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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

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Most Recent Whisky Review

Kilchoman Sanaig

I am a big fan of sherry cask aged and finished Islay whisky (Bowmore 15 The Darkest is still all time Top 10 for me) and so I was looking forward to this 46% ABV no age statement expression from Islay's youngest distillery (but not for much longer!). The nose is classic "bonfire on the beach" with some cooked fruits as well.  The taste is very sweet with caramel, vanilla toffee, green apples and of course some peat which then goes on to dominate the finish while some tannin Sherry notes also push through drying the mouthfeel.  With water the sweetness turns to brown sugar and the peat turns more smokey; hot and peppery on the palate.  It is good but the sherry feels held  back rather than forward on this one.

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  • Thursday, 02 February 2012 00:33

    Does Whisky Have a Gender?

    Written by
    I recently read Ian Buxton's excellent article in Whisky Advocate's winter 2011 edition asking if whisky has a soul.  An interesting question and his article made for a good read.  That article also triggered in me another thought, if whisky has soul, then does it have a gender?  Is whisky male or female?  My friend Ding of www.dingsbeerblog.com on Twitter recent stated, quite simply and in way less than 140 characters, that beer was male.  However, if you are willing to entertain this abstract concept, I think the answer is not as simple when it comes to whisky.

    My initial reaction was whisky is male.  Of course it is.   It is very hard to imagine anything that is regularly associated with the smell of alcohol, smoke, leather and tobacco that is not male.  Perhaps what springs to your mind is a chain smoking, alcoholic dominatrix (in which case you may need some help) but my guess is most people will think of a man first. 

    However whisky is often characterized as a "man's drink".  This is a generalization and even a stereotype I accept,  I have seen plenty of women at recent whisky tasting events enjoying the water of life,  however if we accept men are preferentially attracted to whisky then doesn't that make whisky more likely to be female?  For example women, boats and cars, other known interests of the male, are referred to as female.    Don't opposites attract?

    I also think there can be little argument that distilleries are female.  They are often described as beautiful and picturesque (two words I have never heard applied to me).  The rounded sumptuous curves and seductive smoothness of the pot still need no further explanation or evaluation, when up close you simply have to touch it, ideally when it is not running, and the spirit produced, often called new make spirit will sometimes be referred to as "mother's milk" and is matured, like a young child, in the distillery family home of warehouses until ready to go out in the world as whisky.  Distilleries are definitely female and should be referred to as she. When I asked Jim Martin the Malted Muse the question of whisky and gender he came to same conclusion in his podcast (www.themaltedmuse.com) that distilleries were female.  Countries are usually referred to as female as well.  As we often refer to whisky by the country of origin (Scotch, Irish, Canadian) would that also imply the product of that country, their whisky, is also female? 

    All things considered, against my initial instinct, I think there is very strong case to be made that whisky is female, especially when you consider the sweetness of bourbon and the light and sophisticated triple distilled Irish whiskies.  Those spirits have to be female right?   But how can you reconcile female with the earthy, smokey Laphroaig, a cask strength mouth puckering Glenfarclas or fiery, precocious young rye whisky?  You can't.  Those aren't female, they are men.  Big hairy men.  Jim Martin also suggested that whiskies can be male or female depending on their individual character.

    So I have a suggestion.   My mother is of Irish heritage and her middle name is Frances.  Her father was called Francis.  The Irish spelling of the female version of the name has an "e" and the male version has an "i".  They sound the same when spoken but when written you can tell the female from the male.  I suggest those whiskies that use an "e" in the spelling of whiskey, such as Irish and Bourbons, will be female.  Those that spell whisky with no "e" be male.   I think as broad based solution it is not bad, female for bourbons and Irish and male for scotch seems to work for me anyway and if a particular distillery or brand feels strongly their spirit is female or male then they always have the option to change the spelling to suit the convention I am now proposing.   Therefore whisky can be male or female and the spelling can be used to determine which is which. 

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