Hollis B. Worth Opens Up About Bulleit, Diageo Split
July 19, 2019 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Hollis B.Worth, (née Anne Hollister Bulleit) is known to thousands in the spirits industry as the “First Lady of Bourbon” and as the face of the Bulleit brand that is named after her family.

But, in 2017 she and Bulleit’s parent company, Diageo, parted ways. It wasn’t amicable.

In her first interview since the split, Hollis talked with Neat Pour about an alleged pattern of homophobic harassment that started in her own family and bled into her work environment at Diageo, the $12 billion multinational beverage company that also owns about 30 other brands including Tanqueray, Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, and Smirnoff.
posted by Carillon (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yikes. Is she working for another company? After reading this, I'm definitely not buying Bulleit, but I'd want to support whatever company has her back.
posted by explosion at 9:38 AM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

It wasn't clear to me if she was or not, I know in the article they talk about her having her own brand, but it doesn't sound like that panned out?
posted by Carillon at 9:53 AM on July 19, 2019

Worth lives with Cher currently and is pursuing her artistic talents. After the alleged breach of her resolution agreement, her attorneys once again are in contact with her former employer.
Sounds like she's just working on her art at the moment.
posted by zixyer at 9:55 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

SO .. what *are* we drinking, if we would like to raise a glass to Ms. Worth and Ms. Worth?
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 9:55 AM on July 19, 2019

That's too bad, I really like Bulleit rye. Guess I'll have to find another brand.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:01 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

High West is good and is owned by Constellation, I believe, not Diageo.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:03 AM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Is that for bourbon, or rye? Or both?
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:06 AM on July 19, 2019

Never mind, found it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:23 AM on July 19, 2019

I know a lot of people who've been drinking Eagle Rare and swear by it. I've mainly been splitting the difference and doing either Evan Williams for cocktails or Bakers or Noah's Mill for a straight sipper.
posted by Carillon at 10:23 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh good, looks like my house standard Maker's Mark isn't owned by Diageo, so I'm safe there.
posted by dnash at 10:29 AM on July 19, 2019

My beloved Elijah Craig is owned by Heaven Hill, which is still independent and family owned. Shame, though, Bulleit is a go-to of mine.
posted by SansPoint at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Three women who previously worked for Diageo used the term “boy’s club” to describe sales trips. They shared stories of lewd texts, discrimination based on gender, and excessive drinking by others.

Worth’s experiences were often similar. Neat Pour viewed text messages from a bartender who apologized for physically assaulting Worth in front of a crowd during a different sales trip in March 2013. The offender blamed being “over-served.”

Likewise, in a 2010 memo to Diageo management, she complained about being left by herself in car after the sales excursion made an unscheduled stop at a strip club. The subsection titled, “Request of Future Diageo Presence/Support” also mentions being forced to care for an egregiously drunk colleague early in the morning as well as being set up on unsolicited dates.

In response to that memo, Diageo demanded that Worth recant her reports of the events before they offered her a new contract, she said.

I guess this is how "Diageo celebrates pride," eh?

The list of brands owned by Diageo is pretty extensive.

But any self-respecting scotch aficionado can live without Johnnie Walker.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:21 AM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

If you like Bulleit Rye, you can always switch to another brand that uses the MGP rye. Maybe Rebel Yell Rye?

And as Bulleit was contract-distilled by Four Roses for ages and ages, you could probably move over to Four Roses Small Batch or Single Barrel. For an even cheaper option, Wild Turkey 101 is in a rude period of health at the moment…
posted by carsondial at 11:49 AM on July 19, 2019

When I first heard about this a couple of years ago, I immediately stopped buying Bulleit. It's really disappointing that Diageo didn't back Worth in this fight.

Willett Family Reserve rye is another great option, although it's more of a sipper than a mixer. Their bourbon is also very good. And I was just introduced to Wilderness Trail, and their bourbons and rye are all phenomenal. They take a very different approach to distilling than most, as well.
posted by me3dia at 12:04 PM on July 19, 2019

carsondial: "Wild Turkey 101"

So not much of a crisis then. I did like Bulleit but come on.
posted by chavenet at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

~ scans list of Diageo’s brands...looks like I’m good...nothing on it that I...
Goddammit. They own George Dickel.
Well, at least my scotch is safe.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2019

Aw, shit. There was a bit of an 'all clear' among people I trust after the settlement, so it's really disappointing to find what Diageo was actually doing behind that cover.
posted by fedward at 3:45 PM on July 19, 2019

And a takeon the perils of tying a brand too closely to loving people. Will say I disagree about his comment on aviation gin
posted by Carillon at 7:46 PM on July 19, 2019

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