Jim Murray's Whisky Bible delisted as backlash grows

22 September, 2020

The Whisky Exchange has stopped selling Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible  as the backlash against his “sexist” reviews continues to gather pace.

Journalist Becky Paskin (pictured) called out the author after finding that the latest edition contained “34 references to whisky being ‘sexy’ and many more crudely comparing drinking whisky to having sex with women”.

Murray launched a passionate counterattack, claiming his critics are the enemies of free speech, but calls to boycott his book have snowballed over the past 24 hours.

The Whisky Exchange led the charge. “We have made the decision as a business to delist Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible from The Whisky Exchange website and stores,” said the retailer. “We are passionate about making the world of whisky inclusive and accessible for everyone, and we do not feel that some of his comments that have come to light in the recent edition represent this ethos or the future of the whisky community.”

Most commenters were supporting of TWE’s stance, although a few argued that it fans the flames of so-called cancel culture.

Some distilleries, including Thompson Bros in Dornoch, said they would delist the book after Paskin highlighted several reviews in which Murray likened whisky to having sex with women.

Beam Suntory, whose Alberta Premium Cask Strength rye whisky has just been named the world’s best whisky in the 2021 edition of The Whisky Bible, said it is “extremely disappointed by some of the language used in many of the publication’s product reviews”.

“Language and behaviour of this kind have been condoned for too long in the spirits industry, and we agree that it must stop,” said Beam Suntory in a statement. “As a result, we are re-evaluating all planned programming that references this recognition.”

That amounts to vindication for Paskin, who urged brands to stop celebrating their achievements in a “sexist and vulgar” publication.

“If this was a woman, I’d want to make love to it every night. And in the morning. And afternoon, if I could find the time... and energy...” wrote Murray about a whisky by Penderyn, which is made by an all-female team of distillers and blenders.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, has joined the condemnation of The Whisky Bible.

She said: “Whisky is for everyone - sexism and the objectification of women have no place in our industry. 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.”

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