traditionally think would appeal to
women. Lighter and sweet is not what
they are asking for during our events.”
All things considered, divergence
of opinions on what women want from
whiskies can only be seen as evidence
that this relationship has evolved beyond
the point of assuming anything. And as
the sight of ladies sipping brown spirits
becomes more common, men will have
to evolve, too.
Or will they? Emily Duffy, who criss-
crosses the country as the Irish whiskey
ambassador for Beam brands Kilbeggan,
Tyrconnell, Greenore and Connemara,
says “When I order a Connemara on
the rocks at a bar, I sometimes notice
that males in close vicinity to me feel a
little obliged to order something along a
similar vein if not a little more daring. I
would be lying if I said I didn’t find it
mildly amusing.”
If there is any doubt at all as to wom-
en’s rising profile as whiskey aficionados,
it may be dispelled by the newest brand
ambassador for Johnnie Walker: Chris-
tina Hendricks. Upon hearing of the Em-
Mad Men
star’s passion
for Scotch in 2010, she was contacted
by brand representatives, and the con-
versation revealed that Black Label was
already her (and her husband’s) whisky
of choice. Her desire to learn more about
what she enjoyed in a glass of Scotch and
the art of blending at Johnnie Walker led
to the new position, and she has become
an active participant in education-driven
events globally.
f course, whiskey suppliers
aren’t the only ones chasing
women’s wallets. In the case
of wine, efforts have mostly
involved feminine-minded names and la-
bels. Some are self-consciously cheeky
(Mommy’s Time Out, Middle Sister).
Some wear their gender message more
subtly but still recognizably (Girl Go
Lightly, Once Upon A Vine, Butterfly
Kiss, Be.). Skinnygirl and The Skinny
Vine believe the way to a woman’s
pocketbook starts with her waistline.
Taking a less direct route, Cheryl
Indelicato, third generation vintner at Cali-
fornia’s Delicato Family Vineyards, devel-
oped HandCraft, a line of easy-drinking,
everyday varietal wines (the Petite Sirah
is especially tasty). But she also
tied it in, via the HandCraft web-
site, to both women’s interests
and charitable efforts. “I created
a collection of approachable
and distinctive wines that
have a larger purpose,”
says Indelicato. “Under the
umbrella ‘Inspired 365’, we
engage with women about
healthy lifestyles, and in 2012 as part of
our Handcraft Cares initiative, we raised
$100K to support breast cancer research
and prevention programs, a cause I have
been involved with since my days as a
registered nurse.”
Vodka, on the other hand, has
long been saddled by reputation as a
girlish spirit, even without marketing
spin. But can a vodka brand benefit
from a sexy twist? Conceived by three
friends—LeeAnn Maxwell, Jenny
Policky and Carrie King—after a 2010
girls’ getaway, Vixen Vodka features
women’s silhouetted legs on the bottle
and a healthy dose of sexy innuendo
on its website. The unflavored spirit
itself is smooth, crisp and gluten-free,
crafted in Colorado using corn and
Rocky Mountain spring water, distilled
five times in one of only a few glass
stills in the world. King, the brand’s
marketing director, notes
that Vixen’s most successful
promotions have been small
“female-centric” events. She
explains, “Women support
women-owned businesses,
and the fact that our brand
stands for strength and
empowerment results in
brand evangelists.”
Above, left and right, scenes from
Campari “Women & Whiskies” events,
nine of which were held in 2012 in major
markets. Center: A Bourbon Women
Association event in Boston.
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