KENTUCKY — In what has sometimes appeared as a boys club throughout history, the realm of bourbon aficionados is actually teeming with accomplished women.

So says the incoming president of Bourbon Women. Maggie Kimberl took the healm this month, and spoke with Spectrum News about the industry.

"Being told, 'My gosh, that’s a man’s industry. Is it uncomfortable?' It’s like, not really, because it’s not actually just a man’s industry," Kimberl remarked over a Friday Zoom interview. "There’s definitely that perception out there, but my goal, and the goal of bourbon women, is to challenge that perception and say, you know, women have actually been doing this for a really long time."

Despite having to move events online, Bourbon Women reported a 25% increase in membership and now boasts members in 30 states, as well as Canada and Australia.

"I think the industry has changed," said Andrea Wilson, Michter's Distilleries' master of maturation and a chemical engineer. "Women have always been around in this industry, but I think it’s only now that they’re really getting recognized for their contributions in the industry."

Nicole Stipp, co-owner of Trouble Bar in Louisville, agrees with Wilson and said she was pleasantly surprised to find women at every level of bourbonism when she dove into bar ownership.

"Women, you are welcome here," she said. "Even if it doesn’t feel like it from the ad you see in the newspaper or on TV, there is space for you. There are people like you."

If the hospitality industry can make it through this dark period, there are plenty of people, plenty of women, waiting to raise a glass together.