Here's the round-up from the web this week. Apart from THE FEATURE it's a bit shorter this time - largely because this weekend is AlchemyWife's birthday :-)
Whiskey Tech: The Blend-Your-Own Movement
This follows up on our article on Whisky Tech this week. Have you ever tried blending your own whisky? I tried it once with stuff from my cabinet, but the results were ... mixed (bwahahahah!) :-D There's nothing wrong with getting a little experimental in the kitchen, but if you do, maybe don't use your most expensive bottles. Or, try a home blending kit. Or...
... let Web 2.0 do it for you :-) I think I'm so going to have to do this.
Here are two good people (recommended in order) that will blend and bottle whisky for you, all with the touch of a mouse (plus, you get your own customized label! - GlenHighley, here we come).
Scandal: Drink It or Sell it?
By now you've probably heard of the dude in Toronto who thieved a $26,000 (Canadian dollars?) bottle of whisky - Glenfiddich's 50 yo to be exact. I particularly liked the article's rather "nosy" description of the man: "[...] five-foot-ten, aged between 35 and 45 years old, clean shaven with black framed glasses. He was last seen wearing black jeans and a Burberry plaid shirt, with a finish that includes a jaunty brown hat and brown trenchcoat."
There are some immediate questions right off the bat: (1) How do you just take a $26,000 bottle out of a glass case? (2) Without help? (3) Or anyone noticing? (4) If you own a liquor store, how careful are you about which employee has the keys to the good stuff? I'm not implicating anyone, but where there's smoke there's fire. Every time I've ever wanted a spirit from a locked glass case the employee takes it up front for me. Just sayin' - something doesn't add up in this story.
In case you had doubts, prominent whisky journalists who've had a taste of this rare 'Fiddich testify that it is indeed delicious, and not over-oaked. Only 500 bottles of this oldie-but-goodie have ever been made (from 2 casks), and only 50 bottles are released each year. Which begs the question - do you drink it, or do you sell it? I would love to think that this guy just has a romantic interest in fine whisky and is right now enjoying one of the most marvelous drams to ever grace his palate. But odds are he's at least tempted to sell it (blasphemy!). Decisions, decisions. Of course, I know what I would do.
(Sell it and then buy all the oldest and rarest Bruichladdich I can find!) :-D
Okay, so we're not hating on Glenfiddich here. Remind me to talk about their superb Solera Vat expression after I make a trip out to Hillrock Estate Distillery in NY. May need to review those two products side by side.
Feature: New Releases and Whisky Culture
Talisker, not waiting for the ozone to settle from Storm (I'd link to the page, but Talisker's web presence is horrendous - enjoy Master of Malt!), has announced a new permanent addition to its lineup - the smoky, port-finished Port Ruighe (pronounced "Port Ree"). I penned some thoughts on the interaction of smoke and port pipes in my review of Bowmore's 1991 Port Matured Limited Release. I expect this one to be meaty, husky, and in all quite a degree spicier than Bowmore's concept (especially considering that the new make spirit was aged in deeply charred casks). I don't think fans of Skye's only distillery will complain.
On the other hand, it would seem The Glenlivet is on the verge of jumping the shark with the release of ALPHA. That's it - that's all you'll ever know about it (other than the color of the bottle - not the spirit, the bottle mind you) until 6 weeks after the release. I get it. They're channeling the mystique and announcement hype that Ardbeg is famous for hoarding, but seriously - good luck with that shit. It would usually be safer to assume that we can trust established distilleries with providing a spirit that will be worthy of fetching that premium price, but why would you want to? Have we not accepted - with only slightly hedged enthusiasm - the dawn of the NAS (No Age Statement) era? Is it not enough for us to be entertained by the Black Arts of the whisky world? Would you pay over $100 on a gamble verses a sure thing? I can think of 20 whiskies off the top of my head I'd pay that amount for right now, and I already know everything about them.
This all begs one more delicate observation. I'll preface it with a question: Why do you think the worldwide whisky revival happened?
If your answer is that we improved marketing and these things are cyclical you know and ooooOOOooo new sherry finish! then you really haven't been paying attention.
If your answer is that culture shifted to create this massive opportunity for growth, I'd say you were spot on.
20 years ago, if you asked someone what predominant age group would most enjoy a neat glass of Scotch (and not necessarily single malt) they would have probably guessed the 40-65 crowd. If you asked that same question now, your response would be dripping with cultural symbolism. Someone who enjoys power, or someone who appreciates the finer things in life, or someone who knows what they want and has arrived, or someone who understands that distillation is as much an art as it is a science. They don't care about age. WE don't care about age. What the 18 to 30-somethings in America care about is a story.
We're the Millenials and Generation X-ers. We're disillusioned, we're idealistic, we're spoiled, we're go-getters, we're contradictions. We rebel against the past (progress!) but we recall fondly the sunny days of our youth. We tell the government to take away our parents' wealth, but we want all the fine things that we've watched them enjoy for ourselves. We're a mess, but can you blame us?
We grew up using MS DOS prompt and playing 8-bit Reader Rabbit, and now we surf the web on tablets more advanced than anything Star Trek could come up with. Somewhere along the line the future happened and we didn't even notice. There's precedent for these sorts of socio-political shifts, but they have Weimar Republic overtones. We're all just struggling to understand our history before it's too late.
Hence the explosive growth of the "go back to nature using massively available information and affordable technology" movements. The paleo diet, minimalist footwear, locavorism, Under Armour "wicking" clothes, pop-up craft breweries, craft distilleries, "certified organic", health and wellness podcasts, YouTube cooking celebrities, you name it - we seem to share an idea that technology and progress are supposed to put us more in touch with the natural world, not less. We just want something that will slow us down and let us appreciate the time we have: something real, something tangible, something unique.
Whisky, especially single malt whisky, is the perfect expression of that something. Whisky is place. It is art. It is a spirit that has grown up as quickly (or as slowly) as we have. Each bottling has its own unique and marvelous story! If you're still reading this blog, odds are that you enjoy hearing and communicating little pieces of that story yourself. If you don't know the story, or if you down the dram and absolve yourself of any professional curiosity whatsoever, where's the fun anymore? Head the words of G.K. Chesterton:
“Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.”
One More Thing
Even the term "dram" - which I'll be damned if that isn't communicable - is working its way deep into our socio-political consciousness. It isn't that I'm entirely opposed to the idea of quantifying pours through the concept of an established colloquialism. It's just that this should be seen - in all respects - as wholly unnecessary.
As the "Blend Your Own" movement starts to gain real momentum, helped by some solid Web 2.0 enhancements, it's useful to step back and ask if the whisky industry is doing enough to leverage the power of the internet in its many expressions (pun fully intended).
Recent forays into app offerings haven't been great. A quick browse through the N-dimensional space that we call "app stores" reveals a dozen or so firm options at "apping" your whisky enjoyment, all in various stages of what must be called prototype. This isn't a post reviewing those options one by one. Suffice to say that these tools either lean toward curated content (by industry professionals such as Jim Murray and his Whisky Bible) or crowd-sourcing (something like a half-fleshed Pinterest for people and their whisky collections / notes). This post is about the current drawbacks of our web-enabled tools and community, and where we could be if someone could just come up with the time and/or - ahem - capital.
I'm sure a lot of tech-trendy whisky connoisseurs rejoiced the day Jim Murray revealed his Whisky Bible app. After all, your options before that day were to either do all your research before you left for the liquor store, carry a book with you to the liquor store (I prefer Michael Jackson's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, but only if Scotch is all you're going to buy - you see the dilemma), open a browser on your phone at the store and try to read trusted websites off that tiny screen, or put your trust in God and/or the salesman. For the sake of time, many of us went with the latter.
The world of whisky, especially single malts, is rapidly changing. Every year sees hundreds of new, rare, and exclusive releases. Who has the exposure to all of these spirits, especially if you're living overseas from the places they're being produced? Answer: people paid to write about them. Take a bow, Jim Murray, Mark Gillespie, and all the other bloggers who've struck gold (spirit) out there - you lucky bastards ;-)
With Jim Murray's app, you at least got to see somebody's opinion about the majority of spirits out there (trust me, I've found - or not found - plenty of missing ones). And that's what you want to know before you plunk down $100+ on these bottles, right? That one person bothered to pen if they even liked the thing or not? So with this app, now you can. As long as you accept that the load screen time will destroy your ability to quickly compare Jim's notes with online prices at leading internet retailers. And the fact that the app functions so slowly that you're worried it just started dramming your phone's 3G antenna. And the fact that it doesn't include cloud support for your wish lists or notes. And as long as you implicitly trust Jim Murray's nose and everything it tells you.
Hence the limitations of curated content. There is no current elite reviewer out there who has a publication that lists every single whisky available, or even close. I appreciate that they try, but one day you're going to say "hey, what's up with this Bowmore 1991 Port Matured Limited Edition?" and turn to the app and be disappointed. Digital publication doesn't have the cost burden that comes with updating a new print edition, so these issues can be quickly addressed, but the reviewer is only human (at least, as human as someone who gets to dram for a living can be). So how do we solve the problem of data gaps?
Some apps are turning to that wonderful Six Sigma speak: crowd sourcing! Let's take a look at some of the more popular and highly-rated offerings available on Apple's App Store:
I think we can allow ourselves to be a little sarcastic about these without sounding like a bunch of whining, entitled brats. After all, crowd sourcing does have its appeal. It's organic, it's grassroots, it's data that is usually owned and updated by people that have a passion for it (look at Wikipedia). While the idea of a Whiskey Wiki does sound cool, here are the reasons why start-ups and app developers will have problems:
You think Google Plus is a ghost town? Just wait until the next app promising to be the social network for whisky lovers and their ideas / notes / shared experiences comes along. I'm bearish on this one, since nothing I've seen so far has reached anything near critical mass. I'd say big conglomerates or companies with interests like Diageo could leverage their market share towards such a goal, but where's the vision for a Whisky journalism app? An HTML5-enabled malt evangelism? A "Login with Facebook" network of enthusiasts? An app that gamifies collection? Maybe people don't want it. Or maybe the people that could provide it don't see a need. Shame.
What we need is a true whisky communicator. Not someone who speaks only to the converted, but who speaks to those who have yet to encounter our unique and potent brand of magic. In short, we need someone to step up and become the Penny Arcade of whiskey, of all distilled spirits. Should it someday be Cereal Alchemist? I don't know - I'll admit its a dream, but right now I'm a one man, part-time content provider. By all means, hit me up if you've got ideas. For those with the wherewithal, the time is right, and the undercurrents are massive.
My wife saw this little jewel in her Better Homes & Gardens magazine and instantly shared. I couldn't tell what I was looking at for a minute, then my eyes roamed over the "Scotch Eggs" and no persuasion was required. I hope you slept in today, because I'm not sure I could wait to try this one. For what it's worth, you can also find the recipe online.
Sounds like Folgers better move over. The best part of waking up, indeed! Now that we know that even a taste of beer can trigger a rush of dopamine to the brain, how do you think these will do in terms of starting your day off with a cheerful disposition?
Blessed Sunday to you all!
This basic idea was given to me by a dear friend and loyal reader, and I thought it sounded like an excellent supplement to the reviews section (where we lead with rare, limited edition, or hard-to-find whisky expressions). Each weekend we're going to compile Friday's Finest whiskies in a short, sweet weekend recommendation edition. At Cereal Alchemist we appreciate the value of hard-working men and women, and although not all of us aspire to be collectors, we believe that everyone deserves the finest dram on the evening of their victory ;-)
If I want to spend less than $50 on a bottle:
If I want to spend no more than $100:
These Gaelic names are crazy! If I could get whisky from two distilleries:
Browse Ardbeg and Glenmorangie. Completely opposite flavor profiles, completely amazing accomplishments in the art of distillation and maturation.
If I could add 3 commonly-found whiskies to my collection tonight:
...owned by the same company. I was settling down with my muse (currently Ardbeg Day's Committee Release) this evening and had an epiphany of sorts.
I don't work on Madison Avenue, but I'm often fascinated by the many marketing angles at work in the world of whisky, especially Scotch. I'm also a political scientist, so I enjoy studying policy and how people organize. Put these two "passions" (hey, I do have a life) together and it means that I find myself reading up on the whisky business scene with regularity. And speaking of religion, what's interesting to me is the zeal - and often times, ignorance - that accompany's people's beliefs about those 750ml brown, aged spirits that they covet and hoard.
I'm here to present a theorem of sorts, a tale of two distilleries and their current marketing approaches - Ardbeg and Glenmorangie.
These distilleries are known for being unquestionable leaders in their fields. Glenmorangie are the pioneering experts of ACE'ing (Additional Cask Enhancements) since 1995, treating the world to "finished whiskies" like the Lasanta, Quinta Ruban, and Nectar D'or that are all the rage nowadays. Many distilleries have since followed Glenmorangie's lead, whether it's simply to chase the money (Glenmorangie's offerings fetch a premium price and reputation) or to expand their flavor portfolio. Some distilleries like Bruichladdich - revived by Mark Reynier and Jim McEwan - have even leapt out in front, blazing a trail of experimentation that has proven extremely rewarding. Nowadays it's no surprise to hear of whiskies around the world spending time in an exotic range of casks for flavor enhancement: sherry, port, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Pedro Ximinez, Manzanilla, Sauternes, bourbon, rum, virgin (helloooooo Ealanta)... maple syrup. I shit you not. Goes well with breakfast on top of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I suppose.
All in all, Glenmorangie is known for producing stalwart, premier whiskies and leading the charge on elite cask management and maturation. It's signature malt is also supremely light, heathery, and filled with "orangey" (heh) and menthol topnotes, which give the distillery a larger, more neutral palette to "paint" with as it selects casks for ACEing.
Owned by Glenmorangie Company Ltd. (which is actually a subsidiary of the French Company Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy) is Ardbeg, one of eight distilleries on Islay that are currently still producing. Ardbeg's claim is to be the "peatiest" whisky on Islay (which pretty much makes it the peatiest whisky in the world), and although you'll find no argument from me on the nature of the nose, its actual phenol levels (~55 ppm) are eclipsed by those of Bruichladdich's Octomore series (140-169 ppm). Ardbeg's strength lies in its cult following, members of a "committee" of over 50,000 members (how's that for an island of 3,457 residents?) whose zeal and evangelism rival anything you'll see at a Southern Baptist Convention (ironic? yes).
"Unquestionably the greatest distillery to be found on Earth. If perfection on the palate exists, this is it." Jim Murray, Whisky Bible
These Ardbeggians love their Ardbeg, and the distillery is more than happy to include them (committee membership is free) and indulge them. What struck me tonight, as I skimmed through the latest news on these two distilleries, was how diametrically opposed their current marketing strategies are - a difference made stark when you understand that these distilleries are owned and operated by the same parent company (despite their independent leadership).
My thesis in a nutshell: Glenmorangie is Microsoft, and Ardbeg is Apple.
WHOA THERE, Cereal dude. You tryin' to start a flame war?
Hey, even I relish the idea of the page-views. But hear me out here. This goes beyond surface fanboyism and settles down inside some well-established pop culture memes. Besides, it's an illustration through metaphor, not a direct comparison to every facet of their business models.
Let's start with Ardbeg.
You have Apple, Inc. in distilled (pun intended) form. Hell, this company even went so far as to check off an entire calendar day as it's day. Just claimed June 1st as its own, every year, for time immemorial. That's chutzpah. That's confidence. That's Ardbeg. Have you seen the hype for the Ardbog release on Ardbeg Day this year? I don't even have to taste it - I can tell you right now it will be worth a fortune in no time and be impossible to find a year from now. That's the Ardbeg reality distortion field in full effect.
Then we have Glenmorangie, the quintessential "whisky establishment" types who've been around a while.
I have a feeling you're going to demand some evidence to back up my assumptions on that one. After all, for some reason, say a company is "like Microsoft" nowadays and Apple fanboys tend to let it go to their head: "Oh YEAH, take that Glenm... Glen... whatever it's called. Apple, WHOO!" Microsofties get Stockholm syndrome: "Why you hatin' on Glenmorangie, man? FASCIST!" You're all insane.
Look, in general, I love what Glenmorangie produces, as evidenced by the fact that I own all of their expressions except the Signet. Fanboys, you need to get with me on this. However, you Microsofties, you need to face up to the fact that Apple is kicking your ass in the mobile sphere, despite the beauty of Metro UI and the well-known drawbacks of iOS. It just is, and I just said that neither system (or dram) is perfect. This could be a generational gap - show me several images from the life of each distillery and tell me which one the Millenials will go with and which one takes the boomers. Go ahead. YEAH, I am right on this. That doesn't mean that I've just argued one is better than the other, unless you really dig ageism, which is okay I guess.
I am not a whiskey apologist, nor a tech apologist. Now that we've cleared the water a bit, a defense of my actual thesis is in order. In short, I've just claimed that one company has the "coolness" and hype on its side (but for how much longer?) and the other is playing the long, open establishment game.
Glenmorangie's been at this business for a while. The long game has long been on their side, and they're doing everything they believe is necessary to stay on top. But acting like sherry, port, and Sauternes finishes are a bold, new thing at every tasting is clearly a bit passe. The release of the private editions (like Metro UI) are a great step in the right direction here. Astar and Ealanta? There are no better expressions of wood finish on the market.
I've read several interviews where Glenmorangie totally spilled the beans on the contents of their major releases. "Oh, have you noticed the original has been tasting better in recent years? That's because it's about 30% Astar blend now." Whoa, sweet. "Ealanta is aged in slow-growth, American white oak from the northern slopes of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, cut and air dried for 2 years before being coopered into a virgin cask and mellowing the spirit for 19 years." Bangin'. "Any other questions?" Huh?
They can also be somewhat tone-deaf in their master classes. "Pick up the Artein. What do you smell?" There's a kind of meaty sweetness, perhaps a bit of almond butter and grape skins. "Well, what I smell is the orange, the heather, that signature Glenmorangie menthol topnote." That's nice, I'm tasting some leathery mocha notes here, along with chocolate cherries - quite dark for the Glenmorangie palate, no? "Chocolate covered cherries yes, but really look for that mint." UGH. Don't you think the Lasanta still has a problem with sulfur notes in the casks? "Some people have more sulfur sensitivity than others." (A true statement, but you see what I'm getting at here). Lasanta was never my favorite of their ACE whiskies.
What I really must commend Glenmorangie on is their latest crowd-sourcing initiative, the "Cask Masters Project" that aims to let the (mostly) common man have an input as to what will go into their next private edition release. I tried all 3 version finishes at Whisky Live NYC, and personally, I loved the chance to speak my mind about the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each expression. Any of them will be great whiskies, but if you get a chance, vote Bordeaux finish ;-)
So you see, I'm not really hating on either distillery here. In fact, just the freakin' opposite! I own dozens of their whiskies and enjoy them all. Still, I think the comparisons are apt, and the topic is perfect for drams and cigars. DISCUSS!
Once a week or so I will be questing to gather spirit news & notes from the perilous precipices of the interwebs. The result will be an article filled with worthy, readable, aggregated hyperlinks (very much in the vein of Ben Domenech's "Transom", so h/t to him). The links will generally reflect the trends that we're discussing in the blog that week. As a reader, feel free to submit articles you feel are interesting and/or pertinent and we'll consider including them. Given that this is our inaugural week, here's what we're talking about:
New Release: Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. Hopped Whiskey
This is a local release in Rhode Island, but if you live nearby it's definitely worth a drive to find some. We'll be reviewing their summer seasonal release on the blog tonight, but if you want to read about it yourself just follow the link. Tours and tastings at Sons of Liberty distillery are phenomenal - I Highley recommend taking a group sometime ;-) Can't wait to see what they come up with next.
Reaction: Flavored Whiskey?
So, Sons of Liberty has their seasonal flavored releases here in Rhode Island (and it's not like we haven't seen honey flavoring added to whiskies all over the place here in America), but you may have heard about the recent brouhaha over in the UK when Dewar's tried to release their Highlander Honey expression.
For what it's worth, I understand the Scotch Whisky Association's (SWA) concern here: see "What the Fuck Happened to Vodka?" I am tempted to support flavored whiskies in moderation, even without the appellation "spirit drink", but may God have mercy on the first distiller to release a PB&J flavored malt. I. WILL. FIND. YOU.
In case you were curious, I actually tried Highlander Honey at Whisky Live in New York this year just to see what all the fuss was about. Although it may not suit the purists, I found it to be imminently drinkable (you'll never hear me use that abominable word "smooth" in my own spirit reviews).
Feature: Tasting notes? You're doing them wrong.
When it comes to tasting notes, you should know that everyone has their own style. In many cases the notes are the signature "voice" of the blog or publication, ranging from lists of scents or flavors to poetry, prose, and metaphor. Often times the literary devices are combined in creative ways. Since this is the first time we're truly broaching the subject, I think we'll investigate those voices that will be vying for your attention (besides mine). What, Cereal Alchemist for Communicator of the Year? Maybe someday...
In last night's blog I posted a screenshot from Glenmorangie's website near the end of the article.
I'm afraid I was rather sarcastic about the tone of just this sort of notation. "Oh, well if it has a hint of aniseed then it MUST be good!" Seriously, do lists of semi-edible materials help you in your purchasing decisions or valuations? When a whisky writer tells you that the aroma of the Ealanta is "classic Glenmorangie mentholic top-note" are you transported? Is it enough to convince you that this expression is the quality you've come to expect from such a renowned distillery?
Worse yet, it creates a barrier to entry for those who don't understand the etiquette of the nosing / tasting process. If your own odoriferous journey doesn't reveal a "mentholic" character after you've just plunked down $120 for this bottle, then what gives? Do you feel disillusioned? Do you feel inadequate for your nostrilific (we're big on nonce words) shortcomings? "Man, stewed fruits sound disgusting, this is totally F---ED." Well, just wait until you hear Richard "the Nose" Patterson talk about notes of baby sick! The perfect aperitif!
Trust me when I tell you that these sorts of tasting notes are de rigueur in the spirit world. We have 21-year-old Don Draper wannabees going out and buying brand new leather "spirit diaries" and filling mindless pages with just this sort of analysis. And you know what?
The first internet tasting innovations come in the form of unique visualizations and creative commentary (example: Joshua Hatton's blog over at JewMalt - it was nice to meet him in person at Whisky Live NYC). I actually love the way Joshua does his tasting notes, and if I'm about to buy a new whisky, I'm definitely going to head over there and see what he has to say about it. Succinct, successful, communicative, and delightfully light and humorous. What else could you ask for?
Well, if it's creativity you desire, just know that some commentary is more creative than others. I positively adore Jim McEwan's tasting notes over at Bruichladdich (I have it on record that a thesaurus is a permanent article next to Jim's computer for just these occasions). Follow that last link up there and click through the notes for their Eroica. Have you ever read such prose regarding a whisky? " You just know that this is authentic Islay heaven, simultaneously delicate and potent. The amorous embrace of France has not turned the islander's head. He remains mature and mellow while thoroughly enjoying the smouldering warmth of the femme fatale." A spirit "as much for the mind as for the palate" indeed! Bravo Zulu, Jim.
Sometimes, just for the hell of it, I head over to Malt Imposter. This guy... well, half the time I have no idea what he's saying, but it sure is fun to read. I'm sure there's some inside baseball and all that jazz, but sometimes it's just out of control. And to think, I almost bought that bottle...
I'm not saying words and pictures can't be descriptive, but there is a revelatory moment that every true, self-confessed potions master has privately experienced. I'll never forget the first time I purchased Glenmorangie's Original 10yo. I picked up the box in the store and read "wood from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri" and thought "why, that's where I grew up!" I immediately brought the bottle home and opened it. The scent of the spirit permeated my small living room, and then - almost magically - I had flashbacks from my youth: crunching through dead leaves in a brisk, autumn forest, listening to squirrels noisily scrabbling for acorns, the soft heat and smoke of an evening campfire, the trickle of the distant creek as I shuffled into my sleeping bag. It was then that I realized the full evocative potential of what I now call the ultimate artisan spirit, and it has shaped the way I host spirit tastings ever since.
If you shuffle over to our review page tonight we're going to post our first few reviews of select spirits. The page will continue to be populated over the life of this blog. At Cereal Alchemist each tasting experience is a unique one - best experienced with a nosing glass, some cool, still water, and hi-fi sound ;-)
What I'm dramming right now: Bruichladdich Cuvee 407 PX - "La Noche Bocca Arriba"
I'm a guy with great respect for your time, your intelligence, and your taste; call it my "empathy guarantee". The moment you followed the link to this page your brain turned your eyeballs into giant information vacuums. Your irises beat and whirled and sucked up those liquid crystals, scanning for structure, graphical coherence, narrative context, etc. I cannot promise that you will be "satisfied". Modern psychology suggests that within 30 seconds you'll probably decide whether you like this blog or not, for all eternity. So let's cut to the chase: why should you give a shit about this blog?
And now you're all distracted, "off your rocker" if you will. You are conceivably torn regarding the ethical dilemma of reading world class prose about the most magical and immortal of all distilled spirits, and knowing it's written by a guy who doesn't mind asking the occasional question couched in profane colloquialisms. I have two rebuttals: (1) Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and (2) this isn't my first rodeo. I've had to come to terms with the fact that there's only one way this whole concept works.
Have you ever tried to start a blog? It's kind of nerve wracking. You start worrying about massively overblown self-imposed expectations (what if the Wall Street Journal calls me tomorrow and wants me to verify my source?!). Delirium sets in when you start to wonder whether you are engaging in the sad, Millennial version of talking to a brick wall. (Is there anyone out there? Why, oh why did I take the blue pill?) Then you chill and start writing, only to be entirely caught up in the notion of trying to sound like someone else. For once, just once, I wanted to have a writing outlet where I wrote the same way I speak to myself (don't judge me) and didn't have to proofread each paragraph 30 times before publishing. That's not work. That's definitely not grad school. That's here - the lawless frontier of the spirits blog scene.
This blog will definitely cross disciplines. There will - I kid you not - probably come a day where we cover marriage, the paleo diet, yoga, and cask maturation all in one post. However, I actually refuse to write about something I don't care about. And I think you can respect that. The result is new-make prose crafted as carefully and lovingly as the spirits we'll imbibe in together. You hear that? This blog is the Balcones of the spirit writing world. You'll know what that means soon enough (Chip Tate, don't let that go to your head). Think Different. All that jazz.
I don't get paid by anybody to promote their craft, as sad as I am about that. I'm a military officer with a full time (plus) job, so I do this on my own time, with my own passion. I can't promise there will be rhyme or reason to my updates. Also, required disclaimer: my opinions do not represent those of the U.S government or the DoD in any way whatsoever.
Right now, the spirits blogging world is kind of stuck in a rut. Go Google yourself some whisky reviews/blogs and you'll see what I mean. Do you really care about the 30 different smells that somebody got out of their whisky glass tonight? Will that oh-so-totally sway your mind as to whether you were going to plunk down $100+ on that thing? Or seek it out on a website that charges $40 to ship it from another country? "Oh, but it has hints of burnt tire and cherry liquorice! OMG!" X-D If your blog is one of those, don't take it personally. I'm just coming right out and saying that I don't have your nose, guy. I don't feel like competing with you.
I just happen to think there's a better way, a way to make these experiences communicable. This blog will be thoroughly enjoyed by the whisk(e)y enthusiast, but at Cereal Alchemist our goal is to make distilled spirits enjoyable and accessible to everyone. We are equal opportunity dram freaks. So sit back, enjoy the smooth, progressive metaphor we've embedded in that video up there, and start to get curious about what the PX in that Bruichladdich malt I'm dramming means.
P.S. It means ridiculously frackin' delicious. ;-)