It was in 2003 when whisky critic and writer Jim Murray launched his Whisky Bible and since then the book has gained popularity to be the guide to whisky selection for people worldwide. While many people would interestingly read what he has written and discuss about it, there are many who will bash his opinion. People have been loud enough to point out that his ratings are baseless as selecting whisky is someone’s own choice to even saying that he receives bribes from beverage companies to rate their product.
Well, this is not something of great concern as people should understand that the book talks about his personal choices. This doesn’t force anyone to drink any whisky; if you are sensible enough you will drink what you like and what you can afford.
With the release of his new of the new edition the Whisky Bible is in a new controversy altogether and this time I feel its of concern. It all started to get complicated when last year he described the trademarked Murray Method of whisky tasting is similar to having sex while hypnotized and shared the story of the same in an interview. The Q&A is below.
Q: The Murray Method reminds me in some ways of meditation, in that it tries to remove every outside influence possible and make you really focus on the liquid.
A: I can always look up the day that John Lennon was shot, because I’d actually spent that night with a woman who was a hypnotist. And I actually said to her, “Is sex better when you’re hypnotized?” And she said, “Well, let’s find out.” So, she hypnotized me. And Christ, it was. The Murray Method is kind of a bit like that.
Q: You’ll have to explain that.
A: Because it brings everything out more vividly, doesn’t it? You know, instead of it just being a whiskey sitting in the glass, suddenly, it’s a lot more. And this is the same when you’re having sex when you’re hypnotized. It suddenly becomes a lot more.
The Whisky Bible 2021
With the latest release, the Whisky Bible and Jim Murray are taking heat with regards to sexism. Where people in the wine and spirit business are trying their best to promote an equal and better working space for women; Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is derogatory to women.
It is Becky Paskin, a renowned whisky writer, and educator who took her social media to confront the same. On 20th September 2020, she tweeted, “This post will no doubt attract some hate comments, but something needs to be said. Why does the whisky industry still hold Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in such high regard when his tasting notes are so sexist and vulgar?”
She pointed out reviews from the Whisky Bible that are sexist in nature and personally speaking cringe worthy. Paskin has pointed out 34 instances where Jim Murray has compared sex and women with tasting whisky.
On the Canadian Club Chronicles: Issue No. 1 Water of Windsor Aged 41 Years: “Have I had this much fun with a sexy 41-year-old Canadian before? Well, yes I have. But it was a few years back now and it wasn’t a whisky. Was the fun we had better? Probably not. It is hard to imagine what could be, as this whisky simply seduces you with the lightness and knowledgeable meaning of its touch, butterfly kissing your taste buds, finding time after time your whisky erogenous zone or g spots … and then surrendering itself with tender and total submission.”
On the Glenmorangie Artisan Casks: “If whisky could be sexed, this would be a woman. Every time I encounter Morangie Artisan, it pops up with a new look, a different perfume. And mood. It appears not to be able to make up its mind. But does it know how to pout, seduce and win your heart…? Oh yes.”
On Fannys Bay Tasmanian Single Malt bourbon cask, barrel no. 39, bott 2 Oct 18: “No Port. No sherry. Just the wonderful opportunity to taste naked Fannys.”
In her Twitter thread, she said. Penderyn is made by an all-female team of distillers and blenders, yet this is how he refers to their whisky: “If this was a woman, I’d want to make love to it every night. And in the morning. And the afternoon, if I could find the time… and energy…”
Jim Murray about Paul John Mithuna says sampling its sensational chocolate-and-spices complexity is: “Like after you have just made love…and you are unable to speak or move while your senses get back into some kind of normality.”
She also picked up a review from the 2017 edition, about Highland Park 40-Year-Old. “Like a 40-year-old woman who has kept her figure and looks, and now only satin stands in the way between you and so much beauty and experience…and believe me: she’s spicy…”
Ms. Paskin raises the concern by saying:
“The whisky industry is working hard to encourage more women to enjoy the whisky it produces, but the explicit, lurid, and sexist way Murray chooses to review whiskies in his ‘Bible’ is prehistoric, and frankly vile”, she told me.
“Whisky reviews are no place to boast the gross details of sexual conquests, or compare a drink to a woman’s body shape. He is damaging the progress producers have made to modernise whisky’s image as a drink anyone can enjoy.”
Should this really be the ‘whisky guru’ that newcomers (especially women) to whisky should turn to?
Many organizations have come in support to Becky Paskin and vowed to not submit their whiskies from next year and some have also denied promoting and sell the Whisky Bible.
Whisky Bible 2021: Jim Murray’s Defense
In his defense Jim Murray has stated that:“…I am not sexist; the Whisky Bible is not sexist, has never been sexist and I will not bow to this faux outrage. I have always fought the bully and I will do so here. Debate has been replaced by the baying of the mob, common sense and decency by straitjacketed dogma. Frankly, these people appal me because what they are doing is undermining society itself.
“How, in God’s name, can, for instance, likening a whisky to an orgasm be remotely construed as sexist? Last I heard, male, females, transgender people, everyone is capable of an orgasm. I am a professional writer and use a language that adults – for the Whisky Bible is designed for adults – can relate to. I paint pictures of a whisky. And if that, on the rare occasion, is the picture or sensation that formulates in my mind, then I say so. As I have every right to…”
Personally, I feel that one has the right to say or publish what they want to within the law. What matters the most is personal ethics and understanding the approach you have in the market.
Jim Murray in many ways is a pioneer in the whisky world and has popularized whisky as a product and has pumped sales of products which he has spoken about. This has also increased the reach and popularity of the Whisky Bible and nowadays everyone from whisky geeks to students in hospitality colleges accesses and read what he says.
It is all about a thin line; the metaphor ‘sexy’ is used in many ways. For example, You can call a car design to be sexy but you cannot say that the back of the car reminds you of some particular woman’s back whom you had sex with.
Yes, most of us are not as capable and knowledgeable as he is in about whiskies and no one can take this away from him. But, on one side he has his rights to use language and his personal views for describing a whisky on the other side there remains a moral obligation to understand that students, professionals, and beverage enthusiasts of all genders read his famed book and this language would not be the one people will love use in front of their friends.
What are your views on this? I have never and nor in future promote anyone to use this kind of language socially. These statements can be pretty disrespectful and offensive to people. Neither I would encourage people to read it or speak this way.