As someone who's spent the last ten years trying to get customers to care more about their alcohol, I never take for granted the consumer curiosity that's allowed K&L to flourish in the boutique sector. Without that inspired insight into production, terroir, quality, and complexity of flavor I never would have had a job or a position in this business. There's a big difference between selling 1.75L bottles of Dewar's and explaining the ins and outs of pot-distilled single malt whisky, but the possibility of even choosing between those two careers first requires an interested and attentive audience. Getting consumers to dig deeper into what they drink isn't a process that happens overnight; it's a long and slow-moving evolution, the result of constant repetition and small cultural incisions. It's a geological shift that often moves glacially, but certainly.
Today, there are so many people interested in the nuances of alcohol that we have uncountable scores of amateur blogs, Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts, Reddit boards, and Facebook pages dedicated to the celebration of wine, beer, and spirits. There are magazines, TV shows, books, and now podcasts committed to breaking down the minutia of what makes alcohol special. It's not unlike the current craze for all things related to true crime, serial killer psychology, and unsolved murder cases. There's not a day that goes by where my wife isn't discovering some new show we have to watch or listen to relating to these subjects, and I get pulled in by default. Much like with the booze world, these pseudo-docudramas have extended far beyond the purely professional realm. There are armchair experts and DIY hobbyists diving in right and left, taking shots at cracking a cold case or a dead-end lead, hoping to use their interest and passion to find the next big break.
However, if you were born into our current meta-culture it's easy to forget that the world wasn't always this interested in detail, education, and human psychology. That's exactly why I'm currently loving David Fincher's new project on Netflix called Mindhunter, starring Jonathan Groff of Looking fame. It takes place in the heyday of American serial killers—the mid-to-late seventies—back when the FBI thought all criminals were either born crazy or money-motivated. Freud? Mommy issues? All the sexually-repressed stuff we take for granted today as told to us by Doctor Hannibal Lecter? That was for wingnuts, sissy boys, and over-stimulated academics. Forty years ago that was the mentality of our government in terms of what motivated murderers. Today, however, these psychological theories are so proven and widely-accepted that the entire study has crossed over into pop culture and our own personal leisure time. It's funny how things change, right? One day it's hogwash, the next its engrained into our psyche.
The line that I particularly loved from the first episode was about how murder is indicative of a societal sickness, the symptom of something wrong with a culture. That's when my wife turned to me and said: "Did you know 85% of all serial killers are from the U.S.?"
I'm deep into this now.