Whiskey is often seen as a man’s drink, but a group of women gathered in the 7220 Lounge of the Holiday Inn earlier this month don’t see it that way.
Bar manager Lynn Montoya welcomed her guests — a mixed bag of novices and seasoned drinkers, both young and old and everywhere in between — gathered to learn about the hard liquor seldom marketed to their sex.
Montoya held a bottle of Wyo Rodeo whiskey for all to see, explaining the Canadian blended whiskey came from the Big Horn Distillery in Sheridan.
“It’s going to be a little lighter, a little sweeter, and mixes well with everything,” she said. “You can mix it with Coke or Pepsi product or over ice, neat. It’s just an easy-drinking whiskey.”
Women Who Whiskey is a monthly get-together for women who enjoy — or want to learn about — the potent, distilled beverage.
Founded by New Yorker Julia Toffoli, Women Who Whiskey has chapters in major cities around the country and world, but until now, had no chapters in Wyoming.
Montoya wanted to change that, and with permission from the Holiday Inn management, she hosted the first meeting early in June.
“It’s kind of been maybe somewhat of a taboo drink for women,” she said. “I think women are expected to drink wines or spritzers or fancy little frou-frou drinks, and not really be seen as someone who drinks whiskey, since it has traditionally been a man’s drink.”
She said she wanted to create a club where women could network, make friends and attack that stigma that drinking whiskey is ‘un-ladylike.’
“What I found is that most of the women who came were definite whiskey-drinkers and were very familiar with different brands and different types of whiskey,” Montoya said.
“So, that just kind of proved to me that there are women in every community who drink whiskey.”
Shelby Wakefield, who moved to Laramie just two weeks before the first meeting to start a chemistry Ph.D., said she appreciated the opportunity to meet people.
“This is an opportunity for me to get out of the lab for a little while and not think about work,” she said.
Her friend, longtime Laramie resident Jane Thomas, said it was good to find like-minded women.
“You get really fed up with what I call the frou-frou drinks,” she said. “So, it’s nice to find women who do this, too.”
The women also tried Wyoming Whiskey, which Montoya described as a sipping whiskey, best served neat or on the rocks.
“Wyoming Whiskey, from Kirby, is a little more complex whiskey and you’re going to get the flavors from the region,” she said. “So, their mash is all locally sourced. So, you’re going to have more complex taste because it’s not blended.”
Up next was Bulleit 95 Rye, a complex old-style whiskey.
“You’re going to make your Old Fashioneds, your Manhattans with that type of whiskey because those two drinks, for instance, don’t have a mixer in it,” Montoya said. “So, it doesn’t have a coke or soda water or anything like that. It’s the pure whiskey with either a vermouth or a fruit.”
This education in the way of whiskey will continue as a monthly gathering, which women from across Laramie are invited to take part in.
Women Who Whiskey meets from 6-8 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. The tasting is free to attend. Call the Holiday Inn at 721-9000 for more information.