It was a Google alert that finally pushed me over the edge. There among my daily results for the word “bourbon” was this headline from Forbes: “Special Bourbons for Celebrating Father’s Day.”
“If your father is a bourbon fan, this is the year to give him something special,” the story began. “To say bourbon is hot is a gross understatement; this brown spirit is enjoying a welcome and powerful renaissance among consumers of all stripes, but most especially among men.”
Now, don’t misunderstand. I think that bourbon would make a wonderful Father’s Day gift, assuming your father partakes of spirits. And some of the suggested brands are terrific, including W.L. Weller 12-year-old, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel and Booker’s.
But now let’s Google “bourbons for Mother’s Day.” We find a list of Mother’s Day brunches at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, some bourbon-blueberry-basil doughnuts you can make for Mom (or, more likely, she can make for you), and details on Mother’s Day flower delivery to Bourbon, Ind.
That’s right: Mom gets a dainty brunch or a bunch of daisies; it’s Dad who gets the good stuff. Well, not in my house. I drink just as much bourbon as my husband (and more rye whiskey). And I know that I’m not the only woman who enjoys “this brown spirit.” Close to 500 others have joined me in the Bourbon Women Association, and we aren’t just networking. We are drinking bourbon, and we are often the ones who make the purchasing decisions in our families.
Yet bourbon brands by and large continue to overlook women in their marketing efforts. Buffalo Trace Distillery capitalizes on its status as the home of the highly sought-after Pappy Van Winkle brand with an annual “Pappy for Your Pappy” Father’s Day Dinner. There is no similar Mother’s Day event; then again, there are no bourbons named for women, so it’s more of a challenge.
Back in April, I received a news release touting Angel’s Envy’s new limited-edition rye, to be released in May. Headline: “Unique finish in hand-selected Caribbean rum casks arrives in time for Father’s Day.”
I couldn’t resist. “What about Mother’s Day?” I asked the president of their marketing firm. “It’s a great point!” he responded. “More and more women are appreciating bourbon, as you know firsthand!”
And yet. There is a certain irony in the fact that the Forbes writer (a woman) turned to my fellow Kentuckian, bourbon writer and photographer Fred Minnick, for recommendations on those Father’s Day bourbons (and let me be clear that this is in no way intended as criticism of Fred). She correctly identified him as “the author of the soon-to-be-released ‘Whiskey Women.’”
But here’s the full title of the book: “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey.” There’s a reason that story hasn’t been told until now. Distilleries haven’t viewed women as an important market.
Tip to distilleries: We are.
Tip to my family: Mother’s Day is over, but my birthday is coming up. And I don’t want any damned doughnuts.