Alcohol is very much like music - and by music, I mean the music industry and its fan culture. There are so many parallels between the music world and the booze world that they may as well be the same thing sometimes. For a long time I thought I was going to be a professional musician and producer, working with my own band and the music of others. Many of the same trendy, superficial attitudes I encountered towards pop music plague the whisky industry as well - people are too cool for certain types of music/whisky, people latch on to up-and-coming bands/whiskies, people rate music albums/whiskies on a scale of 1 to 10, as if a freaking number could summarize the merit behind creative creation. There's no real point in elaborating on this theme because practically everything you can think of applies both ways. The idea of discovering a band in a small local night club and following them down the road to success, only to bitch and moan when they become too mainstream is now the burden of the whisky/beer/wine fan. Micro-distilleries like Stranahan's or micro-brews like Fat Tire were once the toast of the serious insider until they "sold out" to the pocketbook of corporate America. "Now I only drink whisky from distilleries that produce ten cases a year or less."
There's so much pretense, so much judgemental behavior concerning booze, and there are freaking genres of booze fan now, just like with music! There's the rocker whisky drinker, the nerdy whisky drinker, the yuppie whisky drinker, and many more personas that relate perfectly to any Motorhead, Devo, or Tears for Fears fan. What really spoke to me before writing this was a quote I read recently from pop singer Santigold, where she said:
I'm so disappointed with the state of music right now - fanfare is valued over actual substance.
In the brave new world of internet booze, this couldn't be more true concerning alcohol as well. How many comments did your recent blog post about whisky get? How many "likes" does Remy Martin's Facebook page have? How many people showed up for the last designer vodka tasting?
Sure, your product is small-batch, hand-crafted, and all that. But is it actually good?
"Good" has become secondary. Fanfare is substance.