These days, it’s hard to keep up with Whisky Chicks founder Linda Ruffenach. Between running a marketing/consulting business and ramping up events for the social organization aimed at making bourbon more accessible for all, Ruffenach has become a key player in Louisville’s burgeoning bourbon scene.
On Saturday, Whisky Chicks join the Bourbon Brotherhood for the fourth annual Bourbon Mixer, a true highlight among all the bourbon tasting events held in town that helps raise funds for a nonprofit. This year, the charity of choice is Best Buddies Kentucky, an organization that creates opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The event features tastings from more than 16 large and small distilleries, a silent auction, food from several local businesses and much more. It’ll be held at the Henry Clay this year, and Ruffenach promises it’ll be the best one yet.
“We try to make it a litle bit different and a little more interesting each year,” she tells Insider. “We don’t want it to feel like a fundraiser — it’s more like going to a party at a friend’s house that you look forward to each year.”
New distilleries participating include Huber’s Distillery, Wilderness Trail and Breckenridge Distillery of Colorado, and they join the usual suspects like Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Old Forester and many others.
Ruffenach says food stations will be located throughout the event this time and include a mac ‘n’ cheese bar, a build-your-own barbecue station, chocolates, cheeses and possibly even a doughnut bar.
Besides the $125 admission fee, the silent auction also helps raise funds for the selected nonprofit, and Ruffenach says they’re fortunate to get dozens of interesting items of all price ranges — from rare bottles of bourbon to overnight stays.
Last year, the Bourbon Mixer raised more than $35,000 for the Coalition for the Homeless, and the total amount they’ve raised in the last three years hovers around $60,000-$65,000.
Ruffenach founded the Whisky Chicks in 2014, and its membership, reach and events have grown steadily ever since. Along with private distillery tours and bourbon educational programs, the group hosts many get-togethers each year, from the recent birthday toast to Baker Beam at Village Anchor to the coming Whisky Chicks Strut in Jeffersonville.
The group also hosted events earlier this year in Lexington and Nashville.
Ruffenach’s latest venture is hosting a Bourbon Basics experience for private businesses, as well as Whisky Chicks members. And it’s that desire to share her knowledge of all things bourbon that led her to write the coming book, appropriately named “How to Be a Bourbon Badass.”
“I didn’t choose that title, but I’m embracing it,” she says of the book that will be released in spring 2018. “As I say in the book, I’ll never claim to be an expert — I’m just an expert on my journey, and I want you to be an expert on yours.”
The content will feature everything from Ruffenach’s own story of how she warmed up to the brown spirit to profiles of other bourbon badasses in the industry.
“The message is everyone can be their own bourbon badass,” she explains. “Everyone has a little inner badass in them, you just have to let it out.”
A good place to start finding that inner badass would be a tasting event, like the Bourbon Mixer, which allows you to enjoy bourbon neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail. Each station will feature master distillers and reps who can talk you through a tasting, or offer up a unique take on a bourbon cocktail.
Insider has experienced the event firsthand and can attest to its quality and fun factor. One year we tasted Rabbit Hole for the first time and also enjoyed a Buffalo Trace root beer float, Maker’s Mark popsicle and numerous spins on Old Fashioneds and Manhattans.
The Bourbon Mixer will run from 6:30-10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Henry Clay, 604 S. Third St. Tickets are $125 and are available online or at the door.
This post has been updated.