December 21, 2021
Big Nose Kate is named after a real person.
The real Big Nose Kate was actually Mary Katharine Horony. She was born into an aristocratic family in Hungary. Her father was a prominent physician. Kate spoke five languages, was well traveled, and well educated. In 1862, her family relocated to the exotic locale of… Davenport, Iowa. Sadly, just three years later, both of her parents contracted Yellow Fever, dying within a month of each other. Kate, now fourteen and with no relatives nearby, was placed into an orphanage.
Two years later she ran away, stowing herself aboard a steam ship bound for St. Louis. She was discovered by the steamship’s captain. As a result of their, um… meeting… she took the captain’s last name, becoming Katie Fisher. It was also through this relationship that she enrolled in the Ursuline Convent in Wichita, Kansas. The Tombstone and Prescott history tours say the captain of that steamship pulled strings so Kate could study at the convent. He must have, at the very least, paid for her to study there.
Imagine this young woman’s charm and guile – caught as a stowaway at sixteen, yet she manages to captivate the captain and land herself in a boarding school. She must have been an incredibly fun and endearing penniless orphan.
The next recorded chapter in Kate’s life was working under Madam Blanche Tribole in St. Louis. Kate’s chosen field, at that time as now, was known as “prostitution.” In 1874 Kate was fined for working as a “sporting woman” in a “sporting house” run by the wife of James Earp, who was, of course, the brother of Wyatt Earp.
Kate has been depicted in several films and TV series, best known for being Doc Holiday’s lady. The next time you watch Tombstone, the young lady cavorting with Val Kilmer? (“Why dear, you’re not wearing a bustle.”) That’s supposed to be Rowdy Kate. In reality, while Mr. Holiday was drinking and gambling, she was working at dance halls and brothels, bringing home the bacon.
Nowhere on the label of Big Nose Kate, nor anywhere on the company’s website, nor anywhere on their Instagram account, do they mention that their sourced whiskey mascot was a sex worker by trade. This irks me. I have put off writing this for weeks (Sorry, Taylor) because my modus operandi is to be the supportive midwestern mom that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. But this really irks me. The banner on BNK’s homepage says “The Greatest Story Never Told, Or Let’s Just Say, Not Told Nearly Enough. Until Now.”
No, you were right the first time. It’s never been told. At least, not by the makers of Big Nose Kate. Kate did what she did to survive. Or because she enjoyed it. Or both. We don’t know. But either way, it was how she survived terrible circumstances in a brutally harsh world. What she did was a fundamental part of who she was. Whether one approves or not is sadly irrelevant. For a brand capitalizing on Girl Power, Disnefying her story is insulting. She wasn’t ashamed, why should you be? You slapped her face on a whiskey bottle, not a jar of baby food. If you’re going to appropriate Kate’s name and likeness, tell her story as well.
Big Nose Kate was larger than life. She rescued her husband, Doc Holiday, by setting a building on fire, bursting into a room where he was held captive, guns blazing, and sprung him from his captors. In her older age, thanks to her being a prostitute, Kate was admitted to the Arizona Pioneer’s Home for Ailing and Destitute Miners. The only caveat was that all of the residents had to be American citizens. Unfortunately, Kate was not an American citizen. If you recall, she was born in Hungary. So she called up an old “client,” Arizona Governor George Hunt. The good Governor falsified documents so she could enter the home. If prostitution is the oldest profession, then politicians are their most loyal clientele.
Kate’s path from debutante to debauchery is impressive, but I don’t know what she has to do with whiskey. Most of what we think we know about the Old West are broad myths portrayed in movies and TV, and memes. If I hear one more person spread the falsehood that a “shot” of whiskey got the name because you could trade a bullet for a swallow of whiskey–I’m going to need a shot of whiskey! The Old West era predates the term “shot” by like 50 years.
The Wild West is the predominant American myth. It is also a time and place most people know very little about. So, why not put a woman from the Wild West woman icon on a bottle of Western whiskey? The branding – to a normal, non-grouchy person – is magnificent. The website is slick, and I have nothing but respect for the people involved in creating this brand. Ig Nose Kate has a woman distiller that I reflexively want to support. But Goddamnit, if you don’t want to tell the whole story – the real story – don’t tell it at all.
Using and profiting off Katie Fisher’s name and likeness, but then whitewashing her story, is to miss the point completely. She is a historical, powerful figure because of what she did and how she did it. She saved herself by selling herself. If you don’t want to mention prostitution, don’t name your product after a prostitute. I know that seems obvious, but apparently not. There is not a whisper of Kate’s profession on the website. Instead, we get a cut and paste job; barfed up, tangential feminism. If the whiskey was called Jesse James, would they have omitted the fact that he was a bank robber? Surely, we don’t want to celebrate armed robbery. I guess, maybe, they’d just focus on the fact that he wore cowboy clothes and rode a horse.
“Hello Boys. A message to Jim, Jack, Johnnie, Evan, George, Elijah, and all the other cowboys dominating the whiskey business: make some room, fellas. Big Nose Kate is here. It is her time. Deal me in.” This is the quote on the website, next to a portrait of Kate.
Cringe. Jim Beam? Beam Suntory has dozens of high-level executive women, and they give their employees six months of paid maternity leave. Jack Daniels just named Lexie Phillips as their first woman Assistant Distiller. Fawn Weaver became an overnight legend when she spread the story honoring the enslaved man who taught Jack Daniels how to distill. Johnnie Walker just appointed their first ever woman master blender, Dr. Emma Watson. George Dickel’s tributary Cascade Hollow Distilling’s general manager and distiller is Nicole Austin, who, among her many other talents, is a woman. There are just as many women “dominating” whiskey as there are men. I’m sick to death of people acting like women in whiskey is a brand-new thing. Big Nose Kate is the whiskey equivalent to the all-women reboot of Ghostbusters.
Big Nose Kate Western Whiskey – Review
Color: Ruddy watered-down Coke color.
On the nose: So, Kate was nicknamed Big Nose Kate because apparently she stuck her nose in other people’s business. So they wanted the whiskey to have a “big nose,” and all the language in the tasting note reviews says it does, but it does not. It has an average nose. I couldn’t find anything but honey, vanilla, bubblegum– all the usual suspects, except I did pick up some Purple Glue Stick, which was faint and pleasant by association. It has the totally friendly and inoffensive standard faire nose that mostly all American whiskies have.
In the mouth: Just fine. Dull. It has the orange, caramel, walnut, nutmeg that most whiskies have. Play-Do. Big Red Gum. Unremarkable, approachable, just fine. Perfect for anyone who doesn’t know or care.
Cynically, it doesn’t matter what is in the bottle. BNK won’t lose a single sale because of the opinion of one cranky twerp. Big Nose Kate doesn’t need to be exquisite, with layers and layers of nuance and deceptive noses and surprising finishes. They don’t need high scores from reviewers. Their label/bottle/concept is eye-catching, people will be drawn to it. It’s buzzy, and good for them! Some of the best-selling whiskey globally is straight up bad, in my opinion. Jack Daniels tastes like a banana peel dipped in nail polish remover, Maker’s Mark tastes like sunblock, Jameson tastes like the last sip of a can of Bud Light that’s been sitting open in a trunk since your last tailgate. Big Nose Kate is better than the aforementioned.
A new whiskey produced in Santa Fe honors the rule-breaking frontier icon who ran with Doc Holliday.
Was it that her nose was considered prominent or the fact that she liked getting into people’s business that earned Mary Katherine Horony Cummings the nickname Big Nose Kate? Popular history goes with the former, but the Hungarian-born rule breaker and intimate companion of Doc Holliday wasn’t shy about who she was and what she wanted, sometimes vociferously communicating her strong will under the influence.
It’s in the spirit of the frontier icon’s chutzpah that distiller-blender Melissa Heim has launched a Western-themed whiskey named in her honor.
Big Nose Kate, Heim says, starts with notes of dry sherry and cherry fruit, cereal grain, and oak, and finishes with mellow baking spice for a unique blend with a strong body and rich mouth feel. It’s produced in Santa Fe, where Kate lived for a time and worked in a dance hall.
We talked with Heim about Big Nose Kate — the woman and the whiskey — and got some cocktail recipes to toast all the bold women of the Old West.
Cowboys & Indians: What attracts you to whiskey — not just drinking it but making it?
Melissa Heim: Drinking whiskey and making whiskey requires a cerebral collaboration that satisfies my analytical and instinctual brain. Making whiskey is turning prose into poetry, and drinking it makes you the poet. It’s a great thing.
C&I: What made you choose Santa Fe as a base of operations?
Heim: Two reasons: Santa Fe was the site of Kate’s infamous “dance hall,” so it made sense to bring her namesake spirit to a spirited place from her life. Second, the stars aligned in our favor when seeking options for a premier co-packer. It happened that my friend and veteran distiller, Caley Shoemaker, was in the process of building her own distillery in the center of town. Could not have dreamed a better fit.
C&I: Why did you choose Big Nose Kate as an inspiration and the name of your product?
Heim: Kate is an afterthought in Wild West lore, and she deserves to be a legend. Kate was ahead of her time. She was enigmatic. She outlived all the men whose stories have been told, retold, romanticized, and profited from. It’s well-documented she enjoyed her share of whiskey, and the more I learned about Kate, the more I wanted to share her story. My medium happens to be whiskey.
C&I: Beyond the name honoring a frontier icon, what makes it a “Western” whiskey?
Heim: Great question. A Western whiskey, simply put, is not made in the tradition of Kentucky and Tennessee bourbon and whiskey. It’s boundless. It’s wild. It’s undefined refined. The West was a crossroads of myriad cultures and influences, a melting pot where fascinating new combinations formed constantly. You might think of the Old West itself as an extraordinary and rare “blend.” That’s exactly what this well-traveled whiskey is. And so was Kate, the person.
C&I: What are some of the best ways to drink whiskey besides straight? Favorite recipes? Anything specific to fall and the holidays?
Heim: I’m a nontraditionalist, so I believe the best way to drink whiskey is the way you enjoy it. I do suggest trying whiskey straight before mixing it, so you can familiarize yourself with its smell, flavor, and sensation. To be honest, I rely heavily on the expertise of bartenders and mixologists. They are wizards when it comes to exploiting a brown spirit’s best quality through manipulation. Ask your friendly hospitality professional for suggestions and recommendations because there’s no one-size-fits-all. At home I drink it neat.
C&I: What’s on the whiskey horizon?
Heim: The whiskey industry is primed for a shakeup. Johnnie, Jim, Jack, Elijah, Evan, fathers, brothers, uncles, and granddads have held the spotlight for a long time. Kate deserves a spot on the shelf.
C&I: What’s in your personal whiskey future?
Heim: Whiskey is really versatile. I enjoy a good Sazerac. I like my cocktails savory and will substitute real fruit for sugar and herbs like thyme for mint. In the fall I like to blend whiskey with warming amaros and digestifs to accompany dinner or dessert. A new favorite we developed for Big Nose Kate is called The Straight Flush. The whiskey has wonderful undercurrents of dark fruit and coffee. The amaro and burst of citrus are very complementary as well as satisfying.
If you haven't heard of Big Nose Kate, prepare for a wild ride and a new favorite whiskey! Janet and Blair chat with Mel Heim about the legend, the woman, the whiskey that is Big Nose Kate.
December 8, 2021
While the alcohol industry has been historically male-led, that imbalance is thankfully changing. Over the last few years, an increase in woman-helmed spirits brands have helped close the field’s gender gap. Even in the past year alone, many more have joined the trade. In support of the strong female figures adding a new edge to a thriving industry, we’ve compiled our favorite new woman-owned spirits to get and gift ahead of the new year.
Big Nose Kate
This Western-tuned whiskey (750ml/45% ABV) that’s distilled in Texas, Virginia, and Indiana, then blended in New Mexico, is named after Mary Katherine Horony Cummings, also known as Big Nose Kate, the feared and revered wife of Doc Holliday, one of the most famous gunslingers of the Old West. Experienced distiller Mel Heim (Rogue Ales, Eastside Distilling) captures Kate’s spicy spirit in a liquor that blends rye and malt for an earthy dram with notes of cherry and grain, along with an appropriately big nose of coffee and leather.
November 24, 2021
The mega-rich homes and fine dining establishments throughout historic Santa Fe make it easy to forget about the classic Western characters, gunslingers and prostitutes alike who called it home. And oh, how they drank. Like any proper Western tale and story from which only a man appears on the highly detailed Wikipedia page, there was a woman who might be considered the brains behind the operation.
Enter Mary Katherine Cummings, a Hungarian immigrant known in impolite company as Big Nose Kate. Her life was scattered around the late-1800s Southwest with legendary figures like Wyatt Earp and her beau Doc Holliday. Thankfully, Kate kept detailed diary entries throughout her adventures, writing about a dance hall in Santa Fe she operated to make a living for her and Holliday as a part of her many adventures.
As a whiskey, Big Nose Kate hosts an earthy tone and a sweet aroma, finishing with a light spice that very much lingers. There’s an air of the old West in its notes—sort of like you’ve dropped into one of the early episodes of Westworld and you’re taking a whiff of Thandiwe Newton’s perfume, which we know has just got to be good.
SFR spoke with Portland-based distiller Mel Heim to discuss the Santa Fe roots for Kate and the whiskey (distilled locally at Altar Spirits, which opens this winter at 545 Camino de la Familia in the Railyard), as well as women in the spirits industry.
SFR: Who exactly was Big Nose Kate, and what are her Santa Fe connections?
Mel Heim: Kate was a person who experienced everything. She was called Big Nose Kate not because of her features—it was because she supposedly stuck her nose in everyone’s business, whether in Santa Fe or beyond. I love that nickname, too, because of how it relates to whiskey and the senses.
She wasn’t a major tour de force. Hollywood has romanticized her role being involved with famous gunslingers—the arm candy to Doc Holliday, her longtime lover. Instincts in survival led her into extraordinary events [of the West], like the gunfight at OK Corral. She was clever, resourceful and an entrepreneur. In Santa Fe she ran a dance hall, allowing her to survive in an era where there weren’t many options for women in the West, though historians are still trying to figure out just where this dance hall was.
She could’ve married Holliday or could’ve been a maid, but she really enjoyed her independence. I love so much about her. She was the product of randomness, just like us. I developed this whiskey in my kitchen. There were so many iterations of it. I didn’t want to do another bourbon—bourbon didn’t feel like it fit with Kate’s journey.
In your publicity campaigns you’ve talked about the whiskey’s flavor profile being directly inspired by the Southwest and the lands in which Kate roamed, namely New Mexico and Arizona. What are the details on that, and how does it differentiate this whiskey from others?
When we’re talking about the Southwest, we’re talking about barley malt, especially up in Colorado. So I wanted to use malt as my base, playing to the fact she was a European immigrant, and then venture into rye, sort of as if you were hitting the Southwest plains. Rye brings a nice little spice, that was definitely her personality, and I wanted it to have a ‘big nose,’ so to speak; when you’re smelling it, you want people to really ask what’s going on in the glass.
Distilling whiskey is great, but blending it is another story. A machine can’t do it, it’s a hands-on art form. So I knew we’d need a great base spirit and some kind of seasoning. I was really surprised with how well it turned out. Honing in on this was quite the process—it wasn’t exactly enjoyable. A Western whiskey is not really a defined thing. For me, the West means there’s no rules. It’s whatever you make of it, very much like Kate’s life.
Maybe it’s obvious, but what are the feminist bents to this whiskey?
This isn’t a gendered whiskey, merely a female protagonist to the 40 men I could name off [on other brands]. When I started, I didn’t know any other women in this industry at all. I knew there were women out there, but I couldn’t find them. At the trade show and events it was just a sea of men. This whiskey is part of a mission of mine to highlight women in the space. Women are there, but they aren’t shown. There are hundreds and hundreds of female distillers now compared to when I started. It’s empowering to just own it.
So we’ve got this new Santa Fe-themed whiskey being distilled locally. Where can local whiskey fans find this drink, either now or in the future?
Wholesales begin in early December. Altar Spirits will have active sales down there and we’re aiming to be at all the great little bar spaces. Right now we’ve got an e-commerce partner that ships to New Mexico, so you can order online too.
You know, it’s important to have balance and equity in these products. We’re going to immerse ourselves in Kate’s world for this, and it’s kind of amazing. Hers is a real story, with Santa Fe being a big part of it. It deserves to be told even if it’s through whiskey.
October 21, 2021
We recently learned about a new locally produced whiskey called Big Nose Kate, which was named for the ladyfriend and crime partner of none other than Doc Holliday! Word is, this particular Kate once ran a Santa Fe dancehall, and now there’s a whiskey distilled with the help of one Caley Shoemaker, whom we hear is set to open Altar Spirits in the Railyard at some point.
I love new-to-market brands. There’s the thrill of the discovery, where no one has put together an opinion yet, and it is all untouched territory. One such brand is Big Nose Kate.
“The old woman was in a familiar town. She and her lover had lived in Prescott, Arizona Territory, back in 1879-’80 […] Her lover—she called him her husband—got into some difficulties with a group of cowboys in Tombstone in 1880. On a cold October day in 1881, a cowboy named Ike came into their room at a boardinghouse, looking for her man—Doc. A little while later, Doc and three of his friends (named Earp) had a shootout with the cowboys in the empty lot next to the boardinghouse. And she watched. And she consoled a weeping Doc after the fight.” – Mark Boardman, True West Magazine
So, yeah, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and the Battle at the OK Corral! The interesting thing about Mary Kate Elder Cummings, a/k/a Big Nose Kate, is that no one could really verify her story. But, they were afraid to cross her. There are even disputes about her nickname, but some accept “Big Nose” referred not to a physical feature, rather, it was that she stuck her “big nose” in everything.
Big Nose Kate bills itself as a Western Whiskey, “A Brave and Adventurous Blend” which is produced by Big Nose Brands. It takes rye and malt whiskeys sourced from Indiana, Texas, and Virginia and puts it all together in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It isn’t that difficult to figure out which distilleries provided the whiskeys, but Big Nose Brands requested they remain undisclosed, and I’m happy to honor that.
The complete mashbill is 52.4% rye and 47.6% malted barley. The rye grains are a combination of Elbon, Winter, Chocolate, Merced, and Crystal. The barley is Pale, Odyssey, and 2-row distiller’s malt.
The cooperage used was a blend as well. Some aged in 53-gallon, new charred oak for 40 months, another aged 38 months in vintage Bourbon barrels, and the last in STR sherry casks for 57 months. Big Nose Kate carries no age statement, which in this case would be completely unnecessary anyway. A 750ml bottle retails for $38.99 and you can hit up the website to get one.
Before I get to the review, I’d like to share some brief (I promise) information on the Big Nose Kate team. Melissa Heim is a co-founder and head distiller, Kevin Burke is a co-founder and heads up business operations, Paul Earle is a co-founder and developed the brand, with Caley Shoemaker and Niki Green, a/k/a the Bourbon Maven, as partners.
I’d like to thank the Big Nose Kate team for providing me a sample of this Western Whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and learn what this is all about.
Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Big Nose Kate presented as the color of a pale ale. It formed a massive rim that couldn’t begin to hold the legs that collapsed under their own weight.
Nose: The aroma of unpicked mint stood out among the others, which included caramel, new leather, and heavy malt. When I drew the air into my mouth, dry sherry came in, parked, and refused to leave.
Palate: A thick, syrupy mouthfeel led to notes of caramel, orange zest, and grenadine on the front of my palate. The middle featured chocolate and nutmeg, while the back offered old leather, dried tobacco, and oak.
Finish: This was one of those hard-to-nail-down finishes. The first sip resulted in a very short finish. Each time I took another sip, the length grew exponentially. After the fourth, it just wouldn’t quit. It began with orange peel and cocoa, then smoked oak, then dry sherry and leather, and finally cinnamon spice.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Big Nose Kate is a fun whiskey, and I don’t think I’ve given that descriptor before to anything. From the nosing that wouldn’t end to the layered palate, to that crazy finish, I couldn’t help but smile the whole way through. While it won’t blow your mind, it will keep your attention, and I believe at the end of the glass, you’ll come to the same conclusion I have: Big Nose Kate is worth picking up, and as such, takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
Bottle = Buy It
Bar = Try It
Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.
Established distiller and blender Melissa Heim recently launched a new western themed whiskey called Big Nose Kate.
The whiskey’s name comes from what’s described as an under appreciated frontier icon, rule breaker and enterpriser, Big Nose Kate. Heim and her partners said they aim to celebrate all adventurers who deserve recognition.
A a blended whiskey it is said to bring together bourbon, rye and malt “sourced from superb distillers across the country.” Big Nose Kate, according to information from the brand, starts with notes of dry sherry and cherry fruit, cereal grain and oak, and finishes with mellow baking spice. It is a unique blend with a strong body and rich mouthfeel.
“We are excited to finally introduce a strong independent female protagonist into a brand world long associated with male figureheads,” Heim said in a prepared statement. “But we are not aiming to be a ‘gendered’ whiskey. We’re for all people who like discovering great stories, and tipping a glass to those behind them. Kate was an entrepreneur, change-maker and whiskey drinker to boot, so we believe she’s cheering us on from the saloon in the sky.”
The whiskey is produced in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Kate lived and operated a “dance hall” before riding on to her next adventure. Kate was a Hungarian aristocrat’s daughter who later became an immigrant and orphan. She became Doc Holiday’s partner in crime and ran a number of gambling and entertainment operations.
Big Nose Kate, bottled at 90 proof, is pricing at $38.99 per 750 ml bottle.
October 1, 2021
We need more strong women on whiskey bottles — and more female distillers. So while we haven’t tried it yet, we’re excited for Eastside Distilling’s Melissa Heim to introduce Big Nose Kate, a whiskey celebrating an Old West female compatriot of Doc Holliday
September 28, 2021
Eastside Distilling’s Melissa Heim has launched a new whiskey inspired by a historical female figure, called Big Nose Kate.
The whiskey pays tribute to its namesake Big Nose Kate, an American historical figure known to be a longtime companion of Wild West gunfighter Doc Holliday.
Heim, who once produced spirits in collaboration with Big Bottom Distilling, crafted the whiskey in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is thought to be one of the first female head distillers west of the Mississippi River.
She said: “We are excited to finally introduce a strong independent female protagonist into a brand world long associated with male figureheads.”
The whiskey was also produced by Altar Spirits’ head distiller, Caley Shoemaker.
Heim added: “But we are not aiming to be a ‘gendered’ whiskey. We’re for all people who like discovering great stories, and tipping a glass to those behind them.”
The whiskey was released to celebrate all adventurers ‘who deserve their due’, according to the brand.
“Kate was an entrepreneur, change-maker and whiskey drinker to boot, so we believe she’s cheering us on from the saloon in the sky,” Heim said.
The whiskey boasts a strong body and rich mouthfeel, and contains notes of dry sherry, cherry fruit, cereal grain and oak. The finish offers flavours of mellow baking spice, with the brand quipping that the expression ‘has a big nose’.
The 750ml bottling presents an ABV of 45%, and the first limited release will be available in US states New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon, as well as online at BigNoseKate.co.
BIG NOSE KATE
Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Indiana, Texas, and Virginia
Age: Not stated
Release: September 2021
Availability: AZ, NM, OR
Need to know:
This whiskey blends straight ryes with an American single malt. It is named after Mary Katherine Horony Cummings, a figure of the Old West and common-law wife to gunfighter Doc Holiday. The whiskey comes from distiller Melissa Heim.
Whisky Advocate says:
There are only a handful of whiskies named after women, and those that come to mind are all blends. Jane Walker was a fictional character created by the Johnnie Walker team and Grace O’Malley, released in June 2020, is an Irish blend that pays homage to the 16th-century pirate by the same name. This whiskey is also noteworthy for its combination of rye and American single malt, a blend we haven’t yet seen.
September 21, 2021
SANTA FE, N.M — Big Nose Kate is the stunning new western whiskey from Melissa Heim, one of the top rising stars in the spirits world. In naming the whiskey after Big Nose Kate— an icon, rule breaker, and enterpriser, but never fully appreciated as the huge force on the frontier that she was— Heim and her partners aim to celebrate all adventurers who deserve their due.
A highly unique blend with a strong body and rich mouthfeel, Big Nose Kate opens with notes of dry sherry and cherry fruit, cereal grain and oak, and finishes with mellow baking spice. Artfully and meticulously sourced from superb distillers across the country, the whiskey is well-traveled, bold, and brave. Just like its namesake. (And yes, it has a big nose.)
“We are excited to finally introduce a strong independent female protagonist into a brand world long associated with male figureheads,” says Heim. “But we are not aiming to be a ‘gendered’ whiskey. We’re for all people who like discovering great stories, and tipping a glass to those behind them.”
“Kate was an entrepreneur, change-maker and whiskey drinker to boot, so we believe she’s cheering us on from the saloon in the sky,” Heim added.
Big Nose Kate is produced in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Kate operated a notorious “Dance Hall” (until she skipped town for her next adventure). A key contributor to the whiskey production is Caley Shoemaker of Santa Fe’s Altar Spirits, herself an industry luminary, and like Heim, one of only a handful of female Head Distillers in the United States. Also playing a key role in Big Nose Kate in various capacities are Kevin Burke, a highly experienced beverage industry leader; and Paul Earle, an entrepreneur and branding aficionado.
About Big Nose Kate
The extraordinary life of Maria Izabella Magdolna Horony, also known as Catherine Elder, and later feared and revered everywhere simply as the inimitable one-and-only Big Nose Kate, is a tale for the ages. A Hungarian aristocrat’s daughter turned immigrant and orphan, she was drawn to the wild American west through chance, rebellion, opportunity, and a deep curiosity in people, places and ideas. A strong, industrious, and fiercely independent self-made woman generations ahead of her time, Kate was Doc Holliday’s “partner in crime,” bucked horns with Wyatt Earp, and ran a number of gambling and entertainment operations. Let this be clear: there was no better friend, and no worse enemy than Big Nose Kate. Yet the Docs, the Wyatts, the cowboys, and the rangers always commanded center stage. Until now.
About Melissa Heim
Mel is a Head Distiller & Blender who has already won 40 medals for flavor and quality in a wide range of spirits products that she has made. Mel is considered by many to be one of the first ever female Head Distillers and blenders west of the Mississippi, and also one of the youngest. A visionary maker, general manager, executive, and operator, Mel does it all at Big Nose Kate.
If traced through history, the spirit business for over four centuries has typically been headed by a male figurehead. But the launching of Big Nose Kate Whiskey by Melissa Heim in 2021, a classic blended whiskey changed the 400 years of history at once and introduced a new theme not only in the western whiskey industry but to their entire beverage industry at large by naming and honouring it after Maria Izabella Magdolna Horony, popularly known as Big Nose Kate – an icon, rule breaker, and enterprises of her own time. Though she never really appreciated the huge force on the frontier that she was. Heim and her partners aim to celebrate all adventurers who deserve their due.
Big Nose Kate, an extremely unique blend with a strong body and rich mouthfeel, bringing together bourbon, rye and malt “sourced from superb distillers across the country.” According to the Heim, Big Nose Kate opens with a note of dry sherry and cherry fruit, cereal grain, and oak, and finishes with mellow baking spice. Artfully and meticulously sourced from superb distillers across the country, the whiskey is well-travelled, bold, and brave, just like Mary Katherine Haroney, maintaining its name.
“We are excited to finally introduce a strong independent female protagonist into a brand world long associated with male figureheads. But we are not aiming to be a ‘gendered’ whiskey. We’re for all people who like discovering great stories, and tipping a glass to those behind them. Kate was an entrepreneur, change-maker, and whiskey drinker to boot, so we believe she’s cheering us on from the saloon in the sky.” By Heim
Big Nose Kate is produced in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Kate operated a notorious “Dance Hall” before riding on to her next adventure. Kate was originally a daughter of a Hungarian aristocrat who around the age of fourteen turned orphan and immigrant, she was drawn to the wild American west through chance, rebellion, opportunity, and a deep curiosity in people, places, and ideas. A strong, industrious, and fiercely independent self-made woman generations ahead of her time, Kate was Doc Holliday’s “partner in crime,” bucked horns with Wyatt Earp, and ran several gambling and entertainment operations. This astonishing drink is in honour of this ravishing woman of all time, she was mostly considered to be ‘no better friend’, and ‘no worse enemy’ than Big Nose Kate. Yet the Docs, the Wyatts, the cowboys, and the rangers always commanded center stage, until now. The whiskey intended to state the tale of her extraordinary life.
But this stunningness sits on the procreator distillery of Big Nose Kate, Melissa Heim. It is an exception in itself, as it is the first in the whole world to be lead by female Head Distillers and blenders, which by now has already won over 40 medals for their flavor and quality in a wide range of spirits products that she has made. Heim, who once produced spirits in collaboration with Big Bottom Distilling, crafted the whiskey in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is now thought to be changing the entire vision and atmosphere in the spirit business on a whole new level.