It’s taken me a long time to become a whisky woman. Or whiskey woman, depending on where you are when reading this post. I’m part of that still somewhat exclusive club of women who like the “hard stuff”.
Most statistics provided by whisky brands show that about 25% of women will drink whisky in some form or another (on its own or in a mixed drink) – however, this number is increasing as whisky, Scotch and bourbon become even more popular… and women more adventurous in what they drink.
Growing up in a Polish Canadian home, the two types of hard liquor that were often offered up to guests were vodka (no surprise) or rye whisky – aka “żytnia”. My dad would mix them with ginger ale or a cola over ice. Lady guests would most often reach for vodka-based drinks, which were perceived as more lady-like. Of course, occasionally the “Nalewka Babuni” (cherry brandy) would be enjoyed as a shot.
Crown Royal graced our liquor cabinet. Occasionally we would see a bottle of Canadian Club. Scotch, Irish whisky or American whiskies/bourbons were rarely enjoyed unless they were a gift.
Growing up, I was used to vodka shots and easy mixed drinks – we drank them on special occasions such as Easter or Christmas, birthday celebrations or when family friends visited. Oh – and how can one forget the vodka shots enjoyed at clubs and bars with your group of friends on a Friday night? I can only remember doing tequila shots once during those long-gone days – it was vodka all the way! I slowly graduated to beer and wine in the 20s and 30s.
And then I had a crash course in Canadian whisky. I was at the beginning of becoming a whisky woman!
My Whisky Period Begins
It took me a bit of time to fall into like with whisky and much reading into the subject, tasting and talking with experts in the field. Was it an acquired taste? Most definitely, yes.
My first project working at a PR agency specializing in food and alcohol beverage a few years ago was launching the special edition of Alberta Premium 30 Year Old 100% Rye Whisky. I had the pleasure of organizing and supporting the filming at the distillery for the launch video (see below). For anybody looking for a bottle to purchase, good luck. It’s sold out. You may find a private seller willing to provide you with a bottle for a good chunk of change. We drank the last drop of my bottle the day after my wedding.
Can you imagine a whisky newbie whetting their whistle with a wallop of rye spiciness? Alberta Premium’s regular whisky is a staple for many bartenders across Canada and found usually on the bottom shelf of the LCBO in Ontario. However, apparently Jim Murray – whisky aficionado and expert extraordinaire – consistently includes it as one of his favourite Canadian rye whiskies. He’s the same guy who recently made whisky connoisseurs’ jaws drop by naming Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye the best whisky in the world in 2015.
Immersing myself in the world of whisky helped bring about a new appreciation for it. I’m not an expert by any means, but I know the difference between most whiskies. There are so many to explore and try – from Japanese whiskies, Australian, Irish, Scotch, American whiskey and bourbons… even Taiwan (Kavalan is best known).
My next post will include tips on how to become a whisky woman.
If you can’t wait to learn more about whisky, I recommend you follow these two whisky enthusiasts, both with books on the subject:
Davin de Kergommeaux – Canadian Whisky
Mark Bylok – The Whisky Cabinet (includes a regular podcast with guest experts)
Also check out this fantastic whisky woman’s blog – Johanne McInnis is the Whisky Lassie.
Always remember, best to be a whisky lady and drink in moderation. Cheers!
This post is the first of a series exploring the general topic of whisky, whisky women and whisky drinks.