So you’ve probably read many articles championing a lighter, less elitist and overall more ‘let’s not give a shit about rules” approach to whisky those past few years.
Yes, I’m one of those people believing whisky should be for everyone and can be enjoyed however the hell you want to and shouldn’t come with all the boring and out-of-date rules attached to it. Want to put some ice and cheap Asda coke in your Scotch? Your call!
The snobbery-free movement has been growing at a very fast pace those days: Auchentoshan is all about promoting whisky cocktails & ScotchxBeer pairings, while actors like Compass Box, Teeling & Dewar’s (to name but a few) are now constantly trying to break the rules and push the boundaries of the codified whisky world – taking the risk to lose some of their more classical lieutenants… But hey, no great revolution comes without risks!
But can I ask a very simple question: why do you drink whisky?
Yeah Captain Obvious, I know, because you like the product, that should be the main reason (and if it’s not, you should probably reconsider your approach to life ;)). But there may be underlying factors as well that made you grow an interest for the holy amber nectar.
Behind the product, there’s a whole experience. And behind the experience, there’s also a whole lifestyle. There are countries, traditions, territories, people, language… I’ve once said that getting into whisky was like becoming part of a new family, and that community feeling plays a very strong part in my whisky appreciation. And I tend to believe I’m not the only one with this feeling 😀 [Come’on guys, don’t tell me the #whiskyfabric thing wasn’t created with that spirit]
But you probably also noticed that whisky was becoming cool, yeah trendy, hype… However you want to call it. It makes you stand out from the crowd sometimes. That’s probably snobbery in disguise at some point, but it’s ok if it comes with a beard and a copper jar. My point here is, snobbery isn’t only reserved to those suited-corporate-lawyer-driving-in-Tesla or 1649898-year-old men in Tartan ties 😉
Oh yes, we’re putting all our efforts in democratizing whisky. Haven’t you seen us spitting out our knowledge to the “non-whisky-educated” mass? Telling them whisky isn’t a discriminatory product, that there’s a whisky for everyone and for every occasion? But after a full day of preach, don’t tell me you’ve never had this somehow patronizing look when your Uber driver told you J&B was the shit or asked the difference between Cognac & Whisky. Yeah, you see… You snob prick 😉
We’re the ones in the know trying to transmit our superpower, whisky gurus in crusade. And don’t get me wrong, I think we need to pursue our educational efforts. Whisky shouldn’t be an elitist drink, but maybe it intrinsically is, and maybe not everyone can appreciate it? I mean, I don’t like coffee and I’m fine with it, I hate the taste of oysters wether raw, roasted, from Islay or Asia. So why can’t we just be fine with the idea that some people just don’t like whisky?
The price factor is also more than important here. I know you may think a £30 bottle is more than affordable (and I do too… Not blaming you!) for a decent whisky, but a huge part of the population won’t see it that way. And by the way, for some of us, a £30 bottle is already luxury, and the all point of luxury (even affordable luxury) is not to be available to everyone to enjoy it. There’s a sense of exclusivity in fine whisky: limited editions aren’t by essence for everyone to put their hands on, and not everyone can enjoy a 54.7% cask strength whisky either. Not everyone can go spend a week on Islay to buy distillery exclusives and not everyone has even the single idea of what mixology means.
I think fine whisky isn’t something everyone can enjoy. AND THAT’S OK. And if it was anyway, would you still be so interested? Don’t you think the magic wouldn’t fade away?
Cover Pic: leeds-list