Art of Enjoying Cocktails
Whiskey: A [Wo]man’s Drink
Updated Feb. 2, 2016
Whiskey has long been stereotyped as a “man’s drink.” Just saying the word conjures up a smoky room filled with men in pristine suits shaking on business deals. Whether it was on the golf course, or with a cigar in hand, whiskey became a prevalent member of the boy’s club. But, the stereotype is colored with some truth. As of 1990, only 15 percent of whiskey drinkers were women. However, things haven’t always been that way.
Whiskey Started With Women
Women have been perfecting bourbon and whiskey long before the boys. In fact, women and whiskey go back all the way to the 2nd or 3rd century when an Egyptian woman, Maria Hebrea, supposedly invented a device that laid the groundwork for the modern still that distilleries use today.
And that’s just the beginning. Fast-forward to 18th century colonial times and women were whipping up whiskey in their homes. Men even went as far as to place ads in the papers for wives, specifying a preference for women that could make a strong batch of the good stuff.
Women and Whiskey Become Taboo
The 1900s rolled around, and women and whiskey quickly got a bad rap because a large portion of whiskey sales occurred in questionable environments and became associated with raunchy and rowdy behavior. Advertising to women abruptly stopped, and it wasn’t until 1987 when the ban on marketing distilled spirits to women was lifted.
Behind the scenes, women were still leaving their mark on the whiskey world. In the 1950s, Bill Samuel introduced a new type of whiskey that forewent traditional rye and used red winter wheat in its mash instead. This whiskey became known as Maker’s Mark®. However, the iconic bottle that adorns the shelves wasn’t Bill’s brainchild; it was his wife, Margie’s. Inspired by her collection of cognac bottles, she designed a square-shaped container and dipped it in red wax that she melted in her kitchen fryer.
Women and Whiskey On the Rise
In 2010, the Bourbon Women Association formed, to show that the spirit is no longer just for men. And while women love whiskey in cocktails, like juleps, when members of the Bourbon Women Association were surveyed on how they preferred to drink their bourbon, the majority gave the same answer: straight.
According to IWSR (International Wine & Spirit Research), in 2013, Americans drank 24 million cases of domestically produced whiskey and women made up 37 percent of that audience. That’s a whopping 22 percent more than just two decades before.
Whiskey is a strong spirit with a rich history and a lot of complexity. But that is no match for the women of today. Whether you want to drink whiskey straight up or mixed into something sweeter, the world of whiskey is open and waiting for women to return. Ease into it with a honeyed cocktail, like the Honey Toddy or Maple Cider. When you’re ready, go bold and opt for a peaty Scottish whisky, like Laphroaig®. The rule is, drink what you feel in that moment and don’t fear the drink that the boys have coveted for so long.
For some whiskey cocktail ideas, try these tasty recipes: