Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Women and Whiskey Question Not So Hard to Figure Out

The 'brain teaser' goes like this. "A father and his son are in a car accident. The father is killed and the son is seriously injured. The son is taken to the hospital where the surgeon says, 'I cannot operate, because this boy is my son.' How is this possible?" About half of people asked fail to answer the question correctly.

The surgeon is his mother.

Lately, much has been written about women and whiskey. Fred Minnick wrote a fine book about women whiskey-makers, but most of the noise lately has been about women whiskey drinkers.

Statistically, it is true that more women are drinking whiskey than ever before. I've noticed the change myself. Between 2010 and 2013 I taught regular whiskey classes in Chicago. Especially in my Whiskey 101 course, half or more of the students were women. When WhiskeyFest started in Chicago a little more than ten years ago, it was mostly men and the few women there were with a man. Today there are many more women, and many come with female friends.

So, yes, more women are drinking whiskey. That's a fact. People just get stupid when they try to explain why. As with the 'brain teaser' above, the answer is obvious if you don't subscribe to gender stereotypes. For roughly the last century, women in steadily growing numbers have been rejecting gender stereotypes of many kinds and, as a result, they are increasingly participating in various aspects of life in numbers similar to men.

While this is mostly about women rejecting gender roles and stereotypes, it's a little bit about the growing number of men who also reject them.

There are no boy drinks and girl drinks, only prejudices and stereotypes. When those fall away, we see that men and women aren't so different. People are different, individuals like different things. It just doesn't break down as male/female. Sure, gender has consequences, but they don't apply to beverage choices.

Women don't drink whiskey to be 'more like men,' they drink whiskey to be more like themselves.


Anonymous said...

Funny - I've always thought women drink whiskey because it tastes good, and women enjoy things that taste good. Kinda the same reason men drink whiskey, but they have different parts. Since I (personally) drink whiskey with my mouth, not my junk, I'm not surprised that people with different junk than mine like it too.

Anonymous said...


Excellent post, as usual.

I follow a number of bourbon blogs. They mostly all have lots of good information and tasting notes and reviews. Some have excellent posts, and some I have issue with but I've not seen one before yours of today that I'd describe as being a bit profound.

>they drink whiskey to be more like themselves.

This is an excellent line, and insightful. But it needs to be turned upside down, too, in this way: People who drink too much whisky don't drink to be more like themselves, but less.


Alex said...

I feel like there is a certain hurdle to overcome to get into whiskey, as it's not as flavorless as some drinks and there are few trendy cocktails made with it that don't obscure the flavor of the spirit. And cultural norms may pressure men into pressing past the initial dislike more than woman (just like with beer). But if the flavor does appeal to anyone or if they are interested in getting into it and are willing to push past the initial strong flavor, it strikes me that women can be just as enthusiastic about it as men, and women might even have better palates and be more discerning.

Anonymous said...

No wonder there's a whiskey shortage!

Emily Arden Wells said...


Let us stop gendering things, from Cocktails to Careers!

Bravo Chuck!

Unknown said...

I can't tell if I should be proud or ashamed that my answer was:

"Well, obviously, the boy was adopted by gay dads."

Sexism is alive and well, though slightly different, here in the Bay Area, I guess.