Queers Changing the Name of Kentucky Spirits

By Spencer Jenkins


Brown-Forman's oldest bourbon brand, Old Forester, has recently made history by crowning Melissa Rift as its latest master taster and brand ambassador. As an openly gay woman, Melissa has shattered glass ceilings and broken down barriers for the LGBTQ+ community in the bourbon industry. Her appointment serves as a meaningful reminder of the importance of inclusivity and diversity within any industry.

Tasked with the role of master taster, Rift has been entrusted with selecting barrels for special releases and barrel picks. This is an important responsibility, as the quality of the aging barrels can significantly affect the taste of the final product. With Rift’s delicate palate and exceptional skills, Old Forester is sure to continue producing some of the best bourbons around.

You can visit the Old Forester tasting room on the “Urban Bourbon Trail” in Louisville.

Not only do we have master tasters/ambassadors, we also have Queer-owned tourism bourbon technology! Openly gay Eddie Fieldhouse founded The Kentucky Hug with tourism skills in his back pocket. 

The Experience Planner app is a one-stop shop for distillery tours and tastings across Kentucky. With the bourbon industry rapidly growing and evolving, the app gives users the opportunity to explore all the distillery experiences available. In today's industry, keeping up with trends is crucial, and this app delivers on both the practical and experiential fronts.

It enables enthusiasts to make the most of their bourbon-tasting experiences by showcasing all the best distilleries the state has to offer.

So, if you’re clueless about Bourbon in Kentucky, lucky for you, a Queer entrepreneur had you in mind when creating their product. Now you can explore Bourbon Country with ease.

It doesn’t stop with just the bourbon industry, though. Kentucky craft breweries are also showing their Pride, too. Louisville’s Mile Wide Beer Co. releases its small-batch Dorothy’s Riot hazy IPA annually during Pride Month to support Queer Kentucky. The Mile Wide taproom is open year-round if you want to stop in for a round or two. 

Lexington’s West Sixth Brewing has been a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, sponsoring the Lexington Pride Festival and as a vendor for the Kentuckiana Pride and Louisville Pride Festivals. Take a brewery tour before heading into the taproom to try the raspberry sour ale Pride Y’all, with proceeds supporting these local pride festivals. The brewing company also offers guided tastings at the Nulu location in Louisville and farm tours at West Sixth Farm in Frankfort. 

Related Articles