Women Who Whiskey is an experimental whiskey club for women.
Both for amateurs and connoisseurs, Women Who Whiskey gives our members the opportunity to learn about varieties of whiskeys and cocktail culture, and to join a network of like-minded women with a taste for curiosity and strong drinks. We host events in different venues around our chapter cities, where members can try new spirits, discuss mixology with seasoned bartenders, and enjoy the company of other whiskey-loving ladies.
Visit our Chapters Page to learn more about our two dozen chapters across the world!
You must be 21 or older to join.
History & Philosophy
With an Italian father and French mother I was raised around wine — with the occasional glass of Prosecco or Champagne — rather than around whiskey. In fact, I didn't really drink whiskey until college, where at McGill (in Montreal), Rye & Gingers were all the rage. Needless to say, I drank a lot of whiskey (and whisky). At that age it was more about quantity over quality, but I did start to get a taste for more than just rail liquor and mixer. I explored Canadian Club, Seagram's, and other Canadian classics, eventually enjoying them neat.
After college I moved to Europe - first Rome, then Madrid — where there wasn't much Rye or Bourbon. So I started dabbling in Scotch. Because there was no real bar scene or whiskey cocktail culture to speak of, my dabbles were more about having a glass at home now and then. The selections available weren't enormous, but thankfully there was enough wine in Europe to keep me happy.
When I moved to New York for graduate school in 2010, I was thrilled to be back to a nightlife starring whiskey. And I started noticing more and more women around me drinking it! Among groups of new friends ordering Vodka Tonics and Cosmos there would always be at least one girl getting an Old Fashioned or a Rye on the rocks. Even without knowing her, I felt her kindred spirit, and chats about whiskey became a welcome ice breaker in a nascent social circle.
This led to countless chats where we shared all the times that our ordering whiskey had raised eyebrows. Eventually I reached a critical mass of conversations about how ridiculous it was that whiskey was still "a man's drink," and that we deserved ownership too.
We were tired of hearing, "Whoa, that's a strong drink for a little lady! Sure you can handle it?"
I thought that if we all had these tastes and opinions in common we would probably have other things in common, too, and what better place to make new friends than over a drink?
And thus, Women Who Whiskey was born.
At first our events started out small, infrequent, and irregular. I'd get a hankering for a good Manhattan, pick a bar, throw together a Facebook event, and a couple of days later a handful of girls would show up for drinks on a random Thursday.
But then the idea started getting popular — both with the members, and with the venues and bartenders, who were thrilled to have large groups of patrons, drinking generously without behaving badly, and showing an interest in the whiskeys and mixology.
I started calling ahead, making reservations, and sometimes deals with the venues: anything from special happy hour prices, or free drinks for a guaranteed number of people, to free tastings with a distiller, to theme parties, and even "Gentlemen Editions."
Up to this point attendees were still mostly people I knew directly, such as classmates, friends, and other acquaintances. But I started to publicize events on social media, and the club started to grow. Instead of just a few girlfriends getting together for drinks, I started doing bigger events, with new people, and more promotion.
Around that time, we lost a couple of our founding members to jobs in other cities. Rather than look for similar women's whiskey clubs in their new cities, they decided to bring Women Who Whiskey with them. We started with a chapter in Washington D.C. in 2013, soon followed by one in Portland, OR. Now we have six chapters outside of New York — four in the U.S., one in Europe, and one in Africa — with two more on the way (in London and Toronto).
One of the things that makes Women Who Whiskey special is that it's for everyone. As long as you're interested in whiskey and you're a woman, you're in. You don't even need to love whiskey yet, as long as you're open minded about trying it. There's no formal membership, no fees, and no mandatory attendance. Sometimes events will be more focused - maybe a curated tasting or a History of Scotch class - but often it'll just be a few of us unwinding after a hard week with a stiff drink. We might not even talk about whiskey all night, as long as we're enjoying it. What ties it together is the social factor, and women getting comfortable in an area traditionally dominated by men.
Another element that makes Women Who Whiskey unique is that although it is a club for women, and most of our events are women only, we do have regular "Gentlemen Edition" events, in which the ladies can invite guy friends and significant others to join. Not only does this inject a little variety into our events, but I think it works toward growing the space for women in the "man's world" of whiskey. By socializing and drinking whiskey together, we're normalizing it as something that's a matter of taste more than a matter of gender.
As the club continues to grow and evolve, our events may draw a bigger crowd and forge different kinds of relationships among members and with venues. But I'll endeavor to never lose the spirit with which it started: women getting together over a whiskey.
Julia Ritz Toffoli,
Founder & Principal