Great Expectations

The whisk(e)y world is feeling a little Dickensian right now (or maybe it's just me after attending the Dickens Fair at the Cow Palace last weekend). Depending on who you talk to (or listen to, or read) we might be living in the best of times for whiskey drinkers, or the worst of times (or both simultaneously if you read A Tale of Two Cities). For me, it's a matter of expectations: the greater one's expectations are, the more likely one is to find disappointment. That's why managing expectations has become the absolute, number-one, prime focus of my job here at K&L--making sure the customer knows what to expect and to make sure it's what they're expecting. Heading into 2014, the world of fine spirits appreciation can be whatever you want it to be–it all depends on your outlook.

Some drinkers out there see nothing but unfortunate events before them, yet young David Copperfield didn't let any of those mishaps stop him from living. You simply do the best you can with the cards you're dealt. The world isn't always fair, but what can you do about it other than move forward in spite of it? I met many unhappy whisk(e)y drinkers during 2013 who lamented the fact that their precious commodities were becoming harder to find and more expensive. The competition from budding whisk(e)y enthusiasts was taking all the fun out of their hobby. But, of course, no matter how many times Estella told young Pip she had no heart, he couldn't help but yearn for the unattainable–unable to see any other beauty around him. Or perhaps the situation is more like Miss Havisham–living in the past, jilted by the changing whiskey industry, and bent on ruining everyone else's good time as well.

But hopefully Christmas time has helped us to become more thankful for the wonderful spirits we do have, and not bitter about those we don't. Ebenezer still lurks out there among the disdainful (for those claiming UPS ruined their Christmas, I've got two words for you: SHOP EARLIER -- it's all about expectations, remember, and to expect UPS to save Christmas for you when millions of other people are sending gifts at the last minute is a bit unrealistic), but young Tiny Tim's spirit still shines through in others. It's a matter of choice in these choicest of matters. You can tell the rest of the whisk(e)y world "Bah humbug!" and go home to your castle of prestige bottles, but ultimately you're likely to be wandering the streets alone; looking on through a frozen window while those enjoying themselves celebrate their companionship with whatever means available.

Because to assume that the spirit in the bottle determines the man, the occasion, or the quality of one's experience is to become the most Dickensian of Dickens's many antagonists. The easiest way to prevent that is to manage one's expectations, no matter how great they may seem, and this is the best time of the year to do that. I'm making a list of my new year's resolutions and number one on that list is: try to simply enjoy what you have, rather than constantly strive for more. To expect the world of the world is a recipe for disappointment. To expect more from yourself is a better, and more managable, path to happiness.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll