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Susan Reigler

Susan ReiglerSpecialties: Kentucky Bourbon Country Travel, Bourbon in American History, Bourbon Cocktail Mixology women’s self-esteem
Home base: Louisville, Kentucky
Web site: www.susanreigler.com

Susan Reigler has spoken about bourbon from Seattle to Savannah. From 1992 to 2007, she was the award-winning restaurant critic and beverage writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. As such, she was on the ground floor of reporting about the remarkable comeback of bourbon, interviewing people who would become whiskey rock stars, including Master Distillers Booker Noe (Jim Beam), Jim Rutledge (Four Roses) and the late Lincoln Henderson (Brown-Forman), who developed a premium bourbon called Woodford Reserve. (Yes, the same Woodford Reserve that today is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.) To say that Reigler has a few stories to tell would be correct. She has had a front row seat to the remarkable growth in bourbon and the bourbon tourism industry and is the author of Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide, soon to be in its third edition. The Bourbon Tasting Notebook, by Susan Reigler

While researching cocktails for her column, “Drink: The Sipping News,” she met bartender Joy Perrine, who was later inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. After she left the Courier-Journal, the two collaborated on The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, now in its sixth printing, and More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails. And she is always rather surprised to realize that she has tasted more than 400 bourbons in the course of writing The Bourbon Tasting Notebook with Michael Veach, soon to be in its third edition.

Currently, Reigler writes for Bourbon+ and American Whiskey magazines. Her articles have included “Napa Vision, Kentucky Style,” “Fermentation: The Tastiest Chemistry Lesson Ever” and profiles of craft distilleries and whiskey bars around the country. She has been a featured speaker at The Kentucky Bourbon Festival; the New Orleans Bourbon Festival; Bourbon, Bacon, and Beach Music (Smithfield, Virginia); and Bourbon & Beyond (Louisville). She has also conducted countless private bourbon tastings, as well as for charities.

From 2015 to 2017, Reigler served as the president of the Bourbon Women Association and in 2019 becomes the Kentucky chapter president of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, an invitation-only organization of women culinary professionals.

A recovering biology professor, she is a graduate of Indiana and Oxford Universities.

Suggested Topics

  • Sip the Map
    Based Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide. Taste bourbons from 10 of Kentucky’s famous heritage distilleries accompanied by slides of each location. It’s armchair traveling with drinks. Some surprising bits of bourbon lore are included. Great introduction for planning your own visit to Bourbon Country.
  • Quality Booze, Safe Food
    The first food purity law in Europe was Germany’s Reinheitsgebot, adopted in the Duchy of Munich in 1487 to guarantee the quality of beer. The United States’ first consumer protection law was the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 that guaranteed the provenance of American whiskey. Learn about this important legislation (yes, it took additives such as creosote out of bourbon) and taste some of today’s bonded whiskies.
  • The Art and Science of Bourbon
    From the limestone-filtered, calcium-rich water to American grains and proprietary yeast strains, the biology and chemistry of bourbon making is filled with natural science. Did you know that the unused fractions from whiskey distillation include compounds in paint thinner and one used to decaffeinate coffee? College chemistry class was never this much fun, since tastings are included.
  • Perfecting Bourbon Cocktails
    You, too, can perfect the craft of mixology at home. The classic Manhattan even lends itself to batching for a crowd. Discover the secrets to making great Old Fashioneds and Mint Juleps, as well. Shaken versus stirred? To chill or not to chill glassware? This hands-on experience will teach you all the tricks you need to know.