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Issue 114 - The Role of Women

Whisky Magazine Issue 114
September 2013


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The Role of Women

When I tell people I wrote Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch & Irish Whiskey I typically get two initial responses: 1) “But, you're a man?” Yes, last time I checked. 2) “Wow, women really drink whiskey?” Ugh, this one irks me to no end, and we can largely blame 1800s era prostitutes, Carrie Nation's hatchet wielding Prohibitionists and post-Prohibition whiskey distillers for ignoring women's drinking habits.

The United States dismissing female whiskey drinkers begins with 1800s era brothels, where prostitutes earned significant commission for selling whiskey. One earned $50,000 in the mid 1800s, while 1857 New York prostitutes sold $2.08 million in wine and liquor. When I came across these prostitute liquor surveys, I realised sex rivaled the fur trade as the most important whiskey distributor in the 1800s. Sex also set in motion key factors for Prohibition and future marketing tactics.

Instead of taking responsibility for their sexed-up actions, men blamed whiskey. At first, to keep men from violating marriage vows, temperance women prayed outside of these saloons, but the men kept piling in, drinking and paying for sex. Since civil protest didn't work, Woman's Christian Temperance Union's Carrie Nation took axes, hatchets, stones and anything else to break windows and crack whiskey barrels to saloons and bars. In her memoir, Nation said she was God's messenger to combat the prevailing evils of her generation.

Men squandered their ...

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