The 2021 ‘Whisky Bible’ Has Sparked Controversy Over Alleged Sexism

Becky Paskin — world-renowned whisky writer and educator — called out the Jim Murray Whisky Bible on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter over alleged sexism by the book’s author and whisk(e)y reviewer, the titular Jim Murray. Paskin started out her inventory of the rating guide’s sexism on Twitter yesterday with: “This post will no doubt attract some hate comments, but something needs to be said. Why does the whisky industry still hold Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in such high regard when his tasting notes are so sexist and vulgar?”

Paskin’s eleven tweet thread and her Instagram post point out verbatim instances where Murray has equated a whiskey’s taste to women or having sex. Paskin says there are 34 instances in the latest edition of 4,500 whisk(e)y reviews that speak about women in a manner similar to this one about Glenmorangie Artisan Casks: “If whisky could be sexed, this would be a woman.” Murray wrote. “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…? Oh yes.”

From Paskin’s thread:

In the 2021 edition there are 34 references to whisky being ‘sexy’ and many more crudely comparing drinking whisky to having sex with women.

Penderyn is made by an all-female team of distillers and blenders, yet this is how he refers to their whisky: “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…” (Penderyn Celt)

You can read more of the instances below, via Paskin’s Twitter account.

The issue was expanded on today in The Times when Mike Wafe reported on the issue by writing, “Whisky connoisseurs enjoying a quiet dram have had their world shattered by a noisy row about sexism.” Which, in and of itself sounds pretty sexist against the women making “noise” over legitimate concerns of representation.

The Times article repeats Paskin’s Twitter and Instagram posts points. It also includes a rebuttal from Murray, who, it’s worth noting, faces some degree of criticism every year when his book drops. “Whisky deals with sensuality, so, therefore, for some whiskies I may refer to sex, because that is what the whisky may remind me of.” Murray then continued that if he’s upsetting the “woke” or “humorless” or “the whisky snobs” that he’ll “lose no sleep over that.”

Paskin is making a wider point, however — a point that is incredibly relevant in 2020. As she points out in her Instagram post, “Women working in the industry continue to be asked if we even like whisky, with ambassadors and female whisky makers often enduring leering comments during whisky tastings and festivals. This. Has. To. Stop.”

UPDATE: As Paskin reports, the Whiskey Exchange has decided to delist The Whisky Bible from their website and stores.

Dornoch Distillery has also disavowed Murray, as has Catoctin Creek distillery.