I need to tell you guys something. The only reason I want to read an article about "what women need to know about whiskey," is if there is scientific data released that indicates the existence of tastebuds in the vulva. Until then, cool it, and just let me drink my whiskey.
These headlines probably look familiar: Whiskey: Not Just For Men Anymore!, 10 Things Every Woman Should Know About Whiskey, Women Who Love Whiskey. We'd like to officially express to everyone, all at once: we're good on these kinds of articles. We've written all of them. They don't need to be conceived, pitched or executed ever again. So, to be clear, women drink whiskey. Also men drink whiskey. Other things we also both drink include water, beer, wine, juice, gin, tequila, on and on into infinity.
The idea, which seems to be perpetuated by the dozen come whiskey season, is that whiskey has "never been more popular amongst women." Well, women may have invented whiskey, according to Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey. Minnick details the history of the spirit, including the invention of distilling by Sumerian women, the propagation of whiskey as a curative property by women throughout history, their willingness to risk being tried for witchcraft in order to continue distilling it, and their ability and proclivity, time after time, to both independently found and take over whiskey-making businesses from their husbands, brothers and fathers.
Some of the most well-known whiskies still being produced today were either founded, owned, managed or saved by women, including Bushmills, Johnnie Walker and George Dickel. But somehow, that hasn't kept stories like HuffPost blogger Brooke Carey's from happening over and over again:
Last summer, I met one of my guy friends at a bar in midtown Manhattan. He ordered a Bud Light; I ordered a Jameson on the rocks. "Damn," he said, looking at me as if I'd just set myself on fire. "You're more of a man than I am."
This has happened to you, right? It has certainly happened to me. And every single whiskey-drinking woman I know. Which, to be clear, is just about every woman I know. In fact, a large majority of the drinkers I know, some of whom happen to be women, number whiskey as their adult beverage of choice. It even happens to women who work in whiskey professionally. Heather Greene, whiskey sommelier at the Flatiron Room in New York City has nearly had to poke her eyes out, it's happened so many times.
After a whole tasting with me, a man will then ask: Do you really drink this stuff? I want to poke my eyes out with the nearest sharp object. I have gone through a lecture in front of 90 people where they ask me very detailed questions about how you cask a whiskey or aroma properties or production methods, and then we'll do a blind tasting and evaluate and someone will come up and say: Do you really drink this? It's infuriating... I fear that I'm always going to be a woman in whiskey. I just want to be a whiskey person, but it's not that way yet.
A lot of this has to do with the assertion that whiskey is inherently manly. By manly, of course, we mean bold and robust. I wonder if anyone has ever described something as tasting particularly feminine? (My guess is probably not. And if they did, it probably wasn't a compliment.) This is of course unfair to both women who love whiskey and men who hate it. But it's also pretty unfair to whiskey, and the people who make it. Whiskey is a broad term to describe a lot of different styles of brown spirits that can taste like everything from maple syrup to burning logs. How many different things can "manly" taste like?
At the end of the day, we're talking about a beverage.
All of which is to say: there are probably no more things that women need to know about whiskey. Are there things that people need to know about whiskey? Yeah, of course. People need to know about Japanese whisky, and Ohio whiskey and bourbon and buttermilk cocktails and whiskey things no one even knows about yet. But unless, by some incredible technological and social advancement, we are going to start tasting whiskeys with our vaginas, I think we're safe to stop gendering tastebuds. Deal? Deal.
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