Tennessee’s Leading Ladies of Whiskey

Over the years the world of whiskey has witnessed an incredible change. Once thought of as an exclusive place for men, it now sees a growing presence of influential women who are shaping the industry. These women are not only passionate consumers but also trailblazers, creators, and leaders in the industry. From distillers to brand ambassadors, they have shattered stereotypes and have made significant contributions to the whiskey landscape. Let’s take a few minutes to get to know some of the most incredible women of whiskey.

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Alex Castle: Senior Vice President & Master Distiller – Old Dominick Distillery

Meet Tennessee’s first female Master Distiller, Alex Castle. She is the Senior Vice President & Master Distiller at Old Dominick Distillery and is a visionary force shaping the landscape of modern distillation. With a background in chemical engineering, Castle brings both technical expertise and creative flair to her craft. She infuses each expression with her signature style and expertise. Her journey, from stints at Kentucky distilleries like Town Branch and Wild Turkey to her current role at Old Dominick in Memphis, showcases not just her exceptional skill, but also her steadfast commitment to the craft. Under Castle’s leadership, Old Dominick Distillery has flourished by producing award-winning whiskies and spirits that resonate with enthusiasts from all over. 

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Victoria Eady Butler: Master Blender – Nearest Green Distillery

Victoria, a descendant of Nathan “Nearest” Green, an influential figure in American whiskey history and has become a beacon of excellence in the ever-growing world of whiskey. Nearest Green, her great, great, grandfather, was an enslaved man who was later emancipated, taught a young orphan boy by the name of Jack Daniel the art of spirit making. Today, Victoria and her brand, Uncle Nearest, honor her great, great, grandfathers’ legacy with the distilleries three flagship expressions.

  • Uncle Nearest 1820: Named for the year that’s Nearest Green was likely born, this single-barrel whiskey pays homage to his enduring impact.
  • Uncle Nearest 1856: This premier aged whiskey celebrates the year that Nearest Green mastered the Lincoln County process.
  • Uncle Nearest 1884: Believed to be the last year that Nearest Green first put his whiskey in a barrel.

Under Victoria’s guidance, Uncle Nearest has soared to unprecedented heights. In 2021, Whisky Magazine named her Master Blender of the Year, recognizing her exceptional talent and dedication. She is the first known Black female master whiskey blender in history, breaking barriers and leaving an indelible mark on the industry. As Uncle Nearest continues to thrive, Victoria’s vision ensures that Nearest Green’s legacy lives on.

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Nicole Austin: General Manager & Distiller – George Dickel

With a background in chemical engineering, Nicole’s journey to the world of whiskey wasn’t always a straight path. From mopping floors to delivering cases of whiskey, her determination, expertise, and passion for whiskey had led her to the heart of Tennessee, where she now oversees the legacy of George Dickel at Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. Under Nicole’s guidance, George Dickel continues to shine. Notably, George Dickel Bottled in Bond won both Whiskey of the Year in 2005 from Whisky Advocate and Best Buy in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Spirits of 2019. These accolades marked a proud moment for Nicole, showcasing her talent and dedication to her craft. 

Nicole’s role extends beyond managing operations; she’s a steward of tradition. George Dickel, founded by German immigrant George A. Dickel, has a legacy over 140 years of producing exceptional Tennessee whiskey. Nicole ensures that this legacy thrives while igniting innovation for the brand and future spirits under the Cascade Hollow umbrella.

Tiana Saul: Master Distiller – Chattanooga Whiskey

Saul embarked on her journey with Chattanooga Whiskey in 2015, initially serving as the Assistant Manager at the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery. In 2017, she transitioned to the production team and throughout the next four years she delved into nearly every facet of the production process. In 2018, Saul redirected her focus towards new product development, crafting a diverse range of expressions such as barrel-aged gins and infused liqueurs. Her contributions were instrumental in elevating Chattanooga Whiskey’s Experimental Single Batch Series to prominence within the industry. Saul’s amazing blending skills played a pivotal role in shaping two highly acclaimed expressions: the Chattanooga Whiskey Finishing Series and the Bottled in Bond Vintage Series.

The remarkable journey of all of these women not only exemplifies their individual talent and dedication but also underscores the growing presence and influence of women in the whiskey industry. As more women like these take on pivotal roles in distilleries and contribute their expertise to crafting exceptional spirits, they continue to challenge stereotypes and shape the future of whiskey production. Their contributions enrich the industry, bringing diverse perspectives and innovative approaches to traditional practices, ultimately enhancing the quality and creativity of whiskey for enthusiasts worldwide.

There are many more female distillers not just in Tennessee, but also throughout the entire country. If you’re interested in discovering more about these remarkable women of whiskey, feel free to drop a comment below. Additionally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. You know I love conversation and will reply to you. As always, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Until the next Whiskey Wednesday, if you’re going to enjoy a little smoke & oak just remember, “Life’s too short, enjoy the good stuff…” and do it responsibly!

Charles Ruth

Charles Ruth

I am the husband of an amazing woman who shares my love for cigars and the father to 3 wonderful kids. I am the president of the Tri-Star Herf Crew. A social cigar club based in Tennessee with family all around the country. I grew up in Kentucky where I fell in love with the taste and history of Bourbon and American whiskey. I applied for the review position at CP when it first started and was reviewer number 4. I love sharing my love, thoughts, feeling, and knowledge of cigars and Bourbon with all our readers.