One thing this job as spirits buyer has taught me (and taught me well) is how many different perspectives there our out there in the world. Different people see things very differently, whether it's customer service, global politics, or booze. For example, based on the feedback I got, the Claude Thorin Vintage Cognac was both the most and the least popular spirit at BrandyFest this week—in fact, when I told one unenthused taster that the last four people who tried it thought it was amazing, he asked, "Are you saying that just to fuck with me?"
When we bring in fifty new K&L exclusive products—whiskies, brandies, gins, what-have-you—we're not expecting the same person to buy, or to like 100% of what we're bringing in. If for some reason you do like everything we're selling, then you're probably qualified to buy spirits for a major retailer because doing this job requires you to see the positive side of just about anything—both booze and people. I know that the super geeks might shit all over some of our selections, but that's fine because not everything we sell is meant for them. I also know that many of our products are far too esoteric and quirky for the general palate, but—again—that's OK because we've got plenty of drinkable stuff that should please a larger crowd.
What I find both fascinating and exasperating, however, is the ongoing mindset that one's own personal taste can determine an inherent value to any wine or spirit. That's not to say that whatever one likes is good, or that quality is just a matter of taste—it's to say that one's own personal preference is never unanimous. Just because you like something doesn't mean that others will, and vice versa. And just because someone likes something you don't doesn't mean that you're stupid and they're smart, or that they're an idiot and you're just discerning.
One of the most outrageous experiences of my booze career came when I dared to say "just because you don't like it...." to one of our more sensitive customers after he emailed me in disgust about one of my recommendations. It resulted in one the biggest temper tantrums I have ever witnessed (both from children and from grown adults).
That's when I really understood that the world is an incredibly diverse place.