Whisky Magazine Issue 101
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Liza Weisstuch meets one of Kentucky Bourbon's first ladies
In April 2011, at a lively gathering at the Governor's mansion in Frankfort, Kentucky, tables were set up along the periphery of one of the stately, gilded rooms. At each table, a notable Kentucky chef dished out his or her signature bites. Men and women, but mostly women, mingled casually. Some wore suits, some wore cocktail dresses.
Peggy Noe Stevens seemed to know everyone, and greeted each person exuberantly. She was just as animated when, later in the afternoon, she walked up to a microphone following an introduction from Jane Beshears, First Lady of Kentucky. Framed by posh velvet drapes, she said to the assembly: “I can't believe we did this!” That event was the formal launch of Bourbon Women. Stevens is founder and president. The organisation, which has members in many major American cities, was established to provide a forum for women to learn and interact about whiskey.
As Noe can contend, women are often left out of the dialogue.
“I spent some time living in Chicago. My friends and I would go out as group, and all the women would order wine spritzers. I'd order Bourbon on the rocks, and they'd all turn their head, including the bartender,” she says. “Bourbon on the rocks, it's just a matter of fact. I'm from Kentucky; it's how I grew up. Sometimes there's an element of surprise because men don't equate whiskey to women. There's an element of surprise.” And for some reason, that element of surprise seems to stick around. Noe is a cousin of Booker Noe ...