Thursday, June 10, 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Thursday, February 4, 2021
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
"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
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...
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Friday, May 1, 2020
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
Thursday, February 20, 2020
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.
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:
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.
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Do you remember the first time you really got into whiskey? How did you go about learning more? Did you reach out to friends? Liquor stores? A social media group?
When someone who is obviously new to whiskey (usually they'll volunteer that information) tells the world about their favorite pour, you can take it to the bank there will be folks who chime in. Much of it is congratulatory because most people are decent.
The remainders are the haters. Haters come along and just ruin the day for everyone. Haters aren't like trolls, who try to simply stir the pot for their own amusement. Haters are under the impression their opinions are fact and who will make you feel horrible for even asking a question or making a statement.
As an example, someone posts to a group and says, I just picked up Bib & Tucker for $39.99! I'm so excited! There are a variety of supportive comments: Congratulations! Nice find! I love that! and others.
The haters chime in with their responses: That's the worst whiskey I've ever tried! You wasted your money on that! Why would you buy that garbage? and similar, less-than-positive statements.
If someone posts, Hey, I found Bib & Tucker on the shelf for $39.99, should I buy it? Then, at least one of the haters might be giving a correct response. My own might include, Set the bottle down, turn around very slowly, then run away.
What's the difference? Aren't the haters just giving their opinion? Sure they are, but the problem is the poster in the first scenario wasn't asking for opinions on Bib & Tucker, they were excited about what they considered a find and wanted to share their joy. However, the haters had this compelling need to rain on the original poster's parade. In the second scenario, the poster was specifically asking for opinions. Even so, the haters could have at least provided responses that don't shame the poster. But, haters gotta hate.
In May 2017, I wrote a piece for Bourbon & Banter entitled The Life and Times of a Whiskey Reviewer, and I explained the most cringe-worthy question posed to me is, I have a favorite whiskey. What do you think about _____? The reason for that is the haters who will attack once they learn I don't like whatever that favorite whiskey happens to be.
Another example can be someone in the business who makes an innocent, minor error. I'll use myself as an example. I wrote a review on a locally-distilled whiskey earlier this year. I made a very minor error defining a sub-category of whiskey. Two people, both in the business and neither with the distillery involved, pointed out the mistake. One approached me in a comment and told me about my error. I thanked him and fixed it. The second took the opportunity to tear into me and then berated me for having the audacity to write and talk to people about whiskey since I was so stupid.
As you can see, these are two very different approaches to pointing out my error. I know both of these people. I respect Respondent One and value his advice and knowledge to this day. Respondent Two is also very knowledgable, but I feel like I need a shower whenever we interact.
Interestingly enough, as I'm writing this, one Facebook user asked in a group, What is MGP? and another chimed in with an easy-to-understand complete answer. I was ready for a bloodbath that, thankfully, never came.
At some point, you were new to whiskey. You asked questions. If the liquor store owner gave you an answer that made you sound stupid, would you keep going back? If you asked in an online forum and were treated like a moron by morons, were you quick to ask another question?
We have choices in life. We can choose to be nice. We can choose to be helpful. We can choose to act like a schmuck online in an effort to prove how knowledgable we are, while if they said that same thing in public, they'd likely be trounced. Whiskey is meant to be enjoyed with friends and I believe it brings people together in a positive way. I've been blessed with a plethora of great people and opportunities in my life because of whiskey.
Go forth upon the world and spread the whiskey love. Don't be a hater. Be a better whiskey ambassador.