Jumping the Driscoll

David Driscoll has been on a strange tear on Spirits Journal in the last few months. Bloggers have been the target of his ire but it’s really logic and coherence that have been the victims. One day it’s important to have knowledge and “critical context”, other days all that matters is to have fun and not worry about knowing things and people who know things are a drag, and so on. There’s about as much consistency in his narratives as in those in the professional wrestling world he keeps referencing. I’ve stopped calling this stuff out on the blog as I don’t really have anything personal against Driscoll or K&L–I purchase from them and generally have enjoyed K&L’s selections. Also, even for a blowhard like me it gets tiring saying the same thing over and over again. And at this point I think most whisky geeks are wise to his schtick anyway. But his most recent post is quite something.

I’m not going to go over the whole thing–there’s a whole lot of random stuff in there. The key bit is the last paragraph:

The K&L Spirits Journal is not a journalistic news source. It has never been, never claimed to be, nor will it ever be. This is mainly because there is no such thing as booze journalism as far as absolute truth is concerned. There is only booze romanticism or booze antagonism. The president can be held accountable for lying to the general public, but booze companies cannot be, nor should they be. Unlike publicly elected officials, it’s not their job to tell you the truth. It’s their job to sell you something. As consumers, it’s our job to decide whether or not to give them our money.

(emphasis mine.)

The first person plural there at the end is supposed to be Driscoll’s alibi but here we have it: following his logic, David Driscoll has just basically conceded that we should not believe anything he says about what K&L carries, as it’s not his job either to tell us the truth, only to sell us something. Well, as consumers it’s our job to decide whether or not to give them our money.

As I quipped on Twitter, in the ocean sharks now refer to “jumping the Driscoll”.

59 thoughts on “Jumping the Driscoll

  1. I find the “romanticism” versus “antagonism” statement interesting. There seems to be no room in his statement for folks to exist in the middle. But I believe many of us exist in the middle. I romanticize the hell out of the liquid, but I despise the bullshit (hypocrisy, marketing, forced hype, lies, and the combinations of all the above) that surrounds it.

    And I think most folks actually fit into that category. Yes, there are those who are providing free PR in exchange for free samples, thus they’re publicly romanticizing the business and the liquid. But all or most of us who read online whisky stuff love whisky. That’s why we waste (or wisely invest) time doing so. In the process of geeking out, we consume a lot of information. As we collect all that information we start to want some clarity on what we’re spending our money on, and we try to separate the wheat (or barley) from the chaff. And in the process, knowing what we’re drinking makes us enjoy what we’re drinking even more.

    There’s hostility connoted in the word “antagonism”. Other than tee-totalers or those wounded by alcoholism, no one is hostile against the liquid. Then are we hostile against the BS? When is questioning the narrative an act of hostility unless actual damage is being done? Are the “antagonists” actually doing damage? Or is it possible that the gray area is wide and the black and white territories are narrow?

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  2. Guys, I just don’t get this. DD does his job, always be selling, always be closing, and under the influence of whatever truth serum-laced spring cocktail he admits to it in writing. I find this admirable, not reprehensible. And yes, by now we figured out his play: start with something to sell, and then build a personal-sounding story around it, with generous dashes of buddy-buddy, salt-of-the-earth, yet insider with special knowledge stuff. He’s the Sarah Palin of whisky, OK? He doesn’t sell to you or me, he sells to Joe the Plumber. If you or me are interested in a K&L bottle and want the real story, we send an email to DOG – the good cop to DD’s bad cop. So I just don’t get all this fine parsing of every post of DD. He’s right that unlike an independent blogger he’s not bound to the ethics of honesty of opinion – because he doesn’t write opinion, he writes ad copy. If he’s comfortable with his life, writing – well, yes: – lies, while extolling honesty, independence, trustworthiness, and other virtues right out of a Normal Rockwell cover, I certainly don’t have a problem with it. I guess I learned years ago not to shout at the TV every time an ad comes up.

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  3. Wow, Florin, if this is a defense of Driscoll I’d hate to see you write a takedown. The penultimate sentence of your comment is so much more devastating than anything I’ve ever said about him.

    Actually, I see this as a watershed moment. He’s admitted that he has no commitment to truth, only to selling and that he never has had and never will have a commitment to anything else. Fine, I no longer have any need to point out his self-congratulatory, contradictory posturing. What a relief for everyone. (Of course, in a few days/weeks time we’ll be told again that K&L is the only store that gives it to customers straight.)

    But I don’t find anything admirable per se about liars openly saying they lie. The memory hole culture we live in glorifies and rewards this behaviour–there’s nothing brave about it; and it certainly doesn’t amount to honesty.

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  4. I think what he meant by “booze companies” was companies that make booze. And that booze journalism is impossible because booze companies don’t and are under no obligation to answer questions about their products openly and honestly. Of course, if you ignore the blanket disclaimer “as far as absolute truth is concerned,” this is nonsense, and the presidential metaphor is particularly inapt; one of the main things journalists do is get information people don’t want them to have, and give it to the public. But I’m not sure how this is a confession, unless you’re certain he’s being intentionally disingenuous with the us/them stuff in the last sentence.

    As to the lying, does he? Does he print things he knows to be untrue? If he does, I’d be among the last to know, but I’m guessing most of you wouldn’t be.

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    • I’m just following his logic. His job is also to sell booze. And as he is claiming that truth as a category is irrelevant in selling booze and that Spirits Journal makes no claims to being journalistic anyway it follows that he is not bound by any claims either other than those of “romanticism”–presumably critical bloggers are the antagonists he refers to (though on that simplistic binary see Michael’s excellent point above). After all, if he is not including what he does in this general point about the irrelevance of truth it’s not clear why he begins the para by insisting that Spirits Journal never has been, is not and never will be a “journalistic news source”. He fudges this at the end by putting himself in the “our” at the end but in general this seems to me to be as clear a description of his own activity as he has yet been able to manage, though it may not be what he intended to say. If I were his employers (or their legal department) I’d be a little worried by this statement.

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  5. Admitting that you have no professional scruples by arguing that your job doesn’t really allow for any (it’s all just about selling, not truth) isn’t admirable on any level, but thinking that’s so is the ultimate expression of the Gordon Gecko “greed is good”, ends justify the means, philosophy, a philosophy which, in the film, was supposed to be a criticism of how modern business operates and was instead embraced for its “honesty” and gave us the 2008 banking crisis. If there is no such thing as ethics in business, what would be the legal basis for control of commerce? “What, you thought that car was supposed to be safe? That’s just something car companies tell people to sell cars. Shut up, go get a wheelchair, and try not to be so naive next time, stupid”. Ironically, many of the modern Gordon Geckos are the same ones who argue for less regulation – telling you that only “business knows business”, while saying that, at the same time, like Eli Wallach in the Magnificent Seven, that peasant consumers are there to BE sheared.

    It’s really the same thing as about bloggers and bias – “Yes, I’m a blogger who sometimes lets my personal ties to the industry influence my reviews, but least I’M honest about it, so congratulate me for that and forget that you can’t trust my reviews – I still need you to read them because, if I become irrelevant, whisky companies will cut me off.” But how can you congratulate anyone for their honesty about their dishonesty when you can’t even be sure that they’re honest about that? I guess it’s “interesting” on some level that Dave would actually tell you that he’d say the sky is plaid if it meant he could sell one more bottle doing it, but that, of course, comes with the knowledge that you now can’t believe anything he says anyway.

    In using the “our” at the end, Dave doesn’t seem to know whether he’s a consumer or a seller, but somehow I’m in same category that he is – in fact, we’re all in the same boat together. With that in mind, I’d like to say that Dave Driscoll is, without a doubt, one of the greates….. no, I just can’t bring myself to write it, even as a joke.

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  6. As I was going through my blog bookmarks to see what new, wonderful news and reviews I could fuel my hobby passion with, I saw the title of this post. I decided, before reading it (as the title indicates the general attitude that would be following), to shoot over to Driscoll’s “blog” to read some posts for myself and garner my own information and opinions before reading yours. I’d been meaning to do it as most blogs I follow reference him from time to time, but your post finally tipped the scale.

    When I read Driscoll’s post referenced here, I had the very same response. “So…as this isn’t your home spun blog, but rather an information and advertising outlet for a major liquor retailer, I should assume this is all geared toward selling me a product, and not a source for truth?” I could see blood oozing from my screen, presumably from the self inflicted gunshot wound to his foot.

    But I decided to read on keeping the above in mind. Then I hit the post about Beam Single Barrel and Black Label. Wow. I like that he tells me what the current popular bourbon profile is and what’s selling more so I know which bandwagon to hop on. And, while Black Label is a very respectable bourbon (I haven’t had the Single Barrel, so I can’t speak to that expression), there must have been some really bottom shelf stock tasting against these Beams for them to “stand out”. I started wondering if, perhaps, there was an over abundance of these two in stock and K&L really wanted to move them.

    On the other hand, some people just don’t care. I was in a Total Wine here in CT this past weekend and overheard a salesman speaking with a customer about white whiskies and moonshine. The salesman mentioned Onyx which puts out a strong local air and vibe, “Connecticut’s first legal moonshine,” (which is an oxymoron), and has a strong local following because of it. I discovered about a month ago that Onyx is local in its bottling only; it’s a sourced distillate. I was floored. I made gentle mention of this to the salesman and customer who shot me looks of “Butt out, pal, I’m trying to make a sale,” and, “I don’t care, I just want to spend my money,” respectively. I politely shut up and left them alone but it sat with me for a while afterward as an example of the way companies, on the whole, just want to make a sale (at nearly any ethical cost), and how consumers, on the whole, just want to buy a product regardless of who or what is behind it. Like the person who told me they live Velveeta “cheese” because it tastes good; who cares what it’s actually made of?

    Sorry for my long winded comment. If you can’t tell, I think about this a lot, especially in my own life. I find your opinion on this far from annoying.

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    • I think it’s a very interesting point: salespeople want to sell (but not all want to sell at just any cost), but some consumers just want to be “sold” – they want to be convinced about a product and told a story about it, true or not, that they can repeat in conversation to their friends. There is “romanticism” in the stories spun around whisky, its history and traditions, and that romanticism is often wrecked at the mention of modern patterns of ownership and production: folks like to pretend that THEIR bottle was lovingly handcrafted by whisky gnomes who live just down the road from the Keebler elves, doing things just as they were done when George Smith was walking around packing two pistols.

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  7. I will add that there are plenty of liquor stores that don’t sell in this way. Take Binny’s, for example. The Whisky Hotline manages to be enthusiastic about what they do without going over the top or stepping close to the boundary between sales and dishonesty. They don’t make claims about low prices that don’t stand up to careful scrutiny, they don’t create detailed narratives about trends to move questionable product, they don’t try to convince people that if they don’t “buy now! buy now!” they never will be able to etc. etc.. I do understand that Binny’s is very established and has far more outlets to move what they carry whereas K&L seemingly feel the need to behave like brash upstarts but at some point this kind of behaviour will start hurting their business even with the people who apparently enjoy all of Driscoll’s antics.

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    • Their own single cask bottlings seem like the most dangerous to be hyping that way. It must be a fairly big investment to bring them in and interest is going to be narrow relative to most of what they stock. Seems like a number of people have already thrown up their hands in disgust over this year’s picks.

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      • MAO’s problem has to do with David’s posts rather than with K&L’s selections. I think D&D do a very good job, generally, with their single cask program. For all of MAO’s and my carping, I’d guess each of us dropped a grand on K&L whisky last year, and so did many others – so D&D must be doing something right. MAO goes to pains every time to state that he likes their whisky. There were some duds – the Exclusive Malts Bowmore comes to mind – but also really nice ones, like the Caperdonich and the Fettercairn, or the Karuizawa which nobody seems to have opened yet. I don’t expect them to bat 1.000! The fact that the nice ones sell out quickly and the duds linger shows that they have a discerning clientele. They may not be the only ticket in town, but K&L does make the top 10 US whisky stores. Driscoll probably has some merit in this, although the high tide raises all ships. Honestly, people like Mao, Jordan and Michael K are baffled and annoyed at Driscoll’s anti-blogger stance, which makes absolutely no sense, from any perspective you look at it. Driscoll is riding the wave and feels invincible now. He may not look so good once the whisky craze is over.

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        • A grand? No.

          I have liked most of their selections that I’ve tried, but I’ve found very few to be very close to the levels claimed for them in the marketing. This has generally made me warier and warier about taking chances. I do make it a point to note that I generally have a good hit rate with their casks because I want to emphasize that I have no vendetta against them. But my definition of very good is quite conservative compared to some: an average of 86.6 points across 10 whiskies with a fairly high selection bias among the ones that pull the average up. But you know, there’s a lot of 85-89 point whisky out there (that’s where most of my scores fall)–I’m more and more inclined to get more of it from people who don’t leave a bad taste in my mouth while selling it to me.

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          • I suppose if I lived in SF I would maybe feel this way. But their LA shop is DOG’s fiefdom and I don’t much associate it with DD. I learned my lesson early that everything is hyped on the website, while working my way through bourbons and OB scotch, so now I adjust accordingly (as in: ignore and find independent source of information instead). And since I don’t have a blog I don’t take DD’s anti-blogger nonsense personally.

            I agree that there are no such issues to deal with if you shop at Binny’s, The Party Source (dearly departed for all practical purposes), or other stores – quite the opposite: friendly, knowledgeable people, giving you the facts if that’s what you need.

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          • David D.’s anti-blogger nonsense, as you put it, is relatively recent: it’s not the source of my issues with K&L. That has to do with their general over-the-top hyping of things and their attempts to create frenzy around what they’re selling–this, as I have said before, is unhealthy for all of us. It feeds the whisky bubble mentality and for the less experienced it sets expectations for whisky that can rarely be met by what they sell.

            And I find some of the things they do to be borderline dishonest: false “lowest price” claims, telling people whisky is more scarce than it is (in some cases “finding” quite a bit more of it after selling out their first allotment by telling people to “get it now! now! now!”), etc.. The success of so many other stores that don’t do any of this is evidence that none of this is necessary to sell good whisky or even mediocre whisky.

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          • All these are very good points Mao. I probably got desensitized, they just don’t bother me as much – not actively -, plus I give DD some credit for the good photos (and stories) from the European trips.

            Plus, doesn’t it happen to you all the time, to find in a dark corner of your closet this hidden case of Springbank that you didn’t know you had? Oh, if I had a dime…

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  8. And today he’s claiming flavor is CONCENTRATED in a single barrel (???). I could probably guess at the reasonable point he’s trying to make, but that inflated way of saying it makes no sense.

    In my more innocent days I probably would have swallowed that.

    “While no one really gets overly-excited about the mellow, mild, reduced flavor of Dickel #8, I can promise you that when that flavor is concentrated into a single barrel and bottled at 103 proof, it’s a much more dynamic experience.”

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    • He is an artist. Sold out the Barterhouse as a “mysterious 20 year old wheated…[that] is as close as you’ll get to Pappy 20” and then sent out an email effectively saying, “Oops! it’s not in fact wheated at all and I didn’t bother to check before sending you into a frenzy and it’s all the Diageo rep’s fault”. Now I don’t expect him to bring up the fact that not too many people have been impressed with this Orphan Barrel series but here’s another example of how despite decrying the Pappy hype at other times he’s absolutely willing to stir it up himself to sell unrelated products (a while ago Green Spot was described as “the Pappy Van Winkle of Ireland”).

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  9. I think you guys need to read the beginning of Driscoll’s post again, rather than the end. I think he purposely goaded you into this and you all bought it — hook, line, and sinker.

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    • Yeah, that would have been cool–and a lot of egg on my face– but I don’t think so. He’s not saying that his list of bullet points are things we should not believe. Some of those are things he’s said on other occasions as well: for instance, the stuff about the American obsession with specs; and do you think as a retailer who has complained before about customers who get mad that he is suggesting that getting mad at people is a good way to get what you want? No, it’s a straight list of corrections of misapprehensions people have, things that they believe are the case because of misinformation/naivete.

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      • This whole post and thread is egg on your face. He’s writing comics about how ridiculous whisky bloggers can be and then luring you into displaying the exact behavior he openly mocks. I feel like he’s teaching a class on internet manipulation.

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        • I honestly don’t go along with your interpretation, Seth: Driscoll’s rant, rambling in all directions as it does, is structured around the idea of helping disabuse people of misinformation, spread as a result of “sheer naiveté” (there is a huge element of irony THERE, but it’s fired from a gun with a big “U” in the barrel). Dave might have a very inflated idea of who HE’s fooling at any given time, but that’s all beside the point in his post, because there, he’s supposedly giving the reader the straight stuff.

          But even if you were right, and with all supposed satiric brilliance on Dave’s part aside, what IS his position on truth in advertising and public responsibility? I don’t think that anyone was ever “lured” into thinking that The K&L Spirits Journal was “a journalistic news source”, but that’s a far cry from saying that anything anyone says or does in the name of selling booze is fair game.

          “The president can be held accountable for lying to the general public, but booze companies cannot be, nor should they be. Unlike publicly elected officials, it’s not their job to tell you the truth. It’s their job to sell you something.” Really? So if I was in the scotch business, matured a whisky for 8 years in pine and then sold it at 35% ABV as a 12 y.o. single malt, I’d just be doing my job and, on that basis, there’s nothing that could, or should, be done to stop me? But Dave, being a genius, of course, can’t mean THAT, so he must mean something else and, as a reader, you’re just supposed to think in circles until you come to the conclusion that Dave is smarter than everyone? I’d agree that approach certainly SOUNDS like something Dave would come up with, but I think the only one being manipulated by it is Seth. And tell me, Seth, do you trust Dave’s “reviews” or is the “actual” larger “meta-message” of those just that no reviews can be trusted as honest opinion? By your interpretation, is Dave saying that HIS reviews can be trusted, can’t be trusted, or that it doesn’t matter so long as you’re reading them?

          To be honest, I think the larger problem isn’t with Driscoll’s critics, or even with Driscoll or his prose: the problem is that Dave writes in a vacuum with “comments off” – all he has to do is write SOMETHING, anything in fact, that has something to do with sales. That something doesn’t have to agree with what he wrote yesterday, or even really make sense today, because it’s never to be challenged directly in its own venue, as such challenge would work against the “ends justify the means” sales angles which are both the entire point and the carte blanche of his writing. Talented as he sometimes is, Dave just isn’t challenged enough and it makes his thinking sloppy to the point of now becoming a joke – and sloppy thinkers, like sloppy drinkers, can become an embarrassment to themselves.

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          • I’m just using his own words, much like you are. I read the same post you all did and I didn’t jump to any of the same conclusions. He starts by saying “I’m feeling feisty” and about how he’s interested in “spreading misinformation.” He then goes on to write a list of things that seem clear, but are actually quite vague — leaving them up for interpretation. At no point does he ever say he specifically is lying to you. That was what you guys decided he meant. In my interpretation, he’s already achieved his point.

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          • Seth, your reading fails for me at a very basic level. He’s not saying that he is interested in spreading misinformation, but in how misinformation is spread. His list is of things that are not the case even though people believe they are, i.e for each item his list is correcting misinformation/naiveté.

            By your reading he is either 1) giving us a list of things none of which are meant or 2) giving us a list of things of which only some are meant but certainly not the last point. Well, if we examine the list of things reading 1 just doesn’t hold up or doesn’t redound to David’s credit either. By that interpretation he actually believes that hipsters=any stylish person, that hockey games are not better in person, that you can get people to do things for you by getting mad at them, that being obsessed with whisky “specs” is fine, that the average whisky enthusiast actually is genuinely knowledgeable about the industry. Now even I don’t think David is deluded enough to believe the first three things (on my list). And the fourth and fifth he is himself on record on his blog and elsewhere as not believing. All of these items then fit my interpretation of the post: that David is giving a list of corrections of common misapprehensions and that every item on the list, including the last one, is meant “straight”.

            Now if you’re saying that he actually means what he is saying for all the items on the list except the controversial last one, that by getting us to take that one seriously he’s suckered us into taking the bait, well, there’s a problem with that too. And the problem is that he’s actually describing quite accurately what he does on Spirits Journal. He bends the truth, he tells romantic stories, he embroiders, he does whatever he needs to do to sell, no matter how much self-contradiction it involves. The only revelation for me in this post is that he is all but owning up to it.

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  10. You are using his own words, Seth, but not all of them: “I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to spread misinformation — not intentionally, but rather just out of sheer naiveté. Here are some things that are not the case:”. He’s not saying that HE’s interested in spreading misinformation, only that he’s thinking about how easy it is (or is he admitting he’s naive?) and that he’s actually interested in combating that with the list that follows, “things that are not the case”. It’s true that “at no point does he ever say he specifically is lying to you”; he’s saying something far more serious than that: he’s saying that it doesn’t matter if he is lying, because, even if so, that would be just part of his job (and there’s nothing any more vague about that than his opinion of the experience of watching ice hockey at the arena).

    But to return to the questions I asked you (and only out of curiosity, not out of any attempt to harass or embarrass anyone), do you trust his reviews? Can you? Does it matter? If it doesn’t, perhaps just because Dave’s “in sales” (and I’ve read that argument elsewhere before), should it matter with any reviewer, their agenda known or unknown (after all, everyone has to eat – and drink)? If booze companies can lie, and retailers can lie, can everyone lie? If so, is there any point to discussing whisky at all?

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    • You guys are all reading this way too literally, which is hilarious because it’s like you’re trying to solve a puzzle. First he’s a liar, then he’s not a liar because of exactly what he did or didn’t say. I don’t really care either way about his statements. What I’m saying is that Driscoll gets off on riling you guys up, so you keep writing blog posts and comments about what he might or might not mean as if he’s not doing it on purpose. It’s as clear as day to most people that he’s messing with you. I could tell from the moment he wrote that blog that someone was going to post a response and of course someone did. The thing you guys have to remember is that Dave already has his audience built in. They trust him because he helps them find good whisky (I know many of his customers), not because of his amusing blog. It’s like trying to convince John Stewart fans that he’s a liar and an idiot. In the end, they’re all laughing at you, not him.

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        • I’m saying that he writes that blog for his own enjoyment. He writes many things that go against K&L’s best interests, which is why people trust him. It’s about making people think about their behavior, and it’s obviously working because you all have written an essay’s worth of thought about what he had to say.

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          • I’m curious: what has he ever written that goes against K&L’s best interests? (Other than this post, I mean, in which he seems to be saying openly–though you disagree–that he will say whatever he needs to in order to sell stuff.) And I thought you were saying that people trust him because he gets them good whisky and that they don’t even read his blog?

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          • I don’t know about reading it all “too literally”, Seth; I read what’s there (and you should try that). “First he’s a liar, then he’s not a liar because of exactly what he did or didn’t say” – who says that? To me, what Driscoll wrote was a simple admission that the booze business doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have telling the truth as a priority when its real goal is sales – no hocus pocus to it. It’s not really Dave’s comments that keep me guessing as much as your interpretation OF those comments, but I refuse to see Driscoll as any kind of satiric mastermind when your case for that is based on misquoting him and basically just saying that it’s so. I’d be the first to admit that Dave could be the Swift of whisky – all it would take would be for him to be a completely different writer. As to the “why” of Dave writing what he actually DID write, I think the answer’s twofold: he feels comfortable giving booze companies permission to lie because he tries to distance himself from the implications of that by characterizing himself as a consumer in the post and not as a salesman (and forgets that K&L sells booze, not ice cream), the second part being that Dave writes editorials in a vacuum and in a “fire-and-forget” fashion – what he says he thinks today has no bearing on what he may have to write tomorrow, depending on what bottle he’s hawking in 24 hours. It’s all only about sales anyway, and he faces no on-site criticism, so the words, and the truth, don’t really matter. That doesn’t really get me riled; it’s only noteworthy now in that it’s an acknowledged “fact”.

            I, and I’m sure K&L, would also like to know when Dave ever worked/wrote against the company’s best interests, particularly if, as you say, he did so just for his own enjoyment.

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    • Seth will now explain why we were wrong to think that Dave was serious when he said Spirits Journal is not a journalistic source (not to mention the other points corroborated in the new post).

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    • As an attempt at damage control, Driscoll’s new piece, “Vague Vagaries” is simply hilarious, but no part is funnier than Dave trying to play the role of poor mistrusted whisky pundit:

      “The entire business is, like Chuck said, built on the honor system; there are no industry watchdogs looking out for you other than those of us who write about spirits (but who would be stupid enough to believe a retailer, right?)”

      Well, no, dumbass, I CAN’T trust you because YOU’VE ALREADY PERSONALLY PARDONED THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY FOR ANY LYING IT DOES TO CONSUMERS IN ORDER TO BOOST SALES. If you’re feeling mysteriously unappreciated, Dave, consider the above until you understand the situation better. Still no sign of the notice of your nomination for Whisky Industry Watchdog of the Year? Keep checking that mailbox!

      What we’re really left with is an interesting shift of blame on Driscoll’s part: like poor Dave, we have to trust an industry that lies to us and whose “label doesn’t mean anything”, as explained TO us by a guy who’s already pardoned the industry FOR that lying but now doesn’t know if HE’S lying himself because he only knows what the lying industry tells him, concluding that “if you’re skeptical that brands can be trusted, then you might as well not trust anything you read either”. No shit!

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  11. To Dave Driscoll: As you’ve already acknowledged that your idea of sales has nothing to do with the truth, I understand that your ranting is only for personal marketing effect – I’d love to help you with that but, alas, comments are “off” as always. You should be careful, however: if you accidently alienate people on the basis of them being able to see through your bullshit, you’ll soon have no readers left.

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  12. The biggest point I take away from the K&L blog is how douchey K&L customers seem to be.

    Today:
    “I’m not going to walk into a party with Maker’s Mark!! Are you kidding? I need something rare and interesting. Something that proves I have friends in high places. Something that no one else in the world could possibly get. Something that will make people oooh and ahhh when I place it onto the table. Something that I can put on my Instagram later that night and act like it’s no big deal. Oh….and I don’t want to pay more than a hundred bucks.”

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  13. The biggest point I take away from K&L blog entries like the one above is that these conversations are mostly/entirely fictional, serving some marketing purpose or the other. Then again, as you know, I am a big fan of Driscoll and so it is possible I credit him with far greater literary skill than I should.

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    • I dunno. I read that blog regularly for entertainment value, and he’s always “quoting” sentiments along those lines. Sure, a lot of it is probably paraphrased & stitched together from multiple episodes, but there’s gotta be plenty of underlying truth to it. What’s their base—Hollywood? San Francisco? Seems plausible. (Says this Midwesterner smugly.)

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      • I confess I don’t read him very often anymore. But my memory is of pretty much every one of these kinds of posts leading directly to something he’s selling. In this case, some guy says snobby thing about Makers Mark, and hey presto, K&L have an excusive Makers Mark cask in right now for the genuine whiskey drinker to buy! What a coincidence!

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      • What’s interesting to me, Jas, is that Driscoll’s voice is the ONLY one that’s allowed ON the blog (comments are always “off” – anyone notice?), so, given Dave’s self justification for lying to his readers (see above, in black and white), NOBODY else’s ability to speak for themselves, and Dave’s complete control of the narrative, there’s absolutely no reason to think that there ISN’T a LOT of lying going on. If you’re reading that blog for entertainment value, then we both know how much faith can be put in it as serious commentary. There’s “gotta” be plenty of “underlying truth” to it? I’d go this far: if there’s any truth to it, it’s gotta be accidental.

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        • I’m not sure that I had any motivation for bringing up this idea here, beyond just making fun chit-chat, but in retrospect I think any response I expected would be along the lines of “yeah, are there really people out there conspicuously hunting trophy bottles just so they can show them off at parties and whatever stupid internet platforms the kids are using these days?” I guess I just expected some camaraderie in my old-man broom-shaking. Instead I get denial that the phenomena actually exists outside of K&L’s fanciful straw-man marketing narrative. Color me surprised.

          And yeah, Jeff, I remember years ago when Driscoll used to allow comments and when he publicly decided to disable them. Too bad. Pin whatever explanation you want on it, but his blog is often provocative (and seemingly popular); the comments section could be a fun place, if it existed. Kinda like the comments section on the old Whisky Advocate blog before that became a boring milquetoast backwater.

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          • Does anyone remember the time on Sku’s blog a couple of years ago when a “customer” commented in defense of Driscoll/K&L and then it turned out the comment had come from within K&L itself? Or something along those lines? I think we were told by Driscoll or the customer that they’d accidentally used each other’s computer or something unlikely like that. I wish I could remember what the post was about so I could find the exchange. Anyway, I bring this up for further context on Driscoll and honesty.

            Jas, I don’t doubt that there are trophy hunters who only want to show off bottles. I just doubt that any of them are making these perfectly scripted utterances that work so well with whatever marketing crap Driscoll is posting at any time. Anyone can claim they overheard anything—how much you trust them depends on how much reason they’ve given you to trust them. Which brings us back to the beginning.

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          • I guess your point, Jas, was that some customers are too demanding (even though I don’t know of anyone who would really expect something unique, much less a trophy bottle, for under $100 – I guess Dave “does”). My point was that, even if that were true, no one could trust Driscoll’s word on it. I think we were both correct. For me, the issue isn’t that the phenomena doesn’t exist, it’s that Dave makes shit up – while you look at it the other way.

            I have a hard time sympathizing with Dave even though, like many who frequent K&L, he’s probably as much of a Driscoll victim as anyone – if his customers are “douchey”, I wonder who made them that way and does Dave really deserve better? His blog may be provocative but, as I tried to point out, above, it also isn’t tied to any particular version of whisky reality – and he feels no need to tell the truth anyway. As it is – without any reader comments permitted to keep him honest- it’s just a one-man flight of sales fantasy

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    • “the longest sequence of comments Jeff has ever made on this blog without mentioning NAS.”

      “the longest sequence of comments Jeff has ever made on ANY blog without mentioning NAS.”
      :)

      We love ya, Jeff.

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      • And I haven’t mentioned it yet, so my record’s still running – but it would be refreshing to see others acknowledge that particular type of marketing is complete nonsense which denies one of the largest and most important aspects of whisky character. If we did see that, maybe we’d also see some more honest products, if not necessarily better ones.

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  14. Who would be so crazy as to try and figure out what David Driscoll thinks or means from day to day?

    I’m just glad this “lost-liter” post didn’t turn out to be another one in which he casually mentions how much/often he drinks to excess.

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  15. I have no reason to believe so but it’s not like there’s no precedent for suspecting such a thing. Those who read Sku’s blog avidly may remember a rather dubious incident some years in the comments on one of his posts. Let me see if I can dredge it up.

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