How are women changing whisky?

Whisky is often seen as a ‘man’s drink’. But with female whisky drinkers and makers receiving increased exposure, the emergence of forward-thinking brands with female founders, and a vocal community, there’s a renewed effort to evolve past the spirit’s traditional constraints.

If whisky makes you think of a White man sipping a neat measure in a leather chair, you’re not alone. The trope has come to define a very modern problem for a very classic drink: where are all the women?

Despite the persistence of whisky’s perceived masculinity, 36% of whisky drinkers are women, and those in the UK drank 40 million more glasses of whisky in 2020 than they did in 2010 – a 15% increase. The decades-long lack of visibility of women making or drinking whisky has solidified the idea that the spirit is a man’s drink. “Consumer attitude is probably one of the biggest challenges,” says Laura Davies, distillery manager at Penderyn Distillery. “I’ve lost count of the number of times someone’s whispered to me after a tasting event, ‘Tell me honestly, you don’t like that stuff really, do you?’ It can be so difficult to change people’s mindset, and it’s a real barrier to normalising women in the industry.”

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