We are pleased to announce nominations are open for the second year of Bourbon Women’s WOW (Women of Whiskey) Awards. These awards recognize and celebrate the women in the industry who are leaders in their craft, providing opportunities for connection and community in the spirits industry, who uplift and develop the women and underrepresented members of their team, and who represent the very best of the talented women in the whiskey industry.

Bourbon Women, the first female-focused bourbon consumer organization and the first group to hold a National conference of female bourbon consumers (BW annual SIPosium conference for women) will now originate the first awards program focused on celebrating women in the whiskey industry.

The award criteria are designed to be rigorous in helping the judging panel evaluate the individual not only on her own merit but also on how she is changing the role of women and under-represented communities in the industry, how she uplifts others, leads and connects people throughout the industry to make the spirits community stronger. For this reason, we are asking for letters of recommendation for many of the awards, both from within and outside of their companies. The judging panel expects a demonstration of each judging criterion to be addressed by the letters and supporting information.

Finalists will be invited to join Bourbon Women in Louisville, KY on August 16th, 2024 for an in-person awards ceremony during the Bourbon Women SIPosium National Conference. Tickets will go on sale in June.

Please read this post in its entirety before submitting an application via Google Form here: WOW Awards Nomination Form Nominations close May 31st, 2024 at midnight PT. If you have difficulty with the google form, please email us your materials at info@bourbonwomen.org or heather.wibbels@bourbonwomen.org

 

The Nomination Process

Each year, Bourbon Women opens nominations for 4 weeks for companies, communities, establishments, media companies, and groups to nominate women they feel represent the top movers and shakers in the industry.  During those weeks, information should be submitted with specific examples of how the nominations meet the specific criteria for each WOW award type. The nomination process is simple and easy for individuals. It just requires just a resume/CV and three letters of recommendation.

For individuals, we ask for

  • Their LinkedIn profile or CV/resume
  • At least three letters of recommendation that denote specific examples of the judging criteria for that particular award (instead of written letters, a video testimonial of 4 minutes or less can be submitted, but must address the candidate’s specific actions demonstrating the judging criteria for the selected award)
    • One from their company
    • One from a peer/colleague in the industry
    • One from the community

For company, brand, or program awards, we ask for

  • Links to information about the program or initiative
  • Supporting information about the brand specific to the award category
  • Letters of recommendation where needed (see above note about video recommendations with specific examples as an alternative to a written recommendation letter.)

The entry fee varies based on the size of the company and can be waived in cases of extremely small companies, establishments or individuals.

Nominations are due My 31st 2024 at midnight PT.

In order to support the selection process, Bourbon Women requests a nominal judging fee. Bourbon Women applies a promotional discount for our corporate partners of $50 per application. Submission Fee:

  • Heritage Brands: $200 non-member/$150 corporate member
  • Craft Brands: $100 non-member/$50 corporate member
  • Media/Restaurant/Other/Individual can request a waiver

 

The Judging Process

Once nominations are closed, a small group of industry experts will judge the applications with a scoring rubric based on how well the individual’s submitted information displays the criteria for that award. Most of the industry experts remain consistent throughout all of the award selection with one position rotating based on the specialty of that award. For example, the final judge for Bartender of the Year would be a woman with a background in bartending and mixology. The judges will remain anonymous and are not influenced by the companies and brands that support Bourbon Women, the Bourbon Women Foundation, or the WOW awards.

During the selection process, 2 finalists will be selected for each category. The finalists will be invited to appear in person as a special guest of Bourbon Women at the WOW awards at the Bourbon Women SIPosium on Friday, August 16th, 2024. We encourage all candidates and finalists to attend the WOW awards dinner where industry professionals and consumers alike will gather to recognize and celebrate women in the whiskey industry at this one-of-a-kind event. Tickets will be available once the finalists have been selected.

The following is a list of the 10 awards for this year, with the expectation that these categories may be expanded as the WOW awards recognize all of the important ways and roles that women are changing and shaping the whiskey industry:

 

Master Distiller/Production Manager of the Year

Criteria: Leadership, team development, innovation, problem-solving, teamwork

Leadership – inspires and empowers their team to perform to the best of their ability, to work together towards a common goal, and provides strategic vision to propel the company forward.

Team Development – successful in developing the team that works under her and with her. Challenging individuals professionally, celebrating their successes publicly and mentoring individuals and teams in areas that need professional development.

Innovation – creates new products, methods, initiatives, and programs to meet the changing needs of the market and communities in which they live and work.

Problem-Solving – facile in identifying, analyzing, and solving complex problems by developing practical and creative solutions.

Teamwork – collaborate effectively with a common goal or objective using strong interpersonal and communication skills while maintaining positive relationships with team members.

  • Minimum 3 years in the role
  • Minimum 5 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Letters of recommendation from the company, industry peer, and community

Master Blender of the Year

Criteria: Ingenuity, sensory awareness, creativity, product focus, market awareness

Ingenuity – the ability to create new, creative ideas and apply them in practical ways. It’s also the ability to think outside the box to create products and expressions that address market needs while taking into account brand resources to create products that whiskey drinkers will celebrate.

Sensory awareness – displays a keen sensitivity to all sensory aspects of whiskey and is a resource for the education of others on her team and in the spirits community. Uses that knowledge to drive quality and process improvements for the brand.

Creativity – generates innovative, valuable ideas and solutions with a capacity for divergent thinking, risk-taking, and problem-solving. Open to new opportunities and energized by changing circumstances.

Product focus – a deep and nuanced understanding of their products, features, and competitive advantages, that they can use both in the development of new products and to tweak existing products to move toward qualities high in demand in the market. That focus drives innovation and implementation of new products.

Market awareness – a deep connection with market trends, competitive dynamics, customer preferences, and regulatory requirements, all of which are used to refine existing products, adjust current expressions, and plan for long-term viability and success in the market.

  • Minimum 2 years in the role
  • Minimum 5 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Letters of recommendation from the company, industry peer, and community

Woman-Owned Company/Brand of the Year

Criteria: Vision, Entrepreneurship, Quality, Advocacy, Execution

Vision – clarity of its long-term goals and aspirations. It considers how well the brand has defined its unique identity, purpose, and positioning within the whiskey industry, demonstrating the ability to set a clear direction and inspire others within the industry.

Entrepreneurship – the brand’s ability to identify and seize market opportunities, effectively manage resources, demonstrate innovation and adaptability, and drive sustainable growth. Successful entrepreneurship showcases the brand’s ability to navigate challenges and create a competitive edge.

Quality – commitment to producing exceptional whiskey of the highest quality. It considers factors such as the sourcing and selection of ingredients, the distillation and maturation processes, and the consistency and excellence of the final product.

Advocacy – efforts to promote diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility within the whiskey industry. It assesses initiatives and actions taken to advance equity, support underrepresented groups, and contribute positively to the community. Advocacy showcases a brand’s dedication to making a meaningful impact beyond its core business.

Execution – ability to translate its vision and entrepreneurship into tangible outcomes and market success. It considers factors such as brand management, marketing and communication efforts, sales performance, customer engagement, and overall operational excellence.

  • Minimum 3-year-old business
  • Year founded/established and established that it is women-owned
  • Number of countries and continents of distribution or operation
  • Brand History – Major milestones (max 500 words)
  • Brand Achievements – Major milestones and achievements (max 500 words)
  • Campaigns and Awards – List notable campaigns and awards won (max 500 words)
  • Community initiatives/cultural impact (max 500 words)

Brand Ambassador of the Year

Criteria: Communication, passion, creativity, connection, network, knowledge

Communication – effectively conveys the brand’s message to diverse stakeholders. A successful candidate should demonstrate clear, concise communication, adaptability to different audiences, and a track record of building brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Passion – enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment to advancing the brand’s mission. A successful candidate should demonstrate a deep love for the craft, an unyielding drive to create exceptional products, and a proven ability to inspire others

Creativity – generates innovative, valuable ideas and solutions with a capacity for divergent thinking, risk-taking, and problem-solving. Open to new opportunities and energized by changing circumstances.

Connection – demonstrates excellent interpersonal skills, a talent for building and nurturing partnerships with consumers and industry both, and a proven ability to leverage their connections to drive brand growth and success.

Network – demonstrates a wide range of industry connections, a talent for identifying and pursuing new opportunities, and a track record of leveraging their network to drive brand growth and success. They should also have a reputation for being well-connected and respected within the industry.

Knowledge – a comprehensive understanding of the brand’s history, production process, ingredients, and market trends, ability to apply that knowledge to effectively communicate the brand’s story to consumers, trade partners, and other stakeholders. They should also have a passion for continuous learning.

  • Minimum 1 year in the role
  • Minimum 3 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Letters of recommendation from the company, industry peer, and community

Spirits Writer of the Year

Criteria: curiosity, communication, professionalism, integrity, creativity

Communication – clear, concise communication, adaptability to different audiences, and a track record of engaging readers and fostering their appreciation for the nuances of the whiskey industry through their writing.

Creativity – generates innovative, valuable ideas to communicate and educate about whiskey. Open to new opportunities and energized by changing circumstances to investigate and present whiskey information in new and compelling ways.

Professionalism – .demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their writing and a track record of maintaining a professional demeanor in all aspects of their work

Integrity – honesty, transparency, and a commitment to accuracy in all aspects of their work. Also, demonstrates a strong ethical compass and a track record of upholding the highest standards of integrity in their writing and interactions with industry professionals and readers.

Knowledge – a comprehensive understanding of the whiskey’s history, production process, ingredients, and market trends, ability to apply that knowledge to effectively communicate with consumers, trade partners, and other stakeholders. They should also have a passion for continuous learning.

  • Minimum 5 years in the role
  • Minimum 5 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Letter of recommendation from the company, industry peer, and community
  • Company, publication, or media outlet

Spirits Influencer/Podcaster of the Year

Criteria: Creativity, Production, Digital Engagement, Authenticity, Community-Engagement

Creativity – generates innovative, valuable ideas to communicate and educate about whiskey. Open to new opportunities and energized by changing circumstances to investigate and present whiskey information in new and compelling ways.

Production – creates high-quality audio or visual content that educates and entertains their audience about whiskey. This includes the ability to craft engaging narratives, use quality equipment and tools, and consistently deliver value to their followers.

Digital Engagement – strong understanding of social media platforms and other digital channels to effectively engage with their audience, build a community, and cultivate a loyal following through strategic and authentic interactions.

Authenticity – demonstrate a genuine passion for the industry and possess a deep knowledge of whiskey, while also maintaining a transparent and honest approach in their content and interactions with their audience.

Community Engagement – understanding and appreciation of their audience, actively seeking out and responding to feedback, and engaging in initiatives that support the community in which they operate. They should also have a track record of fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity within their audience.

  • Minimum 2 years in the role
  • Minimum 3 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Links to social channels or podcasts including links to 3 content pieces/podcasts
  • Letter of recommendation from the company, industry peer, and community
  • Company, publication, or media outlet

Bartender of the Year

Criteria: hospitality, mixology expertise, problem-solver, inclusivity, organization

Hospitality – warm and welcoming, treating all customers with equal respect and enthusiasm. They create an inviting atmosphere that makes customers want to return time and time.

Mixology expertise – deep understanding of mixology, creating cocktails that are both innovative and perfectly balanced. They are well-versed in the classics and always experimenting with new techniques and ingredients.

Problem-solving – able to troubleshoot any issue that arises, from a difficult customer to a broken piece of equipment. They handle these challenges with professionalism, keeping their cool under pressure.

Inclusivity – makes everyone feel welcome and comfortable, regardless of their background or identity. They take care to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

Organization – highly organized, keeping track of orders, inventory, and customer preferences with ease. They create a seamless experience for customers, always anticipating their needs and providing exceptional service.

  • Minimum 2 years in the role
  • Minimum 3 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Letter of recommendation from the company, industry peer, and community

Mike Keyes Ally of the Year

Criteria: Mentorship, Advocacy, Empowerment, Development, Education

Mentorship: demonstrates a commitment to supporting and guiding women at all stages of their careers.

Advocacy: a vocal and proactive advocate for women’s rights, consistently using their platform to raise awareness of issues affecting women in the spirit and pushing for change.

Empowerment: identify opportunities for women to grow and develop professionally and personally, provide resources and support to help them achieve their goals, and create an inclusive and supportive environment where women feel empowered to succeed. They work to ensure that women’s voices are heard and valued in the workplace.

Development: provides women with the tools and resources they need to succeed and grow within the industry, creating an inclusive workplace where women can thrive. They prioritize training, mentoring, and networking opportunities for women.

Education: A standout advocate for women in the whiskey industry is dedicated to educating others about the importance of diversity and inclusion, sharing their knowledge and experience to inspire change and promote progress

  • Minimum 5 years advocating for women
  • Minimum 5 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Letter of recommendation from the company, industry peer, and community

Legacy Achievement Award

Criteria: Innovation, leadership, inclusivity, impact, excellence

Innovation: having a pioneering spirit, having pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the whiskey industry. Their unique and innovative contributions should have left a lasting impact on the role of women and diversity in the industry, inspiring others to think creatively and take risks.

Leadership: acknowledged as a visionary leader who has set a high bar for others to follow. They have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities that have enabled them to inspire and motivate others to achieve their full potential, leaving a positive and lasting impact on the whiskey industry.

Inclusivity: celebrated for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity within the whiskey industry. They have shown an unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive and welcoming community, opening doors for those who have traditionally been underrepresented.

Impact: recognized for the significant impact they have had on the whiskey industry. Through their work and contributions, they have changed the course of the industry’s history, leaving a lasting legacy that will continue to shape the industry for years to come.

Excellence: an unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of the whiskey industry. They have set themselves apart by their dedication to quality, craftsmanship, and attention to detail, raising the bar for others and leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

  • Contributions to industry, contributions to inclusivity and diversity, development of women in the industry, contributions to knowledge in the industry, commitment to excellence
  • Minimum 7 years in leadership or development roles
  • Minimum 10 years in the spirits industry
  • Resume/CV/LinkedIn Profile
  • Letters of recommendation
    1 from the company
    2 from industry peers
    2 from Community

Spirits Diversity Program of the Year

Criteria: Innovation, Leadership, Inclusivity, Impact, Excellence

Impact: recognized for the significant impact they have had on the whiskey industry. Through their work and contributions, they have changed the course of the industry’s history, leaving a lasting legacy that will continue to shape the industry for years to come.

Champion:  a skilled practitioner and an advocate for their profession or cause. They use their platform and influence to champion the rights and interests of others, driving positive change and making a difference in the lives of individuals or communities. They inspire and motivate others, fostering collaboration, innovation, and growth within their industry.

Collaboration: organizations that have demonstrated exceptional collaboration skills, fostering partnerships, and working collectively to achieve shared goals.  They show a commitment to teamwork, effective communication, and the ability to leverage diverse perspectives, resulting in impactful and successful collaborations within the whiskey industry.

Diversity: demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the whiskey industry. Celebrates those who have actively embraced and celebrated diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, fostering a more inclusive and equitable environment. Their efforts have contributed to a richer and more vibrant industry that values and appreciates the power of diversity.

Inclusivity: celebrated for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity within the whiskey industry. They have shown an unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive and welcoming community, opening doors for those who have traditionally been underrepresented.

Innovation: having a pioneering spirit, having pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the whiskey industry. Their unique and innovative contributions should have left a lasting impact on the role of women and diversity in the industry, inspiring others to think creatively and take risks.

  • Minimum 2 years program age
  • Link to the program’s website and social channels
  • Document the program’s impact in 500 words or less
  • Document how it champions diversity in 500 words or less
  • Document how it embodies collaboration in 500 words or less
  • Document how it increases inclusion in 500 words or less
  • Document how it increases innovation in 500 words or less
  • Letters of recommendation from an industry peer and a member of the community

 

Head to the WOW Award Nomination form here: https://forms.gle/6w42xR8xaTrKzuAQ6

In order to support the selection process, Bourbon Women requests a nominal judging fee. Bourbon Women applies a promotional discount for our corporate partners of $50 per application. Submission Fee:

  • Heritage Brands: $200 non-member/$150 corporate member
  • Craft Brands: $100 non-member/$50 corporate member
  • Media/Restaurant/Other/Individual can request a waiver

 

If you have any questions about the process or difficulties using the form, please email info@bourbonwomen.org.

 

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