Drinking club blends bourbon and 'badass' women

Posted at 10:18 AM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 13:46:08-05

CINCINNATI -- What happens when four women team up to start a social drinking club?

You end up with a group of self-described “badass women,” called The 51%, who make up “bourbon’s better half,” according to Northern Kentucky resident Teri Heist.

Teri Heist, far right, stands next to Greg Lehman, co-founder of Watershed Distillery in Columbus, Ohio and another member of The 51% during a tasting in December.

Heist, along with friends Maggie Brennan, Nicole Gunderman and Cheryl Besl, formed the all-women’s club last winter with a desire to expand their bourbon knowledge and meet other women with a similar interest. They chose the name because it reflects what they are about: Women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population. It is also the percentage of corn necessary in the mix that makes bourbon.

“We aren’t diehards,” Heist said of the group’s focus on the spirit. “Bourbon was our drink of choice and something we wanted to learn more about.” 

RELATED: Craft bourbon, whiskeys, rum make big return to region

The 51% logo

A year later, the group regularly attracts 30 to 40 women to organized outings, such as a recent tour of craft distiller Second Sight Spirits followed by an Old Forest bourbon tasting at the Folk School Coffee Parlor in Ludlow, Kentucky. The group plans to host three or four bigger events later this year. Most gatherings are announced through The 51% Facebook page.

Jennifer Morales, of Kenwood, was introduced to The 51% through her sister a few months ago. She has attended multiple gatherings and found a new favorite bourbon, Widow Jane, which is distilled in New York.

The group’s appeal extends beyond bourbon, though, she said.

“I’m a lawyer, so I feel like I am meeting lawyers most of the time,” Morales said. Being in the group lets her mingle with teachers and other professionals. “The other thing that I really like is that it is as fun as it is.”

She invited two lawyer friends to join The 51% before its next event, a Leap Day Sadie Hawkins Mixer at the Horse & Barrel Downtown.

Heist said the group’s growth has been a pleasant surprise.

“We kind of jumped right into it,” she said. "We didn’t know what to expect, but this is perfect.”

The 51%
Up next: Leap Day Sadie Hawkins Mixer