speak the whiskey language and how to
order whiskey.
“I have women that tell me they attend-
ed one of our events last year and now feel
comfortable sitting at a bar and talking to
the bartender about whisky. Women leave
the events and feel like they have learned
something and can take action,” says Stew-
art. This year, the program is expanding to
include an at-home mixology component
and advice on how to purchase whiskey at
retail, something the women have said they
find intimidating.
A Matter of Taste
According to experts, many women bring
wine knowledge to the table when they taste
whiskey for the first time. By no means is
that a barrier to their whisky appreciation,
however. Ridgway says that once you take
away the preconceived notions of whisky
“rules” and take a fun approach when talk-
ing to women about the spirit, there’s a
connection: “One of the coolest things
about tasting a group of women is seeing
that, ‘Aha!’ moment when somebody re-
alizes how amazing a dram of whisky can
taste when you take time to appreciate it.”
And let’s not discount flavor. Sweet-
profile brands like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee
Honey, Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon, Jim
Beam Red Stag, Evan Williams Cherry
Reserve and Wild Turkey American
Honey have been a runaway success among
female drinkers. Though Maker’s Mark
does not make a flavored whiskey, Brand
Director Jason Dolenga sees women
leaning toward Maker’s 46 “because it
retains that front of the tongue flavor
of Maker’s Mark while delivering even
more caramel and vanilla notes to
the taste.”
New York City mixologist Carmen Op-
eretta believes, “A woman is more likely
to go for a Scotch, for example, from East
Scotland that is lighter, younger, and sweet-
er, versus a Scotch from the West Scotland
that’s smokier.”
But not all female tastes are equal.
Just ask Peggy Noe Stevens, the world’s
first female Master Bourbon Taster, who
hails from one of the famous Kentucky
bourbon families (Jim Beam). In 2011, she
founded Bourbon Women, a group of 500
professional women who celebrate the
history and appreciation of our nation’s
official spirit. Among her members,
Noe has seen “gravitation to spicy, high
proof bourbons. Not what you would
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