Sometimes, women who imbibe — let alone on something like whiskey — garner a certain sort of reaction from men, and even from other women. In many parts of America and the world for that matter, it’s considered unladylike for women to drink anything other than maybe an occasional glass of wine or a fruity cocktail. We don’t care much for terms like “ladylike” though, and we never hesitate to ask for the whiskey menu at happy hour, so when we came across Bianca Espinosa aka TheScotchGirl on Instagram, It felt like we’d discovered a kindred spirit. Bianca Espinosa has made a name for herself in the sometimes insular world of whiskey and its rooted in her genuine love for the liquor.
Bianca is of Cuban descent and originally from Miami and spent a portion of her childhood living in Caracas, Venezuela, where it wasn’t uncommon to see women sipping on blended whiskey. It wasn’t a new idea to her, but it was something she didn’t think about much until she started drinking some time in her twenties. She soon realized that drinking wine made her sleepy which kept her from enjoying a night out.
On the suggestion of a client she met through her day job as a senior director of finance for a janitorial services company, she decided to try whiskey. Bianca was hooked almost immediately. In fact, over a decade later she still remembers the very first scotch she ever sipped — Glenfiddich 12, she tells HipLatina, a popular single-malt, that remains one of her favorites today.
While Bianca still has her day job, she’s also one of the founders of the Scotch Society 305 and a bonafide whiskey influencer. In 2016, Bianca and some friends founded the Scotch Society 305 — a members-only whiskey club based in Miami — as a means of networking with people with a mutual affinity for scotch. The club started with 10 members and now has over 300 members, with Bianca leading the charge when it comes to tastings and whiskey education.
“At first they assumed I was a bottle girl,” Bianca tells us, noting that of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But no one expected her to be the one enjoying let alone teaching people about whiskey. She admits that scotch is usually something associated with “older, white men.” She’s not wrong, though the demographics have been shifting over the past few years.
“Single malt newcomers today tend to be younger, aged between 25 and 35 years old, a sign of the younger demographic becoming more attracted,” Maria Ropero‐Ortiz, former senior brand manager for Glenfiddich says, according to The Spirits Business. “This is a fantastic position for the category to be in, but there is still a long way to go before single malts are achieving the growth volumes of traditional ‘powerhouse’ spirit categories such as vodka and gin.” Both of those spirits of course, are known to be much more approachable and are big on the party circuit, which is how many people under say the age of 40 tend to drink.
In Miami, Bianca tells us there really isn’t much of a whiskey culture, but the community that she’s been a huge part of creating is what makes her so passionate about it. Whiskey people are good people. So, not only does Bianca enjoy drinking it, learning about it, and discovering new whiskey varieties, she also loves doing those very things alongside people who are also just as fascinated by the nuances of whiskey, and its long history across the entire globe. .
A little over half a decade after starting Scotch Society 305, Bianca tells us its membership is now roughly 40 percent women, many of whom identify as Latina. Interestingly though, Bianca says it’s actually other women who are more judgmental toward her about her preference for dark liquors.
Perhaps the lack of knowledge and the snobbery within whiskey culture is partly why many are deterred from even trying. We asked Bianca to share a few of her top tips for new whiskey drinkers and Latinas who’d like to give it a try. Here’s what she had to say:
“Don’t go for the fads.” There are always going to be trendy bottles that line big city bars and fill your Instagram feeds. Bianca says that these whiskeys aren’t necessarily going to be your thing though. Try it and if you like it, keep drinking it and look for whiskeys with similar flavor profiles. If you don’t though, move on. Don’t try to force yourself to like a whiskey just because a fad tells you you should.
“Age doesn’t mean it’s better.” A lot of scotch bottles have the number of years the spirit has been aged, which is basically how long it’s been sitting in an untapped barrel, prominently displayed on the front. If you don’t know whiskey, you’ll likely be confused by those numbers. According to Bianca though, it doesn’t really matter. She says that an older whiskey isn’t necessarily a better tasting whiskey. Sure, it sounds fancy to say you love the 18-year single barrel, but you might actually like the 12 better, and it’s okay to admit that.
“Ask questions.” Most good bartenders will be happy to talk to you about whiskey. Befriend the bartender at your favorite bar, and recruit them to help you learn more. At a bare minimum, Bianca says they should let you look at a bottle so you can see exactly what you’re drinking and how it’s described by the distiller, so if you enjoy it, you can seek out whiskeys that are similar and if not, you’ll know.
“It’s all about confidence.” Whether you know a little about whiskey or a lot, or even next to nothing, be confident when ordering or even just when asking questions so you can order. And never, ever, let yourself feel embarrassed when someone — the bartender, a friend or even a co-worker — assumes you ordered the white wine, but the Indian single malt, neat, thank you very much, is actually yours.