I've been trying to write something to post here for a few days. It's been difficult for two reasons. I want to share some of my favourite whisky media that's out there (I think Whiskycast kinda comes with the territory, and there's plenty more!) but it highlights just how white and male my whisky content bubble is. Not by intention, but I want to find great women to share with you all, not because they are women, but because of the content they make being excellent. It's tough, I'm trying, but it's tough. There have been many Whiskycast episodes and webcasts featuring women in the whisky industry on this same basis, but it's a sadly small percentage of creators. And the more I think about it, the more I'm reminded of an incident I saw on social media recently. I won't go into specifics, I'm paraphrasing the accounts and not naming names. A woman posted about her experiences at a whisky bar, and how loud, rowdy men had spoiled her experience and would go some way to explaining the lack of female engagement in such places. She then said that women only/LGBTQ+ tastings would be a welcome way to enjoy whisky and bring people into the community who may be put off otherwise by such places. This was her lived experience. A man then came into the conversation, using fancy language and school debating tactics to point out that with all the calls for diversity in whisky, why was it ok to *discriminate* against men? Why are they the only group it's ok to exclude? And then, they doubled down. *He* wasn't behaving badly. He 'Not all Men'-d the argument. It wasn't about the woman's experience being bad, it was about him - a white, older man - being disadvantaged. I have many, many issues with this argument. I believe fundamentally that more diversity is great in whisky. There are many women who have made contributions to the whisky we drink now - what would Makers Mark be without Margie Samuels? - but more voices and perspectives brought to whisky, the better. Every gender, geography, philosophy, talent, idea and passion brings something new to whisky as a whole. Every person with a new idea adds to the vat of amber wonderfulness and can lead to yet more ideas and creativity. Bringing in more people with different palettes and ideas is A Good Thing. My second point it, it is an ALL MEN PROBLEM. It's up to all men to call out bad behaviour, inappropriate behaviour, to build bars and shows that cater for all comers. I was sad to hear about a bad experience that one woman working on a stand had at the Whisky Show in London. It's up to show organisers to have zero tolerance for such activities and a clear code of conduct. I'm not saying that all men are in the wrong, but all men have a responsibility to make the whisky world as accommodating as possible to those currently feeling like it's not for them. To amplify those minority voices. To support those doing great things. It's not an easy fix and it takes effort, but in the end it all leads to a better community and better whisky. It's a recurring comment across many areas of life that it's all down to one bad apple, or a few bad apples. It's not everyone. The full, original proverb is "one bad apple spoils the whole barrel", and the last thing the whisky world needs is spoiled barrels.

Posted by Chris Ratcliff at 2022-11-07 20:46:12 UTC