Diageo, Bacardi, Whisky Exchange and others condemn ‘sexist’ Whisky Bible

Leading brands in the spirits industry have turned their backs on writer Jim Murray’s self-published Whisky Bible after the “sexist” language of his reviews was brought to light.

Earlier today Bacardi, which owns Aberfeldy and Dewars, said there was “no place for sexist and objectifying language” in the whisky industry, following the publication of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2021, which featured dozens of descriptions of whisky as “sexy” or “feminine”, or that he would “make love to” it if the whisky was a woman.

Whisky writer Jim Murray publishes his Whisky Bible every year, compiling reviews of whiskies from around the world.

But a conversation around exclusionary language started by whisky writers Filipe Schreiberg and Becky Paskin has brought the book into a harsh spotlight.

Beam Suntory, which owns the Alberta Premium Cask Strength rye whisky that won Murray’s ‘World Whisky of the Year’ accolade, has distanced itself from the annual review book, and said it had paused any PR activity promoting its award.

The company said it has “halted all promotions surrounding the latest edition and will no longer promote the ‘World Whisky of the Year’ accolade. We will evaluate any future collaborations based on commitment to meaningful change from the author in the future.”

In a statement on 22 September, Beam Suntory said it was “extremely disappointed” by the language Murray used.

Earlier this week Paskin, a Keeper of the Quaich, writer, and co-founder of OurWhisky, took to Twitter to condemn the 2021 edition of the Whisky Bible‘s frequent description of whiskies as “sexy”. One review of a whisky in the book, created by an all-female team an Penderyn Distillery in Wales, said: “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…”

In total, Paskin identified 34 instances of a whisky being given a “sexy” description. Another, produced by Glenmorangie, was given this review:

“If whisky could be sexed, this would be a woman. Every time I encounter Morangie Artisan, it pops up with a new look, a different perfume. And mood. It appears not to be able to make up its mind. But does it know how to pout, seduce and win your heart…?”

Since Paskin voiced her concerns, there has been an outpouring of support from industry insiders to boycott Murray’s review book.

Defending his work, Murray told the Times this week that “Whisky deals with sensuality, so, therefore for some whiskies I may refer to sex, because that is what the whisky may remind me of. If it does, then I say so.”

“If people can’t handle that, then fine. Don’t buy the Whisky Bible.”

He added: “If I’m upsetting the woke, the intolerant, the humourless, the pompous and the whisky snobs, then I’ll lose no sleep over that.”

However, the distilleries large and small which were featured in the book have turned their backs on Murray’s use of language and his “objectification” of women. Many also thanked Paskin for pointing the wording out to them.

(Photo: Facebook)

A statement from Beam Suntory said: “While we are honored that our Alberta Premium Cask Strength rye whisky was named ‘World Whisky of the Year’ by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2021, we are extremely disappointed by some of the language used in many of the publication’s product reviews.

“The full edition of Whisky Bible was not available to us prior to the announcement of ‘World Whisky of the Year,’ and we would like to thank the writers who have rightly voiced concerns about the objectification of women in many of Mr. Murray’s reviews. Language and behavior of this kind have been condoned for too long in the spirits industry, and we agree that it must stop. As a result, we are reevaluating all planned programming that references this recognition.”

Dozens of whisky producers have also condemned the language in the book, including Johnnie Walker whisky maker Diageo, William Grant & Sons-owned distillery Glenfiddich, and Ireland’s dingle distillery. Diageo said it was “disappointed” by the language used in Murray’s book, “which directly contravenes our values”.

Retailer The Whisky Exchange has also said it will no longer sell the review book. The company said in a statement that “we are passionate about making whisky inclusive and accessible for everyone, and we do not feel that some of hiss comments that have come to light in the recent edition represent this ethos or the future of the whisky community.”

Chivas, which is owned by French Spirits group Pernod Ricard, has also said it is “reviewing all the partners we work with to ensure the same values as us, our teams and our consumers.”

Even the Scotch Whisky Association weighed into the row, calling the language used in the Whisky Bible “offensive”.

“Sexism and objectification have no place in our industry,” it said in a statement.

“We do not support it.”

Read more:

Bacardi ‘not proud’ of low ABV spirit’s gendered marketing

Fierce backlash forces brewery to scrap ‘sexual harassment’ beer description

Portman Group joins calls to stamp out sexist drinks marketing

6 Responses to “Diageo, Bacardi, Whisky Exchange and others condemn ‘sexist’ Whisky Bible”

  1. R says:

    The issue here is not that of the word “sexy” but of the objectification of woman within Murray’s Reviews. The word “sexy” does not automatically mean objectifying woman. To think it does is to automatically objectify a woman. The term “sexy” means different things to different people, it can mean a man or a woman, it can mean an unaffordable sports car, it can mean a perfectly cooked steak or brand new personal item such as a guitar or golf club. It can spark excitement. If used correctly, the word sexy can be a nice way to describe something. Only people with gutter brains will automatically associate it with sex or sex with woman. To make the word “sexy” the villain of this tale is unfair on that specific term. Jim Murray is a vile man and his reviews completely inappropriate now and in the past. He and his objectifying of woman are the villain here, not the term “sexy”.
    Also why are whisky brands only bringing this to light and doing something about it now? They have been reading and sharing his reviews for years? They are most likely sorry he got caught and their 5 star reviews now mean nothing. They are as much to blame here as Murray.

  2. Ian MacMillan says:

    I have always been amazed at how many people subscribe to publications by this so called self proclaimed whisky expert. His self opinionated views are based on his very basic knowledge of whiskies without ever having worked in the industry at any level in production or blending. It would also be no surprise to learn that the more favorable reviews written by this author depend on how much a brand owner is willing to contribute for his completely unqualified opinions that totally mislead and confuse the reader.

  3. Geijo says:

    Okay that was a last bottle from Diageo then. It’s good that WhiskybBible is self published so Jim doesn’ t really need support from these companies to write his reviews. Keep writing Jim and use language and words you desire. Keeps reading interesting.

  4. L3 says:

    Is this the first edition of this guide? I have never read it but, if not, what was the language in previous editions and what did Diagio and Beam Suntory say about it?

  5. Maggy M says:

    What a load of tosh. It’s the guys opinion and he’s entitled to free speech. If you don’t agree with him, don’t buy his book.

    Even his most misogynistic comments aren’t particularly offensive. And SEXY isn’t a sexist word either. Just shows how much these articles clutch at straws to make (fake) news

    I wonder whether these multinationals are taking the higher moral stance or whether they are more concerned about their poor showings given years of cost cutting so why not jump on the woke and intolerant bandwagon.

    Loved his response-“If I’m upsetting the woke, the intolerant, the humourless, the pompous and the whisky snobs, then I’ll lose no sleep over that.” LEGEND. Most are too scared to speak the truth.

  6. Cascode says:

    I wonder just how many distilleries, individuals and organizations are seizing this opportunity to avenge a personal slight, bad review or long-standing grievance, and also how many are using the situation simply to enhance their own image as progressive and socially superior. Whatever else comes out of this, those who pointed the finger have expertly leveraged their reputations at someone else’s expense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters