Bourbon Women Announces Finalists for Inaugural Women of Whiskey Awards

Bourbon Women is thrilled to unveil the esteemed finalists for the inaugural WOW (Women of Whiskey) Awards, presented in collaboration with the Bourbon Women Foundation. The highly anticipated award ceremony will take place during the Bourbon Women SIPosium on Friday, August 25, 2023, where industry leaders and supporters will gather to celebrate and honor the outstanding women making remarkable strides in the whiskey industry.

The WOW Awards proudly recognize exceptional women who have exhibited exemplary leadership, fostering opportunities for connection and community within the whiskey industry. As a pioneer in supporting female bourbon enthusiasts, Bourbon Women is the first female whiskey consumer group in the nation and takes immense pride in presenting the WOW Awards as the next chapter in their commitment to honoring the achievements of women in spirits.

After a rigorous selection process, Bourbon Women is proud to present the finalists for each of the 2023 award categories:

  • Legacy Achievement Award: Rebecca Harris (Founder, Chief Distiller, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.), Marcia Likarish (The Mother of Texas Whiskey, Distillery Manager, Ironroot Republic)
  • Master Distiller/Production Manager of the Year: Alex Castle (Master Distiller and Senior Vice President, Old Dominick), Melinda Maddox (Head of Production, Old Elk Distillery)
  • Master Blender of the Year: Amanda Beckwith (Lead Blender & Education Manager, Virginia Distilling Company), Heather Greene (Master Distiller, Founder and CEO, Milam & Greene Whiskey)
  • Brand Ambassador of the Year: Valerie Colella (Single Barrel Specialist and National Ambassador, Castle & Key), Angel Teta (National Guardian of Advocacy & Brand Culture, Angel’s Envy)
  • Woman-Owned Brand of the Year: Heaven Hill Brands, Virginia Distillery Co.
  • Bartender of the Year: Tiffanie Barriere (The Drinking Coach), Ingrid Folkers (Whiskey Kitchen)
  • Spirits Influencer/Podcaster of the Year: Sara Ahlgrim (It’s Bourbon Night), Mackenzie Hanes (Basement Rickhouse)
  • Spirits Writer of the Year: Pheobe Calver (Editor, American Whiskey Magazine), Margarett Waterbury (Editor, Distiller Magazine)
  • Spirits-Diversity Program of the Year: Beam-Suntory, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey
  • Mike Keyes Champion/Ally of the year: Emma Hutchens (Chief of Human Resources, Heaven Hill Brands), Alan Laws (President and Founder, Laws Whiskey House)

Finalists were nominated by their companies, their peers and their communities as they have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence in their craft, making invaluable contributions to the whiskey industry. They embody the essence of innovation and dedication that inspires and uplifts others in the field.

Heather Wibbels, Managing Director of Bourbon Women, expressed her enthusiasm about the finalists, stating, “Through the WOW (Women of Whiskey) Awards, Bourbon Women continues to celebrate the extraordinary women who are shaping the whiskey industry with their unwavering passion, leadership, and dedication. These exceptional finalists represent the trailblazers and visionaries in our field, inspiring a new generation of women to thrive in this dynamic and historically male-dominated industry.”

The finalists will be invited to attend the WOW Awards ceremony as special guests of Bourbon Women during the annual Bourbon Women SIPosium Conference with four hundred women in attendance. Their accomplishments have made a profound impact on the industry and serve as an inspiration to all. Supporters in the industry and bourbon enthusiasts are invited to join Bourbon Women to celebrate these amazing women.

During the event, the Kentucky Distillers Association will also present the long-standing Lois Mateus Award Networking Award to recognize the importance of connection and networking in the industry.

The Bourbon Women team extends its heartfelt congratulations to all the finalists for their remarkable achievements. The WOW Awards continue to build on Bourbon Women’s commitment empowering and celebrating the achievements of women in the industry.

For more information on the WOW Awards and to explore the list of finalists, please visit the Bourbon Women/WOW Awards website at

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