The art of distilling whiskey has long been considered a “man’s industry.” However, women have played a widely unknown but leading role in distilling for hundreds of years. As 2020 marks the Centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment—a milestone in women’s rights—the Tennessee Distillers Guild announces a new campaign paying homage to women’s right to vote through a collaboration with the Tennessee Walls for Women mural festival: the Spirited Tennessee Women campaign.
The campaign unites two trails spanning across the state. Walls for Women, a series of murals spread across 440 miles utilizing female artists-only in celebration of women’s constitutional right to vote, and the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, nearly 30 distilleries ranging from micro-distilleries to legendary and historic distillers. Each of the Walls for Women murals are located in areas that are also home to distilleries, enabling visitors to experience meaningful art while also exploring a Tennessee tradition.
The Spirited Tennessee Women campaign aims to heighten the interest in the role of women in the Tennessee distillery industry while encouraging more women to try distilled spirits through empowering messaging and images. The campaign also draws valuable awareness to the state’s Whiskey Trail and its distilleries.
The Walls for Women project and nonprofit, DMA-events, were founded by traveling journalists Kristin Luna and her husband Scott van Velsor who run the tourism marketing agency Odinn Media and the popular Camels & Chocolate travel blog. After assigned to write a story on the impact of women in Tennessee’s history Luna was inspired to pursue a project honoring women’s right to vote. Luna finds the collaboration with the Tennessee Distillers Guild to be a natural progression in the project.
“In addition to honoring the ratification of the 19th amendment and beautifying downtown areas, the goal of the murals is also to increase voter turnout and participation through the project,” said Luna. “By partnering with the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, we feel we can reach even more people with our mission while also celebrating the role women have played in a thriving Tennessee industry.”
To guide visitors to the murals and distilleries, a map is provided through the Tennessee Whiskey Trail website.
Tennessee Distillers Guild Executive Director Sara Beth Urban says the campaign will finally give women the historic recognition they deserve.
“It was a woman, Maria Hebraea, who built the first early distilling apparatus in the fourth century, and many years later, women participated in Tennessee’s bootlegging collectives and eventually also led prohibition reform,” said Urban. “Today, the leadership of women continues as Tennessee Distillers Guild’s leadership is 100 percent women. Our hope is that the Spirited Tennessee Women campaign will share the vibrant female heritage of the past while paving the way for women in the industry moving forward.”
The leadership of the Tennessee Distillers Guild includes President Alex Castle, Executive Director Sara Beth Urban, Lobbyist Jill Talbert and Trail Manager Kim Mitchell.
More information on Spirited Tennessee Women and a map of the murals and distilleries can be found on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail website at https://www.tnwhiskeytrail.com/maps-downloads/.