After blogging about whisky for nearly 4 years and 2 children later (I honestly don’t think there is a conclusive causative link there!) I was delighted this year when the press trip invites started – just as I was least prepared to be able to accept and attend them! As a ‘not from London blogger’ I had received my fair share of London invites that I politely declined as it is 404 miles away and I’m not that fast a walker, nor do I have the three weeks to get there and back. Something inside me slowly dies however when people bemoan only getting 25 hours notice for an event in London, where they live and I trains/public transport is bad (apparently) but surely to fnck if you and the event are both in London – then that is enough time to drag your sorry ass to it if you are free! Or politely decline if you already have other plans. P.s. rather than “Fannying about in bars all over the world” perhaps your next book should be “How to traverse London in 25 hours or less” – imagine it as some sort of whisky inspired navigation of the public transport system or tube map as it were 😉
It is just this type of first-world problem pissing and moaning on social media that recently incited the non-UK whisky blogging fraternity – who firmly believe the rigours of international travel seriously hinder their invitation in the first place – but soon learned that simply not being in London geographically is equivalent to being on Mars* (a little visited planet of our solar system with no PR companies, multinational company headquarters or ready supply of semi-celebrity whisky soaks ready to grace your event with their presence – assuming of course you give them at least more than 25 hours notice).
Press trips – like free samples are seen as the holy grail from non whisky bloggers, who believe whisky bloggers time is spent drowning in the 5cl or even full 70cl bottles of whisky stuffed through their letterbox so that most of the time we are unable to leave the house as we slowly drown in a sea of bubble wrap and padded envelopes – except we are rarely home as we enjoy a constant whirlwind tour of Scotland or the world visiting distilleries and places whilst master blenders wine (or whisky) and dine us to our hearts content. It always tickles me that on the rare press trips I have been on – the genuine journalists there assume I get to go on them all the time as a whisky blogger, and yet I have probably been on far less than they have!
Bloggers beware however – if you enter into blogging about this industry it will try and make or break you at will and the manipulation starts right from the very start! Eventually you settle into a routine of wondering why you never get sent stuff, then stuff arrives, then the constant follow up emails or PR about toothpicks, glasses or bicycles made out of used cask staves turn up, then the constant follow up emails about are your readers are interested in…, a seemingly never ending cycle that filters out the reliable, always posting, can’t help but say anything nice about anything and everybody type bloggers to the bottom whilst the cynical ones struggle to keep their heads above whisky. Breaking this cycle is easy, for those soul-less, amoral types who gain instant gratification and adulation from the short-lived success of trash-talking, whether about a particular whisky they don’t like, or other bloggers. Everyone loves a juicy bit of shoddy behaviour on social media, for a brief moment at least. Make the most of your fame whilst it lasts, and just hope you’re not remembered for your defining lowest moments and negative contribution to society in general. The less said about these types the better.
Most believe that all bloggers say nice things to keep up the steady stream of
bribes samples and piss up in a distillery type holidays press trips. The simple industry management begins with who they decide to send PR and samples to and when. Queue then the social media scrummage as a dozen or more blogs battle to retweet or post this information first, before normal service is resumed. To be fair without PR samples there are many whiskies I have reviewed that I would not have spent my own hard-earned cash on – not least as they would be far to expensive in many cases. So I am endebted to the company providing them in that sense but no more!
I like to believe this PR distribution is mostly done at random, some companies have fixed lists that distribute samples to bloggers that have long since died and been forgotten about, whereas other distribute only to hot new influencers of apparently any field of interest other than whisky. After all they are about spreading the word. Any sense of intelligence behind this management would lead the cynic in me to think they are controlling the masses through specific blogging media outlets that toe their party line. Such 1984 type thoughtspeak surely wouldn’t have much traction in the brainless automobot instagratification whisky drinkers of today surely?
I guess at the end of the day I rely on the fact that whisky drinkers are discerning folk and would show the same judgement in selection of their preferred blogging outlet as they do the whisky in their glass. If I am the right flavour profile for you then hurray and if not – I celebrate that diversity. On that basis the reviews I write reflect more than just my opinion but should also offer insight into which companies/producers I prefer/favour and enjoy working alongside and perhaps also those that don’t even know I exist… Anyway different blogs will have different demographics of readership – it doesn’t take a genius to work that out and maximize coverage by strategic selection. The industry is still very much focussed on image and wealth or at least the perception of such – and if the appointment of teetotal footballers as celebrity endorsements doesn’t convince you of that fact then get your head checked!
Once again Bill provided me with a hearty chortle just at the title please read his Today in ‘Things I was not invited to’
p.s. I have nothing to say about the possible re-opening of old distilleries except that it would be nice if someone gets a move on re-establishing Rosebank – that is all.
Note: Since drafting this article this has indeed taken place, therefore all my requests of the whisky Industry in 2017 were listened too and actioned upon accordingly – Thank you.