What Do Women Drink?

This summer, Bacardi introduced Plume & Petal, a “spa-inspired” lineup of low-calorie, low-alcohol vodkas aimed at “the modern woman.” It was met with social media backlash that inspired the brand to walk back its approach.

Last month, spirits writer Becky Paskin highlighted the sexist language in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Major brands like Glenfiddich and Beam Suntory, whose Canadian whisky was named best in the world, publicly denounced it.

Both controversies prove the need for nuanced approaches to spirits marketing. They also demonstrate a limited understanding of who is buying and making these products.

Women have substantial collective purchasing power. According to a fall 2019 study by consumer market research company MRI-Simmons, women account for more than half (54.5%) of vodka sales in the U.S., and about 30% to 40% of whiskey sales. The study also reports that women account for 39.1% of Canadian whisky sales; 38.5% of blended whiskey and rye; 36.5% of Bourbon; 37.6% of Irish whiskey; and 29.8% of Scotch.

More women are at the helm of distilleries, too, like CEOs Heather Greene at Austin’s Milam & Greene, and Fawn Weaver at Tennessee’s Uncle Nearest. In May, Catoctin Creek co-founder/chief distiller Becky Harris was elected to lead the American Craft Spirits Association.

Why, then, does stereotypical spirits marketing persist?


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