Drink Tank

Whisky needs to look at gin for reinvigoration inspiration

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Looking ahead: the industry needs to help change the perception of whisky
Looking ahead: the industry needs to help change the perception of whisky

Related tags: Whisky, Pubs, Alcoholic beverage

The whisky category should look to fellow spirit gin when it comes to reinventing the category and increasing popularity.

A team of 12 Diageo master blenders with no fewer than 250 years' of experience between them are busily working together to make the category more accessible, said the company's leading blender Emma Walker at the Drink Tank conference in London this month (27 November).

Part of the solution is also to make the category more diverse and increase the number of women working in the male-dominated sector, she added, saying it was frustrating when people asked her what it was like to be a woman working in whisky. "Men don't get asked what it's like to be a man working in whisky," she said.

Improve communication

Walker added: “We need to get better at talking about women in whisky. However, we have a gender balance in the team. Each person has been picked because of their skills and experience.

“There’s almost a perception externally that whisky is determined by men and this is partly our own making.

“Master blenders are traditionally white guys talking to an audience, but behind the curtain is a team of men and women to help the guys at the forefront.

“More of the team are getting the opportunities to talk about stories and how things are behind the scenes and how we develop different whiskies. I enjoy being able to talk about everyone.”

Increased numbers

Walker went on to highlight what she sees when it comes to women working in the whisky industry and how things have changed.

She added: “We introduced first female copper smith in Scotland in 2018 through apprenticeships. We’re seeing increased numbers of women in engineering and operations.

“We need to continue to be able to tell these stories with a wider audience and hope the media and other people start to reflect that as well. Whisky is there to be enjoyed. We need to break the perceptions.

“Whisky is transferable and we need to bring new people into the sector and get them to enjoy it. We need to look at how things are in the gin world.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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