The Biggest Misconception About Bourbon, According To Michter's Master Distiller - Exclusive

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female bartender whiskey - Jupiterimages/Getty Images

If you were to think of the stereotypical bourbon drinker, you'd probably imagine something like a rugged frontiersman or its modern equivalent. But bourbon isn't just for the boys and distilleries are starting to realize that as demand from women for bourbon grows. When we were at the Nassau Paradise Island Wine and Food Fest's Michter's tasting, hosted by The Dilly Club, we asked Michter's master distiller Dan McKee what he thought a common misconception was about bourbon that should be cleared up.

"[It's] a common misconception I feel has already been debunked, but American whiskey, bourbons and ryes, are for everybody," McKee said. "It's not just for guys, it's for everybody." For one reason or another, bourbon's harsh bite and complex notes of oak and caramel were thought to appeal only to men -- but these old-fashioned views are disappearing. And, in fact, increased market demand from women has grown alongside the rise of craft bourbons.

"And I speak from experience because even when I am doing events, it's not just all guys showing up," McKee continued, "It's a mixed crowd now, which I find the most enjoyable." Thankfully, long gone are the days when bars had a separate entrance for women. They have also moved on from being predominantly male spaces, and women are now welcomed everywhere, and the bourbon world is no different.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

For Women, By Women

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woman drinking whiskey - Solstock/Getty Images

It isn't just that women are buying more bourbon these days, they're distilling it too. There's a substantial rise in woman-led spirits brands that include several whiskeys. For McKee, women in bourbon distilling isn't something new. "One of my early bosses, when I worked for a different distillery, one of my supervisors, she was a woman," McKee told us. "Then I trained and mentored under Pam Heilmann, who was the distillery manager at Jim Beam's largest distillery. And then when she joined Michter's, she eventually became the second master distiller where I worked under her. I learned a tremendous amount of the art of distilling, but so many other things, of course, go into this, so I owe a lot to that."

If anything, the trend of women in bourbon distilling is increasing as women begin pushing new boundaries with bourbon debuts that question traditional ideas about what a bourbon can be. McKee was excited about the many talented women he has worked with. "Now I work with Andrea Wilson, she's our COO and also Master of Maturation. She is a master chemical engineer. She was inducted in 2022 to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, which is a huge honor in Kentucky distilling, so she's amazing. And also she's a great teacher. Both Pam and Andrea are both great teachers, and we also have a lot of great team members coming up."

Read the original article on Tasting Table