Whalebone x Boss Molly: The Interview
Don’t know about you, but it’s not often we find ourselves walking out of a bourbon-tasting room after a few rounds of Texas Hold ‘Em with more than an empty wallet and a nagging sense of confusion as to how that empty wallet came to be. And while you wouldn’t think that sounds like a business plan for a new badass bourbon company, it was just that for Boss Molly founders Kate, Brandi and Victoria—who conceived their brainchild around a poker table just a few years back. It’s pretty clear they played their cards right. Co-founder of the recently launched female-owned bourbon company and whiskey lover Kate Rosante was kind enough to share her expertise on how to break into the brown liquor business. Still no word on the poker master class we requested though. Bottoms up.
People traditionally think of the gentlemen’s club and cigars when it comes to bourbon drinkers. How do people react when you tell them about your love for bourbon?
Kate Rosante: Sometimes surprised, for sure, but mostly I’ve found commonality and camaraderie. I love a good dark leather lounge chair, but one of the things we’re so happy to shatter is the myth that bourbon is only one thing to one group of people. Bourbon is a unique spirit. Boss Molly has a wild and wonderful complexity of flavor. People who know, know. Once you taste it, it’s pretty hard to go back to drinking anything else.
At what point did the three of you get together and say, “Hey, what if we actually did this thing?”? On a scale of 1 to 10, how scary was it?
KR: It started with a whiskey tasting amongst a group of women. We saw an opportunity to create something that we didn’t see in the market yet and we were determined to bring it to life. We were very stubborn about making something we would be proud to pour for people and not just take the easy route to get it out fast.
Scale of 1 to 10? Honestly, we were about an 8, but that probably should have been higher. Creating something from scratch requires a certain amount of dogged optimism. I’m glad we didn’t know how hard it would be. Otherwise, we may not have given it a shot.
What have been some of the bigger challenges in entering the distilling community?
KR: Launching an aged spirit takes a lot of patience. People try, but you can’t speed up the process of aging whiskey in a barrel. That and the mind-boggling complexities and intricacies of liquor laws. Not insurmountable, but good lord.
Your partnership with the National Forest Foundation. How does it align with your mission as a female-owned company?
KR: I’m glad you asked. We’re a straight bourbon whiskey which means that each batch is aged in new American Oak barrels. We do sell those barrels to be used in aging other spirits. But it was essential to us that we give more than we take.
What’s in the name “Boss Molly” and the story of the badass woman on the bottle?
KR: Remember how I said we were stubborn? Boss Molly’s an old ranching term for a stubborn female mule. It seemed fitting for us. But the name is a nod to everyone who does the hard work to get shit done. And that badass woman on the label – she’s an homage to all the women who helped build the whiskey industry but never got any credit.
How do you take your bourbon?
KR: Almost always neat. Sometimes I will add a small cube to bring out more of the vanilla-tasting notes.
I am a big cocktail person, too, though. I love to host and make cocktails for friends and family. I grew up in a house with a home bar where all the best parties happened. Now I’m making Manhattans and Paper Planes at that bar with Boss Molly.
…the name is a nod to everyone who does the hard work to get shit done.
How is Boss Molly different from the average bourbon?
KR: My partner Brandi is from Kentucky, and I swear she has grain in her veins. Boss Molly is made to reflect the flavor of this elusive bottle of bourbon she shared with her grandmother years ago. It’s since gone out of production but was, they both swear, the best bourbon they ever had. We finish with toasted brandy staves to create that distinctly delicious flavor profile. It brings out these upfront notes of butterscotch, citrus and vanilla, with hints of leather and spiced brandy on the finish. It’s been incredible to see bourbon nerds and industry insiders taken aback by how good it is. But it’s also been amazing to watch people who swore they weren’t “bourbon people” light up when they taste it.
Any advice for other women looking to break into the world of brown liquor or the industry in general?
KR: DO IT! More and more women are getting into the spirits industry, and I hope to see that continue. The industry has been very supportive and way less of a boys club than we expected.
Also, stop waiting. Start working. Confidence is never going to come from thinking. Do what you’re scared of and maybe the confidence will follow. Either way, you’ll move forward.
You have the evening to yourself and a bottle of Boss Molly calling your name. What movie do you pair with it?
KR: It’s going to be a double feature. Clue—during cocktail hour. How could you not love Madeline Kahn, Leslie Ann Warren and Eileen Brennan? They are all geniuses in that movie and have perfect comedic timing.
Then we change genres and go with The Fog by John Carpenter. I love ghost stories and lighthouses, so this is a perfect match. And you have the bonus of Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh in the same film.