Wow! I missed some drama while I was gone! David OG just tore Diageo a new A! You can see how difficult it is to be both a whisky fan and a whisky salesman. We're torn between our livelihood and our own personal emotions. Sometimes we just can't take it and we have to blow the whistle. Has Diageo just reached its Netflix moment by almost doubling the price of Talisker 18? The only people who can decide that are the customers buying their products.
In other news, I received this thoughtful email from a man named Weston Renoud who just started reading the blog. He was responding to the post about "haters." I thought this was quite insightful:
...on to your discussion of "haters." I feel you focused a bit too much on perception and presented a veiled argument for persecution. Perceptions often originate from experience, and I think you brushed under the rug the behavior of the wider scotch, wine, and food enthusiast communities. Frankly I think any community that doesn't make a concerted effort to be accessible will involuntarily become exclusionary. I think a better discussion to have than categorizing misconceptions of scotch drinkers (which is preaching to the choir) would be to discuss inclusionary behavior.
Too often I get irritated by fellow scotch drinkers who are drawn to the cachet of scotch but have little appreciation for it. They often have no idea how it's made (which is why they'll buy based on color) but are happy to extol it's qualities. This is not unique to the scotch community, this is the syndrome of the "newly initiated," which lives in the spectrum of the fanboy/fangirl.
I think there are a couple simple steps that could improve the situation of the persecuted scotch drinker.
1) Don't preach to the heathens. If someone isn't interested you can't convince them to get interested. Sit back and enjoy your scotch. This is like the evangelicals putting the bible on their lap to witness. If someone engages you in conversation with a question they'll likely be much more receptive to your story.
2) Demystify. If someone does express interest explain the process of making scotch. It is not that much more complicated than beer (leaving subtleties aside). Empowering someone with knowledge is a quick way to make friends.
3) Use straightforward language. Language can be powerful in more ways than one. Using language or meanings that someone isn't familiar with is a quick way to run them off. My father-inlaw likes scotch but isn't well versed in the language used to describe it. Discussing a heavily peated scotch I said it smelled like a campfire and he was instantly grinning. He felt empowered with language he not only could understand but held strong associations with. From there we started to discuss peat and the malting process.
I just realized this is sounding preachy. Really, I appreciate your blog and your passion. You sound like a great guy to sit down and have a scotch or dinner and some conversation with. I will looking forward to your future posts.
I think what wasn't implied enough in my original post was the idea that whisky connoisseurs can be victims of their own community's exclusionary behavior. I think point 2b covers the issue of the everyday Scotch guy who wants to drink something nice, but is getting lumped in with the pedantic know-it-alls. Believe me, if there is anyone who is more vehemantly against his own community, it's me. I hate all the wine snootiness, the bullshit pairing rules, and the people who use their knowledge as a way to make themselves feel superior. If anyone should be persecuted, it's these people, not the haters who are simply reacting to what they're feeling. However, I think it's important to understand why haters hate if you're going to avoid these confrontations. What I think Weston explains very well is how to appease these haterisms.