Recalibrating my own sample usage

Yesterday I was out on the hunt for a new car. This has nothing to do with whisky except that I got near Rotterdam and picked up some bottles from Whiskybase. After that I drove to Den Bosch to visit Whiskyslijterij De Koning for another pair of bottles and quite some samples, for two online tastings. That still has nothing to do with what I want to write about here.

What it triggered, however, was that I finally had some time to myself, and after about half an hour you find the peace and quiet to do some thinking. Go where the mind takes you, so to say. Without trying to sound too ‘new age’, here’s where my mind took me:

This blogging thing is confusing my priorities in whisky.

Yet more bottle-shares…


Because if I would want my blog to be more relevant, I have to blog about whiskies that are relevant. And that generally means new stuff, or ridiculously old stuff. Generally, I do the bit in the middle.

However, if I want to blog about new stuff, I find that I would have to review samples right away. Right when they come in, preferably very soon after they’re released. With the commercial samples that I sometimes get, that’s not a problem since they’re generally about 2 to 5 centiliters and easy to finish in one sitting.

But, with all these weeks at home, no commute and generally not much time spent elsewhere, I’ve come to do (too?) many bottle shares. What I realized is that when I review a sample, even if I have 10 centiliters to go through, the sample loses its value after writing the review.

A few months worth of caps.

This, of course, is a mindset and not an actual issue, but still. I’ve found that oftentimes, after penning down my tasting notes I just drink the rest of the sample like it’s a bottom shelf blend. I still enjoy it a lot, but I don’t cherish it.

The result of this weird mindset of mine is that some reviews I write here actually cost about € 25, when that’s the price of the sample. This is something I should change.

Especially since I don’t generally care about the hits my blog gets too much. I’m not marketing it, and I’m certainly not monetizing it. I started this whole charade from a desire to keep track of what I’m tasting and hopefully protect someone out there from buying shit whisky if I happen to find one.

Of course, this nonsense is fueled by a desire to not have a hundred samples lying around, and actually have some space left in the house for, you know, kids and such. But, I’ve noticed that I sometimes barely remember drinking something amazing, except for when I was writing the tasting notes. Where did the other 7 centiliters of that sample go?

This is a bit of an odd moment to realize this, with about nineteen of my own bottle-shares pending, and yet to be reviewed. Also, there’s a few more coming up in the next month or so. Add to that that I have about 30-ish samples for online whisky tastings to go through, and some 30 or so samples from earlier purchases that just sit there.

The revelation/worry I had about devaluating samples like this was triggered by tonight’s Adelphi / Whisky Import Nederland tasting. I’m in that and I am looking forward to it, but I reserved a set of samples before proplery enquiring about the price.

When I found out the set would be € 70 I was quite shocked, but I considered Adelphi’s premium price bracket and the fact that they’ve got some amazing bottles, I was slightly soothed. Of course, it didn’t turn out to be 30+ year old stuff, but rather younger stuff, with the youngest being 2 years old spirit from their own Ardnamurchan Distillery.

The price was justified by the samples being 5 centiliters. For a tasting. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I will NOT be drinking 25 centiliters of whisky in a tasting. Or any event. (You wouldn’t be, Sjoerd, there 5cl of Armagnac and 5cl of not-yet-whisky in there…)

Thank God I knew a guy who wanted half of the samples so we could split the price. Else I’d be drinking most of these samples in a late night Youtube session where I learn how to build a canoe out of Legos and chewing gum. Or something else you end up watching because of some inexplicable algorithm.

What to do about it? First of all, screw the hits I get on a daily basis. I shouldn’t care about this, since it doesn’t matter for this blog. Second of all, accept that samples are going to take up space. Third, drink the stuff, but appreciate it properly. Take some time away from computers and phones and TVs.

This last one is a bit of a weird one since I also appreciate my booze most when writing about it, and forcing myself to appreciate and assess it properly. Oh, I’m never going to get out of this, am I?


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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