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Moray-Speyside whisky industry at the centre of a sexism storm surrounding Jim Murray's Whisky Bible


By Jonathan Clark

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WHISKY has been hit by a sexism storm this week – with many of the industry's key players in Moray taking a stand against gender inequality.

At the centre of the storm is Jim Murray and his 'Whisky Bible', with freelance whisky journalist Becky Paskin describing the book as "sexist and vulgar" on social media.

Becky Paskin has described Jim Murray's book as vulgar and sexist. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Becky Paskin has described Jim Murray's book as vulgar and sexist. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Mr Murray, who has been writing the book, released annually, since 2003, accused Ms Paskin of an assault on free speech.

But a number of key players in Moray's whisky industry have backed Ms Paskin – or highlighted their anti-sexism stance – including Glenfiddich, Chivas Brothers, Diageo and Gordon & MacPhail.

Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky backed Ms Paskin. Picture: Becky Saunderson
Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky backed Ms Paskin. Picture: Becky Saunderson

Posting on social media, Ms Paskin said she found 34 references to whisky being "sexy" in the Whisky Bible 2020.

She gave a few examples of the alleged sexism, including one where Mr Murray writes "If whisky could be sexed, this would be a woman. 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 know how to pout, seduce and win your heart...? Oh yes."

She added: "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?

"Much of the industry has been working hard to change whisky's reputation as a 'man's drink', but condoning, even celebrating, a book that contains language like this erases much of that progress and allows the objectification of women in whisky.

"Any brand celebrating their placement in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible should be ashamed."

Dufftown-based Glenfiddich said they "fully support" Ms Paskin "calling time on sexism in whisky".

They added: "It (sexism) has no place in our industry. Her (Becky's) comments have inspired us to review the partners we work with so we can be part of building a whisky community that is more open and inclusive.

"It's never easy to be brave and take a stand so thank you for this Becky."

Meanwhile Chivas Brothers, Diageo and Gordon & MacPhail also released statements on the matter.

Neil Urquhart, chair at Gordon and MacPhail. Picture: Eric Cormack
Neil Urquhart, chair at Gordon and MacPhail. Picture: Eric Cormack

Mr Murray provided a long statement in retort, published on The Spirits Business , in which he accused those criticising him of an assault on free speech.

"This is not a matter of alleged sexism on the trumped up charges against me," he wrote. "This is an attack on the very essence of what it is to be a critic in any sphere. In other words: an attack on free thought and free speech.

"I am not sexist; the Whisky Bible is not sexist, has never been sexist and I will not bow to this faux outrage.

"How, in God’s name, can, for instance, likening a whisky to an orgasm be remotely construed as sexist? Last I heard, male, females, transgender people, everyone is capable of an orgasm.

"Some one million people have bought the Whisky Bible since it first came out in 2003 – and in that time I have not received a single letter, email or text complaining of its content. Not one. Suddenly, though…this. Several people writing exactly the same thing on the same day. Strange that.

"These outrageous and concocted allegations will not derail me in my life’s quest. My championing of great whisky will continue. My freedom of speech will continue."

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