Where is the love?

Nose: Leather wax, ski wax, all wax. Really mature Camembert or melted Raclette. Hot tyres, Play-Doh, old chewing gum. All wrapped in sharp tones of sweet over-ripe pear, fantastically out of place, like a pinball machine in a church.

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I just got home from the ‘bloggers tasting’ at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. They organise one every quarter or so to allow the local blogging/whisky press scene to taste some of the gems on the new range before they even reach the members. It became a tradition I would say, and a good one too. A chat with Olaf, great whisky and cheese and then a few beers to seal the night. The only problem is… it all makes us uncool.

Why? You’re but a few paragraphs away from finding out!

John Hansell, his What Does John Know? blog and the Malt Advocate magazine awarded us, all of the bloggers – the whole community, an award. We are now the ‘Pioneers of the Year 2010′. When I first read about it I was well ready to point out that as a group we are hardly pioneers, that the community is very uneven, that John should have just picked one blog that stands out and all that. But then I changed my mind.

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Palate: Salty-sweet, celery sticks, Tesco’s own brand tropical fruit juice… that’s all close enough but not on the money. The flavour, I daresay, is completely new to me. I have made a discovery, I have found my enigmatic Hidden Taste Bud. Not something that happens to you every day…

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A few people found it appropriate to post comments to John’s announcement, pointing out that blogs weren’t truly comprehensive and reliable sources of information. They basically said that blogs were something different to Wikipedia. Thanks for the reminder. Someone was even cheeky enough to congratulate John on the award his blog received from… ekhm, ekhm… himself, which I found quite funny. At that point I thought that enough had been said, bloggers should perhaps sit this one out.

The next day I read Serge’s new blog entry about this very award. And he also criticised it a fair bit. His point was that today’s new-wave bloggers were a bunch of Twitter-using brand puppets. Being a friend with a distiller on Facebook is soft-core. Caring about your footfall is vain. You’re only ‘true’ and ‘black’ if the industry hates you so much that they include the ways of dealing with you in their training manuals. Ergo, the bloggers community as a whole deserves nothing.

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Finish: Blunt and tropical, salty and leathery

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There are a few comments under my recent post about Shackleton’s lost whisky. Some pull me up on my actual mistakes (and outrageous ones too), the ins and outs of the brand ownership scene in 1907. I am grateful for that, someone has to keep the Twitter-abusers in check. After all history determines who we are today and history misreported is history misunderstood. Additionally, my own co-blogger, Chris, wrote a rather lengthy tirade under that very same post, on how I was unfair to Whyte & Mackay and how I attacked them unprovoked and how he was looking forward to the replica of that blend. Reading his comment I could picture him softly caressing his keyboard in the act of pouring his peaceful wisdom onto our server, humming ‘Why can’t we be friends’ with a wide grin on his gentle face. Cool.

Opposite points of view. That’s why I’ve always liked working with him, he challenges me.

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Overall: The whisky I am writing about is an SMWS bottling of Glenugie, a distillery long lost. It’s 29yo, will cost about 76 quid and you won’t be seeing anything like it soon, if ever again. The Society number for it is 99.11 and it will be available as soon as the new outturn hits the shelves. The whisky itself is worth its weight in gold. Not because it’s balanced, pleasant and tasty. It is neither of these things. It is rather offensive and undoubtedly controversial. Not a whisky you would go on a session with, but one you want to try at least once. The danger is that when you try it, you will desire a bottle in a completely unreasonable rush of affection for what is different, irreverent, unorthodox, fun… it certainly reminded me why I chose malt whisky as my way of life. An eye-opener.

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The overall picture of the perfect whisky blog is somewhat confusing if you take into account all these opinions. If you care at all, that is.

I say: let the whisky historians do their job, whisky hard-corers do theirs and commentators and other clowns (in this number I count myself) do whatever they want. We have, to certain extent, lost the sense of fun and love in all of this. Some bloggers are closer to the brands than others – so what? Some attack unprovoked when they are in bad mood – so what? Some are soft and some are hard – so what? Isn’t the diversity and the deeply opinionated character of any blogging scene the very foundation for its independence? Of course. But on the other hand we should remember that in the end of the day we all love whisky, we play for the same team. Even when we take shots at each other, we shoot at the same goal.

I welcome the criticism of my style, from strangers and friends alike. I welcome the fact that the brands are constantly trying to get us drunk on their juice, it’s quite cool. I welcome the fact that Serge doesn’t consider me ‘proper’ because I allow the brands to do so. I welcome the opinion that my blog isn’t a reliable source of facts and figures (and thank God it isn’t!).

I welcome John Hansell’s award and I’m truly proud of it. Thank you, John.

Lucas

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Judging honours

World Whiskies Awards Judge Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge Global Scotch Masters Judge Scottish Whisky Awards Judge