Take that finger off my bottle

I just came back from Whisky Lounge Manchester and what an amazing and utterly knackering show is was! I was manning a stand there, oozing charm, answering questions and smiling at everyone like I’m out of my mind. I love it. Whisky shows are great fun and the easiest job in the world from my point of view (good whiskies sell themselves, all you need to do is give them that little bit of support). People who go to whisky shows to have a look around, chat to distillers and sample the goods are by and large a great bunch and talking to them is pure pleasure. I could do it every day.

And so it hurts even more when someone acts like a prick.

Few things make me more angry than ‘whisky experts’. I know a few real ones and they would never call themselves that. They are likely to say ‘I know this and that’ or ‘I try’ when asked about it. Top industry guys are much more interested in listening to what you have to say than in talking themselves and that’s great, it’s a mark of a true pro. At whisky shows, however, you always meet a few home grown ‘talents’ who know everything about everything. If they are by themselves they are likely to walk up to the stand, ignore your ‘hello’ and just point their finger at the bottle with the highest age statement they can spot (always, invariably). You pour them a dram while trying to start a conversation with the standard friendly ‘have you tried our whisky before?’; they look at you slightly annoyed and with an air of unquestionable superiority, murmur a quick ‘yes’ in response and then show you their back. They are at their best, however, when they have an audience – friends who don’t know much about whisky. They walk up to the stand, and start touching the bottles with their index finger, commenting as they go along: ‘this is shit, this is shit, this one is OK and this one is actually good’ (always and invariable the ‘actually good’ one is the one with the highest age statement they can spot). It makes me boil inside with rage. Hundreds of years of expertise, passion and devotion, some of the tightest quality control known unto Homo Scotus, vast amounts of talent at every stage of production and product development and that prick just called this absolute classic and one of my favourites ‘shit’.

What to do? Mount a passionate defence? Get theatrically offended? Just smile and nod hoping he’ll go away? Let me know what you think and whether there are people who annoy you at whisky shows.


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