For a few days now there have been rumours about the reviews by Jim Murray, the well-known English critic and journalist, of the whiskies divided into categories in the 2021 edition of his well-known Whisky Bible.
The distilleries that have received the biggest awards, as always happens on these occasions, have immediately rushed to announce it on social media, complete with a proudly displayed rosette: it’s always a good marketing strategy to share an award obtained by someone considered authoritative.
But this year something different is happening…
On her Instagram profile, industry journalist Becky Paskin denounced the various sexist and misogynistic passages contained in the book, triggering a flood of shares and posts of support (including ours) from many enthusiasts and bloggers (the latter just a few, in truth), and even some distilleries, reaching page 5 of the Times in the issue on newsstands on 21 September.
UPDATE: The Whisky Exchange, Glenfiddich, Glenturret, Dornoch, Dingle, Irish Whiskey Magazine, Beam Suntory, Chivas Brothers, East London Liquor Company, Diageo, Bacardi, Benromach, the Distell group and the Scotch Whisky Association have also taken a stand.
Even the Scotch Malt Whisky Society was keen to ‘put its hands on it’, although it didn’t explicitly mention the case.
Some try to justify the journalist’s remarks as simple jokes in bad taste from a man of another era, whose book is aimed at an equally âgée audience, but my opinion is that it’s too easy to dismiss the matter as a circumscribed and irrelevant episode: the world of whisky has always been steeped in not-so-concealed, if not exhibited, male chauvinism, starting from the distorted conviction that it’s a purely male passion, to the objectification of women in communication, whether in the sector or as amateurs.
Because here we are not talking about being “politically correct” (as more than one has sarcastically observed) but about censoring those forms of thought (and action) that are and must be considered unacceptable by a society and a culture that consider themselves modern and advanced.
But obviously most of the shields are raised by white, straight and western males, who barely know how to spell discrimination…
Murray’s reaction was not long in coming, and remained in character, calling the post
“an attack on freedom of thought and speech. I am not a sexist, the Whisky Bible is not sexist, never has been, and I will not bow to this phony protest. I am known for my ability to smell whisky, and I can tell you that I smell a sewer in this revolting, artfully mounted affair.”
I think the dinosaurs thought the same when they saw the meteorite in the sky….