Women and Whiskey

My name is Serena Huggard. I am five feet and seven inches tall. I have dark brown hair that falls to my mid-back, and bright blue eyes, and work in the wonderful world of whiskey. This is my rallying cry to the Women of Whiskey. 

I was born in Dublin, Ireland, and I’ve carried both the accent that comes with it, and the I-love-potatoes stereotype with me to my new home of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If you look at my hands, you’ll see that I always wear five silver rings, and if you look even closer, you may be surprised to see that my hands are just as often holding a dram of whiskey. I am Pennsylvania’s Brand Ambassador for the lovely, strong, and complex spirit that is Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey.

On any given day, I am surrounded by some of the most fearless women I know. 

And just as often as you’ll find with me, you will notice that they more likely than not also have a dram of whisk(e)y in their hand. My job allows me the unbelievable opportunity to work with top mixologists on the East Coast – many of which, I have been happy to find, are whiskey-loving women. 

I have peers who unapologetically host whisk(e)y and cigar pairings, and eagerly light up the tip of a Cuban and sip a 25-year-old dram with the best of them.  

I work with female sales representatives from our distributor partners, many of which excitedly sell top-of-the-line whiskies to the top accounts in the state. 

I see them, support them, and join them in chatting to flabbergasted male bar patrons who openly doubt that a 23-year-old sales representative could tell them more about the brown spirit in their glass than they know, and are questioned as to why they are not ordering a Vodka Soda when happy hour rolls around. 

I can sympathize with the confusion – a woman? Ordering a Tully on the rocks? She might as well be joining the Eagles in the weight room. And what do I add to the mix? 

Every day, I stand by these women in defying the stereotypes that come with all the questions a 5’7”, brown-haired, blue-eyed, silver-ring-wearing female whisk(e)y ambassador has to field. If you ask me, I’d rather be explaining the differences between a pot still and a column still than countering “are you the shot girl?” with “no, I’m the whisk(e)y ambassador”. 

Instead of feeling frustrated, though, I look at my world as one that is asking for, but seeing progress, asking for, but becoming more inclusive, and seeing more sharing of knowledge of such a complex and lovely spirit. I feel grateful. I feel inspired. I feel a call to share what I’ve learned over a dram with more and more badass women, and our male counterparts – more of which excitedly see me as their whisk(e)y-loving equal. 

And this is why I am appealing to you, readers. 

We grow up being told we can do anything we dream of doing. For some reason, that notion becomes more narrow as we get older. 

I, for one, want to flourish in the whisk(e)y industry. 

I want to keep learning. 

I want to see the amount of women in whiskey grow. 

I want to order a drink without facing an expectation of gender assigned to it. 

I want to bring whisk(e)y rocks and sparkling rosé to a party. Because I love both. And because I’m allowed to. 

I want to walk into a room as an ambassador, not as an assumed shot girl. 

And I want to share a dram with you. Because whisk(e)y is lovely, is strong, is complex – is full of character – and despite any notion of gender, so is each of us.

(Please Drink Responsibly)

- Serena Huggard

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