What do you think of when you think of whisky? I imagine an older gentleman in a silk smoking jacket rolling two fingers of Chivas Regal around his glass while thinking about something sinister.
Or perhaps it would be a cowboy passed out with a bottle of Jack in his hand? Or a politically charged debate in a smoke-filled drawing room? Either way, it is safe to say that the imagination almost always conjures up images of blokes.
But where do us girls fit into all of this?
You might be surprised to learn that in the present day, women make up nearly a third of whisky drinkers, so the notion that whisky is still considered a ‘man’s drink’ is both absurd and old-fashioned.
The fact that lady whisky drinkers are on the rise can’t be avoided by even the staunchest anti-feminist. Back in the 1950’s, women made up 5% of hard spirit buyers in the US. This crept up to 15% in the 1990’s and has only now hit a considerable high.
But, in this age of increasing equality, do women still have to endure the same raised eyebrows when choosing something stronger than sparkling wine or a fruity cocktail?
The simple answer is no. With rapidly developing approaches to gender norms in everywhere else, whisky drinking is just another aspect of life in which women can take control and try to wrestle the enduring perceptions from the sweaty hands of old blokes and drunken cowboys.
If we look at where these perceptions come from, it can attributed to two major factors; the greatest things in life (except sex) – booze and money.
The first one, booze, revolves around alcohol levels. As many drinkers know, whisky tends to average around 43-46% proof alcohol content and is generally considered a ‘hard liquor’.
I’m sure we all know this all too well, but that means it can get you drunk. Like really drunk, really quickly. This fact alone put it out of reach for women of the past. Not only was it once thought that women were too delicate to physically handle being drunk, it was more importantly, not considered ‘ladylike’ to be so.
That has changed, however, and we now live in a world where we frequently drink whatever we like together- be it a girl with a Scotch or a bloke with a Cosmo- without what is dangling (or not dangling) between our legs even being brought into consideration. So, as we see drunkenness transcending gender- we saw simultaneously that girls have been getting on the stronger stuff – making up for all those years we’d been missing out.
Money has to also be brought in to consideration too. Whisky is a luxury product and more often than not comes with a significant price tag. It’s association as a luxurious tool for the family breadwinner to drown his sorrows after a hard day at work, or it’s connotation with specific trades or hobbies reserved just for men, significantly cemented these associations.
However, not only are women earning their own money nowadays, they are spending it on themselves without restriction, enabling them to become experts on these products in their own right.
And the simple scientific fact exists – women make much better connoisseurs than men. It is known that women are much more in tune with their own sense of taste because they have more taste buds compared to men so are much more likely to be able to detect the subtle differences in a fine whisky. How’s that for a bit of science?
If you don’t believe me all you have to do is head to The Loft to catch a load of avid female whisky drinkers carefully crafting their own blended whisky with Chivas Regal. So, ladies, I want you to get down there with your expert taste buds, your gaggle of free-thinking, whiskey drinking girlfriends and a healthy dose of suffragette spirit and get blending- we have a lot of making up to do.
Book your tickets to The Blend before it ends at the end of May.