Food & Drink

Men and Women Disagree on Whiskey Flavors, Agree on Whiskey Strength

We all know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. And that women drive like this and men drive like this. But now there’s a new distinction between the sexes: whiskey preference. According to rather unscientific findings by the Bourbon Women Association, men and women have very clear and very different predilections when it comes to whiskey.

The findings were discovered at the 2016 Anatomy Academy Blind Tasting in Louisville on June 15. Organizers gave the 33 men and 47 women in attendance 12 different whiskies to blind taste and rank. When all results were in, the organizers found that while the majority of men and women prefered high-proof whiskey, the genders split on flavor profiles. Men opted for a simpler, more straight-forward option (like Elijah Craig Small Batch). Women were more inclined towards a complex expression (like 110-proof Pikesville Rye).

Susan Reigler, a biology professor, former food and beverage critic and president of the Bourbon Women Association, told 89.3 WFPL that she’s noticed this trend before.

“I think every time we have one of these tastings that seems to be borne out, because invariably our [female] membership choose higher-proof bourbons, more complex bourbons,” she said.

Why did women choose the more complex whiskies? The short answer, Reigler says, is biology. Women have olfactory bulbs that are 43 times larger than men’s, which means they have an advantage when picking up individual smells. This, in turn, means they are more likely to notice appealing scents and flavors, since smell is so closely tied with taste—and opt for more nuanced spirits.  

Of course, this study looked at a relatively small sample of people, so take it with a grain of salt (or, more appropriately for the subject matter, a splash of water) but it’s fascinating, nonetheless. And it’s left me wondering if maybe, as a woman, I’ve missed my true calling as a master whiskey blender.