At Isautier, two women in key positions

On the occasion of the International Women’s Rights Day, Rumporter focuses on some of the women who are making rum today. Today, the focus is on Isautier (La Réunion).

Marie Ferrand, cellar master at Isautier

What is your background before arriving at this position? What does it involve?

As a trained engineer, I explored several worlds (food processing, logistics…) in different places before returning to my native island of Reunion with the desire to invest in a local company. I have been working for Maison Isautier for 10 years. As Cellar Master, I am in charge of the production of white rums and aged rums. I select the rums before the bottling, and follow them throughout their aging in oak barrels, for many years. It is through tastings, blending, mothballing… that we end up with rums ready to be bottled.

Is the world of rum more and more open to women?

If it is true that there are more men than women in the world of rum, I don’t think it is closed to women, not anymore anyway… But everyone’s appetite is different, so we shouldn’t force things either. The balance must be done naturally and therefore gradually.

Are you tired of being asked questions about the fact that you are a woman in the world of rum?

No, but it’s true that these questions surprise me every time at first. Because I feel more like a person in the rum world than a woman in the rum world. You don’t have to be a man or a woman to care about making good products and enjoying them!


Louise Bouilloux, Research & Development Innovation Manager

What was your background before you took up this position? What does it involve?

For my studies, I chose an engineering degree in food processing at Polytech Montpellier, with a specialization in innovation, technologies and optimization. We were 90% women in the class, but the ratio was reversed when I entered the working world. I started out in the delicatessen business and then in the ready-made meals business. I was in charge of recipe development for new products.

This field was still very male when I arrived and it was not easy to be a young woman who had just graduated in the middle of men with more than 20 years of career! That said, this experience has been very formative, especially in terms of communication… and patience! I have been working for Maison Isautier for 4 years now, I am responsible for innovation in terms of novelty, I create new recipes, new ranges.

I also have to modify some existing recipes. Each time a recipe is created or modified, I have to make sure, among other things, that the Isautier taste is respected, which is a great responsibility! This job is exciting, no two days are alike and I have to work with several different professions, from agriculture to laboratory research and production. The days go by quickly, the company is very dynamic, there is no time to get bored.

Is the world of rum more and more open to women?

Compared to my previous experiences, yes! This is the case for Maison Isautier, which has several women in positions of responsibility, including me. It is historical, since the House was directed for several years by Antoinette Isautier, the wife of one of the founders of the House.

Are you tired of being asked questions about the fact that you are a woman in the rum world?

At the beginning, I was often asked, and then people eventually got used to it. You have to be patient and persevere, to show that a woman can also be passionate about this business, and in the end that’s all that counts to succeed, regardless of gender. My greatest pride is to see the surprise and satisfaction in the eyes of people who taste our products. Both the men and women who work for the company are passionate about their work, and it shows!

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