During Women's History Month, the country's first female-focused bourbon organization has announced an expansion into Texas. Two women at a Hill Country whiskey distillery lead the new chapter.
On staff at Garrison Brothers Distilling, Hope Parkerson and Samantha Olvera-Moreno decided to help bring the Bourbon Women Association to Texas, which joins the national base in Louisville, Kentucky, and five other chapters around the U.S. They hope to make one thing clear: that women love bourbon, too.
“I’m incredibly excited to bring a branch of the prestigious Bourbon Women Association to Texas," Parkerson, the executive bourbon assistant at Garrison, said. "My goal is to continue educating women on America’s native spirit and to teach them how to enjoy it. I’m proud of the bourbon knowledge I’ve acquired over the years."
She has worn many hats at the bourbon distillery over the course of her four years there and now manages much of the behind-the-scenes at the boozy enterprise, according to Garrison. With the membership-based Bourbon Women Association, Parkerson will take on an additional role — showcasing the wonders of her favorite spirit to a group of consumers who aren't always noticed by the whiskey industry.
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Women comprised as much as 37 percent of the total whiskey drinkers in the U.S. in 2014, according to NPR, a percentage that has only been increasing in the years since then. And women might well have better olfactory centers, making us more suited to pick out all the nuances in aroma and flavor that good whiskey can have, according to experts like the newly tapped CEO of Ben Milam Whiskey, also a Hill Country distillery.
Olvera-Moreno is one of those with a keen palate. Garrison's nighttime distiller, she is the first Latina in Texas to produce bourbon "from grain to glass," according to Garrison Brothers. (Grain-to-glass is a concept signifying that Garrison makes its own distillate from grains the distillery has milled, mashed and fermented first.)
Maybe one day, women will run out of firsts to have in the whiskey industry, but in the meantime, Parkerson is just happy to spread her knowledge to everyone who wants it.
Recently, "I was speaking at an event and a man in the crowd remarked, ‘I can’t believe all this bourbon info is coming from a woman!’ I said, ‘Well, believe it, buddy. Women love bourbon too,'" she said.
To join the Texas chapter of the Bourbon Women Association, head to bourbonwomen.org. There are both individual and corporate memberships — $50 for individual, $250-$1,000 for corporate — and they will offer access to events with master distillers, chefs, bartenders and other experts.