Knick Knacks

I get asked about my job quite a bit; especially now that I'm traveling more often and drinking all over the world. Is it fun? Of course. Is it the best job ever? That's what people tell me, but to do this job well you have to sacrifice all of your free time, and most of your body's filtration and urinary system. Neither of those things are good for my mental and physical health. Do you have to know a lot about booze? Yes, you have to know a good amount, but being a retail buyer isn't about knowledge (which confounds a good number of candidates out there). It's about translation. You have to be able to speak about fifty different languages, and how well you can interpret them will ultimately decide how well you can do this job. You need to know what the whisky supergeek is asking about (down to the most minute of details), what the wealthy guy going to an office party is looking for, what the loving wife needs for her husband even though she has no idea what he even likes, and which whisky most resembles that bottle of I-can't-remember that some guy drank twenty years ago and really enjoyed. You need to like everything and be open to anything. You need to appreciate the high and the low, the top and the bottom, the good and the moderately-passable because you're going to have customers who want exactly those two things, and everything in between. You only drink the "good" stuff? Then look for a different job. Trust me, this one isn't for you. Retail buyers aren't here to pass judgement. They're here to help people from all walks navigate a very complex system of liquids and classifications.

There are all kinds of sayings or bumper sticker witticisms out there in the booze world like: Life's too short to drink bad wine, or I don't have time to drink bad whisky. I get where these would-be aphorisms are coming from, and I understand that there's this concept in life that when you're super busy (which I understand, believe me), you don't want to waste the little free time you have doing something that isn't super fun. But drinking, the act of imbibing alcohol itself, is the fun part. Drinking something tasty, interesting, or cool can definitely add more enjoyment to the occasion, but it shouldn't constantly define the moment (plus, you'll never appreciate anything wonderful in life without a negative experience to compare it against). Personally, I would counter those sayings with something like: Life's too short to drink something you don't actually enjoy. Because every single time you sit down to have a drink you should be enjoying yourself. If someone says they only enjoy the "good" stuff when they do sit down for a drink, then I can't honestly believe that person knows what fun or enjoyment really is.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll