Montauk resident Kate Rosante likes whiskey. So much so, that she co-founded and created her own —the very irresistible Boss Molly bourbon.
Launched just about a year ago in October 2022, Boss Molly is the delicious dream of Rosante and her two partners, Victoria Horn and Brandi Bowles, who met over a women’s poker-and-whiskey weekend in 2017.
“It started as a fun conversation between the three of us, but then Brandi started digging in and saying, well, what would this actually look like in terms of a product on the market?” says Rosante, whose day job is vice president of marketing production operations for A&E Networks.
They knew they wanted a bourbon that was easy to love; something that could pique the interest of a new bourbon drinker, but hold the attention and respect of an all-out bourbon fan. They also wanted to create a brand that was, while not aimed at women, representative of a female-led and loved spirit.
“We saw that about 35 percent of the bourbon market was made up of women bourbon drinkers,” says Rosante. “And we were like, hey, there’s something here!”
So they did their research. Like many brands on the market — High West and Bulleit among them — Rosante, Horn and Bowles chose to source their whiskey, seeking out and working with distilleries whose base product filled the bill for them. However, the barrels chosen and blend made was all in-house. “We did the blend ourselves,” she grins. “It was hard but I’m really proud of it.”
Bourbon, by law, must be made up of a minimum of 51 percent corn — the rest can be a combination of myriad cereal grains. Rosante and her partners settled on a mix of 60 percent corn, 30 percent wheat and 10 percent malted barley, knowing instinctively that they wanted a wheat-centric whiskey, a grain that adds a distinctive softer character in a mashbill (basically, the recipe of grains in a given whiskey).
They also knew they wanted to find a way to add a little something distinctive to set it apart; this came in the form of adding the staves of a barrel from Kentucky-based brandy maker Copper & Kings into the barrels of aging Boss Molly bourbon for a month and change, giving it the kiss of notes of dried fruit.
As for proof, that took a little time to figure out, too. You can find whiskeys on the shelf of your local liquor store ranging from 80 proof to over 130, but that’s not necessarily about the headiness of the liquid in the bottle. Just like in cooking, some dishes taste better with more intensity of their ingredients; some taste better when a cook pulls back and lets the delicate nature of a dish shine. In a way, it’s not so dissimilar with spirits.
“We really wanted to be careful about pandering to women, and we got all kinds of ‘advice’ when we started – things like make a low-calorie whiskey or keep the alcohol low. It’s so insulting,” says Rosante. “When we were doing the blend and trying to determine the proof at the same time, we didn’t want to get our hearts set on a certain number. We had to see what worked. We all really liked it at 100 proof at first, but then we tasted it at different stages. Once we hit 90 proof, it was like, wow, this is the sweet spot!”
True enough, Boss Molly hits that just-right place where instead of overwhelming the spirit, the alcohol is pushing its soft, fruity, baking-spice flavors. It’s easy to drink neat, but that little extra bit of alcohol makes it mix and dilute well in cocktails, too, like the one she shared with us here: a nice, classic Old Fashioned.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name and who that lady is on the label?
“That is Molly, harvesting wheat with a scythe. She is meant to represent women who worked in whiskey but who didn’t really necessarily get any recognition in the past,” says Rosante. “But Boss Molly is a ranching term that we came across, and it means a stubborn female mule. We thought that was pretty funny.”
Boss Molly’s Classic Old Fashioned
- 2 oz Boss Molly Bourbon
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1/4 oz rich simple syrup
- 1 orange peel