No matter what we do to fight the misconceptions, the world still tends to view whiskey as the quintessential “manly” drink. Men seem more than happy to play into this stereotype and take full credit for one of the most glorious liquors on Earth. Luckily, there’s a new book on the market that blows the lid off all of that garbage and tells the truth about the female gender’s role in the whiskey world; it’s called Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch & Irish Whiskey (and it’s written by a man).
Wall Street Journal-bestselling author Fred Minnick tells the stories of women who created the industry, going all the way back to 4000 B.C. and Mesopotamia’s first beer brewers (beer paved the way for whiskey). We don’t want to spoil the book for you, but here are a few interesting facts we came across:
- Women paved the way for two major brands: Ellen Jane Corrigan, widow of the founder of Bushmills, made the Irish whiskey an international brand in the 1880s. Because of her, Bushmills grew in size, developed the ability to ferment in 1,200-gallon pots and won awards across Europe. In addition to Corrigan, Marjorie “Marge” Samuels of Maker’s Mark invented their curvy bottle and red wax. Without her, bourbon packaging would still predominantly feature animals and old men.
- Women during Prohibition weren’t just random flappers in a Speakeasy. The truth is that women bootleggers played a major role during Prohibition in our country. The book says that they ranged from “one-time bootleggers looking to make quick cash and rich women financing ships hauling $100,000 worth of smuggled whiskey. Women were so good that, at one point, agents believed female bootleggers outsold the men five sales to one.”
- Way back when, whiskey was used to treat just about everything – coughs, runny noses, rashes, chills, and fevers. However, American pregnant women also used whiskey as a way to ease the pain of childbirth – basically whiskey was the original epidural. Once the baby was delivered, women also enjoyed whiskey as a way to relax after labor.
The book is a great read and we’ll definitely be stocking up on a few copies for Christmas gifts – for the men in our lives, of course.