Campus News

UK Alumna and 1st Female Master Bourbon Taster Inducted Into Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame

Peggy Stevens
Peggy Stevens

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2019) ­— Peggy Noe Stevens, a University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information (CI) alumna, was recently inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. She is one of only nine female inductees into the hall of fame.

The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame was created by the Kentucky Distillers Association and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in 2001. It recognizes organizations and individuals that have contributed to the growth, stature and awareness of Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry. This year’s induction ceremony was held during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky, and honored Stevens and five other inductees: Katrina Egbert, Wesley Henderson, Larry Kass, Charles W. Medley and Even G. Kulsveen.

“It feels fabulous and fulfilling to be inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame, as this designation is voted on by the leaders of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association,” Stevens said. “To be a female inducted gives me great hope for the future of women.”

Since graduating from UK in 1987, Stevens has become the first female master bourbon taster. She travels worldwide to conduct tasting and hosts educational and entertaining whiskey seminars. “UK prepared me for my career. My focus was on public relations and communication in college, and I believe that foundation of learning has fueled my entire career,” Stevens said.

In 2011, Stevens founded the Bourbon Women Association, the first female spirits consumer group. When asked why she was inspired to found Bourbon Women, Stevens said, “Being from Kentucky, I knew that women were just as passionate about America’s native spirit as men. The industry was missing this market … We needed to begin a conversation.” The organization provides both consumers and professionals in the industry with educational and networking opportunities. There are currently eight branches, including Louisville, Chicago, Indianapolis, New York, Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C, with members in 26 states nationwide.

Stevens is president and founder of Peggy Noe Stevens and Associates, an image branding and experiential marketing firm. Alongside two other women, Stevens pioneered the development of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a staple of Kentucky tourism that attracts more than 1 million visitors every year. She’s designed over two dozen distillery brand experiences for consumers, with clients like Jim Beam, Michter’s, Lux Row and Kentucky Peerless. She also served on the National Advisory Board for CI at UK.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.