A silly controversy hit one of Facebook’s more prominent private whiskey groups in early August. One group member posted a photo of Aaron Chepenik, co-founder of Smoke Wagon Bourbon, with a smiling woman named De Rankin. There was nothing salacious about the photo; just your standard issue bourbon-enthusiast-poses-with-famed-distillery-owner pic. Nevertheless, members of the group, known as Smoke Wagon Enthusiasts, jumped on it.
“Any chance she gave you the super secret only fans link Aaron Chepenik? 😂(sic)” commented one user, as others piled on with off-color jokes. The reason for the quips and childish reactions from the peanut gallery: Rankin is an OnlyFans creator.
It wasn’t an isolated incident. Over the last year or so, an explosion of OnlyFans models and performers have started posting in, and occasionally spamming, Facebook’s private whiskey groups, apparently searching for susceptible males known for being profligate, often tipsy, spenders. In so-called “bourbon taters,” they found their ideal marks.
(It goes without saying, anything linked in this article is potentially NSFW.)
Not Safe for Whiskey
“No group is safe from onlyfans girls trying to make a buck (sic),” cracked a commenter in another of Facebook’s many private whiskey groups, after a woman posted an image depicting her drinking Stagg in the buff.
Indeed, that seems to be the prevailing commentary among the mostly male users of such Facebook groups as Whiskey Bourbon and Scotch Enthusiasts (WBaSE), Whiskey Collectors, Someone Say Whiskey, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, All Things Bourbon, and Dads Drinking Bourbon, where some of the most avid whiskey discussions (and occasional bottle swapping) still take place today.
“We do have a couple of women who have OnlyFans pages in the group, and you can totally tell what they’re doing,” says Trinity Ables, a female member of several bourbon-related groups. “They’re wanting you to click on their profile. They’re wanting you to go to their OnlyFans.”
Christopher Nyren, a frequent poster on several of these groups, claims OnlyFans creators have gone so far as to friend him on Facebook and follow him on Instagram, perhaps in the hopes of luring him back to their paid sites. Countless other posters, including me, can tell similar stories. The phenomenon has led to the need for stricter moderation in many private groups.
“If they’re doing anything promotional, and say, ‘Come see my site, blah, blah, blah,’ they get booted right away,” says Bill Varnell, who started WBaSe in 2014. Today it’s among Facebook’s largest private whiskey groups, with nearly 50,000 members. “I never go so far to see if they’re OnlyFans creators or whatnot unless it’s blatant and it’s just removed,” says John Edwards, a creator and admin for Dads Drinking Bourbon.
Of course, these OnlyFans creators stand out even more starkly because of the typical gender ratios of Facebook whiskey groups. WBaSE, for instance, is only 11 percent female, though that’s steadily increasing thanks to the help of women like Ables, who has even started a “Ladies’ Night” to encourage more legitimate female posting. Dads Drinking Bourbon, perhaps due to its name, is even less female-centric than that.
“Whiskey should be a forum in which all fans are accepted and encouraged to pursue their hobby if that’s what they’re there for. The women in whiskey work hard for respect and they should be given it for their time, knowledge, and talent.”
“I’d say there’s more females that drink whiskey than participate in social media,” Varnell says.
In an effort to welcome women, however, many Facebook group administrators have faced the task of keeping their communities safe for female whiskey enthusiasts while, at the same time, moderating OnlyFans spammers. In July, Varnell wrote a post noting that “inappropriate comments on any ladies posts, or unsolicited DM’s will not be tolerated! (sic)”
I can attest that these private whiskey groups are not the most progressive of places, but most commenters offered thoughtful responses to Varnell’s post (while at the same time warning of OnlyFans-type catfishing scams). Edwards had to post a similar warning this year after a few incidents, going so far as to explain that his group is not just for dads:
“Whiskey should be a forum in which all fans are accepted and encouraged to pursue their hobby if that’s what they’re there for. The women in whiskey work hard for respect and they should be given it for their time, knowledge, and talent,” he explains. “Also, it’s not my place to tell anyone how to dress or act. If they’re there for whiskey, I treat men and women the same.”
In many cases the influx of scantily clad OnlyFans posters has caused women to reveal the unwanted advances and solicitations they have consistently received over the years in such groups, and how challenging it can be for them to simply try and talk whiskey.
“You just have to be aware that, if you’re a female and you post a picture that’s provocative, you’re going to get those comments,” Ables says. “So I’m really careful because I don’t want to be viewed as sexual. I want to be viewed as a peer, someone who’s drinking whiskey with them.”
So many of these regular women have found themselves on the receiving end of misogynistic behavior, and facing accusations of being OnlyFans models themselves — all without making the $24.99 Rankin charges for her most revealing OnlyFans posts.
The thing about Rankin, however, and unlike many of the OnlyFans spammers, is that she’s genuinely a bourbon fan.
In fact, Rankin was the one who originally posted the picture with Chepenik on another private whiskey group. She proudly showed it alongside images from a few of her other bourbon adventures that week — tasting through single barrel samples from New Jersey’s Penelope Bourbon; single barrel picks she had just received from Old Forester, Elijah Craig, and Watershed Distillery; and the Smoke Wagon tasting she attended at a speakeasy-style cocktail bar where she posed for the infamous photo.
“It all kind of happened at the same time,” she says of her twin pursuits.
Like many, Rankin developed the hobbies and side hustles that now define her during the pandemic. A registered nurse forced to work from home in 2020 — who, nevertheless, was instrumental in approving hospital stays and medications for Covid sufferers — she and her husband decided to flee to the Florida Keys. They would work during the mornings and in the afternoons and evenings spend time on their boat, floating on one of the side canals in Florida Bay.
Her husband would take photographs of her in swimsuits atop the bow and post them in boating enthusiast groups. She quickly garnered a following among the crowd, who encouraged her to start an OnlyFans page — which she promptly did, dubbing herself DoubleDBoatGirl (“I love Bourbon, Boobs, and getting wet and naked on my Boat,” reads part of her bio.)
“Before I knew it, I was making my yearly salary in a month,” she tells me.
Simultaneously, Rankin had been seriously getting into bourbon, as so many others also did during the pandemic. She began studying the flavor profiles of her pours and collected different limited- release bottles. She also started going on distillery tours and, thirsty for more information and community, she eventually turned to private whiskey groups on Facebook.
“Atleast de rankin will drink her stuff. And she probably knows bourbon better than 95% of the haters in this room.”
“I’d post and say something like, ‘If you can get your hands on a Weller green [label] bottle, I’ll trade you for some Weller reds,’” she recalls. Some would flirt with her via off-color puns in the comments, likely after noticing her Facebook profile picture, which shows her in a bra with a stethoscope around her neck.
“Then some of these guys started DMing me, like, ‘Hey, love to see more of you. Do you have any other pictures?’ And, of course, I knew what they were hinting at.”
Regardless of the fact she was engaging in the community for serious bourbon discussion, and not to promote her fledgling side hustle, it didn’t matter.
“When I’m out there at a distillery tour or a tasting and post a picture on Facebook, some guys would always [comment], “Oh, you think that pic is hot? You should see her OnlyFans,’” she says. “So they were actually doing the promoting for me.”
Who Cares What She Does?
Today, Rankin has 20,000 Facebook followers and estimates a good 20 percent of her OnlyFans subscribers arrived via the bourbon world, though it’s hard to know for sure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the very men who aren’t embarrassed to, say, debate the legitimacy of neck pours or proudly show off their collection of Blanton’s horsey toppers, are shy when it comes to publicly admitting they pay for pornographic images.
But, is all this really that unusual? The online bourbon world has always attracted fans of other pleasures, luxuries, and vices. Indeed, there are countless groups and accounts devoted to bourbon and BBQ or bourbon and Rolexes or bourbon and guns or bourbon and general “American freedoms.”
So what’s the big deal about bourbon and nudity?
“She wants companies to reach out to her after seeing what she’s doing and seeing how much traction she gets, and then pay her to be an influencer.”
Rankin’s relentless posting about bourbon has made some realize that she’s not only in it for the (Only)fans. When one poster on Dads Drinking Bourbon mocked her by calling her “Stifler’s Mom,” a reference to Jennifer Coolidge’s character from the “American Pie” franchise, many others stepped in to defend her.
“Atleast de rankin will drink her stuff,” commented one man. “And she probably knows bourbon better than 95% of the haters in this room. Who cares what she does. (sic)”
But some of the haters continue to claim Rankin doesn’t actually drink bourbon, and say their grievances stem from her apparent attempts to drive traffic to her OnlyFans page. This has never more so been the case than in a recent post where it was quite evident she had photoshopped in a bottle of Elijah Craig Single Barrel she claimed to be drinking that evening.
“I can’t believe people actually pay money for this,” commented one man.
Rankin and some of the groups’ moderators often end up butting heads, even if they never end up banning her. (“She’s really smart about how she [posts], but even if she wasn’t posting provocative pics, she knows her stuff,” Ables says.) On the other hand, Varnell was particularly annoyed when he recently tried to send Rankin a complimentary bottle from his group’s Rickhouse collection, in the hopes she might post about it. Instead, she demanded payment for her influence.
“We’re not paying influencers and that’s what she wants,” Varnell says. “She wants companies to reach out to her after seeing what she’s doing and seeing how much traction she gets, and then pay her to be an influencer.”
Even if Varnell refuses to, Rankin hasn’t had issue finding other willing patrons. In fact, she is currently thinking about turning her crossover interests into a full career in the bourbon industry. She’s already done several single barrel picks, from distilleries like Old Forester and Angel’s Envy, and smaller spots like St Cloud’s, and she uses them as a form of self-promotion both on- and offline.
One bourbon club that counts itself a fan of Rankin even did a single barrel pick with Columbus’s Watershed Distillery with her supine and nearly nude on the label; they dubbed it “OnlyDrams.”
“OnlyFans is still a very good side hustle,” Rankin says. “And I have found so many interesting people working with not only OnlyFans but also in the bourbon industry.”