World Whisky Day – How Hedonism And Opportunism Killed An Idea

by Oliver Klimek on March 28, 2012

A True Story

Once upon a time there was a beer and whisky writer, famous for his writing style, admired for his extensive knowledge and liked for his personality by those who knew him. His name was Michael Jackson, born on 27th March 1942, died on 30th August 2007 from a heart attack. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for the last decade of his life.

After Michael Jackson’s death the idea for an International Whisky Day on his birthday was born, conceived and supported by his friends with the goal to raise funds for the Parkinson’s UK charity while celebrating whisky worldwide. Unfortunately, the event was not put forward with much effort, so it fizzled out. Also a book about Michael Jackson was compiled by Ian Buxton with contributions from many of Michael’s friends, generating a nice sum for the charity.

Once upon a time there was a student from Aberdeen named Blair Bowman, hardly older than 20 years, who had a vision. He figured that it would be a great idea to have a global day of whisky celebration. Not having problems with his ego, he thought his birthday on 21st March would make a nice date for this World Whisky Day. The world raising a dram to you on your birthday? What a great idea! He decided to turn this into a business venture, it was a triple-win scenario. Whisky lovers would have an opportunity to celebrate their favourite tipple, the whisky industry would have an opportunity to sell more whisky specially for this day, and he himself would act as a middle man, bringing them together while earning commission fees, so to speak.

One fateful day, Blair Bowman learned about International Whisky Day and the connection to Michael Jackson. Blair Bowman got in contact with Dutch whisky writer Hans Offringa who was behind the original International Whisky Day and received his thumbs up. Wow! A big name, a sad story. Just what a project like this needs to take off. So the date for World Whisky Day was changed to 27th March, the venture was trademarked, and the internet domain names wordwhiskyday.com and internationalwhiskyday.com (!) were registered.

But all of a sudden some whisky people started complaining. Especially people who knew Michael Jackson personally were upset by the fact that a charity event was to be turned into a commercial venture. Some critics even tried to advertise International Whisky Day as an alternative to World Whisky Day. [Side note: even though this idea has its charm, I would not really want to see WWD vs. IWD turn into a Monty Python-esque battle like in the famous People’s Front of Judea vs Judean People’s Front stunt.]

As a reaction, Blair Bowman felt obliged to put up a commitment to charity on the WWD website. But this got lost when the site was revamped in early 2012. Evidently, the hijacking of the original idea for a charity International Whisky Day was too obviously visible, becoming more a burden than a help for the plans to generate money. A toned down version of the origins and the charity devotion was re-introduced in a blog post, so it can’t be said it was kept a secrect. But the format in which this has been done clearly has turned this into a secondary issue easily overlooked.

The ‘About’ page on the website – the place people look at first when they want to learn about the why and how – does neither mention Micheal Jackson nor any charity effort. It is advertised as a day to “thank those who work in the global whisky industry” with no less than ten trademark signs underpinning the commercial nature of the venture.

The Big Day

Then the 27th March came along. And indeed it was a day of whisky celebration. But who actually did celebrate? The whisky industry that was specifically addresed by WWD kept remarkably quiet, especially in Scotland, the home of Blair Bowman. Only omnipresent Richard Paterson of Whyte & Mackay donated a bottle of the 30 year old house blend to the winner of the WWD photo competition.

But what about the big brands? Glenfiddich? Glenlivet? Macallan? Glenmorangie? Johnnie Walker? Chivas Regal? Ballantine’s? Hey, what’s wrong? It is YOU who were going to be celebrated! Why, just why were there no WWD special bottlings, no events at distilleries, no brand ambassadors spreading the word at tasting events?

Well, the only answer I can think of, although I cannot prove it, is that the responsible people in the Scotch whisky industry still remember Michael Jackson very well, and it seems they would have regarded commercial events on this day like dancing on his grave. The Scotch whisky industry has often enough been criticized to jump on any glitzy bandwagon that promises profit. Them being so reluctant to promote their own product on a day of global whisky celebration speaks volumes.

But the bandwagon did not stay empty. Jumping on it were mainly the second and third tier whisky people, like freelance whisky experts, bloggers, bars, restaurants or general Scottish tourism people. It was very eye-opening to watch the #worldwhiskyday Twitter avalanche that even managed to get into the top ten global Trending Topics for a while. Apart from simple whisky lovers raising their drams there were live tweets from high profile tasting events (often after a substantial advertising buildup in the days before), the US branch of the Scotch Single Malt Whisky Society asked people to “become a member today”, a whisky shop tweeted just about any bottle they had in stock and bars tried to convince pople to celebrate the day in their premises.

Correct me if I am wrong, but to the best of my knowledge, the only World Whisky Day event that actually kept up the charity dedication was a tasting organized by South African blogger Marc Pendlebury. For the rest of participants World Whisky Day was like a giant game of Chinese Whispers. The earlier you heard about it, the more likely you were to know the story behind it. But further down the line this information got more and more lost.

A Wasted Opportunity

In consequence, World Whisky Day turned into an eclectic mix of hedonism and opportunism. Celebrating it for the sake of celebration, advertising it to increase the revenue of one’s personal business. Michael Jackson and the Parkinson’s charity had to feel satisfied with roles as background actors, at best.

The whisky industry has shown that it is able to raise substantial amounts for charity, just look at Macallan’s Cire Perdue or Glenfiddich’s recent charity auctions. Wouldn’t it have been a great idea to show that something like this can also be pulled off by simple whisky lovers? Blair Bowman officially stated his devotion to charity. Why just that wishy-washy “a share of profits” statement? Why didn’t he turn this into a true grassroot initiative, for example with one pound for each dram served at an officially licensed World Whisky Day event going into a charity piggy bank? I am positively sure that doing something like this would not have had any detrimental effect neither on publicity nor on the revenue generated by World Whisky Day Ltd. Quite in contrary, this would really have had the potential to convince the entire whisky community of a global day for the celebration of whisky. Because the idea itself is a great one.

What a shame.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Gal March 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Indeed. What a shame.

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Ian Buxton March 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm

But hey, Blair got himself on television! What’s not to like?

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Oliver Klimek March 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Yep, can’t blame him for lack of stamina, hats off to that. Some well-directed hot air can work wonders at times.

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Benjamin Chen March 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Couldn’t have said it better myself Oliver. It’s a waste. A crying shame.

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Steffen Bräuner March 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I think the witch hunt from the Malt Maniacs against Blair is getting embarrasing by now actually. Don’t you have better things to do than harass a 21 year old entuastic student (over-entuastic, yes) ???

Steffen

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Oliver Klimek March 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

This has nothing to do with age or professions. Yes this was done by a very young man but that’s not the point. It was the work of a single person so it is logical that criticism is focussed on that person. Had it been done by a faceless company the criticism would have been just the same, believe me. If you put yourself in the global limelight like Blair did, you have to be able to take criticism. And I actually believe that Blair can take it. I don’t criticize people for their personalities, I criticize them for their actions.

Edit: And I do criticize those bandwagon jumpers who deliberately chose to ignore the facts behind this for the sake of their own business. While Blair may be responsible for the ‘hedonsism’ aspect, it’s those opportunists who get me just as angry.

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Kerry Johnstone March 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I agree with Steffen this is ridiculous, and bordering on bullying. Blair has done nothing wrong and does not deserve this abuse. More people probably know about International Whisky Day BECAUSE of Blair and World Whisky Day.

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Oliver Klimek March 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Wrong for some is right for others. It’s a matter of how you look at it. Quite a few people who were personal friends of Michael Jackson felt seriously disappointed (to put it mildly) by the way WWD has been organized. And we’re not just talking about little bloggers like me here. If you just look at making whisky popular, Blair did nothing wrong. But if you also consider the feelings of the people close to MJ, things look much less rosy. Are they just whining wimps?

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Kerry Johnstone March 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm

So I am right in understanding that the main problem is the choice of date?

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Oliver Klimek March 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Absolutely spot on. Here is what I wrote in last year’s article which is linked from this page: “If World Whisky DayTM was unconnected to Michael Jackson’s birthday and if there hadn’t been a similar effort beore, I would not care at all about this. I might be raising an eyebrow or two because of the commercial ‘smell’ of the event, but I would certainly back it anyway because I like the general idea of a global whisky celebration very much.”

I am sure Blair wasn’t aware what can of worms he was opening by making the connection to MJ’s birthday. The PDF file of the original International Whisky Day poster with the names of all the suporters was on the WWD website for months without them knowing, but it looked like they were supporting Blair’s version of the event

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Serge March 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Dear Steffen, even if no Maniac can speak for all the MMs (neither Oliver, nor yours truly – please make no confusions), please try to imagine how the people who were friends with Michael feel today. His family. The problem is that they’re all extremely well-mannered and just won’t speak out, maybe because Blair is ‘just a kid’, precisely, and because it’s always extremely difficult and painful to play the killjoys – or ‘the grumpy old men’ (even at 30).
So, the innocence of youth, right! Maybe you don’t remember that the guy’s also the ‘Competition Director’ of the International Whisky Competition, another venture that started with stealing the identities of a good dozen MMs including several good friends of Michael’s and telling the whole whisky industry that we were judges to try to ‘catch’ them. Another dreadful oops moment and we’ve seen many…
We were only a few, yesterday, trying to remind the Jack-and-Coke-thirsty masses and all the affiliated scribblers that the event was originally all about Michael Jackson, and I think – well, I hope – that his name was a little revived indeed, whatever the costs.
Frankly, to be called ‘grumpy old men’ in this context is pure delight. I also hope that the organisers will fulfil their written commitments, which, remember, were that “any monies which might remain after the event would be donated to charity” Unless nobody cares, of course… Yeah, does anybody care? Will anybody ascertain that?
Having said all that, and given all what’s above, I won’t deny the fact that Blair did a tremendous job. And frankly, if we could talk a little more about Michael Jackson, it’s thanks to him (whether willingly or not). I think we must acknowledge that.
Now, I’d love to move on…

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Steffen Bräuner March 28, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I think this a lot more important to you guys than me. I think that more energy is spended on this than necesary really, and this might give people an impression of bullying, right or wrong. I followed the story behind WWD versus IWD from the start, and I agree on some of the original critic, but now it’s just too much for me also. But then, noone forces me to read these blogs and I can skip next time WWD is mentioned.

Steffen

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Oliver Klimek March 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I do understand your concerns, Steffen. To be honest, I was thinking: should I really publish this or will this just get my readers fed up? There is a tendency in whisky blogging to restrict oneself to write only about the liquid, sometimes even only about praising the liquid. Throw in a few travel and event reports and you’ve got a whisky blog that is liked by everyone. I don’t work that way. I have to speak out, even if it hurts, myself and maybe others. My readers will have to live with this. But everything is strictly factual. I don’t go on crusades. I can criticize someone for one thing and praise them for another thing the next day without having to bend my opinion. I’d be happy to meet Blair for a dram anytime even though I don’t like how he did what he did. And yes, let’s move on…

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Thomas Tannenberger March 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm

how could anyone not (!) be utterly angry, even someone completely noninvolved and gormless to the whole (hi)story. reading the few simple facts (Mr. Michael Jackson´s dedication and influence, his death, the initial idea and the Parkinson fund raising, then the young man asking but later still hijacking and putting a TM on the idea, being adult, fuelled and ´responsible´ enough to put all the effort into the WWD and the promotional stunt. and with the result creating a slap in the face of the originators? I can´t imagine something more respectless, yes, not despite but particularly because the guy is 21. whisky lover or not, such an impudence should stir anybody´s blood who has a slight sense for fairness and respect.

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Steffen Bräuner March 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I am not angry Thomas. So it does happen. I am not utterly angry either

And I am aware of the whole story. Life’s too short. Your rage is really just another example of this going overboard. Chill out and have a dram.

There’s a lot of things that bothers me in the world. WWD is simply not one of them. I prefer to not being bothered by others having a dram, whatever way they choose to. And I try not to be too bothered by whisky things, but sometimes I get bothered with old Ardbegs being too expensive for me !

Steffen

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Thomas Tannenberger March 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Steffen (although this is off topic and I´m wasting Oliver´s space, ´tschuldigung Herr Klimek, as you adress this to me and tell me to chill out I need to reply):
any form of disrespect, unbalanced self promotion of individuals at the cost of others, opportunism, amongst others, makes me angry. always. and in this special case a fortiori. and, my gratitude and respect for ´elder statesmen of whisky´ and the ´real anoraks´ is big, as I owe them daily hours of joy. very often I´m not d´accord or have a very different opinion, but I have learned and daily learn from their writings, experience and distribution of information. would I just have to make all experiences on my own, my little collection wouldn´t be as nice as it it. it´s not because of shops, friends or ´trial and error´ that I can enjoy the best possible drams and enjoy them properly. it´s because there´s so many people out there who share their knowledge and thoughts and experience, which I can use as base for my own way.
so, reacting emotionally to ´negative´ things connected to that, that´s my personality and as much as you think that´s ´overboard´ as much overboarding feelings do I have for the opposite side, the ´positive´, pleasurable, things, so I just stick with it and not keep it cool and chilled :)

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Kerry Johnstone March 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

I know that the intention was never to ‘cash in’ on MJ as is being portrayed here, It was purely to share a passion for whisky with the world. The date was chosen purely out of respect to MJ and his dedication to the industry. The truth is Blair has made more of a success out of WWD than has ever been made of IWD, and I think that is what is the problem.

Oliver you speak of being angry at ‘opportunists’ like Blair, suspicious of his association with Whisky, yet he has achieved so much for such a young age. Instead of criticising him why not be inspired by his passion for whisky, the fact that he gave up so much of his own time to do this and I would hazard a guess that hard work and determination outweighs if any financial gain. Just as you do with your blog.

I truly believe that WWD was born out of passion for whisky and will be very successful in the future, just look at the hits he had on his site, and it was trending on twitter, and coverage on the national news!!! How can you still all these months later continue with your negative comments.

It really is time to move on, there has never been any malice from Blair, he makes up the future of the whisky industry and should be commended for his efforts. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, running a business is not easy we all learn and develop as we grow.

I don’t want to read any more negative comments about this anymore.

As my mum always told me – ‘if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all!’

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Craig Ramsay March 29, 2012 at 1:49 am

Quite simly this reekies of snide and jealousy. Its particurly sad to reference about tiers of whisky folk – I’m sure you count yourself in the first tier. Exactly the tier that whisky brands are no longer interested in.

Oliver quite simply you are a sad boring person, perhaps you need a new hobbie.

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Oliver Klimek March 29, 2012 at 5:59 am

You got this totally wrong, Craig. Tier one is the whisky industry, those who make the stuff. They did next to nothing on WWD. Tier two are those earning their living with whisky (or dream thereof) in other ways and tier three are people working in the tourism industry who regard whisky as an asseet of their country important for their business. This does not imply any valuation of people. It’s just a means to classify the kind of whisky involvement

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Christos March 29, 2012 at 2:01 am

Oliver let me just say that I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments on the WWD fiasco both on this but also on your other posts.
As for the statement from Kerry that Blair is the “future of the whisky industry”
I can only say that if that’s future whisky thank good fur Rum

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victor brierley March 29, 2012 at 2:28 am

I suggest you both meet in person. Oliver and Blair. Both good guys who love whisky. All issues would be resolved over a dram. I will donate something nice. Freedom and whisky gang th’ gither someone once said. Mj would be horrified that whisky was pulling people apart.

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Benjamin Chen March 29, 2012 at 3:36 am

Hi Kerry,

Let me just chime in here, be it at the cost of my reputation or otherwise, because to me the memory of a great person who has gone before me and inspired the industry I love is far more important than myself.

I am in my 20s, and by this reasoning, I represent the ‘future of the whisky industry’ too. I, too, was in his camp at first, applauding and supporting his dream to make whisky known on a day. But I have to say that whilst I understand that some people may construe this as going overboard, I do hope everyone tries to understand why is there so much sadness and anger amongst the ‘grumpy old men’.

My disappointment stems from the fact that WWD has now come at the expense of the memory of MJ. With the exception of the publicity at the start that termed WWD as one with a charity slant, and then the blog post mentioning the origins of the 27th March date, Blair’s biggest failing was putting himself as the centre and founder of this day. I really don’t know why there is a need to take this away from MJ.

So please try to understand how those who knew him or deeply respect him felt when the saw that with every subsequent media exposure WWD got, Michael’s name got push deeper and deeper into the background. When the article on WWD ran on the BBC the night before the day itself, it credited him solely, and said he started the ‘first ever’ such day. So in this sense whilst the immense popularity and exposure WWD got may seem like a good thing, it only served to add to the disappointment and even anger that media exposures slowly by surely pushed out MJ’s name and memory.

For me, it was just a sadness that I felt there was no need to push MJ to the background. I just kept asking why was it necessary to do this to a man who has already passed on? I kept my personal Internet peace till the final days leading to the 27th of March not as anything malicious pointed at Blair, but simply to try and remind the world that it all began with Michael Jackson.

If you feel this is bullying or something ‘not nice’ and hence I should not say it or outrightly wrong, then I can accept that. But understand that we may do it in different ways, but we are all doing this because we are standing up for the memory of Michael, and nothing else.

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Benjamin Chen March 29, 2012 at 3:54 am

So sorry, let me clarify one ambiguous paragraph. I meant:

“So please try to understand how those who knew him or deeply respect him felt when the saw that with every subsequent media exposure WWD got, Michael’s name got push deeper and deeper into the background. When the article on WWD ran on the BBC the night before the day itself, it credited Blair solely for it, and said he started the ‘first ever’ such day. So in this sense whilst the immense popularity and exposure WWD got may seem like a good thing, it only served to add to the disappointment and even anger that media exposures slowly by surely pushed out MJ’s name and memory.”

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Peter March 29, 2012 at 7:28 am

Oliver,

Thanks for posting this. I didn’t know anything of the backstory of WWD, just the well-wishes I saw in a few Facebook/Twitter posts, I suppose I should pay more attention. What a sad waste of what could have been a real celebration honoring and supporting one of the more popular figures in the whisky world. Hopefully, people can come together and turn this into something more positive.

Speaking of being positive, don’t find a new hobby.

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Marc March 29, 2012 at 8:40 am

Yes my event was held in memory of MJ and all profits (an unfortunately small amount) went to the South African Parkinson’s Foundation. I plan on doing it again next year with more people to raise more money. During the event I explained to people why the choice of date and charity, and a brief bio of MJs life and great writings.

I understand why the anti-WWD camp feel the way they do, and I share many of their feelings. I however, can’t help but recognise Blair’s accomplishment and what it did for whisky as a drink. I didn’t know MJ personally, but is it at all possible that he would not want it to be about him but more about his beloved whisky and sharing it with people? (I truly mean no disrespect by that sentence – please don’t misinterpret me.)

I too think there was a massively missed opportunity. Why didn’t more whisky drinkers/critics/”2nd-3rd tier” take advantage of Blair’s marketing efforts, to arrange their own WWD event and make sure that it was in fact in honour of MJ and try raise some money for Parkinson’s? If Blair hijacked IWD, then why didn’t people hijack WWD and make sure MJ was honoured? I can’t help but feel there could have been less sideline criticism, and more independent involvement to direct the efforts of WWD to its originally IWD intentions – whatever Blair’s intentions were. I never knew about IWD, but because of Blair I knew of WWD and chose to have an event, and chose to make it about what it should be.

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Oliver Klimek March 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

You make a valid point. Criticism is one thing, making it better is another one. I can only speak for myself, but the way WWD has been organized I saw now way to put myself under that umbrella, even though I too acknowldge that Blair did a good job in promoting whisky in general. As I stated I would find it silly to have two competing Whisky Days, so I decided to simply have a few private drams on my own in memoriam Michael Jackson. I still have some hope there will be a way of sorting this out for the years to come, but there needs to be a substantial shift of focus from the part of the organizer.

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bacchus March 29, 2012 at 10:14 am

i agree a lot with Oliver (article+comments). that being said, let’s focus back on the pleasures of life.
let’s have wonderful drams on 27th March, and also on all other days, let’s get people interested in whisky, make them discover the joys of a Bowmore Cask Strength or whatever bottle makes you smile, laugh (and caugh?)…
make each day a whisky event; with friends at home, with strangers in a bar or in a shop.

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Nicholas Sikorski March 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

As Kerry was good enough to post her comment to this thread on my own personal FB wall (I’m not a friend by the way), I thought I’d be good enough to post my (slightly modified) reply to her comment on this thread (hope that makes sense). It may not seem immediately relevant, but I think the basic problems stem from a number of approaches I’ve addressed.

You seem to think – much like Blair and all the other enthusiastic young things just out of (or still in) some form of higher education – that what’s wrong with whisky is too many beards, too many old farts etc. and that it’s high time someone breathed some life into the category. Well, as a professional in the spirits industry, I disagree. I think – and almost anybody I know who knows anything about whisky seems to agree with me – that what’s really wrong is that there are too many people working in whisky without having a clue about whisky. There’s too much hot air, too much marketing spin, and far too little honesty. For a product as international as whisky, precious few people who promote whisky seem to have the slightest knowledge of the other great spirits of the world (cognac, armagnac, rum etc.) and how whisky sits in this greater family. As a Scot living and working in France, I am convinced that one of the reasons why France is one of the two biggest markets in the world is precisely because most people have a good knowledge of spirits in general and are less willing to swallow the generic marketing guff. You’ve probably heard of the often-quoted statistic that the French consume seven times as much whisky as cognac? Well, I think that that’s primarily because so much more of Cognac is about marketing and so much less about the actual product. With very few exceptions, spirits fanatics in France will drink whisky but not cognac (ever seen a un-chill-filtered, cask-strength, vintage bottle of cognac?! there are some but good luck finding them). And I think it would be a real pity to want to turn whisky into cognac. You also to have to remember that whilst Cognac is an appellation, whisky is just a generic term, shared by different products made in different ways in many different countries: can you imagine what would happen if you tried to trademark World Wine Day?!

You also seem to think that what’s really needed is an institutionalised (because yes, if you slap a trademark on it then you are institutionalising it) World Whisky Day. Yet again I disagree entirely. There are already hundreds of festivals and meetings organised around whisky, some of them very good, some of them very bad, admittedly. If Blair really wants to do something, he’d be much better off working for some of the existing organisations and learning the ropes there before coming out with his “I asked two and a half people, and spent ten minutes on the web and came to the conclusion that this has never been done before, and that I am the first and can contribute something entirely unique…” argument… What’s more, as I hinted in the paragraph above, whisky is working just fine in most foreign markets. It’s in Scotland where whisky’s doing really badly. So if you want to make a contribution to whisky, start by improving things in your own market, not on the world stage. And you can do that by learning something about whisky and other spirits and educating people, not by jumping on the friendly-scot and tartan shortbread marketing bandwagon, by offending just about everybody who counts and looking to make a fast buck. And, at the risk of repeating myself, whisky does not belong to Scotland, and even less to a as yet wet-behind-the years Scottish undergraduate. Whisky has no appellation-status, it is simply a generic term for a product made in a number of certain ways, and which can come from Scotland, from America, from Ireland, from Japan or elsewhere. Yet again, no one would dream of trademarking World Wine Day, so what on earth made Blair think he could do that with whisky?! As Blair has obviously spent some time in China, he must surely be aware of the problems that have arisen there with Chinese companies trademarking European brand names – many of them belonging to Whisky companies – on the premise that they are not of Chinese origin and did not previously exist in China, and the offence this has caused. Doesn’t he think that trademarking WWD is very much the same, and a highly dangerous thing to do, considering the potential reaction the distillers might have? Perhaps that’s why so few of them took part…

To summarise (in an admittedly crude manner), there really are only two possible scenarios here:

1. about ninety-nine percent of the professional and most-highly respected members of the whisky community are wrong and Blair is right.

2. Blair is wrong, and ninety-nine percent of the professional and most-highly respected members of the whisky community are right.

Can only be one or the other…

On, and by the way, I’m 34: what tier does that put me in?!

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Drew March 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Nick, I’m afraid yer firmly in the grumpy auld fart tier. With me. I’m not as auld as yer wrinkly guid self, but my beard apparently stops me fae being a young and enthusiastic inspiration like Blair is. A true breath o’ fresh air that boy (I thought tae masel’ as I watched him on the telly box the other night there) and aw the best tae him. He did well and worked hard, I hear. Got the word out about whisky all over the world and, let’s face it, who would have ever heard about whisky if it wisnae for him? Naeb’dy. I’ll admit it’s a wee shame that his proud achievement of being the young lad who created the “first ever day for whisky” is a complete and utter lie… but it seems cruel tae take that away fae him. I propose we let him have it as it appears tae be quite important tae him and just dae as Serge suggests and move on fae this. I for one enjoyed a nice quiet night in the hoose wi’ loved ones – just as I did last year on the 4th annual International Whisk(e)y Day – enjoying a few drams and toasting some of the people who have made the whisky world that little bit better. I’m not sure what the score is with this whole thing that’s appeared out of some wee guy’s imagination… but I dae know that WWD hasnae changed anything for me and I’ll still be havin’ a wee whisky night on Michael Jackson’s birthday next year. Whether Blair tells me tae or no. Hahahah! Am no shavin’ neither!

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Kerry Johnstone March 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

whoa! it seems I have been transported back to the playground although this time I am surrounded by adults calling themselves ‘professionals’ who clearly think they are something special. Obviously you are more important and serious whisky enthusiasts than anyone else because you hold this stance.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion so I accept your comments, I know Blair and I know the truth. If it makes you feel important to continue on this debacle on you go.

Blair do yourself a favour and change the date next time, WWD is a great idea and shouldn’t be overshadowed by a small group of narrow minded individuals who think you are trying to cash in on Michael Jackson. The fact that it was Hans Offinga (the creator of international Whisky Day) to have it on this date and encouraged you to go a head with it, is merit in itself.

Life is far too short and there are many more important things going on in this world to worry about to waste so much negative energy on this topic.

Ps Nick your reply was unsubstantiated and frankly pathetic – nothing ‘dangerous’ about trade marking a business idea, and would like to see your list of the 99% most influential and important people in the industry who are against WWD. Just all sounds like more hot air to me!

Over and out!

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Oliver Klimek March 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Kerry, I can’t and won’t answer for Nick here, but if you make statements like this, I would like to know how you explain the fact that the Scotch whisky industry did next to nothing to support World Whisky Day. After all Blair has specifically advertised this as a celebration for the whisky industry for nine months. they should have felt flattered by this, shouldn’t they?

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Kerry Johnstone March 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm

There are so many reasons why companies would not take part, bear in mind that this is a new company with no capital, and few resources in its first year of business.

I know of no company that would secure huge financial support in the first year, it takes time to build on this this.

However I know that due to the success of WWD 2012 that companies have since been in touch with Blair to discuss working with him next year. There is no doubt in my mind that WWD will be bigger and better next year if Blair can continue to work with the same enthusiasm and determination he has shown this year.

It is simply not fair or intelligent to presume that because the whole industry did not support WWD that the whole industry are against it.

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Oliver Klimek March 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Industry support does not have to be giving money to a startup company withaout any notable track record. The industry could have supported the vision of a global whisky celebraton day by putting some of their on events under that motto, for example. But they chose not to.

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Steffen Bräuner March 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I have a very dislike for the headline of this post

“A True Story”. To me this is like reading a judge sentece and postion yourself as an oracle. I agree with Kerry that you guys need to climb down from your own piedestal. Unless you actual met and talked to the person that is being badnamed here I would refrain from commenting.

I don’t take everything I read on the internet as being the truth and this blog post included.

As one example I don’t agree on the claim that the scotch whisky industry did next to nothing.

I actual saw several companies name the event on twitter, Laphroaigh, Glenrothes, Grants, Jura and others.

Steffen, still with a bad taste in his mouth and it’s not from drinking Mekong Whisky again

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Oliver Klimek March 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I don’t think the story of IWD and WWD is wrong. But feel free to correct any errors. By support I don’t mean “Happy World Whisky Day” tweets on 27th March. I have seen those too. This is what I mean by ‘next to nothing. It’s not “nothing” but close, just a few key strokes by a single person. I would have expected them to come forward and say “We will be doing something to celebrate this day”, not necessarily a huge event, but an active token of support in some way.

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Kerry Johnstone March 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Oliver I think it might be time to just forget and move on, people ARE interested and DID support it across the world, and more will next year and more the following year.

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Oliver Klimek March 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I actually was determined to move on, but I have to admit getting caught up by the comments maybe a little too much ;)

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Kerry Johnstone March 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Whisky really is a passionate beast!

Think one thing we can all agree on is our love of whisky, and that is worth a toast!

Cheers! :) x

Keith March 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

There is no denying that Blair made some fundamental mistakes here and these are at the heart of my personal complaints. He took someone else’s idea (IWD), OK, so he may have had the blessing of one of the original founders, but he renamed it WWD and claimed it all to be 100% his own original idea. His choice of date was a major faux pas, the feelings run loud and hot here, so I’ll not repeat them.

He could have claimed to improve or broaden the idea, but he chose not to, he just claimed 100% originality.
He originally stated publicly that 100% of all profits would be donated to Parkinson’s UK charity, this was later repealed.

So, a few have said let’s move on, I agree.

My own recommendation would be to totally change tack in 2013 and thereafter:
Choose another date – I read a comment from Blair that Ireland went mad on Irish drinks (Guinness, Jamesons .. etc) on St. Patrick’s Day and he wanted to promote Scotland’s whisky in a similar way. Why not honour St. Andrew in this way?
Preferably choose another name, WWD is already too tainted for some now. Please also realise that WORLD whisky day isn’t really Scotch whisky specific!
Learn how to promote an event without just 100% spamming of internet platforms and shouting loud and (too) often on Social Media platforms (the most vociferous is not usually the ‘best’)..

Listen to comments like this, change for the better and who knows, he could have something even this grumpy old fart may wish to support.
Signed Grumpy old fart of Bayern.

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Mark Connelly February 26, 2013 at 11:25 pm

He chose another date: one just after his final exams so he can join in. Isn’t that touching?

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