Whisky Blog PR Frenzy Pt. 2

8 Comments on Whisky Blog PR Frenzy Pt. 2

After the last blog’s doom and gloom in the whisky world I thought I’d try and get a bit more upbeat, so this post is going to be more about fun events, websites, good news and other cool new whisky stuff.

First though, a word about the annual industry bunfights, and with gongs getting handed out left, right and centre, it’s been a great couple of weeks for Benriach and Cooley at the IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Challenge) and the confusingly-similarly-named ISC (International Spirits Challenge).  Glenglassaugh also did well, with two trophies for its (sadly quite pricey) 30 & 40yo expressions.

A Cooley representative, yesterday

A Cooley representative, yesterday

Unfortunately, as has been discussed at length on various sites including the Bruichladdich Blog, Scotchblog, Edinburgh Whisky Blog  and Malt Advocate (who dissected the iniquitous SF competition last year), there are simply far too many of these awards and the result is that the meaning gets lost in the proliferation of press releases that occurs at this time of year.  This is a shame, as no doubt many of the medal-winners are excellent whiskies that deserve to be praised.  Unfortunately, there are many more mediocre and average whiskies that end up winning stuff as well and making an equally noisy song and dance about it.

I’m not going to go into this again, but I will predict that as long as people keep paying the inflated entrance fees these gongs will continue to be handed out, even though hardly anyone takes them seriously any more.  No doubt the annual chorus of disapproval will continue as well.

Industry heavyweight Benriach's 2009 haul (kidding - pic nicked from SumoDan)

Industry heavyweight Benriach's 2009 haul (kidding - pic nicked from SumoDan)

On a more uplifting note (as promised), some pretty cool things are happening in the Whisky world.  For one thing, Whyte & Mackay’s Richard Paterson has seemingly got a new PR agency (or a new financial year’s marketing budget!).  ‘The Nose’ has bravely dived into the cyber-world with no little aplomb and, as well as launching his own blog, is now on Facebook  and Twitter, tweeting away with great gusto (and no-one who has ever met him will be surprised by that, given the man’s legendary enthusiasm for his subject).

There are a lot of distilleries and brands with blogs or Twitter accounts that were set up in the last year that are just incredibly dull or have fallen into disuse almost immediately because distillery managers or brand representatives don’t know how to use them.

RP's snazzy Twitter image

RP's snazzy Twitter image

These are certainly not accusations that can be levelled at RP, who has tirelessly promoted his brands with competitions, giveaways and even Tweet-ups – and, crucially, he is willing and eager to converse with his followers and responds personally to all mentions and direct messages.  Given that he’s already got over a thousand followers, this is no mean feat.

Mr Paterson is incapable of doing anything less than wholeheartedly and on the whole I think his involvement with social media is absolutely great.  It’s certainly good for a laugh.  In my favourite item of the new W&M cyber-offensive, RP took part in a hilariously one-sided ‘debate’ on the merits of different ways of drinking your whisky, brow-beating W&M’s new bartending stooge Colin Field (the poor man looked like he didn’t know what had hit him) and, as usual, endangering carpets, cameramen and other innocent bystanders by flinging the contents of his glass around in a highly entertaining fashion.
RP in full flow = Don't sit in the front row

RP in full flow = Don't sit in the front row

Less kind commentators than I have pointed out that, since the whisky concerned was Isle of Jura, it was perhaps less tragic that it was getting thrown around and not a massive surprise that it tasted better with other things in it, but we won’t stoop so low.  In any event, thankfully no Dalmore was harmed in the making of this infomercial, which is well worth a quarter of an hour of anyone’s time, if only to see the self-professed ‘World’s Best Barman’ reduced to a gibbering wreck by a sustained blast of moustachioed Scottish exuberance, RP-style.

In other news, there are some great new events on the way:  first up, the Whisky Picnic – it’s not in my manor, but I wish I could go – it looks excellent:

Top Hole: Whisky Picnic's rather spiffing logo

Top Hole: Whisky Picnic's rather spiffing logo

Taking place in Edinburgh on 1st November, this year’s Whisky Picnic will be second of its kind after a wildly succesful event last year.  The concept was born of a pair of bartenders-cum-brand-ambassadors, Nick Ravenhall and Duncan McRae – who chanced upon, and were inspired by,  this splendid photo of some nattily-dressed rogues getting merry in tweeds on a heath somewhere around the turn of the 20th century:

Crafty young duffers – check the smirk on the guy 2nd-right!

Crafty young duffers – check the smirk on the guy 2nd-right!

Now, as Neil from Caskstrength.net will tell you, sometimes the only gentlemanly thing to do is to nip out for some tweeds and grow an extravagant moustache (obviously he’d head straight for Savile Row, while dilettantes like myself would be slinking down to Oxfam).  Anyway, Duncan and Nick are flushed with the success of last year’s event and are doing it all over again.  The concept remains much the same:

  • Whisky experts mixing with normal people to the mutual benefit of both;
  • Facial hair and uncomfortable clothing;
  • Top-end bartenders using top-end brands to make top-end cocktails;
  • Secret location, Invite only;
  • Everything free.

If you’d like to get involved or want to get your name on the list for an invite you can email [email protected].  Check out www.whiskypicnic.org for details and photos from last year’s event.

I’ve more events to tell you about and some tasting notes as well, but that’s enough for today – more soon.



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bgulien says:

Picnic = Eating outdoors, with fine foods and drink and friends.
November and Edinburgh = Cold, Rain, Snow

Somehow I just don’t see them mixing together!

All the best and to keep warm, a cask of your finest, please!

Tim F says:

bgulien, I think it’s an indoor picnic! Not sure if that can be strictly called a picnic, but I think that it sounds like a great event anyway 🙂

smsmmns says:

Great post, Tim

Love the picnic. Think I’m gonna steal the idea and do something like that around WhiskyFest Chicago 2010

I support awards, esp reputable ones that have been around for 40 years, but there are certainly too many. How can a magazine that accepts advertising, invites, and freebies possibly issue fair awards?

Dicky P is the man. You totally nailed it when you said that he is incapable of doing anything less than wholeheartedly and while that confident enthusiasm won’t jive with some, it is absolutely infectious with the majority. Long may he Tweet, Blog, and bacefook.

Paula says:

The Whisky Picnic definitely sounds like my cup of tea AND in my own neck of the woods, to boot! Thanks for the heads up,Tim:)

[…] the positive response I got from my last blog post on the positive whisky stuff happening at the moment – and because I’m a person with […]

Good Work on the Whisky Picnic info! Last year was great fun. Will be working the bar, if you get in remember your tweets and tash. This year I’m going to grow a fine one from Movember!

[…] I’m already on record as an admirer of both RP himself and Whyte & Mackay’s new blitzkrieg PR strategy.  So I […]

[…] & Mackay’s media-savvy pi$$-taking audaciousness, as discussed in my previous post and here, this press release is rather more of the preachy, hype-driven old school of whisky PR, where every […]

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