Thursday, June 2, 2016

When the bow breaks... Do you want fries with your Bigmac?

Straw that broke the blogger's back??! $300/bottle
Last year I wrote an article for a UK magazine where I basically stated that the average whiskyphile was getting sick and tired of high prices, bad marketing and the crazy train. I finished the piece with a bit of a warning to the 'big' guys stating that when the bottom falls out this time... the whisky village, so to speak, may not necessarily catch the baby when the bow breaks. 

I will be honest. I know many people don't read my blog, just as much as I don't have the time or the energy to read everyone else's. I do however have a select few (about 10 or so) that I enjoy on a regular basis. These past few weeks I have seen 4 of those people state publicly either on social media or a written blog that they are utterly fed up with the machine and are no longer interested or willing to ride the crazy train. No offence to anyone when I state the following: These guys have been writing about whisky for years. They do way more than just write about the twitter tasting they were on or latest/greatest newest releases. They don't cut/paste marketing emails and slag it off as blog content and as far as I know they don't get invited to parties or get free trips anywhere. Great blogs are about to go silent. I didn't expect that somehow and I'm at a loss for words, which I assure you does not happen often.

As I sit and write my next blog I find myself staring at the blinking cursor, erasing entire paragraphs and struggling to type. I think about the remaining few that I enjoy and wonder how long before they disappear too. My friend Oliver mentioned in his piece that some of us are writing professionally now. I am guilty of that. Which of course means I spend more time composing 'paid' work than blogging. 

I have also stated privately a few times that I'm uncomfortable being called a whisky blogger because there seems to be a negative stigma attached to it in some cases. (The eye rolling we received at a few distilleries in Scotland this year was a sign!) So, what's next? Do I also throw in the white towel in solidarity? Do I 'keep feeding the beast'? Do I become the Gin Lassie? No... not yet I think, I guess?!

First thing I will do is implore the people I admire and respect to not go silent. Surely there is still content to be written? And that's the key: CONTENT. It's what made the blogs enjoyable to begin with. Creative, well written CONTENT. Not mindless dribble, boring nose/palate/finish bla bla bla... 

Second thing I will do is keep writing but maybe try to do a better job at it. I've always stated that my whisky journey is about the people, places, and moments that are created. I've rarely written otherwise (I think)...  So, I'm going to keep to that promise. 

Third thing: People from the marketing industry - PLEASE START PAYING ATTENTION. When we start to lose very respectable individuals it's time to maybe reevaluate who/what/where/when and why you are feeding 'the collective'. Yes there are businesses to run and money to be made but mark my words here and now on Thursday June 2nd 2016 if you don't change where this seems to be heading, you won't be going anywhere but the unemployment line and all the part time "yes men" in the world won't give a rats ass.



  1. I can relate to that. As I myself pretty much left the blogosphere to write professionally for Bières et Plaisirs and do conferences and workshops. And yes, marketing is getting everywhere. I cannot count the time that week after week i just want to digitally slap the cool-aid drinking mass that just adhere to the PR evangelism. People should know better, whiskyphiles should know better. Let's educate and put the focus on content, not fluff and marketing.

    merci Lassie!

    1. I worry about the newbies, as that's where the marketing schticks seem to be geared to...

  2. Good article and it's a shame Oliver is putting things on hold.

    He is an honest blogger giving an honest opinion something which is getting rarer and rarer these days.

    A while back I remember talking with a friend about keeping Whisky Apocalypse honest, receiving more and more freebies from firms I started to feel uneasy that I the idea was "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" but to be honest I think they are far more interesting in you putting up a picture of their product and saying thanks than they are worried about someone reviewing it, badly or otherwise and if the price I have to pay for being allowed to experience whisky that I wouldn't get to try otherwise is putting up the odd picture then so be it, I will never however do a false review, I started reviewing for friends and I still hold the philosophy that if I lie to my friends then I'm a scumbag.

    I do agree, and I've said it before, that whisky prices are getting crazy and the whole dumbing down of whisky really pisses me off, replacing age statement whiskies with more expensive non age statement whiskies and getting a whole load of spin thrown in is ruining people's enjoyment of whisky and its culture.

    I also agree that there are now as many "bloggers" who basically just paste and copy the official tasting notes as there are folk like us to try and give honest feedback, I think my review of Highland Park Ice shows this, Highland Park were fine with this review by the way so I don't even think it's necessary for people to be overly worried by hurting anyone's feelings.

    I'll continue to blog until the point I can no longer afford to buy a bottle of whisky, I know I used to say that anything more than a hundred pounds and you're paying as much if not more for the age and prestige of a brand as you are for the actual whisky but with ever increasing prices it wouldn't surprise me if we reached "peak whisky" within the next decade. And I'm not paying fifty quid for something that cost me thirty two years prior.


  3. Who are the bloggers that you think are producing original content?

    1. Several! I read Peter Lemon, Sku's, Oliver's, Steffan Brauner, The Spellers, Lew Bryson, Tom Thomson, Whisky Apocalypse, Amateur Drammer, Chuck Cowdery... That's 10 right there! ;)

  4. Hear, hear! Although I am not a whisky blogger, I totally relate and agree with all of your opinions, Johanne.

    One thing that I notice in regards to marketing is that the UK/Europe, in general, does not have a clue as to the benefits of social media and bloggers, overall. I have been completely ignored by so many establishments overseas, I can't even tell you. It's their loss, because one tweet I sent out after staying at a hotel in Edinburgh (that was very collaborative) was seen by over 300K people, TWO YEARS LATER.

    The eye-rolling you mention is not only unprofessional, but ridiculously childish. They don't see that they are shooting themselves in the foot!

    I hope you keep writing, Johanne. Good luck!