Dear whisky industry,
yes I know you don’t exist as an entity, but as I intend to address all your incarnations, including the trade, I decided to choose this opening. Whisky bloggers often appear to forget that you are a “beast with many heads”. You speak with many tongues, but at times you can be surprisingly unanimous.
But it is just the same with us whisky bloggers. We are just as diverse, or even more so. Some of us may appear to you as if you are their natural enemy. But of course they still want to enjoy your products. On the other hand, some are secretly regarded as industry shills by other bloggers.
The lines between industry and bloggers are blurred. Some of you are bloggers themselves, some bloggers have decided to join your ranks and stopped blogging. Some sell their own whisky and continue blogging. Some pour whisky at shows out of enthusiasm. Some have moved to professional writing and consulting, and others do a bit of everything. Potential conflicts of interest indeed. Some cope better with it, some less. Some are even afraid to speak out too loudly because they fear consequences from their employer.
There is no such thing as the stereotypical whisky blogger, even though some of your comments may suggest so.
You court us when you believe that we can be useful in promoting your brand. You give us samples, invite us to glamourous product launch parties or even to all-expenses-paid trips to your facilities. But when we say something you do not like you prefer to ignore us. Because then, all of a sudden, we are only the voice of the small but vociferous minority of single malt geeks who are irrelevant to your real business of selling super premium blends to Asian yuppies. And of course we have no idea of what is really important in the whisky business.
But then again some of you hire people for their PR and promotion work who know even less about the whisky business than us bloggers. Some of the good looking people who pour your whisky at shows know hardly more than what is written on the labels of the bottles in front of them.
Yes, we bloggers are aware that the fantastic choice of single malt whisky is only a by-product of your production of blended whisky. But this does not mean that everyone of us says amen to everything you do out of thankfulness or lets you do as you please out of fatalism.
As a trained journalist turned whisky writer once said, there is no truly independent whisky journalism because all professional whisky writers are to some degree dependent on income from the whisky industry. But there are bloggers who are not. And it is their bloody task to do the job of watching you and criticizing you if they feel it is necessary. Even if they have not attended Fleet Street School.
Our influence is limited, we only reach a tiny fraction of your customer base. But regardless of our perceived ignorance of how the whisky business really works, we may be able to provide you with direct feedback of how your actions are seen from the other side of the shop counter. Because, believe it or not, we are not only sitting behind our desks, knocking back dram after dram while reading and commenting on other bloggers’ musings. We actually meet “normal” whisky drinkers too and listen to their opinions. It’s all a give and take.