pay homage to mezcal\u2019s essential role in Mexican culture through a collection of six mezcals made by six master mescaleros,\u201d says Karen. She admits, however, a hesitancy to get involved in the business at first.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\u201cI was a little concerned that working together would negatively impact our mother-daughter bond, especially if we disagreed on something, because I was used to always doing things my way since I was the mom,\u201d says Karen. \u201cBut I soon realized that when we did disagree, it was often about things she had better insight into, like branding.\u201d\n\n\n\nBut instead of harming their relationship, working together has improved it.\n\n\n\n\u201cShe has really good intuition,\u201d Karen explains. \u201cI was surprised to see how quickly and effectively she stepped into the role of leader. She isn\u2019t afraid to take responsibility if things go awry, and she uses her skills as a consensus builder to motivate her teams.\u201d\n\n\n\nSydney, meanwhile, has also relished the opportunity to see her mother in a new light.\n\n\n\n\u201cI always saw my mom at home as the head of the household,\u201d she says. \u201cHer word was the last word. It\u2019s been fun working with my mom because I have gotten to see her as a team player. She doesn\u2019t always get her way on business decisions, but she is always supportive of me.\u201d\n\n\n\nFor such a young brand, Catedral De Mi Padre has already earned impressive industry kudos: most recently, the brand took home two gold medals and one double gold at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.\n\n\n\nElizabeth McCall (left) and Rosemarie O'Neill (right) / Image Courtesy of Woodford Reserve\n\n\n\nThe Student Becomes the Teacher: Brown-Forman's Elizabeth McCall and Rosemarie O'Neill\n\n\n\nHauppauge, New York\n\n\n\nWhen Elizabeth McCall emerged from graduate school with loans to pay off and a horse to support, landing a gig in the world of spirits just made sense. Growing up, she\u2019d heard about her mother\u2019s work for Seagram\u2019s as a finishing goods warehouse supervisor and materials standards manager, but by the time she\u2019d arrived on the scene, her mother, Rosemarie O\u2019Neill, had quit to become a full-time homemaker.\n\n\n\n\u201cMy horse was the main motivation for me to enter spirits initially, but once I was in my role as a sensory technician, I discovered a deep interest in how we make only not our bourbon, but all spirits,\u201d says McCall.\n\n\n\nAfter joining Brown-Forman\u2019s research and development team in 2009, McCall was elevated to Master Taster at Woodford Reserve in 2015, then Assistant Master Distiller in 2018 and Master Distiller in February of 2023. And while she may never have seen her mother in action at Seagram\u2019s, she admits she still \u201ccalls her almost daily to ask for advice on all things in life. She is my sounding board, and I don\u2019t make many decisions without at least consulting her and my father first.\u201d\n\n\n\nO\u2019Neill, meanwhile, says she is \u201cthrilled\u201d to watch her daughter\u2019s rise in the world of spirits. \u201cShe is exceeding way beyond anything I accomplished,\u201d she says.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nMcCall, who has one daughter Winnie, 2, and another on the way, is keeping the door open for her kids, but is focused on having them\u2014and all women and young people\u2014follow their dreams, whatever they may be, at all stages of their lives.\n\n\n\n\u201cI am very proud to share this common work path with my mother and feel fortunate to work for a company that supports women with families and in the family planning phase of life,\u201d McCall says. \u201cI have the resources to raise my family and work full time. I hope that businesses continue to embrace this mentality and support women as they plan their families.\u201d\n\n\n\nHaving Women in Spirits Is Smart Business\n\n\n\nGiving women and their daughters the opportunity to run the show at distilleries isn\u2019t just about progress: it\u2019s also smart business. Women have massive purchasing power when it comes to spirits, and who better to know what they want than women themselves?\n\n\n\nIt\u2019s almost Mother\u2019s Day. Go buy your mom something made by another mom who\u2019s as complex, fascinating and multi-dimensional as the drink she makes.