Smoking tradition at Edinburgh Cocktail Week
Last week I asked one of my male friends to come with me to Edinburgh cocktail week, in which he replied “But what will I drink there? It’s all floral stuff and pink drinks”. I was fairly taken aback by his response; do we still associate drinks with a particular gender? Why are certain spirits and tastes considered feminine while others are considered manly? Does this gender stereotyping still occur inside the alcohol industry or just within the general public? It left me wondering many different questions about today’s alcohol society.
When thinking about the variety of alcohol available out there, I feel that both cocktails and whisky are still very much trapped in their gender stereotypes.
It is fair to say that whisky has come a long way in trying to break the misconception that it is only a ‘man’s drink’. Since the 1990’s women have been targeted by advertising (consuming it herself, not just sat next to the man who is drinking it), and today a significant number of women are involved in the whisky industry. In fact, over half of Diageo’s blenders are now female! However, there is still this perception of whisky being a ‘man’s drink’. Women are still met with cliché remarks of “Are you sure you mean whisky?”, “Do you actually like the taste?” or “Wow, a woman who drinks whisky. I’m so impressed”.
Over the last few years I have seen many brands release ‘female’ editions. In my opinion, I am in two minds about this. A part of me finds it inspiring that they are making a conscious effort to encourage more women to start drinking whisky, however I question why a brand should change their packaging to target women. In this day and age does the classic whisky bottle still say masculine?
So, when I was looking at this year’s lineup for Edinburgh Cocktail week, I was happy to see a brand which is not only untraditional but also a dark horse amongst all the florals and gins: Smokehead.
Smokehead is an Islay Single Malt Whisky with a strapline that I think fits this topic perfectly: ‘Not for Everyone’. They are by no means saying this is a ‘man’s drink’, but instead stretching the limits of ‘traditional’ Scotch Whisky, daring anyone that is bold enough to have a taste, be it man or woman. With its dark presence and bad-ass personality, you know it’s a whisky that won’t be ‘toning’ itself down to target the female market – it doesn’t have to be pretty and pink for me to enjoy a drink!
Not only is Smokehead ‘smoking tradition’, it’s bringing diversity to an event that could be mistakenly stereotyped by our misguided embedded associations. So, for all those who want to step outside the norm, dare to be different and enjoy a smoky cocktail, head to the Smokehead stand this week at Edinburgh’s Cocktail Week – I know that’s where I will be this weekend (and possibly tonight).
Research Executive, Guy & Co