Whiskey Whiskers: a salt laced in masculine history, but with a feminine touch

Whiskey, the golden beverage made from fermented grains like barley and corn, is laced with caramel, oak, fruit, spice, and masculine notes. Typically severed straight or on the rocks, this spirit is viewed as sexy and mysterious, often referred too as a “man’s drink.” Advertisement for the spirit is drenched in masculinity focusing on the approach of “man you want to be,” “man like you,” or if you drink whiskey, this woman will find you attractive” (Jack, 2017). When the spirit is advertised for women, the drink is almost often associated with cooking, such as “spike the cookies” by adding whiskey to the dough, suggesting a woman can’t handle drinking the spirit on its own (Jack, 2017). But hear me out, I would like to take that statement of whiskey being a man’s drink with a grain of salt…pun intended, and let me explain.

Just like whiskey, salt is viewed as a man’s industry. The number of women salt makers/creators is far and few across the globe. And those salt makers who are women are over shadowed by the men of the industry. However, this was never the case historically. Salt production in many cultures was made up of mostly women. From West Africa to the Caribbean, women were the ones who were the main producers of salt (Sperry, 2020). Mary Prince who was born into slavery was a salt worker in Bermuda during the era of colonialism, and provided a first-hand account of the salt industry, shining light on who were the workers (Sperry, 2020). In fact, while the men typically worked the sugar fields, the women were working the salt ponds. Even before the rise of the Atlantic Slave trade, salt production was done by women. In Nigeria, traditional salt processing was performed by women (Iwuchukwu et al., 2021). But over the years, salt’s image is becoming more masculine in representation. A perfect example is the famous Nusret Gökçe aka “salt bae” a Turkish chef who overnight made salt into a “testosterone laced” ingredient used for large cuts of meat – a “man’s food.”

But I am here to tell you that both whiskey and salt are just as much for a woman as they are for a man, and we should not underestimate the power of producing and cooking with either whiskey or salt as any less compared to what cultures tells us. During the prohibition period, women bootleggers were center stage as it was more difficult for a woman to be searched or be suspected of making liquor. In fact, my great grandma on my mom’s side was a bootlegger! And my grandma aka MeMe on my dad's side always had a Manhattan in her hand for cocktail hour. It is probably where I get my love for whiskey and rum. These women stepped up and made the grain alcohol, just as women were the ones to produce the salt. During the roughest times in history, it was the women who were the producers of items most sought after. It took strength and gumption to do what these women did. These women, produced and explored these commodities versatility through cooking, baking, and of course drinking it on the side. If you ask me, whiskey and salt always had women front and center to its success and was just never a “man’s drink” or “man’s industry.”

When I created “Whiskey Whiskers” Whiskey Salt, I did it for my love of whiskey and salt, and wanted to blend them together. I knew the robust body of the whiskey would blend perfectly well with the salt, making them a power couple. That salt beautifully absorbs the whiskey and through the drying process amplifies the sweet notes often more subtle when drinking whiskey by itself. The idea behind the “Whiskey Whiskers” was for it to add caramel and oak-like notes, adding depth to a dish.

“Whiskey Whiskers” pairs well with heavier dishes such as chili, BBQ, and a pot roast. But it can also pair well with lighter dishes and even desserts! A salted caramel with our “Whiskey Whiskers” salt will blow your mind away. Add it to an apple pie, banana foster, or my favorite adding a pinch in your morning coffee – a version of an Irish coffee with a Jamaican influence! I encourage you to explore adding our “Whiskey Whiskers” salt to a variety of dishes you cook. Don’t be afraid to discover the unique flavor of this salt. You can cook, bake, and barbecue with it, or use it as a finishing salt. My favorite dish I have used it with is my chili. As I caramelize the onions, I add the salt into the mixture to help draw out the moisture and while the onions caramelize the notes from the whiskey salt add layers of flavor to create a bold chili. Whatever dish you use Salty Jack™’s “Whiskey Whiskers” salt, know that this salt is created for all to use - there is no such thing as only a "man's product" in this kitchen.

Work Cited:

Iwuchukwu, J. C., Attamah, C. O., & Chukwuonu, C. U. (2021). Traditional salt processing activities of rural women in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Journal of Agricultural Extension, 25(4).

Jack. (2017). Women and Whisky Part II: why is whisky considered a man’s drink?. Whiskey Foundation. https://www.whiskyfoundation.com/2017/06/27/women-whisky-part-ii-whisky-considered-mans-drink/

Lugo, C. (2019). Hooch and Hell Raisin’: Women Bootlegger. Homestead.org. https://www.homestead.org/homesteading-history/women-bootleggers/

Sperry, A. J. (2020). " Just a Dash of Salt": Salt and Identity Formation in Historical and Contemporary Jamaica (Doctoral dissertation, University of Oregon).

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