Julie Macklowe talks family legacy and the great American whiskey
Julie Macklowe has always been a lover of whiskey.
It started while she was entrenched in the hedge fund world traveling throughout Asia. During this period of her life, she became great at two things: playing golf and drinking whiskey.
“I can drink whiskey before, after and during a meal,” she said.
Having caught the whiskey bug, she began curating her own private collection. Macklowe — alongside her husband, real estate mogul Billy Macklowe — built an impressive collection of over 1,000 whiskeys from around the world that today is stored in their home in the Hamptons.
After leaving the financial world, she got the entrepreneurial itch and founded a QVC skin care line, vbeauté. But somehow, whiskey kept calling.
During the COVID lockdown, Macklowe decided to try to turn her passion into a business. She tapped industry expert and Scottish whiskey proprietor Ian MacMillan to help her project come to life. She zeroed in on Kentucky, rather than Scotland, because of how versatile the barley is.
She had essentially identified a hole in the whiskey market. Her new mission: Make the great, luxury American single malt.
Macklowe simultaneously created the look and feel of the bottle itself — something she was adamant that they get right so that it appealed to women as well as men.
She furthered her own education, becoming a registered whiskey taster to constantly compare and contrast the other types of spirits on the market and how they stacked up to what she had created.
But it doesn’t end there. Macklowe spends a great deal of time educating restaurant and bar staffs on her product and how to use it in a cocktail — a piece of the business that gives her great satisfaction.
Ultimately, her vision was to craft two whiskey options: one to drink and one to collect.
“The idea is for this to be the top of the pyramid — quality over quantity,” she said.
Throughout New York City’s elite bar scene — think Daniel and the Mark —and the eastern end of Long Island, one can find a “Gold Fashioned” and the “Macklowe Manhattan” on upscale cocktail lists. While Macklowe loves the cocktail experiences people have with her brand, she prefers it neat.
The future of the Macklowe whiskey business is bright. The team is hard at work in Kentucky curating a rye and bourbon to be released next year. Husband Billy is also her biggest supporter, providing insights to help add value when needed as they expand the business.
Asked whether Macklowe whiskey is part of her family’s legacy, she became pensive. “My goal is to make this a legacy family business,” she said. “Perhaps my kids can participate in it someday.
“I’m serious about what I’m doing and passionate about seeing this brand succeed.”
Today, Macklowe’s whiskey is hard to find. For those looking for an allocation, they’ll find it through a waitlist on her website. She hopes to release the next batch come September.
“Our next batch,” she said, “is ready when it’s ready.”