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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

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