Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer
I just came from the Nightclub and Bar show in Las Vegas, where I spoke about a subject near and dear to my taste buds – whiskey – specifically, women drinking whiskey. Why, might you ask? Well for starters, more women are drinking whiskey than we’ve seen in the past 40 years. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until 1976 that vodka overtook bourbon as the number one consumed spirit in the United States. But whiskey is growing like wildfire, specifically American (bourbon and rye) and Irish, and women are contributing to this surge across the globe.
In my presentation, I talked about why I think women are drinking more whiskey and here are a few key points:
The Evolution of Drinks: From Cosmos to classic cocktails, vintage favorites like the Old Fashioned and Sazarac have made a comeback bar menus. The easiest way to grow accustomed to whiskey is in a well-crafted mixed drink.
Better Variety and Quality: We’ve gone from rough to smooth, from just a few “grandpa” brands to a range of interesting, expertly crafted whiskies. American brands in particular are stealing their share of palate thanks to a surge of craft distillers. And like produce at farmer’s markets, women like the idea of buying local, even when it comes to spirits.
Popular Culture: It goes without saying; women are tuned in to what’s hot and influenced by media. Shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire have brought back martini lunches and speakeasy culture, or the refined culture of cocktails.
Power of the Purse: Recent studies show many women are out-earning their male counterparts. And with more money comes more disposable income and choice. Women like the powerful, sophisticated image of drinking a Scotch on the rocks. They also like bonding with their husbands and boyfriends over a dram, breaking down gender stereotypes about what women should drink.
Access to Education: Thank you Bartenders, Ambassadors, Retailers, Distributors, Brand Owners, Distillers. All of these people have created an environment (both digital and in person) where people can comfortably learn about whiskey. It’s not an easy category to understand, and the passion of these people in the industry has enabled us to taste and talk freely.
As women, we are the planners, the shoppers, the tasters – we’re pros at knowing what we like. We’re even scientifically proven to have a better sense of smell than our male counterparts. All of these things make us natural whiskey drinkers. Overall, cocktails have become a big part of how we socialize with each other. Bartenders tell me their female customers are excellent students when it comes to whiskey. They share opinions on taste (is that caramel or butterscotch, fig or raisin?), aren’t afraid to ask questions (what exactly is the difference between bourbon and Tennessee whiskey) and love to share what they discover.
Join me and the Bourbon Women’s Association for a special event in Boston at Eastern Standard on April 26th from 6-8pm. Learn about bourbon as well as taste other American whiskies. The $50 ticket price includes food, a great gift bag and a yearly membership to the BWA. Reserve a seat!