Bourbon Women, KDA Honor Industry Author, Champion

Award-winning author and Bourbon columnist Susan Reigler recently received the ninth annual Lois Mateus Networking Award honoring her distinguished contributions to the legacy of Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and spirits industry.

A former restaurant critic and beverage columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, Reigler is Bourbon columnist for Food & Dining and Covey Rise magazines and also writes for Bourbon+, LEO Weekly, and American Whiskey Magazine. 

Reigler accepted the award recently at the Bourbon Women SIPosium Welcome Dinner at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville. 

Bourbon Women Founder Peggy Noe Stevens and KDA Director of Industry Responsibility and Sustainability Sara Barnes presented Reigler with crystal decanter to commemorate her notable work preserving and elevating the legacy of Kentucky’s Bourbon heritage.

“Susan Reigler is a true Bourbon authority,” Stevens said. “Not only has she authored countless  books and is a well-respected whiskey writer, but she is graciously generous with her time and talent.  She has volunteered and networked with people all across the country to help build our Bourbon Women message.  

“She is a true symbol of our mission in the industry, and we are elated that she has received this prestigious award from the KDA.”

Reigler has authored or co-authored six books including Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel GuideThe Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail BookThe Bourbon Tasting Notebook, and The American Whiskey Tasting Notebook, and Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon? – Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinner, and Cocktail Parties

A graduate of Indiana and Oxford Universities, Reigler has served as president of both the Bourbon Women Association and the Kentucky chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, an organization of women culinary professionals.

In 2019, she was recognized by industry leaders with an induction into the prestigious Order of the Writ, a fraternal and charitable organization that embraces the spirit of Kentucky Bourbon education, responsibility, environmental stewardship, history, scholarship and an unwavering commitment to the furtherance of America’s spirit.

KDA President Eric Gregory said Reigler’s generous knowledge, wit and dry humor make her a favorite educator and consultant among Bourbon fans and Bourbon makers alike.

“Susan has spent her decades-long career elevating the integrity of Kentucky’s Bourbon heritage through scholarship and literary enterprise.” Gregory said. “It is our distinct honor to present her with this year’s Lois Mateus award.”

The award is named for Lois Mateus, retired Senior Vice President of Brown-Forman, Inc., and the first woman ever to serve on the KDA Board. Her two-year term in 1992 paved the way for other women in high-ranking roles throughout Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry. 

“To be given this award, named in honor of one of the true pioneers and mentors of women in the Bourbon industry, is truly an honor,” Reigler said. “It’s also a reminder of the responsibility those of us in a position to do so have to continue nurturing talented women who can contribute so much to Kentucky’s and America’s native spirit.”

The award is given annually by Bourbon Women in conjunction with the KDA based on the following criteria for a woman who has:  

  • Excelled in her profession by continuously building key relationships to contribute to the growth in her respective industry
  • Broken through barriers to grow her career
  • Contributed to the community through service and philanthropy
  • Increased exposure for other women to grow their networking and career opportunities
  • Developed creative partnerships and strategic alliances to further the growth of her respective industry
  • Become a role model for female professionalism

Bourbon Women is the premier organization for women who are passionate about exploring Bourbon and the culture that surrounds it. 

Designed exclusively for educational, networking and charitable purposes, Bourbon Women’s fast-growing membership is made up of women from over 39 states and continues to grow beyond their 16 branches across the country. 

Since its inception, the Bourbon Women Association has inspired books on women in the industry, nurtures partnerships with key industry associations, created the only women-focused Bourbon conference – now in its 8th year –  and continues to raise money for philanthropies through their curated, unique, high-quality events. 

Bourbon Women from around the country come together once a year for their annual Bourbon Women SIPosium. This year’s event was held in Louisville and featured 13 distillery excursions, 17 seminars by industry leaders in the Bourbon industry, keynotes, and networking receptions featuring Kentucky Bourbon, hand-crafted cocktails and delicious local fare. 

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