Whisky, women and sexism | David Williams

All too often drinks are described in gender-specific terms, it’s high time that stopped

Penderyn Celt Whisky, Wales (£36.88, penderynstore.com) A ripple from the culture war disturbed the placid surface of the drinks industry earlier this month. The cause: a liberal sprinkling of liberal-baiting tasting notes from the pen of spirits writer Jim Murray, as published in the latest edition of his annual Whisky Bible. In an Instagram post, fellow whisky writer Becky Paskin took issue with the apparent sexism of Murray’s notes: Paskin found “34 references to whisky being ‘sexy’ and many more crudely comparing drinking whisky to having sex with women.” The descriptions of the whiskies made by Welsh distiller Penderyn were particularly distasteful. As Paskin pointed out, Penderyn has an all-female distilling and blending team. Given his power in the whisky industry, that gives Murray’s Swiss Tony-ish response to Penderyn Celt (“If this was a woman, I’d want to make love to it every night. And in the morning. And afternoon, if I could find the time… and energy…”) a distinctly creepy cast – not to mention an image that I’d rather not have in my head when I have a dram of this fine whisky.

Zuccardi Valles Torrontés, Salta, Argentina 2019 (from £13.99, cambridgewine.com; kingsgatewineswinchester.co.uk; portlandwines.com) Murray for his part has defended his corner stoutly, and, as is the depressing modern reactionary way, has invoked principles of free speech being imperilled by a miserably over-sensitive and humourless woke generation. Since his book is widely available, it would be hard to argue that such deathless phrases as “if whisky could be sexed this would be a woman” have not been freely and widely expressed. Still, let he without sin and all that, and the Murray furore has prompted me to ask if my own tasting notes are entirely free of the sort of casual sexism that Murray’s reveal. The wine trade as a whole is certainly guilty of a habit of describing wines in stereotypically gendered ways: lighter, perfumed, pretty wines are routinely described as feminine. Mea culpa: I’ve fallen into this language unthinkingly when describing such aromatically floral wines as Zuccardi’s beautifully balanced torrontés employing archaic imagery I’d never ordinarily use: boudoir, buxom, though thankfully not sexy. This time around I’ll simply say it’s a beautiful, spicy-food-friendly white.

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Source: theguardian
Whisky, women and sexism | David Williams