As we move deeper into the new year, I’d like to take a break and talk about The Scotch Blog, as well as set some misconceptons straight.
One of the biggest assumptions is that I am “in the industry.”
If by that you mean involved in the production and/or distribution of Scotch, then no, I am not “in the industry”. Nor am I “in the industry” if you mean I get paid (by a magazine or publisher) to write about Scotch (like a Dave Broom or a Jim Murray).
No, I do this on my own.
Why? Good question. Not sure I fully know – but a big part is that I noticed what I see as a gaping hole in the information available online regarding the business of whisky.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you can get a lot of good (often great) information from Malt Advocate or Whisky Magazine – but for the most part, the information you can get on the Internet is either personal tasting notes or simply a regurgitation of Press Releases – with no analytical thought.
Maybe because I’m a business guy [I have an MBA in Management and a Masters of Science in Marketing, and I spent a number of years as a management consultant], I tend to view things from a very business-oriented perspective.
And the Scotch whisky industry is absolutely fascinating to me. The partnerships; distribution agreements; multinationals; “Mom & Pop” set-ups; misunderstood business connections; convoluted ownership and marketing arrangements. Yet, for all the diversity, it is a very close-knit community. Fascinating.
Some people in the industry may look at me as an annoying fly; some look at me an opportunity to promote their stuff; some look at me and say “I wish we could say that”; some look at me and say “He says what we say”; some probably don’t even know that I exist. Sie La Vie.
But at the core, The Scotch Blog exists simply to promote Scotch; to hopefully demystify
the Scotch Whisky industry, and perhaps, more importantly, to demystify Scotch itself – take
the bluster out of it – and promote it to a new generation of drinker.
And yes, you may see more stories about some companies than others, but that is mostly due to those companies keeping me in the loop – making themselves accessible to me, (and, in turn, to you). These companies appear to share my core goals. But I continue to invite any and all companies involved in the production and distribution of Scotch to view The Scotch Blog as a way to reach out directly to Scoth drinkers like you and me. Some take me up on that, and some don’t. I don’t take it personally.
As you may know, I don’t rate whisky – and only rarely do I present tasting notes – and I don’t (at least in this forum) talk about a whisky that I do not like. Instead, I talk about what’s going on in the industry, and I talk about whiskies that I personally like – and no, those two are not always mutually exclusive.
The way I look at it, there are innumerable sites, and multiple books, where you can get opinions on taste – I just personally don’t believe that a numeric scale (or any other scale for that matter) can truly represent what a whisky has to offer. On the flip side, when I try something new, I do refer to MJ & JM to see what they think. I am after all, like you, a fan of whisky.
And like you, I like things that others don’t – and others like things that I don’t – so I never want the discussion to degrade into an argument based on disagreements in preferences. To be illustrative – I abhor orange vegetables – so carrots would rate pretty low were this The Veggie Blog – if you, on the other hand are a lover of Yams, you would think I was an unsophisticated lout who doesn’t understand the nuances of this wonderful tuber. To each his own.
I make no money doing this – just the opposite – I spend a lot. Traveling to shows (which are always in expensive places like New York, Chicago & San Francisco) costs a lot.
Postage costs a lot. For example, last month I sent out 10 sets of Whisky & Scotland Magazines; yes, Paragraph was kind enough to provide those magazines – and sent them to me on their dime – but it cost me $40 to send them out to the lucky winners. That’s $40 that could have been spent on a nice bottle for myself.
I also want to point out that I can and do separate the companies from the products. I may not like some of the tactics that Diageo practices, but Talisker, Oban and Lagavulin are among my favorites - and I’m happy to discuss those products based solely on their merits – all the while bashing Diageo for inane marketing tactics. I’m happy to talk about what new thing Dalmore is releasing (because the ambassador might keep me in the loop), while Whyte and Mackay steadfastly refuses my requests for info. That’s the nature of this thing. Not everyone likes what I write.
Like many other industries, there are craftspeople who strive to make the best possible product and promote it; and there are bean-counters who want to meet the quarterly expectations and shave costs. I want to expose you to both sides of this equation.
The Scotch Blog exists as a forum to present educational information
about the production, history and future of Scotch as well as my special brand of “provocative business
commentary” – and to elicit your thoughts.
I hope you enjoy The Scotch Blog, and I hope you continue to enjoy it. Thanks for reading!
One last thing
I wish I had chosen a different name for this little endeavor – “Blog” has such silly connotations now – of people who rant and rave about what underwear they plan to wear; what they’ve had for breakfast, and about the random sexual encouters they have. But the bottom line is that the technology is well-suited to to how I write – and the T-shirts have been printed. So for now, it will continue to be The Scotch Blog.