Meet Missoula’s Serious Scotch Gals


“Scotch is not just for old men with red noses and back room meetings,” reads the opening paragraph of the Serious Scotch Gals website.

Fitting, as Jennifer “Jen” Hurley and Tara Maus have made it their mission to make scotch whiskey approachable (and enjoyable) for all, perhaps especially for women.

“Women don’t have to drink red wine,” explains Tara as we sit around a table at The Rhino, which has served both as a backdrop to several of the Gals’ scotch review videos and an ad-hoc headquarters. In fact, if it weren’t for The Rhino, the Serious Scotch Gals may never have gotten their glasses half full.

The Serious Scotch Gals know good booze.

It all began a couple years back at The Rhino Christmas Party, where Jen and Tara’s husband both work.

At the party, the gals cracked open a bottle of “Chieftain,” which is a specially bottled scotch put together by the Filthy Boys of Missoula (aka. Kevin Head, Charlie Brown, and Tim France, all Missoula icons of libations). After a couple drams of “Chieftain” and 12-year Ardbeg, the friends realized that the seemingly overwhelming world of scotch was “shockingly accessible.”

Their scotch education grew by leaps and bounds this year, right before the February launch of their website, when the duo joined The Rhino owner, Kevin Head, and a crew of whiskey-lovin’ Missoulians for a trip to Las Vegas and the ‘Nth Show,’ a premier universal whiskey experience.

“I think we tried over 60 whiskies while we were there,” says Tara.

The gals brought those experiences (and a few of the whiskies) back with them and decided to make a serious go of it in the world of scotch. The pair can cater and host private scotch tastings, as they recently did for Zombie Tools (another shared interest of theirs). They also host a frequent “lonach” at The Rhino, which is Gaelic for “meeting.”

Jen Hurley and Tara Maus, the Serious Scotch Gals of Missoula.

But their main resource is their website and a series of scotch review videos, put together professionally by Jesse Head (Kevin’s brother) and his company, Hp Media of Missoula.

One can clearly see the passion they have for good scotch, and they not only inform the viewer of the subtleties of various whiskies, as well as the history of the cask or distillery, they entertain while they do it.

In the future, it won’t be all scotch; though that will always be their cornerstone. They expect to host other tastings, including locally-produced spirits, tequila, and perhaps vodka.

And the best advice they have for drinking good scotch: “Don’t shoot it; don’t put ice in it, and don’t put tap water in it,” says Jen with a bright smile.

You can meet the Serious Scotch Gals on Wednesday, June 13 at The Rhino for a gin tasting.


Thirsty for more? Missoula’s beverage expert, Ryan Newhouse, has plenty on tap: Family Friendly Fridays at the Top HatGet Your (Bar) Game on in Missoula, and Get Your Summer Drink Mixers at the Missoula Farmers’ Markets.

Looking for a local bar or pub? Check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

   Visit the Drink It Missoula archive.


Ryan Newhouse tips one back.

Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is (in no particular order) a full-time writer, husband, and parent, and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for Wild Game.His latest concoction is Montana Beer Finder.