Imagine ordering two bottles of whisky. The vendor and the postman are doing their thing and the package arrives. You take a knife, open the parcel and… you feel nothing. You should feel excited because in the package there’s the latest edition of the Kilchoman Islay barley series to add to the previous ones. You should also feel excited because there’s a nice cask strength Springbank which many people have a hard time picking up. And yet you feel nothing. You acknowledge the arrival and stash them away.
That’s what happened to me last week. Where’s the joy I used to feel when I got a new delivery? The excitement? The anxious wait for the postman to show up? What’s going on here? What I was feeling that moment was the effect of the law of diminishing returns. In the beginning, when we are new to an activity or hobby everything is fun and exciting. The body is hard at work to release dopamine every time you get your retail therapy fix and you discover something new. However, the bar will rise higher and higher with every purchase and every experience. You need more and more and more to trigger a response and accompanied dopamine kick. You don’t even notice it, you’re just in the flow you don’t notice the constant “dopamine creep” until the day when a “normal” delivery gets acknowledged with a mere shrug and you notice feeling … nothing.
Why did I feel nothing? Probably because there was no hunt, no long waiting period, no ballot involved in getting these bottles. Just a bog standard order. No reward for being one of the “lucky ones” to win a ballot, finding an exclusive single cask, stumbling across something rare or sold out. No, just a bog standard order. Why are limited releases and queues and ballots and all the rest of these mechanisms so popular with marketing departments at booze producers everywhere? Because these mechanisms are all dopamine-inducing. And once you’re hooked on that substance, you need the next thrill and the next and the next… (Including all the ill-effects of (verbal) abuse against companies and their employees when dopamine addicts don’t get their fix)…
Maybe that’s a wake-up call. The mind crying out “Hey, you fool, you’ve already got enough. Enjoy what you have.” Something to think about. Anybody else out there with a similar experience? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
This is an extended version of an experimental long-form post I pushed to my Instagram account. It will also be an experiment on my blog as I will not post links to it on my social channels to test whether people actually read the blog and discover the content via other sources. Feel free to share it on your social channels if you found it enlightening and share-worthy!
Apparently I didn’t write one of these articles last year. Lazy sod. So, let’s make the 2019 edition count! As some of you might have noticed, this blog wasn’t as active during 2019. This was due to many factors – all of which come down to that I tried to squeeze in more and different things in my spare time. I’ve taken up beekeeping again together with my family (which takes up a lot of time during spring and summer) and there were several other big projects. All of this meant that most of my whisky consumption was more of a “casual dramming” style than taking the time to sit down and actually write about a whisky. Such is life. At the same time I’m experiencing a bit of a “whisky fatigue”. I tried to deny it for months, but that’s what it is. I don’t really get much pleasure from spending countless hours perusing the web and social media to try to keep up with the latest news in the whisky world. Too many new releases, too many new distilleries, too many new armchair bottlers, too much hype and marketing to stay on top of the game. And, to be honest, to a point I actually don’t really care much at the moment. Chasing the latest and greatest and the ever one-upping “next big thing” has made me tired. I don’t actively go around and beg for samples and I’m not really the type for big and noisy whisky festivals, so I’ve been a bit out of touch. It seems that people are mostly interested in reviews of new releases (which I rarely provide) and repeating the same rants over and over again is also not a viable content strategy. This led to “quiet times” on the blog – and these will probably continue. My aspiration has never been to be a source for keeping everyone informed about the current affairs and releases in the whisky world. Well, this should come as no surprise to anyone.
Now, at the same time this should not become a “doom and gloom” type of post, so let’s look at noteworthy occurrences and tidbits that happened during 2019
On the 10th of April in the year 2014 the first article, aptly named “(Yet another) Whisky Blog” was published on this site, back then under a different domain name. Before reading these first ramblings again I thought they might be cringeworthy now that I’m more seasoned, more experienced and quite a bit older. Alas, what I wrote back in 2014 still holds true to this day, which makes me proud.
This blog was started to provide guidance in a whisky world that’s certainly grown a lot in complexity over the years and decades. In a way, the whisky world has changed that much in just four years, that I was on the brink of losing myself in it – and losing interest. Only earlier this week did I buy my first bottle of whisky in 2018 (and a grain whisky to boot!). There were days when I wasn’t sure whether I should really attend the Limburg Whisky Fair, out of the sheer perceived loss of interest.
Things were not going well in my own whisky world for a few months! There’s I reason I quoted the Obama campaign slogan in the title – to me it felt as if my term in the whisky world was coming to an end. I did not need an election – but I needed a big kick in my behind, catapulting me forward. Limburg represented that kick in the bottom, the experiences, the talks, the malt mate comradery – and a few drams that reminded me that whisky is indeed the best aged brown spirit this world produces.
Now I can honestly say “Happy birthday” to my wee little corner of the internet. Hey, this blog is now older than some of the no age statement bottom-shelf whisky on supermarket shelves! I consider that an accomplishment! Thanks to everybody for sticking with me for the ride, thanks for all the comments, the friendships – and the samples. This blog would be nothing without the people reading it and engaging with my “content”. I’m looking forward developing it further for and with you.
I have just returned from yet another epic Scotland road trip, which led me to Campbeltown, the Orkneys and Fife. I’ve been travelling to Scotland for the fifth year in a row and this year’s trip was yet another unforgettable experience, which once again reminded me of the main reason why I like whisky as much as I do.
Yes, whisky, to me, is the best aged spirit category in the world and I love smelling, sipping and enjoying the amber nectar above any other kind of drink. It’s diverse, it’s multi-faceted with unrivalled depth. But what really makes it for me, is a special breed of people: Whisky folk. Whisky folk are the best kind of people to surround yourself with and this year’s road trip has, once again, reassured me of that!
Every journalist and / or serious blogger needs to ask himself one vital question: Who do I write for? What does my target group want to read? What should they be informed about? What’s of interest? There are all kinds of metrics and you can compare click rates and social shares as well as comments to figure out what people like to read. But metrics only take you so far.
It was time to ask you, my readers of this blog, as to what you are actually looking for in my whisky reviews. I decided to conduct a twitter survey amongst my twitter followers, and here are the results:
What surprised me the most was that the majority chose the answer “surprise me” – showing no clear preference in the type of whisky they wanted to see reviewed. Those who did choose one of the three types of whisky showed a clear preference for “Show me the daily drams”. People want to hear about great value for money whisky. In a world of ever-increasing whisky prices, people seek guidance. Do they want to hear about the latest four-figure posh crystal decanter whisky? Yes, they do, but they care much more about drams actually suiting their whisky budget. A case in point is my review of the 12 yo Kilkerran – very good, very affordable and one of the whisky reviews with the highest number of clicks this year so far. Continue reading “What kind of whisky do you want to see reviewed?”
It was only a matter of time until someone tried to follow what Diageo started when they premiumised their Mortlach distillate, introducing a whole new range of half-litre bottles at excessively high prices and posh packaging. They even introduced a brand ambassador, responsible for Mortlach, Georgie Bell. Well, two years later, Georgie moved on to Bacardi and it seems the position of a Mortlach brand ambassador will not be filled again. Signs of a failed experiment of premiumising a distillery which is mainly used in blends and was virtually unknown to supermarket malt whisky drinkers? Maybe, we can’t tell for sure without knowing the sales figures. Personally I don’t know too many people who bought any of the new Mortlach releases…
And now there’s this: Longmorn owner Chivas Brothers just announced a new range of Longmorn bottlings. The “Distillers Choice”, which replaced the old (and up to this point only official bottling) 16-year-old a few months ago, will be joined by two new expressions: A 16-year-old and a 23-year-old.
Good news? Well, not so quick. Let’s take a detailed look here!
The old Longmorn 16 cost 56,90€ when I last bought a bottle a year ago, an adequate price for a good whisky. The last bottles of this expression can be had for about mid-60€ prices if you look around a bit. The new “Distillers Choice”, a weaker bottling (40% ABV vs. 48 for the 16-yo) retails for the same price. To us whisky lovers it’s obvious which bottle we buy, as long as we still have a choice. Well, that choice will soon be gone. Here are the prices for the two new whiskies: Continue reading “The Mortlachisation of Longmorn”
I love browsing the different whisky retailers’ websites, discovering all the new releases and shiny new bottles on offer. Or should I say “I loved”? Browsing the online shops nowadays leaves me mostly indifferent, sometimes saddened, and with less excitement every single time.
In the past year there were 68 whisky reviews, 3 dedicated picture posts and 12 miscellaneous articles.
I am very happy to report I am still staying true to my initial vision: An industry-independent blog, focusing on reviews of drams and stating my thoughts. The site is also completely free from advertising and the big corporate Analytics networks tracking us all over the web. I am very happy with the way it is progressing, visitor numbers are on the rise (especially the last 3-4 months) and the feedback is amazing.
There are still some areas with room for improvement. I haven’t completed the 2014 Scotland travelogue series, I haven’t managed to put up a report from any of the events I attended. I was just too busy chatting and dramming to think about taking pictures. Sorry about that. There have also been less articles on current topics and issues than I would’ve liked, but there are only 24 hours in a day.
I’m hopeful I’ll manage to post more general articles in the next 12 months and I hope I can expand my reader base the way it has been going for the last several months. I will definitely carry on publishing 2 tasting notes per week (Sunday and Wednesday) with the odd review and whisky related picture sneaking in here and there off schedule.
Thank YOU for all your support, may it be comments, suggestions or samples. If you haven’t done so already, please like and share the site on Social media and keep the feedback coming!
We all know the feeling: We’ve gone down to the dregs of a great bottle of malt and we wish we could preserve it. Well, why don’t we? It’s actually really simple to do so and there are two ways:
1: Some people always buy three bottles (or more). One to drink, one to keep and one to swap. This is the best case scenario but obviously doesn’t work for everyone given the massive investment, money-wise and in storage space required.
2: Just decant some into sample bottles and build your own archive.
When you start tasting whisky you unavoidably encounter the moment when you think about scoring and scores. Do you score whiskies? How do you do it? Can you put scores on something as individual as taste? There are many rating systems I’ve encountered over the years, all of which have their pros and cons. I’ve seen systems using US school marks, some scales from 1-5, 1-20 and different variations of the 1-100 system. There are scores made up of individual sub-scores like Jim Murray does and then there’s those who don’t publish scores at all.