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They drink it in Key Largo

Em-Bargo Em-Bargo

They drink it in Key Largo

This weeks thought piece is centred on the triviality of Embargo’s, purely because a lot landed both in our inbox and on social media discussion this week.

As many of our readers may know we are not big fans of the copy & paste PR blogging parade. The breed of blogger that gains fame and infamy by being the fastest to copy and paste the received PR material verbatim into a “blog post”. Thereby being the first to break the news to the whisky world and reaping great traffic benefits in the process whilst actually investing no creative talents of their own. PR companies love it. Everyone else thinks you’re a twat. Or at best, on a par with Mick Hucknall.

Once in a while, as we mass delete dozens of emails to the great electronic wastebin in the sky, we receive bona fide PR material that has an embargo date. I.e. shhh! here’s some news but don’t tell everyone until we are good and ready ok. Ok. The last time we inadvertently scuppered this was in our weekly New Releases feature as a certain ‘nameless’ supplier popped a new expression onto their website, available to buy, a little before the embargo date. Honest mistake, however our championing of this new release highlighted it in a rather embarrassing way. One very nice explanatory email from the producer and a promise of a sample of said new release in the post and we whipped down this oversight until after the embargo date. Phew, disaster avoided, brownie points awarded and free whisky to boot. Thanks!

Last week we received PR about a new triple-distilled edition. Embargoed until Monday 4th September. Here’s the rub however.. same said news was received moments after the PR email via the Friends of … newsletter. I could have shared that with anyone – and everyone. Thankfully I didn’t, having already pre-received an embargo and determined to meet the spirit of that at least. This info will be included in our weekly newsletter which was only going to be due out on or after the 4th anyway. Plus our good friend Steve at the Whisky Wire has announced this expression as part of the celebratory/launch Tweet Tasting they are running. So by now everyone will know exactly what I am talking about, making me wonder exactly what the embargo was supposed to be controlling. If in doubt here’s Distillery Manager Keith Cruickshank explaining the process.

It was exactly that conversation took place on social media channels too last week with reference to the upcoming Diageo Special Releases 2017. Possibly the least secret release of the year. Most bloggers, and many whisky folk, already know that if you are releasing whisky in the US then you need to register the bottle label – including all the usual juicy details. The Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approvals (or COLA) are submitted to the US Govt Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and are thus generally publicy searchable here. Needless to say some bloggers actually work to get their scoop and regularly use this resource to find out about interesting ‘potential’ new whisky releases.

This year, to deflect/pre-empt/who knows what opinion, a certain large companies Brand Ambassador publicly announced most of their new releases schedule via social media. Advance a few months to round about August and some (mostly industry) lucky sods get the invite to go taste this stuff before it is generally released. Not us I can sadly attest – I’m not on their list. However this year they have embargoed the tasting notes from the pre-preview tastings, presumably so as not to upset the folks that think they are getting the first bite of the cherry at the upcoming post-pre-preview tastings (capiche?).  Anyway, until after the 2017 embargo, why not read Billy’s notes from the previous Diageo Special Releases here.

Other than that, our only other drawback this week was missing the GlenDronach 1991 Kinsgman tasting in London. Tom & I have railed previously against why so many whisky launches feel the need to be in London. In this case however it is excusable as it is being launched in Berry Bros & Rudd where part of the movie Kinsgman: The Golden Circle was filmed.

While many accuse us bloggers of only being in it for the freebies. I can assure you that little comes free these days. Sure I was invited to attend a launch tasting of a new whisky with Rachel Barrie the new master blender for GlenDronach, however my attendance would be at the cost of a days annual leave from my real job, transport costs from Edinburgh to London plus associated childcare coverage. As after all I am only an amateur blogger and have to work for a living and to support my family. I would argue that most bloggers are actually in it because:

 We feel passionate enough about something that we want to share that passion with others.

I would also argue that most whisky bloggers don’t achieve that much material gain from their blogging activities, so don’t begrudge companies wanting to hear some honest feedback from them by delivering them PR samples occasionally. Plus most of these samples are followed by the persistent email questioning ‘when can we see something published on this sample…?’. Free at a cost it seems 😉

So instead I spent my day following Rachel’s air travel woe’s in her attempt to get herself to a very wet London. Thankfully Rachel accepted her delay with her trademark grace and the frankly wonderful whisky selection & staff at World Duty Free, Edinburgh airport, Hooray! There are lesser men that haven’t displayed such grace, even at the attempt of bartering more free air-travel out of their ‘inconvenience’.

One of the true joys about knowing so many Indo-types, Ambassadors, Blenders, semi-pro Bloggers and other whisky hangers-on, is you get to hear all about their first world problems regarding air travel. Hearing about their 1 hour flight delay like it’s equivalent to finding a typhoid-ridden calf has just dropped dead into the village’s only drinking water source. Really makes me want to look up the definition of inconvenience in the dictionary. Also I wonder if there is one of those peculiar German words that perfectly describes the pissing and moaning of people who are far too well off to actually know what inconvenience really means? Schadenfreude, – gesundheit!

Thankfully companies are not daft enough to actually embargo opinions on their whisky, only the date on which we can tell you them. If you don’t want to read my opinion because it came from drinking a PR sample of whisky I received for free – then clearly you have no confidence in my ability to remain impartial and say what I feel. Perhaps one of the those pretty PR copy & paste blogs would be more to your liking? I could suggest a few 😀

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