It's a warm 79 degrees in Redwood City. The memories of Scottish snow are melting away as I walk between the store and warehouse, fetching bottles from the backstock. I'm thinking about the gin and tonic I'm going to have when I get home. I'm wondering if maybe I shouldn't start with a Daiquiri, however. I'm thinking about sitting on the back patio and reading a book before eating dinner, pausing to sip between pages. What I'm not thinking about is whisk(e)y or any of the frustrations that have serious drinkers so angry these days. Obsessing and stressing about whisk(e)y leads to whisk(e)y burnout, something the whisk(e)y industry needs to be very careful about right now. Not financial bubbles, not supply issues, but burnout. More and more people are getting tired of the grind - getting on waitlists, searching for allocated items, the work it takes being a diehard whisk(e)y fan. It's a real issue and it's one we don't talk enough about in the business.
Keeping up with the internet whisk(e)y scene can be absolutely exhausting. You read all the magazine websites, the news pages, the professional blogs, the amateur blogs, the message boards, and all of the comments on each one. You do this because this is simply what whisk(e)y people do, right? By the end of the day you're exhausted and what have you learned? That people take whisk(e)y really, really, really, really fucking seriously. Perhaps a bit too seriously. I've talked to quite a few prominent bloggers lately that are absolutely gassed. They're losing their passion. The same passion that motivated them to start a blog and commune with other drinkers about whisk(e)y has been sucked right out of them. They used to drink whisk(e)y because they liked it. Now their hobby has consumed all of their freetime and their excess bandwidth. This pressure isn't unique to bloggers whatsoever. I've watched some of my best customers buckle under the weight of their collections. Guys who used to come by every week are now merely names from K&L's past. Burnout. Too much whisk(e)y. Not too much drinking of whisk(e)y, but rather too much thinking of whisk(e)y.
I have to think about whisk(e)y all day, but that's my job. It's a frustrating time. I am now allowed to buy one case (a six pack) of Russell's Reserve 6 Year Old Rye per month. I just learned that I will also be restricted to six bottles of Elijah Craig 12 Year Cask Strength per month. On top of that Anchor has now upped my allotment of Old Potrero to a whopping one bottle a month! That's enough supply to last me about thirty seconds once I send out an email. It's almost not even worth bringing it in because I'm going to piss off more people than I'm going to please. Nevertheless, we shouldn't be crying over these things. They're the result of a growing demand for whisk(e)y, something we all spend our time enjoying as well. I noticed today that another six whiskies took price increases on the invoice I was recently sent. Six more whiskies that I'll either have to change the price on or take the hit. But I'm not going to stress about these things. That leads to burnout and I can't afford to let that happen.
If you're feeling like the whisk(e)y world is getting to be too much for you to handle, like picking fights with people on message boards about the quality levels of recent Stitzel Weller releases is becoming unhealthy, like your anger over missing out on Batch 39 of Aberlour A'Bunadh is simply going to consume you, then you need to take a break. Anyone who spends their time worrying about these things is asking for a heart attack and whisk(e)y isn't worth risking your health over. There are many other great things to do with your evening besides drink, blog, take pictures of your collection, and obsess, obsess, and obsess. Yet, this is where I see more and more whisk(e)y drinkers headed.
Burnout is a real thing. It's what happens when you spend too much time thinking about whisk(e)y, or anything for that matter. With every new release, every new limited edition, every new K&L Exclusive comes the pressure to get one before it's gone forever. We're all responsible for keeping it in check. Producers, distributors, importers, advertisers, retailers, bloggers, me, you, the internet. Everyone who cares about whisk(e)y has a duty to watchout for each other.
I'm watching out for myself tonight. I'm drinking some gin. I'm taking a break. I'm going to read a book and I'm going to forget about whisk(e)y. At least for one evening.