Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts

Friday, April 1, 2022

Be A Better Whiskey Ambassador - Part Deux

In 2019, I wrote an article called Be a Better Whiskey Ambassador. It captured my thoughts on how some “knowledgeable” folks treat others when they ask questions. That, of course, was pre-COVID before we were (mostly) confined to our homes.


COVID changed us as a society, and not for the better. People became more antagonistic and aggressive, not just as keyboard warriors, but on the phone and, shockingly, in person. It is as if, by (temporarily) taking away unfettered access everywhere, society lost an ability to think and act reasonably and respectfully.


The pandemic restrictions were not fun. My parents, who live in a retirement community, were under lockdown for months with no one but people providing essential services allowed on the campus. That meant no visits from family members. I believe it accelerated my father’s dementia.  My friends who own or manage bars had to get creative by selling their stocks of whiskeys, cocktails to go, etc., to keep paying the bills despite being shuttered. My friends who owned or managed liquor stores – while they could keep their doors open, several confided in me they were miserable. Aside from schmucks berating store clerks for enforcing a mask mandate they had no choice to follow, some customers acted over the top in their ridiculousness.


And unfortunately, even though restrictions have been lifted around most of the country, the bad behavior of entitled “customers” (I use that term loosely) has remained. This lousy behavior caused me to write the second chapter of Be a Better Whiskey Ambassador.  This installment involves brick-and-mortar versus online activities.


Hello/Good Morning/Welcome/Hi

My liquor store friends have a common pet peeve no matter what part of the country they occupy, and that is people who walk through the front door and ignore the person behind the counter. Then, those “customers” start peeking over the counter to see where the Blanton’s is.


When someone greets you as you cross their threshold, why would you not acknowledge the greeting? How difficult is it to smile and say, “Hello” or “Thank you” or something similar instead of ignoring them? And, who, exactly, do you think you are when you’re leaning over their counter trying to see what they’re hiding?


The easiest way to curate a relationship with someone at a liquor store is to treat them like human beings. Smile. Wave. Say “Hello.” Ask them how they are today. You know, like civilized people used to do.


Do You Have Blanton’s?


You walked through the door treating the clerk like a piece of furniture, and now you’re expecting to be rewarded for it? Even if they had whatever you were looking for, you don’t deserve it. Yes, I said deserve. I’m not even talking about managers or owners reserving stuff for their “best” customers. It takes a huge set of cojones to ignore a fellow human and then ask for something special.


And, understand that you’re not the first person to walk through the door today to ask if they have any Blanton’s. You won’t be the last.


Don’t Accept “No” For An Answer!


Rather than accepting the likely truth that they don’t have Blanton’s in stock, some entitled folks will accuse the person behind the counter of lying. “I know you’re holding some in the back; just sell me a bottle!”


I don’t know about you, but the civil portion of that conversation has ended the second someone accuses me of lying. Most people would accept that they’re not going to score a bottle of whatever and leave. Yet, some refuse to do so.


Just for fun, suppose you can see a bottle of something allocated on the floor next to the clerk’s foot. The next step into the incredulous is to start harassing and threatening them. If you think I’m joking, I’m not.


Store owners and managers have related tales to me of overly aggressive customers who instruct the clerk that they have a right to buy that bottle they see. The store must sell it to them or break the law (much as they did while citing make-believe laws that they didn’t have to wear masks during a mask mandate).


I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on television, but I’m pretty sure that unless they’re violating your civil rights, a store employee has the right to refuse service to anyone. And, your butt-hurt over not getting your Precious is not a violation of your civil liberties. So, by all means, call the cops. You’ll save the person behind the counter from having to make the call themselves.


The Truck Just Arrived, They Delivered Blanton’s


Then you have the people who go a step further. They know the delivery routes of the distributors and follow those trucks around town. Of course, they’re optimistic that there wasn’t just White Claw and Tito’s on that truck – the store got a delivery of allocated whiskeys, too. And, perhaps they did.


I’m not aware of any responsible businessperson who sells things before taking inventory of a delivery. But you’d be wrong if you thought people didn’t expect a store clerk to drop what they’re doing to search for something allocated, or worse, badger the truck driver about what they’re delivering and then following that truck to the next stop.


We Hate Whiskey Hunters


This statement is a common thing I hear from folks in the business. Believe it or not, most of the daily sales your average liquor store experiences are not whiskey-related. It is typically beer and vodka (or, these days, hard seltzer). They’re at the point where our over-the-top, bad behavior has made us unwelcomed guests in their stores because we treat them like garbage. Their wine, beer, vodka, gin, absinthe, liqueur, etc., patrons aren’t harassing them. But whiskey hunters are.

Whiskey Karma


I’ve walked into unfamiliar stores, returned a friendly greeting, and had the person behind the counter tell me as I headed down the whiskey aisle, “We don’t have anything allocated.” A friendly conversation typically begins when they learn that I’m not after anything hard to get.


I’ve had store owners who, although they’d never seen me before ten minutes ago, have invited me to the back so they could pour something nice. It may not be allocated, but maybe it is a store pick or perhaps a sample of something that a brand representative dropped off. But they do that because I’m respectful, genuinely interested in them and what they do, and I’m not coming across as someone phony trying to butter them up for a nice bottle.


I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it a million times more: there is a thing called whiskey karma. If you do good things in whiskey's name, that good is returned in kind. I’ve been very blessed by whiskey karma; it results from my efforts to build relationships, which comes from being respectful.


Be a better whiskey ambassador. Repairing the damage begins with you.






Saturday, January 8, 2022

Dry January: What's the Point?


I’ll start with the usual disclaimer:  I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television.


My family history is one of male alcoholism.  I’m aware of at least four generations on my maternal side.  It is why I waited until my 30’s to start experimenting with alcohol. I never drank in high school; I drank once in college, didn’t like it, although the friends who gave me a drink were horrible about how they did it. It was Bacardi 151; they poured a water glass full and told me I had to chug it so it wouldn’t burn. It burned anyway. I remember standing up, muttering something about not feeling so good; I took three steps and then woke up the following day with magic marker things scribbled all over my body.


The first time I got hammered of my own free will was on my honeymoon in Jamaica. We stayed at a Sandals resort, the drinks were free, and I discovered frozen mudslides. I went night-night in an auditorium where they were running a silent auction. I woke up a wee bit later, and much to the horror of my brand new bride, screamed, “A DOLLAR!” Humiliated (but apparently, not enough to have the marriage annulled), she escorted me out and back to our cabana.


I’ve not found myself drunk all that often since. When that does happen, I’m usually at a massive tasting event, I’m drinking water between sips, but the sheer volume of what I’m sipping/spitting is enough for my body to absorb the alcohol. I’m also sure to have a designated driver (Mrs. Whiskeyfellow, who I still embarrass but just not as much as on our honeymoon) because I like having a driver’s license and not being responsible for anyone’s death.


I do drink almost daily. That drinking is limited to one pour of whiskey, which takes about an hour or so to finish, especially if I’m putting together a review. And, unless it approaches Hazmat territory, it doesn’t even give me a buzz.


I’m not an alcoholic, and I’m not in denial.  So, what’s the point of my blathering as if I am?


There exists a thing called Dry January.  Dry January is when some folks start feeling guilty about their recent alcohol intake over the holidays and want to do “good” for their bodies by abstaining from alcohol for the month. I have nothing negative to say about people who participate in Dry January challenges; people should do what is best for themselves.


I won’t get into liver enzymes; I’ll leave that to gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Apsteinwho wrote about this in 2016. In a nutshell, he suggests that if you’re a heavy drinker, taking a month off won’t do a darned thing to fix your liver. If you’ve damaged your liver from drinking to excess, maybe you should think about not drinking for 31 years instead of only 31 days.


If you think you may have a drinking problem, then a Dry January (or any month for that matter) is an excellent opportunity to test the theory. If you can’t make it through a month without a pour of whatever, then you should seek help.


There are some fantastic resources out there for you if you need them:  The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and Al-Anon, all of which have long histories and success stories (Al-Anon helps loved ones of those addicted).  There are likely other local resources for you.


I want to say one final thing. If you’re like me, and a Dry January isn’t something you need, don’t shame others for doing it. Let them go about what makes them happy. They have their reasons for doing it, and at the end of the day, we should support those who do.


I lied. I have something else. If you want to do the Dry January thing but still want to “drink,” or are going out with friends and want to have a cocktail, you may want to check out products like Ritual Zero Proof. I reviewed its whiskey alternative almost two years ago, but they also have faux Gin, Rum, and Tequila options.  By the way, this is great for designated drivers, too.



Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Bourbon & Banter: Don't let FOMO get you scammed!


You clicked on an ad. There were several, many including old and rare whiskeys, and yeah, that price was perfect! FOMO hit... were you scammed?

In my latest Bourbon & Banter article, I'll guide you through the steps to check out websites offering you amazing deals with super-fast shipping.


Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Appreciating Whiskey


A local bar owner asked me if I've ever written a short guide about how to approach whiskey. He wanted to use it for a flight he was setting up for new whiskey drinkers. As incredibly useful as that sounded, I was stunned that I hadn't ever put one together. I walk people through this all the time in the whiskey events I host, but it never struck my mind to write it up!

A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Appreciating Whiskey


So, you’re new (or newish) to the Wonderful World of Whiskey, and you want to do things correctly. How do you go about that? The most important thing is not letting anyone tell you you’re drinking it wrong. There is no right way to drink whiskey, except for how you enjoy drinking it.

Sipping whiskey begins with the bottle in front of you. Grab a glass. Pour a small amount of whiskey into the glass and leave it alone. Let it breathe for anywhere from five to ten minutes. While it is sitting there, take a moment and observe the color. Give the glass a bit of a swirl and look at the legs (or tears) it creates. Are they slow or fast, thick or thin?


Once it has sufficiently rested, it is time to enjoy the aroma. Don’t shove your nose in the glass; instead, bring it to about chin level or your bottom lip. Open your mouth slightly, and then sniff like a dog or rabbit with short, quick repetitions. Your mouth will enhance your sense of smell. Try to identify what you’re picking up.


Now it is time for the tasting. The first sip is a shock to your palate. Anything overwhelming will hit in that initial try. Never judge a whiskey on it! Hold the whiskey in your mouth for a few seconds, let it fill everywhere. Your palate is now prepared to pick out flavors with the second sip. Some may be fruity, sweet, spicy, and smoky. Don’t worry if you cannot identify them; that’s something that takes experience.


The last part is the finish, or what remains in your mouth after you’ve swallowed. Is it short or long? Is it sweet, spicy, or smoky? Most importantly, did you enjoy it?


In the end, you should savor your whiskey, and in my experience, it is always better to share with friends. Cheers!

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for these Whiskey Scams!


I hate to see folks get scammed. But the whiskey boom, particularly the Bourbon boom, has given these thieves a new means of taking your hard-earned money.

You may notice a lot of random comments on social media whiskey posts (mainly Facebook and Instagram) that begin with "Bourbon Whiskey" or "I was surprised how affordable this was and how quickly they shipped..." and provide a link to someone's "store" usually with a promise that they have rare and allocated whiskeys at no mark-up. These are always new profiles to a group and new to the social media platform.

I'm not telling you how to spend your money, but you'd be better off buying some store's obscenely-priced Blanton's for $300 - at least you'll have a bottle of what you want in exchange for your money, versus sending some stranger $69.99 plus a small shipping fee for nothing (or a counterfeit) in return.

A few of these schmucks have posted in the comments on my own social media posts, and thankfully, I keep a close eye on things and remove them. But I see them in others, particularly Facebook Groups, that remain unmoderated.

Please do the whiskey community a favor, report those scammers and their profiles (If you see it in a Facebook Group, report it to the moderators only - no need to get a group shut down inadvertently). Place a 😄 reaction or something similar as a warning to others.

I know this is elementary, but if a deal is too good to be true, walk away. Cheers!

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

What To Do With That "Bad" Whiskey?


Recently, I had someone approach me saying they bought a whiskey they didn’t like and asked if I could recommend a good cocktail they could make with it. This is more common of a question than you’d imagine. I believe it stems not just from buyer’s remorse but also that money was spent, and indeed there must be a way to salvage it.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: There is a big difference between a whiskey that is slated to be a “mixer” and one that is just not palatable...

You can read the rest of the article (and my advice) over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to drink your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Yes, There Really Is A Difference in Glassware

Glassware is, believe it or not, a very polarizing subject. It ranges from people telling you it doesn't matter what glassware you use to people telling you someone with some authority says they'll only drink out of one type of glass.  In truth, just as the "best" whiskey is the one you like the most, the "best" whiskey glass is the one you enjoy using the most.

But, make no mistake about it, glassware matters.

The first time I wrote on this subject was back in 2016 for Bourbon & Banter. But I've been a proponent of using the right glassware for many years prior. I keep revisiting this subject because it is constantly changing. There have been Kickstarter campaigns to deliver "new and improved" glassware to the marketplace. And, whenever I find a new design, I am always excited to try it. You could say that I believe there is, somewhere out there, a holy grail to whiskey glassware. 

Today I'm working with nine different glass designs. This is the largest population I've ever conducted for this type of experiment. In an effort to be as fair as possible to all candidates, I used the same whiskey in each glass. I happen to love using Evan Williams Black Label when I experiment. It is available in every market and it is very affordable. I find it offers a nose of caramel, vanilla, and oak, a mouthing of caramel, fruit, and vanilla, and a palate of vanilla, caramel, toffee, corn, and oak.  A very basic, solid Bourbon, and almost perfect for experimentation.

My methodology was as fair as I could make it. There would have been no way for me to do this blind as I know their shape, feel, and weight, and handling them all was necessary. As such, I'm not going to come up with a "best" glass. 

I poured a measured half-ounce into each glass. I let each glass oxidize for the same amount of time. I set this up into four different categories:  Hand Feel, Nosing, Mouthing, and Palate. I changed the order of glasses in each category.  I also didn't want to bias my nose or palate. I reset my olfactory sense between each sample. I drank water between each sample tasted, and I spit everything (hence the affordability aspect) rather than swallow to avoid burning out my palate and not getting buzzed.

Let me get some necessary disclosure out of the way. When I compose reviews, I always use a Glencairn Whisky Glass unless I specify otherwise. I use a Glencairn for several reasons, but they're my reasons. Also, I have friends who have designed or represent different types and brands of glassware. Those friendships do not interfere with my ability to determine which glassware is best for me.

My purpose is not to prove to you why the Glencairn glass is my glassware of choice. Rather, it is to demonstrate how design affects the factors I consider to be important.  As such, let's get on with it.

Shot Glass

The first glass up is the basic shot glass. These are very affordable, only a buck or so in most cases. They are usually made of glass, but there are resin, stoneware and metal options. Its purpose is, understandably, to deliver a shot of whatever. Mine has measurement lines. While you can sip from it, many folks simply slam back a pour. 

Hand Feel:  This can be held with just two fingers without trouble. A glass version will have weight to it and can offer a satisfying thunk as you slam it back on the counter or table.

Nosing:  I can pick up alcohol fumes and a bit of oak, but even that is hidden beneath the alcohol. There was no real change trying various nosing zones.

Mouthing:  When I inhale through my mouth, I am able to pick out vanilla.

Palate:  There isn't a lot in terms of flavors. It is buried under alcohol burn. I was able to taste oak.

Rocks Glass

Next up is a standard rocks glass. These are uncomplicated and most of us have a set. They are priced from a buck to being pricey, depending on the material and thickness. It can easily accommodate rocks or a sphere. 

Hand Feel:  A rocks glass fits the hand well and a high-quality one can have some heft. 

Nosing:  It is easy to get my face up to it without a blast of alcohol fumes. I was able to pick out vanilla and oak. I did not find any variety with my various nosing zones. 

Mouthing:  Inhaling through my lips offered only oak.

Palate:  The whiskey was creamy and soft. It offered some alcohol burn but was not overwhelming. 

Glencairn Canadian Whisky Glass

The Glencairn Canadian Whisky Glass is specifically designed for Canadian Whisky. However, it is also versatile enough for other types. It has a bowl shape that tapers and then flares outward. It can accommodate rocks or smaller spheres. They run, on average, about $15.00.

Hand Feel:  These are crystal glasses but lack significant heft. I find them a bit on the large side for holding in my hand, and easier to grasp underneath in my palm.

Nosing:  I didn't experience any overwhelming fumes, the shape of the glass did assist in deflecting. I was able to pick up vanilla, caramel, and oak.

Mouthing:  Inhaling through my lips led me to heavy wood notes. There was no alcohol burn.

Palate:   I found there was an overall muting of flavors. There as no burn but I felt like aside from corn, everything else was missing. 

Norlan Whiskey Glass

The Norlan Whiskey Glass is one of those Kickstarter styles. It is a double-walled glass with fins at the bottom. The purpose of the fins is to assist in aeration, thus unlocking flavors. They're on the pricey side, usually about $24.00 (and are sold in pairs). 

Hand Feel:  The Norlan feels delicate, almost as if it would break in my hand if I held it too tight or let it hit the table too hard. In reality, it is far sturdier. It also fits my hand unnaturally, heightening my concern of breaking it.

Nosing:  The fins create an obvious difference, as everything smells sweet. I lost any semblance of oak, but vanilla and caramel aromas were heavy.  There was no alcohol burn.

Mouthing:  Caramel was thick and danced across my palate without alcohol fumes.

Palate:  The whiskey was soft and silky. It flowed easily across my tongue. I picked up caramel, vanilla, toffee, corn, and oak - everything I expect from Evan Williams. There was a hint of alcohol warmth, but not what I would describe as burn.

Glencairn Whisky Glass

The Glencairn Whiskey Glass was designed in 2001 and utilized a tulip shape. It directs the aromas to the nose and the liquid to the tip of the tongue. It is popular and used at distilleries around the world. You wouldn't want to use ice in this other than chips. Prices are all over the spectrum, but you can pick up a basic, unbranded one for under $10.00.

Hand Feel:  The Glencairn glass is weighted well. I find it very easy to pick up by its thick foot. Its shape helps me manipulate its direction while I'm nosing and has a natural feel when sipping. 

Nosing: It is easy to tilt and twist the glass to switch between each nostril. It sits properly at my chin, just below my lower lip and finally, my nose. As such, I experienced little effort in picking up caramel, vanilla, and oak. 

Mouthing:  Channeling aromas directly in my mouth is facilitated by its design. Vanilla, caramel, and fruit were obvious.

Palate:  I picked up caramel, vanilla, toffee, corn, and oak, and the narrow mouth helps aim the liquid across my palate versus everywhere in my mouth, allowing me to pick out the individual flavors.

Riedel Vinum Cognac Glass

Riedel is a well-known glassmaker, especially as it pertains to wine. It also makes a cognac glass, which performs well as a whiskey glass. It is tulip-shaped, but with a more flared mouth than the Glencairn. Retail is about $18.00. You wouldn't want to use anything more than chipped ice in it.

Hand Feel:  The stem makes it very easy to grasp, twist and manipulate. It is weighted well and while delicate looking, feels solid.

Nosing:  There is something lost in the nosing process. I can pick up oak and vanilla.  If I twist and turn the glass, I can also find the caramel. There were no unpleasant alcohol fumes.

Mouthing:  Caramel was easy to pick up, but it lacked anything else, including alcohol burn.

Palate:  The whiskey seemed creamier than it did in any other glass, and as it flowed across my palate, I had no trouble picking up vanilla, corn, and oak. However, missing was toffee and caramel.

Libbey Perfect Glass

The Libbey glass is a different take on the channeling design. Rather than a bowl of any kind, it offers hard angles at the bottom, then it starts narrowing as it goes up. These are sold in sets of four and can be had for about $9.00 each. Rocks can be used, but a sphere would not fit.

Hand Feel:  The Libbey Perfect is difficult to hold. It has some weight to it, but there is no natural place for your fingers or even the palm of your hand to grasp it. 

Nosing:  Despite a very different shape, it performed almost exactly like the Canadian Whisky glass.  I was able to pick up vanilla, caramel, and oak, and didn't find anything in terms of alcohol burn. 

Mouthing:  I found vanilla and oak, but strange as it sounds, both "tasted" stale. There was no alcohol burn to speak of.

Palate:  The flavors of corn, vanilla, and fruit were evident, however, they came across muted. There was a very small amount of alcohol burn.

NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glass

The NEAT glass has gone through a few name changes over the years. It started off as the NEAT Experience. I've also seen it called a NEAT Judging Glass and NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glass. Regardless of what it is called, NEAT is an acronym for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology. It looks like someone took a Canadian Whisky Glass and smooshed it down. The bowl is flatter, and the mouth is very flared. You can add rocks but, unlike the Canadian Whisky glass, you wouldn't get a sphere to fit. Retail is about $16.00.

Hand Feel:  The NEAT glass fits in my hand nicely, and much better than a Canadian Whisky Glass. It also feels less delicate.

Nosing:  I found the NEAT glass allowed sweeter notes to shine through, making vanilla and caramel easy to discern. Less easy was the oak, but it was there. I found no alcohol burn.

Mouthing:  I was absolutely shocked to find I pulled nothing at all while attempting to inhale through my mouth. I suspect it has to do with the very wide, flared rim.

Palate:  Drinking from the NEAT glass is challenging. You must lean your head back to get the liquid beyond the flare. However, it provided a softening of the mouthfeel. It also eliminated any alcohol fumes and burn. I was able to pick up all of the expected flavors of corn, vanilla, caramel, toffee, and oak.

Aged & Ore Duo Glass

The Aged & Ore Duo Glass is another one that started with a Kickstart campaign. Like the Norlan glass, it also features a double-walled design. This one has no fins. Instead, it has ribbed lines along the inside wall that serve both to measure and aerate. The glass is large enough to accommodate rocks or a sphere and costs about $24.00 each. 

Hand Feel:  This is very similar in feel and appearance as the Norlan glass, meaning it looks very delicate but isn't. While the lack of heft is the same, the shape is slightly different and I found it easier to hold than the Norlan.

Nosing:  There was no alcohol burn. I found aromas easy to detect and had no issues picking out the vanilla, caramel, and oak.

Mouthing: When inhaling through my mouth, all I could pick out was oak. There was also a lack of alcohol burn.

Palate:  I found the Duo Glass to be easier to sip from than the Norlan, but more difficult to identify flavors. It isn't to say I couldn't discern the vanilla, corn, and oak, but it took a good deal of effort and I missed out on the toffee and caramel. There was also a muted flash of alcohol heat.


My personal experience is that I get the best overall performance from a Glencairn Whisky Glass. But, it isn't the winner in each category. When comparing price, form, and function, it is simple for me to gravitate to it and I'm used to it. Keep in mind that the Norlan and NEAT glasses have huge fanbases as well.

The point of all this was to demonstrate how different glass shapes provide different results while pouring the same exact whiskey. Don't let anyone tell you the glass doesn't matter. It absolutely does.  Just find what works for you and enjoy your whiskey the way it makes you happy. Cheers! 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Is This Whiskey Worth The Price?


If you've been on social media more than five minutes, you've been asked, "Is this whiskey worth this price?" Well, I've put together a handy-dandy how-to for you on Bourbon & Banter!

Predictably, questions of that nature lead to all sorts of answers. Some are helpful, others not so much. To be fair, I find that most fall into the latter.  The snarky ones are obvious. The serious ones are harder to recognize how subjective they are...

 You can read this in its entirety there, just click the link above. Cheers!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Seven Things Whiskey Reviewers Wish You Knew


"Back in May of 2017, I wrote a piece called The Life and Times of Whiskey Reviewer. The purpose was to tell you what the four worst questions folks ask us and what’s going through our minds when you ask them.

Here we are, three and a half years later, and I find myself with a slew of questions and assumptions that should be addressed en masse. Some come from readers, some come from distillers and producers. No matter who is asking, these questions are more common than you’d think..."

My latest article at Bourbon & Banter is all about things we whiskey reviewers wish you knew. Head on over and give it a read, cheers!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Whiskey Wisdom: Age & Price Can't Beat Taste


My latest advice column is up on Bourbon & Banter

I write this article with the full knowledge and understanding that I’ll probably piss off a lot of folks in the whiskey industry: anyone from distillers to marketing teams to distributors to retailers. However, what I’m suggesting is being said without malice. Rather, I’m just dispelling two big whiskey myths, and both can have an impact on the average whiskey drinker’s bank account. Also, these two myths tend to go hand in hand...

Enjoy, cheers!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

My Live Tasting of Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Last night I was interviewed on The Glass Less Traveled live cast. This was a lot of fun, and we did a live tasting of Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. Audience participation was high and they seemed to enjoy the live tasting. A few asked if this could be a regular feature, and I've agreed to do this monthly.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Bourbon & Banter has a new podcast...

Yesterday, Bourbon & Banter released its second podcast. I cohosted and we interviewed Lew Bryson.

I've been a guest on many podcasts, but it is a completely different world being a cohost.

You can listen to the podcast in its entirety at this link. Cheers!

Friday, February 28, 2020

My Guest Appearance on My Whiskey Den

I had a great live stream on YouTube last night with the folks from My Whiskey Den. These are some super nice guys and I really enjoyed the interview.  

You can view it on their channel.  Cheers!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Just when you think you’ve heard it all...

I’m used to criticism and catching flak. That's all part of the life of a whiskey reviewer. Some people enjoy what I write. Others don’t. My feelings don’t get hurt if someone doesn’t like my reviews. I encourage whiskey drinkers to find reviewers whose palates their own best matches. If that's not me, so be it. In the end, it is your whiskey experience that matters.

Earlier this week, a reader informed me I was "doing a half-assed job of being a whiskey reviewer." Naturally, that piqued my interest. His beef with me was that I have not been including information on justifying the price being charged on the shelf. Not Would you buy this at $X? Rather, it was more Is $X reflective of the cost to make this whiskey? At first, I thought this guy was pranking me because, as the smartass that I am, I tend to recognize a fellow smartass. But, this reader was serious.
What I didn't realize until he schooled me on it is there exists an overlooked (but apparently wildly in-demand) need for including forensic accounting in a whiskey review. He (very literally) instructed me to research and discuss a distiller's or producer's profit margin and to ensure they were not gouging and making an unfair profit at the expense of consumers. He made me aware there is a duty for a blogger to insert these things in our reviews because we should be doing everything we can to hold distilleries accountable for rising prices on the shelf.

My frank response to him was that I have zero interest in exploring anyone’s books or marketing plans. Not only am I not a stakeholder in any distiller's or producer's business, but I also possess neither the training nor the skills to do forensic accounting. I tried to explain to him that I don't write a financial blog, and made it clear I would not start including a marketing analysis in any of my reviews. He then suggested that I'm on the take and the only thing I care about is how many bottles are sold based upon my reviews.

While I understand that his expectation is an anomaly, what he accused me of is still concerning. I have always been as transparent as possible when penning my reviews as to how I acquired the bottle, if I was involved in picking a barrel being reviewed, etc. His allegation prompted me to write this next part:

My integrity is my #1 priority in everything I do, from my marriage (Mrs. Whiskeyfellow knows she can trust me) to my whiskey reviewing (my audience knows it can trust me). There is a reason you don't see any advertising or click-to-buy links anywhere on this blog. That was a very purposeful, personal decision. I could be making money off this blog, but I don't.

Likewise, I receive no income for my reviews. I don't get paid to compose them and I don't charge you a Patreon fee to read them. I write about whiskey because it is a passion. I review every whiskey I can no matter how it gets to my palate. If a distillery or store or friend is kind enough to send me a sample, that whiskey is treated exactly the same as if I spent my own money procuring it. 

There is no incentive for me to inflate any whiskey’s rating. Consider this: If a distillery puts out a bad product, and I’m honest in my assessment and the distiller takes offense, what's the worst thing that will happen? They won't send me any more bad whiskey, right? For the record, most distillers and producers I've come across appreciate an honest yet critical review because it gives them insight as to how they can improve. It is taken as constructive criticism.

Finally, if I’m rating bad whiskeys as anything other than a Bust, what does that do to my reputation? The short answer is, it causes me to lose all credibility and I might as well hang this whiskey reviewing thing up. I have way too much fun doing this to risk that. And, because I have so much fun, it is a very serious endeavor for me.

For the record, I do have a paid aspect to my whiskey consulting business. But it has never and will never creep into my reviews. I stake my entire reputation on that.