So, this is going to be a sort of a contemplative post.
About a month ago I wrote how blogging became somewhat less of a priority, with things being busy in just about every other aspect of my life. While I was writing that, and the weeks leading up to that point in time I was mostly focused on work, writing stuff for our club’s magazine, the kids and lots of other things.
During our holiday in France I didn’t check Facebook once. I didn’t check Twitter once. In short the only things I did online was checking my bank account, logging the beers I was drinking and bragging about the massive steaks on the barbecue via Instagram.
It gave me some necessary distance to things. Interestingly, I realized, that while I did also check my feed reader, I mostly read things not about whisky.
Offline, I did whisky things. Drinking it. Not overthinking it, not writing tasting notes and not thinking about how not writing tasting notes also means finishing a bottle without having a review on this here blog.
The only ‘reviewing’ of whisky I did was a simple consideration: I bought this bottle for amount X, and now I’m drinking it. Was this worth the money? Shamefully, the results were not good. This had to do with two things:
- My taste has evolved. I wanted to write ‘changed’, but that didn’t cover it. I have become more picky, and want better whisky for my money.
- Prices have become ridiculous.
I might have to put that in perspective, since what I find ridiculous might be off the charts for someone else, or simply ‘just another bottle’.
I brought these bottles:
- BenRiach 25, 50%
- Auchentoshan 16, Fresh Bourbon Matured, 53.7%
- “Islay Whisky”, 7 years old for the 10th anniversary of Whisky Import NL, 50%
- Candid, 49% NAS by Michel Couvreur
The first one is, by a mile or so, the most expensive one at € 150. This was also the best whisky of the bunch, with the Candid by Michel Couvreur coming in second. These are whiskies I gladly spend the money on a second time, and in the case of the BenRiach I just might sometime.
Quality and money
The Auchentoshan and the Islay whisky, which supposedly is young Lagavulin, clock(ed) in at about € 80 and € 90 respectively, are less good. Unfortunately, that seems to be the entry level for a lot of independent releases, or somewhat special releases by distilleries themselves. Simply put, this is too expensive for the kind of whisky you get.
The supposed Lagavulin is more like peated gin, and the Auchentoshan is vanilla juice. Somehow I think this is quite representative of the world of whisky in 2016.
Lots and lots of whiskies are averagely aged drams with far too much wood influence, mostly from overactive American oak. And a lot of other whiskies are potentially good drams that just weren’t given the time to properly develop over the years.
I don’t mind potentially good drams, like Wolfburn’s 3 year old. I don’t mind these since it’s a brand new distillery that hasn’t had the time to get any older whisky out yet. However, with Lagavulin (if it is Lagavulin!) and their 200 year anniversary, it just doesn’t cut it.
Compared to others, like Oliver Klimek, I’m not as negative. I think I still can afford some really good drams, but the ones that truly thrill me are few and far between. Also, it’d be smart to downsize both my collection and (mostly) my spending.
What also got me so jaded is the marketing engine that’s trying to mold us into believers of anything they say. While I find the marketing aspect of the whisky world interesting, I am becoming more and more skeptical as the years go by. This coming from me (I am a cynic SOB) means something I think.
There currently is a rather complete lack of transparency regarding products of a lot of big companies, and the majority of bottlers releases random single casks of average quality like there’s no tomorrow. This, while trying to have us believe that their new single cask or small batch is the be-all end-all of unique whisky.
This results in me not paying attention to any marketing I come across, and skipping at least half the articles in magazines and on blogs. I do like to read interviews and opinion on all things whisky (and other booze, by the way), but in this I prefer to read opinion from ‘outside’ as well. Opinion from other bloggers, reviewers and people not on anyone’s payroll. As with those bang-for-your-buck-whiskies, these are few and far between.
Blogging, for me personally, is in flux at the moment. I’ve come to a place that’s a bit of a Limbo regarding blog posts about whisky. Simply put: I don’t like reading most blogs, since I don’t really care about tasting notes. I do like reading opinion pieces but these are quite rare.
The problem with this is that while I don’t like reading tasting notes, I keep on writing them. I think that has to change a little.
So, I am going to try to write far less posts, but make them more interesting. More in line with what I personally like to read. So maybe a bit more background and opinion. And why I want to review that whisky, instead of something else.
This, in part, is caused by several factors:
- I personally don’t value other people’s tasting notes as I used to.
I do look them up when selecting new whiskies for a tasting or so, but between all samples I buy, I come across enough good whisky to make personal purchases based on that.
- The explosion of whisky blogs.
When I started blogging six years ago I didn’t know I could add something to the online whisky experience. I think I did quite well, but ever since the amount of blogs has simply exploded and since 98% of those blogs focus on tasting notes, I think this here blog has become far less relevant.
- The time-consuming-ness of writing tasting notes.
Writing a tasting note per day isn’t really something I get around to. Maybe I should change my setting and make sure I have a proper set up to do so, but generally I write my notes while on the couch, in a note book. Then the following morning I type them in WordPress. Doing everything twice isn’t really working out for me and currently there’s not much of an alternative, unless I distance myself from the rare free time my wife and I have.
To end on a positive note, which I think I have to do to not sound like a nagging idiot who doesn’t know how to enjoy awesome booze, I think a lot of things are interesting too.
If you know how to filter a lot of things from the internet before it reaches you, a heap of nice things happen. There are awesome bottle share(r)s out there that enable us to taste stuff we would normally not even know about, or that would otherwise be far too expensive.
This results in a lot of fun discussion with whisky buddies all over the place. The same is true for festivals like Maltstock (to which I can’t go this year, unfortunately*1) where you get to meet a lot of people you know from the interwebz, but not yet in real life.
*1: If someone is up for beers in Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon, I’m game!