Drinking Responsibly

Drinking Responsibly

Intoxication or enjoyment?
Fred Minnick

04 December 2015

Publication: Issue 132

When I interviewed Louisville mayor Greg Fischer a few years ago, he said something that has stuck in my mind since. He said whiskey drinkers aren't drinking for intoxication, they're just enjoying themselves.

Despite its high alcohol content, whiskies do tend to attract responsible drinkers, people who are not just guzzling product for the effect. We know there are plenty of drunken slobs who wet their whistle blower with whiskey, but I'd venture to say 90 per cent of us drink responsibly. Perhaps this is because 'drinking responsibly' has been shoved down our throats at many of the whiskey functions and the whiskey brands back up their claims with action.

Some booze brands use 'drink responsibly' next to half naked women in ads that seem to promote intoxication. In the past 40 years, beer has used so many scantily clothed women and shirtless perfect-abs men that you might find yourself questioning a beer ad's authenticity if sex isn't implied somewhere. Just visit YouTube for sexy beer ads montages. The flipside is the feminist argument of objectifying all women.

In spirits, the sexist ads are rare but they do happen. Perhaps the best example of this was the Dewar's 'Meet the Baron' campaign that basically made fun of large women. It was taken down after receiving heavy criticism. For the most part, whiskey advertisements tend to offer up education. I applaud Wild Turkey and Jim Beam for their barrel education commercials. Most people don't know what the barrel does to whiskey, but after seeing a Beam commercial they know barrels are important. And since TV viewers are a mass audience, ranging from a nun to a motor cycle gang member, you need to be simple in presentation.

At the end of all these commercials and in small print on the print ads, the companies inform consumers to drink responsibly with whatever trademark tagline they're using. But what exactly does this mean? Here are the guidelines from Beam Suntory:

• Respect Others: informed adults have the right to choose to drink alcohol - or not to drink at all.

• Obey the Law: purchase and consumption by those below the legally designated age cannot be condoned or tolerated.

• Drink in Moderation: understand how much you are drinking.

• Be a Responsible Host: ensure your guests do not drink to excess.

• Drive Safe: never drive over the legally designated blood-alcohol level.

The other companies share similar verbiage and all have some kind of a safe ride home for their employees, be it a cab or City Scoot in Louisville for Brown-Forman employees. But there's no doubt that these alcohol manufacturers take their role seriously when it comes to responsible drinking.

I hope you take it seriously, too.

There's no reason to drive drunk. Ever. With today's public transportation options, from Uber to taxis, there's constantly a ride awaiting you at the touch of a button. There are even smartphone apps that will let you analyse your breath for alcohol content if you think you're on the fence for driving.

And here in my home county, if you're planning to travel the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you don't even need to drive. You can make arrangements with Mint Julep Tours to take you throughout the countryside, take in the Kentucky horse country and visit every distiller you so desire. You won't have to worry about getting lost, and you can enjoy yourself with Bourbon in hand.

It's not my intent to get preachy today, but I love this whiskey world, and there's a quiet rise of groups trying to ban alcohol advertising and negative reports about how Americans are 'drinking themselves to death.' As long as alcohol advertises, you'll hear about people wanting to ban it. This will never go away. Both health advocates and non-drinking religions will always seek to minimise your right to drink responsibly.

So, let's not give those drys a bigger target. Let's enjoy our whiskey responsibly.


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