Spirited Women Wanted! Kentucky Bourbon Women SIPosium
Fiercely independent, terrifyingly efficient, she drinks and she knows things. —Wise words of Bourbon Women
I have often found myself in great conversation over a spirited drink. When living abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, I remember being invited by a nice boy to Edinburgh Uni’s Water of Life Society: known on campus for hosting events that celebrate whiskey and life. I attended wearing the popular Scotland plaid skirt. In between Ceilidh dances there were whiskey tastings, and I tried hard to own my first sip. Needless to say, the tasting ended with my eyes squinting, and I dared to admit out loud that the drink tasted like mouthwash.
I find myself in Louisville, Kentucky, this fall at the local #BourbonWomen SIPosium sitting around a table with some of the most bright and fierce women I have yet met. This time, I enjoy both the drink and the company. While holding high a glass of bourbon, I welcome this historic local landscape with a drink that awakens my senses with a sweetness and smoky aftertaste. Join me as I highlight some of the adventures from this year’s Bourbon Women (BW) SIPosium in Louisville, Kentucky. I hope you look into your local BW chapter or join this fabulous conference here in Louisville, Kentucky, next year!
This year’s Bourbon Women SIPosium was filled to the brim with wonderful events! Some of my favorite highlights:
Tastings with master distillers, authors, and industry experts
Visiting world famous distilleries with behind-the-scenes educational tours
Networking with industry professionals and influential members in the bourbon industry and beyond
Peggy Noe Stevens is the founder of Bourbon Women and is known locally as being a trail blazer for women. Not only was she recently inducted into the Bourbon hall of fame, but also Peggy is the world’s first female master bourbon taster. She is recognized locally as an event planner and partner with Louisville Tourism. Her presence was evident in the overall planning and execution this event.
While I loved the varied and broad assortment of workshop sessions, I was most drawn to the Welcome Toast & Keynote session with Fawn Weaver, Co-Founder, CEO & Chief Historian for Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey.
Fawn boldly spoke on being a female in the male-dominated bourbon industry, “There are certain things we choose and certain things that choose us.” Speaking her truth by listing the four names that tie the history of her involvement with this brand, she traced evidence of why Nearest Green was so influential as the first and only African American distiller.
Today, Fawn Weaver makes her place in this industry by showing up to male-dominated meetings in jeans, t-shirt, and a headband representing as the CEO for Uncle Nearest. “When they underestimate you, they negotiate stupidly,” Fawn reminded those of us in attendance. We were inspired by her history and courage as we see first-hand the power women hold in the bourbon industry. If her personality, charm, and professionalism were not enough to impress, she also won the audience by dancing into the meeting. Fawn later said, her father was one of the founders of Motown. He would travel to Chicago from Detroit and play with a band to make music, and called this music a hit because it got the blacks and whites to dance together. Everyone found their beat.
With two days full of sessions, tastings, and various gatherings, I can’t forget to mention the Distillery Excursions. I was lucky to visit Buffalo Trace, Lux Row Distillers, and Jeptha Creed Distillery. Other distilleries that were part of the tour for attendees to choose from include the following: Angel’s Envy, The Farm Distillery at Locust Grove, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Vendome Copper & Brass Works, Bardstown Bourbon Company, Kentucky Artisan, and Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.. There were so many options, and it was hard to choose!
Oldest performing distillery— making legendary bourbon whiskey for over 200 years
World’s most award-winning distillery
Historic grounds that walks the guests through their brand’s story from the 1700’s prohibition to the boom and bust of the bourbon industry
Family-owned and operated in Bardstown, Kentucky, known for their—"REAL ROOTS. REAL FAMILY. REAL PRODUCTS”
Produces over 50,000 bottles a year
Historic site with a beautiful grey barn and stunning grounds
Hosted the Opening Night Dinner for the Bourbon Women SIPosium
Three beautiful barns where guests do tastings
Family Scottish crest and phrase “Ne Oublie,” (do not forget) is a part of the family heritage they have brought this motto into their brand and operations as a business
All of these tours were unique, educational, and finished with a stop at the different beautiful on-site gift shops. The historic lessons were entwined with tours and tastings while we walked alongside many-a-strong women with a voice. As the sun set at Lux Row during our opening dinner, we lifted our drinks for a toast. The weekend evolved into a showcase of Kentucky Tourism and the spirits that inspire. I found myself invited to a VIP late Saturday Night visit to the Chef’s Kitchen at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel where a new group of dear friends laughed and bonded over the many tales of a cocktail.