What's New?

I think, for me personally, the best moment in wrestling history was when Chris Jericho debuted on Monday Night RAW back in 1999. It was such a big deal for us wrestling geeks (there are as many wrestling blogs, as there are whiskey) who were waiting for him to break out and it marked the beginning of a new era in the war between WWF and WCW -- when wrestlers would begin jumping ship back to the WWF. However, Jericho's entrance was so good and so thrilling that we became addicted to it. The excitement of seeing a new face on Monday night's best wrestling program was such an incredible high that nothing else became as important to us rabid fans. We couldn't wait to see who else might show up and if someone didn't, it was kind of a letdown. The WWF knew they had to keep the fresh faces coming to take advantage of this increased interest. Today's whiskey companies are following the same gameplan.

What's new? Do you have anything new? Any new whiskies coming out this week? Oh. That's it? I've already had that. What do you have that's new?

I've been hearing a lot of this lately. There have been so many new whiskies released over the last few years that I feel we're in a similar situation as the wrestling version I described above: we're not happy as whiskey fans unless we have something new and different to drink -- good or bad. It's not just about separating ourselves from the pack, either. If a new whiskey is good, we can talk about how awesome it is, do whatever it takes to track it down, and tell our friends we finally got a chance to taste it. If it's bad, we can talk about how overpriced it is, how it's just another example of bad marketing, and how whiskey isn't as good as it used to be. In either case, it's something to do and that's what the passionate whiskey community out there wants -- a buzz. The online wrestling world at that time wanted the exact same thing, and it's an eerily familiar feeling -- the way that in-the-know excitement turns casual fans into serious fanatics (I converted at least thirty of my friends into serious wrestling geeks by simply explaining to them how exciting this all was and why). For many people, whiskey is exciting because there's so much out there to experience and they want to experience it all. The more new experiences there are to try, the more they want to try them. Buying the same bottle twice isn't even a consideration. It's more about that wave of energy that lights up their day when a new product gets released.

However, there hasn't been a lot of new, every-day whiskey on the marketplace and that's not a coincidence. There's plenty of affordable whiskey available. Good affordable whiskey, too. But the new stuff? The exciting limited editions and heavily-hyped releases? Those are going to cost you. The WWF quickly realized that their big moments were being given away for free on cable television and made a few significant adjustments. Since Jericho's arrival almost fifteen years ago, the WWE (as it's now called) has saved all major comebacks, new arrivals, and big returns for pay-per-view television events. If the Rock is going to come back for a match, it's going to happen at Wrestlemania, not on Raw. If you, as a wrestling fan, want to see what's new and be a part of something fresh and exciting, you're going to have to pay extra for it. The same goes for whiskey drinkers (and fashionistas, for whom all of this is nothing new).

We're at the point right now where any new whisk(e)y is selling quickly just because it's new. Just because it's something different than what you can usually get. If there is a burst to the bubble coming (which I don't see, yet), I think it's going to happen when people get tired of having to do what it takes to keep whiskey exciting for them personally. The WWF eventually ran out of new wrestlers to sign and had to work with what they had. For those casual fans tuning in just to see what would happen next, this marked the end of their interest because they never really cared about the product in the first place, just the excitement surrounding it. If some people out there are only interested in new whiskies and limited edition releases, what happens when they become too expensive or hard to find? Does that make them more exciting, or does that ruin the buzz?

How many people out there are just tuning in to see what's next? And how long can the whiskey industry keep coming up with fresh faces?

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll