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Whisk(e)y Is for Everyone…Not Just Snobs

08 Dec

I had a rather unpleasant retail experience last weekend and it’s inspired a bit of a rant. Note: I am not talking about Beltramo’s.

I think it’s really important to try new whisk(e)y. I always encourage people to do that, regardless of their experience or income level or any other variable. There are many excellent expressions on the market — I’d estimate that there are well over 1,000 — more than anyone can try in a lifetime. (Ok, maybe a determined billionaire could try them all, but whisk(e)y isn’t just about acquisition; it’s about appreciation.)

The scale of the whisk(e)y market is staggering. It is intimidating for newbies. Even people who are familiar with some whisk(e)y expressions are newbies with respect to all the others.

So the big question is: Regardless of your resources, how do you discover new whisk(e)y expressions that you might like? Do you have to buy a whole bottle? That’s a rather large investment on a whim as many of them have prices beyond the $50-70 “threshold of pain.” What, then, if you don’t like it? (I mean, besides giving it to me….)

I expect that whisk(e)y retailers should be actively trying to cultivate new customers, and doing everything possible to help existing customers broaden their experience with as many expressions as possible. It is in their interest to do so…isn’t that why they are in business?!?!? How should they do that? Along the same lines, what should we as consumers do to help ourselves?

  • One of the easiest ways to engage the whisk(e)y-interested is to try minis. So a forward-thinking retailer should make miniature bottles available. They should ask their distributors for them. More demand would eventually result in more supply.
    • This allows people to dip their toes in to a new expression, so to speak. If they like it, they’ll be much more likely to buy a full-sized bottle. At least, that’s what I do.
      • I love it when I travel internationally and find a duty-free shop (like in Calgary, Alberta) where there is a huge selection of minis: I load up! I buy things I would never buy at full-size-bottle pricing. Minis are usually less than $10 each….
  • I also try new things at bars or restaurants (especially when other people are buying! 🙂 ).
  • The biggest and most cost-effective way to expand your horizons is to get together with friends and each bring a new bottle of something. You all can try multiple things and your entry fee of one bottle will go very far in expanding your horizons.
    • Insert admonition about drinking and driving…not perfect together!

So, why the rant?

I asked a posh retailer if they had minis. The store clerk’s expression darkened, as if he discovered that he was talking to an insect or rodent. Or a wino. That told me all I needed to know: They don’t want my money! I am not going to name them, since I don’t want to go against their wishes. They clearly do not want to expand their business, and in my own little way, I plan to help them with that. You’ll never find a link to them on my site, or a mention (good or bad), since that might accidentally help someone find them. Best of luck as you circle the drain!

 
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Posted by on 8-December-2010 in Whisky2.0

 

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