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