Pass it on

Why does it feel unusual to be a young woman with an appreciation for single malt whisky? Maybe it’s because so many of us haven’t been properly introduced to its joys yet, says Moa Nilsson

If you’d told me four years ago that I would become a whisky enthusiast before I turned 25, I would have been intrigued, but somewhat sceptical. That’s until I was fortunate enough to gain an insight into this never-ending world of flavours and complexities.

For that, I can thank my boyfriend, after he started working in the whisky industry. He took the time to tell me about flavour and where it comes from. That made me want to try some different samples, and one day it just clicked. I discovered that being a whisky drinker suits me – I can be a bit nerdy by nature, and drinking slowly with less quantity while appreciating flavour and craftsmanship is more appealing to me than downing shots and waking up with a horrible hangover the next day.

Now my friends tend to fall into two distinct camps. Those who work within the whisky world love their spirits neat because they appreciate flavour. Others drink wine, cocktails or spirits with mixers to actively hide the flavour of alcohol, often preferring vodka because of its ‘neutral’ character. Then they laugh at me for drinking whisky because “it’s a dad’s drink”!

Why is it that even though there are a lot more women drinking whisky these days, I often feel less respected than my male friends and colleagues in certain situations?

For many young people, alcohol is simply a route to intoxication, not to flavour appreciation. I’ll often only have a dram or two, which can be frowned upon because I'm perceived as being ‘boring’ if I don't drink more. But as young people how are we supposed to know what to drink, when we’re presented with so many options? It’s no surprise that you might choose something that tastes like what you’re used to – sweet cider, spirits with a mixer, or a sugar-filled wine. Guidance definitely helps with your choice of alcohol and development of drinking habits. That’s why I think a lot of younger men often find the world of whisky easier to approach than some women.

For many it’s almost a rite of passage and a way to connect with the older generation, where you can sit down with your dad or granddad and explore and enjoy whisky together. There are also many male role models in films and on television, from James Bond through to Mad Men and onto Ron Swanson in Parks & Recreation, to mention a few.

But where are the female equivalents? And why is it that even though there are a lot more women drinking whisky these days, I often feel less respected than my male friends and colleagues in certain situations?

I think whisky could be a drink for so many more young people in general and women in particular. Guidance has the potential to help people appreciate the flavours and craftsmanship within the whisky world. Young people like my friends could benefit by learning further about spirits, as I truly believe it could help them and others drink more responsibly and savour the natural flavours in their glass.

So maybe it’s up to you – if you’re the parent of a young adult, and not just a young man, then it’s time to pass on your knowledge.

We’ll be eternally grateful!

Moa Nilsson writes about whisky and conducts tastings from her base in Edinburgh. Follow her on Instagram @swedishwhiskygirl