Jul 282017
 

Good evening, friends.  Or morning, for those of you in disparate time zones.

I was going to reply to a couple comments on the blog, but as longtime readers are most likely aware by now, I tend to let my posts do most of the talking and leave the comment section for all the good folks who generously give of their time to enrich the whisky world.  Having said that, a couple things needed addressing.  I figured we’d do it here and not hijack other threads.

First off…whisky is in a shit place.  I know it.  You know it.  But it has been for a while, so let’s not belabor the point here.  We’ll get our barbs as and when needed.  Suffice it to say, things aren’t getting a lot better.  High prices, a scary lack of age statements and still more swords drawn by a few ambassadors whose Trump-like insistence on petty insults and condescension have become so laughable as to be easily dismissed out of hand (looking at you, NM).  But, lest we digress…there are some signs that maybe we can hope for sunshine sooner than later.  A few malts are cropping up with numbers on the bottle again, as was recently mentioned by Serge over at Whiskyfun in a post commemorating his 15th year (Congrats, Serge!  We owe you more than can be tallied.  Sincerely.), albeit, also as noted, at rather irrational prices.  The market should self-govern there over time though.  In the meantime, let’s hope that the last few years of pedal-to-the-metal production is helping to offset the declining stocks that led to the unprecedented rise of NAS whisky in the first place (note: I said ‘rise’, not ‘advent’.  I know NAS is not a new concept).  Fingers crossed.

A comment was made here recently that the site has been limping along and in decline (my words, not the author’s).  And though it sounds like rather harsh criticism, it’s not.  Nothing more than observation and absolutely warranted.  I’ve been both busy and lacking in motivation.  On the one hand, how many times can we say the same thing with varying degrees of inflection before it becomes a drone?  On the other, I do recognize that I write up malts a little different than some others out there.  There’s usually more of a brief anecdotal tale with each jotting than simply a reliance on tasting notes which, let’s face it, probably only help if you’ve found your palate to be somewhat in sync with mine.  BUT…that’s my own personal shortcoming to address.  If I’m half the writer I like to think I am (and I do have an ego, it’s true) I need to get over my own limitations for creative expression and find new ways of making it exciting.

In short (too late, I know)…y’ain’t getting rid of me that easily.  There’s more of this guy, and ATW, coming down the pipes.  Too many of us (bloggers and jotters and dissenters, oh my!) have already thrown in the towel.  But y’know what?  Fuck that.  I’ve decided I’m not going down.  There’s a purpose to be served.  I’ve paid our dues and don’t feel like being backed out of my own game (I’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years now…holy hell!).  I’m as entrenched in this passion of ours as inbreeding is in the current White House administration.  So…on we march.  Hopefully together.  If you’re willing to stick around for a while longer, that is.

I’ll be heading back to the motherland in a few weeks.  Twelve days to recharge in Scotland.  The quest for grail malts continues.  I and a few mates will be in Speyside for a few days (and seven distilleries) and Islay for nearly a week.  Expect some writings and reviews as a lead-up to trip time and a follow-up afterwards.

And in keeping with full transparency…I can’t lie: I’ve been investing a lot of effort elsewhere.  Finished my first novel a couple months back and am working on getting it into publication.  The whole nasty blood-soaked manuscript is in the hands of a couple of interested agents as we speak.  Who knows if they’ll ultimately bite, but let’s be optimistic.  And as the clock ticks on those, I am nearing 16,000 words on a second manuscript.  This one teeth have teeth like the last did (wink wink), but it does have its figurative fangs in me pretty deep at the moment and I’m cranking out pages in all my free time.  Fiction is a great escape in these troubled days.  For this guy anyway.  So…to those who have asked…yes, still writing.  Hopefully I can get it to a platform that reaches the masses at some point.

For now though, I sincerely hope you’re all well.  You’ll be hearing more from me soon.  Feel free to send in ideas for opinion pieces, reviews, whatever.

Oh…and a bit of a surprise coming your way soon.  😉

 

– C

 Posted by at 7:42 pm

  57 Responses to “Not Going Anywhere”

  1. Thanks for the update and best of luck with all your endeavors. Give my regards to the Glendronach distillery (you ARE going to that one aren’t you?) and put some meat on the bone of what the future holds for us from them. Very pleased you aren’t throwing in the towel.

  2. Glad to hear that we will still have this essential meeting place. “Write on” Curt. Have a great trip.

  3. I love your blog and you certainly have some talent as a writer but respectfully, it’s probably best to leave your politics out of it.

    • What Politics? Politics of whisky? That’s totally what this site is for!

    • And Trump isn’t politics… he’s an embarrassment to ALL political stripes.

      • Can only assume the comment was a response to my digs at Trumpelthinskin and his band of corrupt, sycophantic fuckwits. I realize this may cost me some readership, but anyone who can support, condone or turn a blind eye to the actions of Sessions, Pence, Flynn, Rosenstein, Kushner, Junior, Manafort, Sekulow, Gorka, McConnell and all of the other fucking criminals is honestly someone I could care less about offending. What’s happening is a travesty to human rights and anyone who believes this is any less than the business of the entire world is clearly deluding themselves.

        He can’t be impeached fast enough.

        Having said that, I DO appreciate the kind words that prefaced the caution, Paul.

        Curt

  4. It’s good to know that you’re staying in there and still swinging, and this is also an interesting piece in its own right.

    Whisky IS in a shit place right now in terms of its overall direction. A lot of people refused to see any connection between the removal of metrics, the fantasies that “justified” that and what then began to happen to the products. Stuff became younger because it was cheaper to make, marketers wrapped folklore around it and said it was now (sometimes) all about the wood, but not time in the wood. Casks were diverted to premiumized NAS offerings which, in turn, helped to premiumize age statements. The net result has been that people have been buying the same whisky, only younger, at higher prices and with less product information. There is no doubt that it’s all “market driven”, but mainly in the sense that the market is dominated by a lot of people who have absorbed a lot of industry-driven nonsense about whisky.

    As Serge said some time ago, “as for the distillers and retailers, they’ll sell you what they have, and certainly not what they do not have (anymore)” and, as he’s said recently, a lot of people were sold a bill of goods about the irrelevance of age and about wood as the new panacea for taste improvement/variation – it’s exactly how you end up with an NAS Bowmore in Japanese oak selling for $1,860; the lumber is just THAT managed. For everything that age information never did in terms of reading everyone’s minds about their personal ideas about quality, there were a lot of people unduly impressed by the idea of woods and finishes that they’d never tasted before just because it was what the industry reps currently wanted to talk about.

    We entered an era of “personal whisky journeys” where allegedly anything and everything subjectively believed (or promoted) about whisky was arguably true because whisky supposedly has no objective reality to speak of – or it somehow only has multiple objective realities to choose from; age both does and doesn’t matter; distilleries are unique by their nature, but recipes need to be secret; you can innovate or provide product info, but not both; regulations “shackle” the very people who also, quite cynically, have no interest in changing those same regulations, etc.. Everything and nothing is equally true as it has to be at any given time to serve sales… and it’s all bullshit, and always was. Whisky, like American politics, became “post truth” because, as with American politics, a lot of people stood to make a lot of money.

    Whisky is in a shit place, but the industry only put it there with consumers’ blessing and now things aren’t as great as they were supposed to be. I don’t think that the solution to the nonsense is to turn down the commentary at all – it was cheerleading for various distilleries and the resulting muted criticism that got us where we are; if nothing is wrong and everything’s so great, why is everybody walking away? I understand people drinking down what they’ve accumulated, but I think it’s also somewhat unfair that many of the people who “didn’t see a problem” with many of the turns that got us here will now head to the bunker until the Utopia that they argued for, but now don’t want, blows over. But, as we’ve all learned the hard way, whisky is a business; it isn’t, certainly intrinsically, about fairness.

    If whisky commentary in general is ailing, I think that what’s killing it is that the great majority of it doesn’t really say very much and/or is so obviously circumspect when it comes to treading on somebody’s bottom line. It’s fine to keep the whisky wheel turning and the conversation churning, but much of it has to somehow play within the overall narrative that says either

    (a) nothing in whisky needs to change to benefit the consumer (it’s already the best of all possible worlds, so stop complaining) or

    (b) nothing in whisky can be changed in order to benefit the consumer (everyone’s doing the best they can but their hands are tied by the things they don’t want to change anyway so, if you don’t like it, stop complaining and there’s the door). Laws can’t be changed, consumer action cannot work, nothing can be done, so let’s just make the best of it.

    When those are the options presented, one can read about whisky out of general interest, but it becomes pretty obvious that much of internet whisky commentary, as currently composed, has few aspirations but to midwife and promote/make palatable whatever’s coming down the pike anyway; it’s not criticism, it’s marketing. Quality is defined, and redefined, as just whatever whoever released this week. Your reviews and this site don’t do that and I’ve always found food for thought in them. If some people sometimes want more stuff worth reading on whisky they could occasionally do more about writing some.

    I don’t think this site is waning – I think that there’s less to be enthusiastic about in whisky overall and that’s a subject for serious discussion right there. Maybe, in the end, it will all be self correcting; maybe waning enthusiasm around whisky also reflects a waning cachet around whisky, so perhaps everybody who never really cared about whisky in the first place will get out of whisky and the remaining enthusiasts and producers can begin a real sales-driven dialogue about whether age matters to the product and whether complexity matters to quality. For everyone who always thought that “the bubble must one day burst”, maybe this is how it begins.

    Sláinte!

    • Sure, but I am very supportive of “personal whisky journeys”. I think the fundamental attraction of good whisky blog is reading about someone else’s whisky journey of discovery in the context of one’s own.

      I’ve certainly learned a lot from this site and it has shaped my own journey of discovery. I’m sure that some of my purchases have been influenced (in a good way) by Curt’s writing.

      I think whisky would be a lot more boring if it was all about the pour and the sip.

      So I for one am in favour of the journey.

      !לחיים

      • Sure, and I’m in favour of journeys so long as they don’t lead to nonsense. I just think that the industry deliberately encouraged the “all you need to know is what you like” school of whisky thinking as a means of parleying personal opinions about quality (which IS completely safe ground) into a smokescreen for its self-contradictory messages about processes and information that reflect them; if every consumer is entitled to their own truth about whisky, then it follows that producers should also be entitled to make up cask physics as they went along and as needed. So long as no one told producers that the influence of age can’t be negated by simply omitting a number from a label, for example, far be it from whisky scientists like Dr. Lumsden to tell consumers that simply not caring about age information isn’t the same thing as age not mattering to the character of what they were buying or that NAS isn’t synonymous with multivintaging. Live and let live, create your own whisky narrative; none is more (or less) true than another. It happened at about the same time as all the Gaelic fairy tales became popular.

        None of it was rocket science in terms of producers’ all-too-plain motivations in pushing younger product at higher prices, but it was best for producers (and maybe less painful for some consumers) if certain questions slid into a subjective grey zone in which suddenly real no answers were possible and there was, not coincidentally, little information to provide them anyway.

        Sláinte (and l’chaim)!

        • So I guess my idea of a whisky journey is not the one you were describing, the one in which the consumer is being taken for a ride…

  5. Curt,
    I’ll be in Speyside August 17-21 at the Highlander Inn. Perhaps we’ll cross paths and we can try a few deans together. Keep fighting the good fight.
    Cheers,
    Dave

  6. I disagree. Whisky is NOT in a shit place. I won’t repeat my rebuttal to the “the sky is falling!” crowd from whatever semi-recent thread that was (back when I was posting as “Ol’ Jas”), but in short: In the today’s market, I’m finding good quality, good prices, and good variety. And plenty of age statements. I can ignore the junk and still find PLENTY of whiskies worth my attention.

    For context, I’m in the US. I drink Scottish malts almost exclusively. And I have very little exposure to sellers’ explicit marketing or what seem to be the more disagreeable corners of the whisky web (Facebook?).

  7. Curt, here are a few ideas for opinion & discussion topics. Some of these mighta been ideas I raised previously as “Ol’ Jas” that never got any traction.

    •Does the whisky from some distilleries really age more gracefully from that of other distilleries?

    •Which now-rare elements from yesterday’s whisky are significant losses to drinkers today? Think direct-firing, legit sherry casks, different barley strains, in-house malting, longer fermentation with different yeasts, etc. Do the best “old v. new” side-by-side comparisons you can come up with to demonstrate the differences.

    •Does longer maturation really produce longer finishes? (I sometimes see comments like “What a short finish for a 20-year-old whisky” in reviews, but I’ve never seen anyone try to explain why older whiskies would have longer finishes or even prove that this is true in the first place.)

    •Is Octomore really noticeably more peaty than other youngish Islay brutes? Bring on the blind head-to-heads!

    •What’s more likely to produce a spirit dominated the previous cask contents: a short finishing or a full maturation?

    •What drives retail prices.

    •How to value a no-longer-available bottle from your collection when you do a trade.

    •Civility on the whisky web.

    •Whether “vintages” in whisky are a real phenomenon.

    •Why was Springbank able to weather the storm in the well-worn but vague story of Campbeltown’s decline that you see copy and pasted into 80% of Campbeltown whisky reviews?

    •What trends, if any, do we see in the output from Scottish-owned distilleries versus foreign-owned distilleries?

    •Which is the worst corporate overlord? The best?

    •Why should someone who’s never given Canadian whisky a real chance do so? What should they start with?

    •What the heck is Lagavulin really aging their whisky in? Do they still use any sherry in the 16?

    •On a scale of 1 to 10, how welcome are non-Canadians on this site? 🙂

    You could also just post an empty article titled, “Jeff, NAS Isn’t That Bad,” and let nature take its course. 🙂

    • More ideas:

      •What the heck is the deal with these distilleries who routinely get outclassed on their own product by the IBs? Each one of these deadbeat dads probably has a different story worth exploring: Bowmore, Mortlach, Dalmore, .

      •Expectation fulfillment in whisky drinking—i.e., people find in their glass what they expected to find. Consider the following as examples:
      [A] So many Kilchoman reviews end with something like “Wow, this is really good for a young whisky—I can’t wait until they have an 18!”
      [B] So many JW Green reviews (and its brethren) include something like “Yeah, I can totally taste the Talisker in this.”
      [C] So many reviews of a new whisky from an established producer will claim that the family resemblance is obvious—like “yep, it has Ardbeg’s signature seaweed in spades!”—yet, so many reviews of bastard malts are inconclusive—like “rumors say this is a young Lagavulin, but to me it seemed more like Laphroaig or Caol Ila—your guess is as good as mine!”

      •Similar to the previous: How many people are unwilling to go out on a limb about unknown quantities. Meaning, you don’t see a whole lot of blind reviews where the reviewer is willing to go to 90+. I think this phenomenon has an “I don’t want to look stupid” aspect to it, but also a “knowing it’s special is what makes it special” aspect. (See the LAWS article about drink Black Bowmore blind.)

      • One more, inspired by Jeff’s comment above:

        •How will we know when the bubble is bursting?

        • A few more topic ideas that occurred to me since last night:

          •Is there actually anything “legendary” or “famous” about Bowmore’s “No. 1 Vaults” or Laphroaig’s “No. 1 Warehouse down by the sea” or other distilleries’ equivalents? This is the kind of assertion that I always just see, well, asserted. Yet I’ve never seen writing that actually DRAWS such a conclusion based on evidence. I’ve never seen a Bowmore review, for example, that ends with “Wow—what an outstanding whisky!!! Let me go check… yep, it’s from that No. 1 vault again! I should have known! That thing is really earning a reputation with me and my whisky buddies.” (Yes, I pasted some of this from my recent comments on the MAO blog.)

          •An exposé on grain whisky—a total takedown (or perhaps, defense?) of the “brown vodka” that pads out those cheap blends: how it’s distilled, how high its newmake ABV typically is (and so how much commensurate water it’s mated with to produce 40% products), how tired the casks are, how pale it is (and so how much E150A it’s mated with to produce whisky-colored products). And whether the stuff aged to the teens and beyond for retail bottling is really any better. Curt, this could be a platform for you to expound on your “grain is the new NAS” point from a while back.

          •British affectations & homogeneous style in whisky writing. This is just a curious little bit of fun, but I notice that many bloggers and online whisky commentators write in a common style that seems “vaguely British”—because they’re writing about a British product, maybe?. For example, they write things like “an intriguing little malt, this” or “I was perusing the latest offerings from chaps at Cadenhead’s” or “I’ve not tasted much Macallan as of late”—basically a bunch of gussied-up phrasing that I imagine these people DON’T use in everyday speech. You can almost hear their fake accent and see their pinky in the air. I wonder where it all comes from and whether these people know they’re doing it.

          • One more topic idea: WHY are some IBs better than others? For example, WHY are Cadenhead’s and Malt Barn bottles universally better regarded than ?

            Do some individuals picking the barrels just have better taste?

            Is it a matter of budget—like some outfits are willing to pay more for the good barrels?

            Is it a matter of some outfits buying crap barrels and trying to gussy them up with wine finishes and whatnot?

            Is it a matter of each IB’s maturation strategy—like how some (G&M, is it?) have their own warehouses maturing their barrels long-term, while others just buy what they can and immediately bottle it?

            Is it all an “old boys’ club” where you have to know the right people to get the good stuff?

            From what I hear online, all those stories are in play, but it all seems very “rumory.” I never see anything authoritative on the subject.

  8. Curt, you said that you “don’t feel like being backed out of [your] own game.”

    What’s that all about? Is someone trying to get you to quit blogging or something?

    • Man, you must have had a lot of time on your hands today. You’ve covered a lot of ground and I’ll have to spend some more time reading your points before venturing any serious response. This is the place for the discussion, though.

      • Orange is the new black.

        40 is the new thirty

        $150 malts are the new $60 malts

        MadSingleMalt is the new Jeff…

        • Well, literally speaking, MadSingleMalt is the new Ol’ Jas.

          But I’ll take that as a compliment and wonder aloud here why those darn marketing types think they can suspect the laws of physics by selectively telling us when age does and doesn’t matter. 🙂

      • Yes, Chris 1, this is the place for the discussion! I’d love to see anyone else chime in on the big ol’ dump of topics I threw down here.

        I’ve said it before, but for whatever reason†, this blog and the scotch board on Reddit have become the best vehicles for online whisky chat nowadays. This blog is usually more serious, while Reddit is more fun & sarcastic. Both are great. It sounds like (secondhand) Facebook and whatever other social media sites are lively too, but you never hear anything good about the tone there. I’m not even going to look.

        † Really, I think Jeff is to credit for much of the lively debate here—even if his path has gotten pretty well worn. Whenever I check in here and see his name on the “Recent Comments” list, I know something worthwhile is probably being batted around.

  9. As for review suggestions, how about some Kilkerrans?!?!

    Their high-quality age-stated no-nonsense craft-presented old-school whisky is, on the face of things, exactly what the folks on this site seem to be craving—yet, the only real coverage I see from a site search is from a 2011 “Malt Messenger” post announcing new bottles at a local retail shop.

    Kilkerran rocks, and their ACTUAL story is way better than all the other distilleries’ silly whirlpools and devil dogs.

  10. Maybe the artist formerly known as ‘Ol’ Jas’ should start his own blog rather than being a backseat driver on this one. He certainly has enough ideas.

    • Dave, just so I can keep track of whom I’m talking to, are you one of the guys who’s also on Connosr, under a different name? Thanks.

      • If you mean @Nozinan…no that’s not him.

        • Thanks, Bob. I didn’t “mean” Nozinan, though I do know he’s one of the guys on both sites.

          I remember it came out once on here that some of the ATW regulars are also Connosr regulars under different names, but I don’t think we ever established who was who. Or if we did, I lost track.

          When you’re “talking” to many of the same names over and over again, it’s nice to have some idea of who those people are. Maybe that’s just me. On that note, I’m a guy named Jason who lives in Madison, Wisconsin—despite the occasional oblique “accusation” that I’m someone else!

          Cheers.

          • Oh, what a conundrum!

          • Yo Skeptic, what gives with that crap?

          • I mean, if I had to put 2 and 2 together based on comments here and on Connosr, I would have to guess that you think I’m the same person as the guy who used to post there as Rigmarole and then as later as Cunundrum.

            And that Paddockjudge might also labor under that same baseless delusion.

            And maybe even Nozinan too.

            And that you’ve been holding a grudge against him all these years.

            And that you all have enough animosity toward HIM to continually antagonize ME—and to root each other on.

            And that despite having the gall to antagonize me, you DON’T have the balls to explain why the hell you do it.

            But those conclusions all seem so far-fetched. Right? I mean, three separate mature adults couldn’t all be so presumptuous, spiteful, and cowardly—could they? Please, say it ain’t so!

          • I’ve never posted on Connosr, but I did read the exchanges with Rigmarole and Cunundrum. Judging from that, I think that there are a number of people on the site who have a genuine interest in whisky, but mostly of the “what are you drinking now” variety.

            There’s no harm in it, in and of itself, but I found the discussion often more about property, owned or sought, than about ideas.

            Sláinte!

          • Jeff,
            Yeah, I think I’d agree with the general slant of your opinion on Connosr. It’s full of good reviews and mostly-polite banter. I like it for what it is. But thorough discussions of a demanding topic never take off there the way they do here or on other top-tier blogs. It seemed better a few years ago—maybe just because I was new the scene and the site offered a rich backlog of commentary.

            I remember some great commentators who’ve flown the coop. Two-Bit Cowboy comes to mind. And yes, good old Rigmarole. Despite all his off-the-wall topics he’d drag in, he was one of the guys there who had some real personality. I’ll take a site full of idealistic bomb-throwers over milquetoast cheerleaders any day.

  11. Maybe. Maybe if ideas weren’t seen as problems, the overall content of whisky blogs would be improved.

    • Thanks, Jeff.

      1. Blogger requests ideas.
      2. Avid reader submits ideas.
      3. Dave criticizes avid reader.

      I don’t get it.

      But then again, I don’t get a lot of the junk people throw onto whisky websites.

      • My ‘criticism’ wasn’t that you are interested in whisky or that you have ideas. I get that you’re an avid reader. I have always posted here under Dave. You’re right that the post asked tor ideas. I think by the time I head read down to your comment a few days after having read the post that had slipped my mind. My bad. I saw your thorough list and thought it was long enough to begin a whole other site, that’s all.

        • I don’t see any contradictions between starting another site and posting on this one. There are already solid precedents for this.

          Connosr is a vibrant site and very different from this one. Another site with another moderator and another style could enhance the diversity of opinion, but it would not prevent that moderator from participating here.

        • Dave: “I saw your thorough list and thought it was long enough to begin a whole other site, that’s all.”

          Your use of the term “backseat driver” rather belies the tone of friendly helpfulness you’re claiming now, but OK.

          In any case, I’m 100% unlikely to start my own site. I hope I’m not alone in thinking that what the online whisky world needs is not MORE SITES, but BETTER CONTENT.

          • “Better content.” I wish. What is it with all these people who discovered whisky five minutes ago and are instant experts, gushingly sharing their new found expertise while doing reviews out of Mad Men era tumblers? There are dozens of them, bottom feeders desperate to be insiders and beneficiaries of the industry’s generosity. If they ever give something a bad review it’s of some shite nobody cares about.

            This site is predominantly about content and still one of the best discussion forums on the world wide whisky web.

          • Chris 1, it sounds like you’re talking about whatever Johnny-Come-Lately blogs pop up every time you swing a cat—yes?

            I agree with the idea that newbies ought to restrain themselves from setting up new sites and putting themselves in positions of ostensible authority. But, sites like Connosr and Reddit are perfect for that. “You just discovered how great whisky is? Great! Come on in and share your thoughts. The tent is big and the door is open!”

            I love to see the better blogs (say, this one, SKU’s when it was active, My Annoying Opinions, Dramming when it was active, and of course Whisky Fun) filling the role that actual whisky “journalism” OUGHT to be performing. Sure, review some drams. But also raise interesting questions, dig into some topics that are worth understanding better, expose some industry BS, and give thoughtful whisky fans a place to chime in & debate if necessary. That’s the kind of BETTER CONTENT I’m talking about.

          • Touching on what Chris 1 said: “’Better content.’ I wish. What is it with all these people who discovered whisky five minutes ago and are instant experts, gushingly sharing their new found expertise while doing reviews out of Mad Men era tumblers?”

            I think it’s very fair comment, as is the idea that there’s a lot of amateur reviewers adding to the overall noise, but not meaningful conversation, about whisky. The acumen of many new online reviewers was something that Dom Roskrow, quite justifiably, took great exception to. What Dom couldn’t resolve, however, was how amateur reviewers were doing any more harm to whisky than pros who were acting in an undeclared marketing capacity, willing to back up industry positions, no matter how nonsensical, on a “first, do no harm to the bottom line” basis.

            In their defense, the amateurs, not knowing better, only absorbed what the industry has been telling them for some time now: you don’t need to know anything about whisky, you only need your own opinion about whisky because knowing what you like is the new limit of whisky knowledge. Product information (where inconvenient to sales) that can’t read your mind about your personal (and changing) ideas of quality is now, by definition, useless and misleading. Everyone having an equal right to an opinion somehow also makes all opinions equally valid, so, suddenly, everybody IS equally an expert. Unlike the view of those who make whisky and, quite consciously, manipulate multiple variables for desired effects, a whisky is not the sum of what goes into it; a whisky is now just the sum of the adjectives that can be applied to it and, conveniently, no one needs to know anything about whisky to call it “smoky” or “a classic”.

            Everyone gets their own opinion and it now comes with their own truth and, if need be, their own physics. It’s not the reviewer that needs to undertake an education about whisky now; it’s the world that now needs to be educated about what the reviewer thinks about whisky – hence the numerous vlogs and tumblers.

            From the above, whether professional or amateur, the overall quality of dialogue on whisky has been increasingly dumbed down and gone post truth and, if only for that reason and in response to MadSingleMalt’s view, I think whisky is in a shit place and likely to remain there for the forseeable future.

            It reflects a market that, itself, is also changing; it IS now filled with a lot of new consumers who have been fed a lot of industry nonsense and we will collectively bear the impact of that for some time to come – unless the same fashion that brought these people to whisky leads them elsewhere and/or those who do know better start making one hell of a lot more noise. Most of the experts who could have educated these people have slunk away to the bunkers, their marketing mission accomplished largely by omission and by staying on the right side of product reps.

            Young has become the new “good” because it can be provided in volume (and also because, surprisingly enough, it could be premiumized by sheer hokum), and because many people are being priced out of alternatives to young products. People’s standards are shaped by the opinion around them, but also by what they drink in terms of the options open to them and, these days, those options have more and more to do with bourbon oak and/or indifferent sherry and also with less than a decade total in either, undeclared or not.

            Things are not as bad as they will yet become, either, because there are now also fewer voices opposing the nonsense. There are also more things post Kelpie, and post truth, in the works, even in the context of a special release that was saved through massive transfusions of a (currently) less-expensive ten. Like too much ice cream, too much nonsense will prove harmful – to products, to values and to the credibility that many producers will wish they had when the music either stops or slows down considerably.

            Sláinte!

  12. I said it was my bad for taking the time and position I did given that I had overlooked the request for ideas. That said, smugness amongst ‘experienced’ whisky drinkers is a turn off no matter what site it’s on or who the audience is.

    • [Comment on “my bad”] … [comment on smugness].

      Is there any kind of connection between your ideas here, Dave, or is the smugness thing a non sequitur?

    • All hobbies, interests and professions have a vocabulary and points of reference that those with experience understand. It is up to newcomers to learn the language and gain an understanding of the reference points. One does that by asking questions, reading, researching and putting in the time to gain the experience necessary to speak intelligently with those who have gone before them.
      The “smug” are always willing to help and advise. I have been through the process with fountain pens,watches and whisky and am now able to talk sensibly with other collectors. I consider myself well experienced in all these areas, but I still don’t feel compelled or qualified enough to blog about any of it. I also don’t need any fan adulation or free stuff.

      • When I get interested in something I like to delve deep. Such is it with whisky to the point I’ve limited the number of people I can talk whisky with because I’ll either come across as a snob or as a bore. So unless I’m with whisky buddies I try to talk about other stuff.

        In my line of work developing a rapport quickly is important. For this I find breadth is important as well. I try to find something they are interested in to talk about. Usually goes OK. But if they like whisky…. I’m in!

  13. There is a connection between my ideas. I can be wrong for criticizing the offering up of ideas having accidentally overlooked the request while others can appear smug in how they communicate ideas or respond to others. It isn’t one or the other. It can be both. Referring to other people’s ideas or comments as junk is smug. Assuming the level of knowledge someone else does or does not have in comparison to oneself because that person offers a different perspective is smug. It isn’t about people not having the right to offer up their perspective so much as it is the tone in which they do so. If my tone appears less than charitable it’s because I’ve seen plenty of people nitpick details and smugly state their opinion as fact whenever someone disagrees with their ‘more educated and informed’ opinion. I get it – there is a frustration when someone who isn’t well read attempts to argue with someone who has a more solid foundation of understanding. It’s the tone of how that frustration is expressed, I call it ‘smugness’, that leads me to respond in kind.

    • I think we are arguing semantics here, Dave. This is not a freedom of speech issue. Nobody is denying anyone the right to express an opinion, but sometimes that opinion is ill-informed and anyone else with more knowledge has every right to call them on it. By all means, express your thoughts and opinions on forums and comment sections like these, but don’t immediately start up a blog before you’ve paid some dues and know what the hell you’re talking about.

      By the way, where is it you are encountering all this smugness? Nitpicking is what people who all have the same, or nearly the same, level of knowledge are reduced to. They have discussed all the obvious stuff ages ago. It’s just the nature of specialized pursuits in which hardcore hobbyists are engaged and are passionate about. Granted, there may be some smugness but I don’t think it is widespread among the serious amateurs who frequent these comment sections and blogs.

      Cheers

      • Point well taken about semantics and how they enter into discussions. Looking forward to continued discussions.

  14. In any case, I am not on sites like this one to debate semantics and should have looked at the ideas presented with the spirit in which they were presented. We’re all here, I hope, to gain a deeper understanding of something we are all passionate about. Perhaps my passion was somewhat misguided as I am sometimes frustrated by the direction the comment section can go on sites like this one and may have jumped the gun in my interpretation. I look forward to the continued sharing of ideas.

    • Nicely said, Dave. We are never too smart or too old to learn something from someone else.

      Good to have your input here. Are you a contributor to Connossr? That’s the other good place for these kind of exchanges of ideas.

      Cheers.

    • If Curt is following these comments, I’d like to suggest that what Dave’s talking about could be filed under “Civility on the whisky web,” as I suggested for a topic above.

      Much of what Chris 1 already wrote some could have flowed from my keyboard too, so I won’t repeat him. I’ll just reply to some specifics:

      •”Junk:” I didn’t define that word at all when I used it above, so I can see how Dave (and anyone) could have read that to mean “opinions of newbies” or “ideas I disagree with” or anything else smug & condescending. Sorry for not being clear. I was thinking of rude comments that seem to serve no purpose other than to antagonize. The internet is, of course, famous for that sort of anonymous assholery, but the online whisky world is usually better than that. Usually. Strangely enough, the place I most see it is on Connosr, which is otherwise just about the friendliest little corner of the whisky world you could imagine. I’ve tried confronting it, ignoring it, and just dismissing it with something like “alright man.” It still goes on and probably always will. It sounds like the more “open” sites (Facebook? Youtube video comments?) are worse, so maybe I should just be thankful that the problem is as small as it is.

      •”Newbies:” Maybe I will repeat Chris 1 a bit and say that newbies should be—and, I think, usually ARE—welcomed into the conversation. As I said above, sites like Reddit and Connosr are perfect for that. But at the same time, if you just discovered what “single malt” means and you’re excited about having tried Glenlivet 12, the world probably doesn’t need your blog. Sorry, but it’s true. Or at least, your site should obviously be presented as the recorded experience of a new explorer rather than a source of authoritative information.

      •”Smug:” So what is smug, then? I think the biggest thing I ever see is “Oh, you like X? Just wait until you try Y.” And even that is usually meant to open eyes, rather than to belittle. I think.

      •”Nitpicking.” This stuff might be the most annoying. Like when someone corrects another’s use of E in spelling “whisk(ey).” Or jumps on someone casually including Talisker with the Islays. Or (in real life) correcting someone’s distillery pronunciation in anything other than a friendly “wow, these distilleries sure have some challenging names!” tone. I always like it, though, when you can tell someone really wants their correction to come across as friendly helpfulness, so they couch it as a “PS, by the way…” kinda thing.

      Good chatting here, Dave. Thanks for continuing the conversation.

      • A good discussion resolved with civility and good grace.
        MadSingleMalt, I’ll be talking to you over on Connosr. (BlueNote).

      • I’m ALWAYS following these comments. Like I’ve said before, oftentimes I’ll lob the first grenade, say most of what I want to say and let the conversation spin out. Every now and again I wade back in, but I enjoy reading the opinions and dialogue of you good folks who share your time with me.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)