The Scotch Whisky Association’s CEO Karen Betts has criticized the “sexism” of Jim Murray’s “Whisky Bible” amid a growing outcry against the language used in the publication.
“Whisky is for everyone — sexism and the objectification of women have no place in our industry,” said Bretts.
“The language used in the ‘Whisky Bible’ which has been highlighted in recent days is offensive and we do not support it.
“Our industry is working hard to ensure that Scotch Whisky reflects and celebrates the diversity of our consumers all over the world and of our global workforce and the communities in which we are based.
“As part of this, next week the industry will launch its Diversity and Inclusivity Charter, highlighting the work we are doing together to ensure we are a welcoming industry for people of every gender, ethnicity, disability, age and sexual orientation and setting out our future goals.
“Through this work, we are determined that the Scotch Whisky industry’s reputation will be based into the future not only on the quality of our whiskies but also on our respect for diversity.”
Scotch Whisky exports grew 4.4% to a record £4.91 billion in 2019, with 1.3 billion bottles exported to 180 markets.
Betts added: “Being a welcoming industry to our diverse global workforce and to the huge range of people all over the world who love our whiskies is very important to us.
“There’s no place for sexism or other kinds of discrimination.”
In a long statement, Jim Murray told a whisky trade publication: “This is not a matter of alleged sexism on the trumped up charges against me – which have clearly been concocted for very clear purposes – this is an attack on the very essence of what it is to be a critic in any sphere, be it music, art, sport, wine or whisky.
“In other words: an attack on free thought and free speech.
“We are entering very dangerous territory when people try to control the thoughts of others and wilfully distort the truth for their own ends.
“This is now a battle between free speech and humourless puritanism. I am not alone in finding this very sinister.
“I am not sexist; the Whisky Bible is not sexist, has never been sexist and I will not bow to this faux outrage.
“I have always fought the bully and I will do so here.
“Debate has been replaced by the baying of the mob, common sense and decency by straitjacketed dogma.
“Frankly, these people appal me because what they are doing is undermining society itself.
“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.
“I am a professional writer and use a language that adults – for the Whisky Bible is designed for adults – can relate to.
“I paint pictures of a whisky.
“And if that, on the rare occasion, is the picture or sensation that formulates in my mind, then I say so.
“As I have every right to.
“Rather than write interesting, illuminating and compelling articles about whisky, other writers would rather engage in ‘cancel culture’ to [bring] down the world’s most successful author on the subject.
“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.
“I am famed for my ability to nose a whisky.
“And I can tell you that I can smell a huge rat with this entire manufactured and revolting affair.
“I have dedicated 30 years of my life, longer than anyone else on this planet, fighting for whisky and the whisky underdog, so people will discover great whiskies from wherever they may be in the world.
“This has put quite a few people’s noses out of joint.
“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.
“Whether these latter day Cromwellians like it or not.”