Julie Macklowe: A Whiskey Connoisseur

Julie Macklowe | Founder CEO | The Macklowe Whiskey Company
Julie Macklowe | Founder CEO | The Macklowe Whiskey Company

A Business Woman’s Quest for Success, Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Excellence!

In the vast landscape of human dreams and goals, there’s something that unites us all—a deep and unyielding desire for success. It’s a dream we all share, an inner fire pushing us to achieve, do our best, and make a lasting impact on the world. This hunger, this passionate drive, is what keeps us moving forward.

Meet Julie Macklowe, Founder and CEO of The Macklowe —a New York City businesswoman and passionate entrepreneur—who emerged hungrier for success than ever before. Her journey is a testament to determination, vision, and an unyielding hunger to carve her own path.

From a young age, Julie exhibited an insatiable hunger for success. Her appetite for achievement was like a fire burning within her, pushing her to dive headfirst into challenges, ready to conquer whatever obstacles stood in her way.

Armed with a degree from the prestigious University of Virginia, Julie carved her initial path in the finance industry. She navigated the world of hedge funds, managing large consumer portfolios for prominent players like SIGMA and Millennium Management. Her skills and expertise marked her as a formidable force in the financial world.

But Julie’s aspirations didn’t stop there. She carried a vision that transcended her finance career—a vision to operate her own company. In 2011, she took the entrepreneurial leap and founded Vbeauté, a luxury skincare line that quickly gained recognition and popularity. From its launch at Bergdorf Goodman to becoming a standout brand on HSN, Julie’s determination to create something exceptional was evident.

Julie’s entrepreneurial drive was not to be contained. In 2019, inspired by her love for the world’s finest whiskies, she embarked on an entirely new venture—The Macklowe. This wasn’t just any whiskey; it was the first luxury American Single Malt, a reflection of Julie’s boldness and vision. Collaborating with Master Blender Ian MacMillian, she ventured into the world of spirits, laying down her own liquid in Kentucky.

December 2022 marked a significant milestone for Julie as The Macklowe’s Private Collection made its debut. A testament to her unwavering commitment, the signature Kentucky Edition was launched in May 2023. Julie’s journey from finance to luxury skincare to crafting her own legacy in the world of American Single Malt exemplifies her capacity to embrace new challenges and redefine herself.

Join us as we explore her remarkable trajectory and the indomitable spirit that propels her forward!

Could you please tell about yourself and what motivated you to embark on this sector?

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 became 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 neatly. Every aspect of it was competitive. Now it had me, the renegade.

So I showed up in my tailored Chanel skirts, 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 up in 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, 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.

Could you please brief about your company and its inception story?

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 skin care products called Vbeauté and sold them exclusively on QVC. Instead of looking at inventories, accounts receivable, and logistics from a purely abstract perspective, I now owned them, and I invested heavily in the people who managed them for me. We started Vbeauté with no guides, and we made a lot of mistakes. I eventually closed the business, but I found I loved the details of packaging, sourcing, and selling.

Ten years later, I got pregnant again and had my second daughter, and I 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, started golfing there, and thought, I should be doing this every day!

I took sensory courses to discover more about my own palate. I traveled through Scotland and 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 at what they do, and directing the outcome.

Could you share a defining moment or experience from your early career that shaped your leadership style and decision-making approach?

In the fast-paced and high-powered world of hedge funds, I had the opportunity to work closely with some of the world’s best and most influential CEOs. One particular experience stands out and has greatly influenced my leadership style and decision-making approach.

During that time, I encountered Sheldon Adelson, the owner of Las Vegas Sands, who left a lasting impression on me. Despite facing adversity when his company’s stock was at a low point of $1, Adelson displayed conviction, resilience, and a clear vision. He never doubted his mission, and years later, his company regained its position as one of the world’s wealthiest.

This experience taught me the importance of resilience, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of innovation. I embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and strive to foster a culture of collaboration and diversity within my teams. Valuing empathy, I support and empower those around me, recognizing that their success contributes to the overall success of the organization.

Drawing from my finance background, I excel at taking calculated risks and remaining adaptable in the face of uncertainty. My leadership style is fueled by a strong sense of passion and purpose, which guides our decision-making and drives meaningful change throughout my career.

I’ve charted an unconventional path, transitioning from a hedge fund to a skincare company and then starting an alcohol company. I am not afraid of the risks associated with winning or losing; my true fear lies in not being in the game at all.

Success and failure often go hand in hand in the business world. How do you approach and learn from failures, and how has failure contributed to your growth as a leader?

In the business world, success and failure often go hand in hand. When it comes to failures, I have a proactive approach to learning and growth. Drawing from my experience in the hedge fund industry, I learned the importance of quickly cutting losses and capitalizing on successes.

When faced with failure, I view it as an opportunity for reflection and analysis. I strive to understand the root causes of the failure and extract valuable lessons from it. By embracing failure as an inherent part of the journey, I can gain insights that contribute to my personal and professional growth.

Failure has played a significant role in shaping me as a leader. It has taught me resilience, adaptability, and the significance of learning from mistakes. Through firsthand experiences of failure, I have deepened my understanding of risk management, decision-making, and problem-solving. These lessons have not only enhanced my ability to navigate challenges but also enabled me to better support and guide my team through adversity.

Ultimately, failure is not something to be feared or avoided but rather a stepping stone to success. It provides valuable lessons and opportunities for growth, which have contributed to my continuous development as a leader.

What are your strategies for attracting and retaining top talent, and how do you approach strategic partnerships and collaborations to drive business growth?

To attract and retain top talent, we employ several strategies. First, we prioritize hiring the best individuals who align with our company’s vision and values. We establish clear key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals, ensuring that everyone understands their expected targets. Compensation is structured to include both personal targets and overall contributions to the team and the company’s mission. While financial compensation is important, we find that many of our employees are driven by the opportunity to create something new and contribute to building a new category in the industry.

We often have individuals actively approaching our company, expressing their interest in working with us. We value the energy and enthusiasm they bring and consider them as potential hires. For us, it’s not just about the skills and experience but also about finding individuals who share our passion and drive.

Creating a positive and enjoyable work environment is crucial for attracting and retaining talent. We believe that spending a significant amount of time with colleagues should be fun and energizing. We seek individuals who not only have the required expertise but also possess great energy and a compatible personality.

When it comes to strategic partnerships and collaborations, we seek out like-minded organizations and individuals who are open to new and exciting opportunities. We look for partners who bring a fresh perspective and a different approach, enhancing our ability to drive business growth. By fostering these collaborations, we can leverage their expertise, resources, and networks to expand our reach and achieve shared goals.

In summary, our strategies for attracting and retaining top talent involve hiring the best individuals, setting clear goals, providing a stimulating work environment, and valuing the passion and energy they bring. We approach strategic partnerships and collaborations by seeking out innovative and compatible partners who can contribute to our business growth.

What advice would you give to aspiring young entrepreneurs who aspire to become successful CEOs and leaders?

For aspiring young entrepreneurs who aspire to become successful CEOs and leaders, I have the following advice:

I always emphasize the importance of spending your initial years acquiring as many core skills as possible. To this day, my extensive background in finance has provided me with a toolkit for managing income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow—skills that are extremely critical when running a startup. Additionally, I believe that proving a business model from the start is of significant importance. Typically, a business that is initially challenging tends to remain difficult. Therefore, when you witness success in a particular area, it is essential to pursue it further and scale it.

By devoting time to developing core skills, particularly in areas relevant to your industry, and validating your business model early on, you can establish a strong foundation for your entrepreneurial journey. Remember to remain adaptable, keep a keen eye on market trends, and be prepared to pivot if necessary. Building a successful enterprise requires continuous learning, perseverance, and a willingness to take calculated risks.

Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.

  • “Another obvious triumph for the Macklowe Whiskey brand, which continues to expand upon and enhance the fast-growing American Single Malt Whiskey subcategory. An elegant, if restrained American whiskey treat.” — Review by F.Paul Pacult
  • “The careful selection of the original new make distillate was crucial, as were the Toast / Char levels of the American White Oak casks, to ensure that we achieved the aromatic and flavor profiles that we so desired. The product is a Kentucky American Single Malt. Developed by using a combination of American and Scottish traditional production and blending skills that have created a highly individual and impressive product in this category. All of the reaction maturation mechanisms have worked to ensure a concentration of ester molecules that reinforce the aromatic, intense, fresh fruit, floral and creamy character of this remarkable Single Malt.”—Ian MacMillan.