Respect For Your Elders: Back to Basics

I'm not sure how many of you caught the piece I wrote about Glenmorangie 10 a little more than a week ago, but it apparently struck a nerve with a number of folks. A whole slough of people I haven't heard from in years emailed me to tell me how much they enjoyed it. It was nice to hear from some old friends. Yesterday, we used that entire blog post as a marketing email to our general whisky list andto my surprisepeople actually read it. Instead of calling our customer service line to simply order a bottle or two, we had people calling in just to voice their support for what we were doing: offering a great whisky for a great price.

That's really what success as a retailer depends upon; not blogging, or emailing, or being dashingly handsome (wink, wink). You can be a terrible writer, have zero social skills, and live in a cave under your store, but if you can offer good whisky for a good price, you're going to do alright (as long as you don't offer too good of a price and go into bankruptcy). In following with some of the themes I've been touching on lately—rising prices, customer burnout, and an unhealthy obsession with shiny new things—I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is. Why not get back to basics? Five years ago we could sell standard release brands with ease; it was the special edition whiskies we had to actually explain and convince our customers to consider. Today, it's the complete opposite. In this market we can't sell enough limited edition whiskies; to the point that the big brands are now actually struggling to sell their standard marks. Limited edition whiskies are the talk of the town. We stalk their very arrival. They're the only things the internet wants to talk about, which is why so much focus is put upon their acquisition—no matter the price. That's why I'm going to stop writing about them for a while. There's no function in that subject anymore.

Don't worry: I'll still tell you when new things come in. That's my job after all. But you don't need the detailed background of a whisky destined to sell out in two minutes. The commercial side of the internet has caught up with whisky. In the past, you needed bloggers to keep you informed. Today, the whisky companies send you an email long before their juice hits the states. We're at the point where informed customers often know more about new releases than I do! That's why it's the perfect time to revisit the classics. Isn't that why we still force kids to read Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck in high school? Because even though they've been read millions of times by previous classes, there's always a new group of youngsters waiting to be initiated? While the generation I started with back in 2007 has already read all of the literary whisky equivalents, there's a budding group of young drinkers who are still learning about what's what. Are we to teach them that the only things worth drinking today are Pappy and Port Ellen? That's a bad education; one lacking in the basic pillars of whiskydom, yet that's the message being sent.

So let's take a break from the hoopla. I'm going to at least. Let's revisit the classics.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll