I have been drinking the usual here in Boston, America: Jack Daniels, Chivas, Johnnie Walker, etc. I just visited a store called Charles Street Liquors in Boston and bought my first Highland Park 15. Its great!
Definitely smooth. I had expected it to "shock" me. But it turned out very smooth. I can understand why it might have caused some folks to think of it as a girlie drink.
By the way, almost every woman I know in Boston drinks either wine or light beer. So I cannot provide any help on that angle