There has been a social media storm in the whisky world over the past week. The storm started with a certain Panama hat-wearing person naming the Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye his ‘World Whisky of the Year’. His press release on this award not surprisingly coincided with the release of his annual book of whisky scores. Media jumped on the press release and the nearly sold out Alberta Premium Cask Strength became completely sold out shortly thereafter.
This in itself is not new. The same thing happened in 2015 when the hat-wearer bestowed the same award on another Canadian Whisky: the Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye.
The man in the Panama hat has been a divisive figure within the whisky industry for years. Some individuals and many companies lauded him and his scores for his ability to create buzz around brands that then saw a bump in sales. Others have seen him as doing more harm than good for the industry, creating artificial scarcity through somewhat dubious, and potentially self-serving, scores and awards that only showcase his own personal taste in whisky and book-selling.
What really caused a stir though, and continues to send waves through the industry, are a series of Tweets by Becky Paskin, former editor of Scotchwhisky.com, who pointed out some of the sexist and misogynist language the author of the whisky scores book wrote into his tasting notes. Becky’s comments were a catalyst for others in the industry to chime in on how much of a disservice this is for women, whisky drinkers, and the whisky industry alike.
Whisky brands and companies, taking this all in, started to distance themselves from both the man in the Panama hat and his scores and book. With the uproar caused, Andrew was asked for his take on it by CBC Calgary’s The Eyeopener.
In an interview with David Gray, Andrew was asked to comment on the allegations of sexism against Jim Murray and the Whisky Bible. The interview was quoted in an article posted on CBC News Thursday afternoon: “Calgary distillery unsure it’ll promote its top rating by Whisky Bible after book deemed sexist by industry.”
A few of people have asked if there was a way to stream Andrew’s Wednesday interview. CBC was kind enough to send us a digital copy. You can hear it by clicking the link below!
I am no fan of Jim Murray or his Whisky Bible but, like many, I have purchased a few of his books over the years. My interest in his ratings and writings waned when I eventually came to realise that they didn’t offer much actual information and only represented one person’s opinion. I moved onto books such as the great Malt Whisky Yearbook and followed blogs and websites such as Scotchwhisky.com, Whiskyfun.com. Along the way I even found an awesome site written by a fellow Calgarian. It isn’t updated as frequently now, but you can always come into the store and ask for his opinion.
That is beside the point though. And if my own journey through the whisky world does not align with yours, that is fine. Neither of us has to be wrong. What should go without saying now and forevermore, is that sexism and misogyny have no place in the whisky industry or anywhere else.
Regardless of your or my personal feelings on Jim Murray and his book, it is important to understand that his word is not gospel. There are plenty of people – both professional and enthusiast – that offer well-thought-out writing, blog posts, bottle reviews and more on Canadian Whisky, Scotch, Bourbon. What makes them great is not just their knowledge, insight, or opinions but their respect and treatment of anybody interested in whisky.
The best people in the whisky industry aren’t the ones looking to talk at you and sell a book. The whisky people worth paying attention to are the ones that are ready and willing to have a conversation.
And I will keep saying the same thing until I have something published.
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