In this mini, the biddies dive into a spirit that’s not always associated with women and talk about some of the women who have been involved in its production and sale through history to the present. We touch on the iconic red wax top of Maker’s Mark (created by a woman), the tastemaker behind a lot of whiskey creation, and Uncle Nearest’s award-winning master distiller. These biddies adore whiskey and we know it was never just for men!



Study Notes for the Women of Whiskey:

Whiskey might not commonly be associated with women, but just like every other type of booze out there, women have been a part of its history.

Some ladies:

Catherine Spears Frye Carpenter

  • Born in 1760 Virginia, moved to KY with her first husband, he died in the revolutionary war, marries again and after her second husband passes she inherited 667 acres on which she raised cattle and distilled whiskey
  • Her sour mash recipes survive to this day and can be found in the Kentucky Historical Society archives

Marge Samuels

  • In the 1950s, all whiskey basically came in the same kind of bottle, tall and clear with a slender neck
  • Her husband was a sixth-generation whiskey maker and wanted to continue the tradition – in 1953 bought his own distillery
    • It was a historic distillery that had been founded in 1805 – her husband wanted to tear down the buildings, but she insisted that he restore them all and got the distillery recognized as a historic landmark (it took 30 years)
  • Collaborated with her husband on the recipe using a red winter wheat instead of rye (selected the wheat after sampling a bunch of bread she had made)
  • She created the design for the bottle fashioned after an old cognac bottle with a signature red wax
  • She named the brand Maker’s Mark
  • The red wax helped it stand out on the shelf – others tried to copy it but couldn’t
  • Now it’s trademarked, in 2012 a court ruled that Jose Cuervo couldn’t do something similar on one of their tequila bottles
  • Maker’s Mark historic distillery became the first of many on what is now known as the Bourbon Trail

Mary Jane Blair

  • Inherited shares in a distillery her husband part-owned after his death in 1907 – bought out his partners and renamed the distillery after herself
  • Grew into a 9,000 barrel-a-year operation but was shut down in 1919 when Prohibition was passed into law

Marianne Barnes Eaves

  • Named Master Taster for Woodford Reserve when she was just 27
  • Now she is the first female master distiller since Prohibition at Castle and Key Distillery – rebuilt out of the Old Taylor Distillery
    • Makes gins from Kentucky botanicals as well as ryes
  • Recognized by Wine Enthusiast as one of America’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers

Victoria Eady Butler

  • Considers herself a constant student of the craft, notes that her path was different in that many do start as apprentices
  • Wins first ever back-to-back master blender of the year honor by Whisky Magazine in 2022
  • “It is impossible for me to put into words how significant this is to me and my family,” said Eady Butler. “Less than five years ago, almost no one knew the name Nearest Green outside of my tiny hometown of Lynchburg. Now, he is well known as the best whiskey maker the world never knew, and the undisputed Godfather of Tennessee Whiskey. To be able to add my own legacy of whiskey-making next to his, well heck – ya’ll are going to make me cry. This is truly incredible.”