The first day of the month is usually the day I look ahead to the coming month, present a long list of potential whisky reviews and ask for help shortening that list down. I can’t do that this month. This is not because I am joining the group of whisky bloggers who are reconsidering blogging about whisky (more on this below), but because I am not able to confidently predict when my nose will be back in action. If you’ve been following the blog in the last few weeks you know that my nose has been stuffed up—at first I thought it was a by-product of viral bronchitis, then I thought it was a sinus infection, now I think it might have to do with tree pollen, which there is a lot more of (by several orders of magnitude) at our new house than there was around the old. I have normal days (on one of which recent ones I wrote up the Glenfarclas 30) but they’re not followed reliably by other normal days (yesterday was off again, today seems on so far). For someone whose life revolves as much around food and drink as mine does this is a rather unnerving state of affairs and I’m in a state of ongoing low-grade panic about it.
On the plus side (well, for me anyway) it has led to my finally writing again about books and I’ll be doing more of that, even if/when my nose gets back to reviewing strength on a consistent basis. My intention there is to stick with writers from South Asia and the Caribbean (and maybe Africa as well) who are not very well-known in the US—so if you’re one of those who were impatient with my reviews of obscure whiskies you’ll be able to transfer that impatience easily to these new posts.
And now for the larger question raised by Sku and elaborated by others (see here and here): does whisky blogging make sense in this era of overpriced whisky? In a self-serving way, I’d suggest that whisky blogging that maintains its independence and distance from the industry and its agendas will always have a space. I do think bloggers need to think more critically about the question of who their activity serves. At some level it’s true that any blogging about whisky keeps talk and hype about whisky going, at a time when that hype is leading to inflated prices and bogus stories about NAS whisky; but it may be possible to do so with a sceptical eye; and bloggers who are willing to acknowledge what has been true for some time now—that the interests of regular drinkers are increasingly at odds with the interests of the industry as a whole—can provide a service.
But I think bloggers do have to choose a side. Maybe spend less time buddying up to industry figures, as nice as some of them doubtless are in person; rely less on marketing spiel and interviews with and quotes from brand ambassadors and the like; spend less time repeating/extending the stories the industry tells about itself; spend more time considering the whisky in the glass, considering its value and casting a cold eye on the way it is sold. (And certainly praise those in the industry who buck its increasingly cynical ways—again, as a whole.)
At any rate, if/when my nose is back to normal I will be continuing to review whiskies just as I’ve been doing for the last three and a half years. Rather than post a new list I’ll hope to catch up with May’s list later this month. Or maybe I’ll just review Sku’s blog posts. There’s certainly far greater interest in my posts about Sku than in my whisky reviews: my post making fun of him was by some distance the most read post on the blog in May (insert emoji of me shaking my fist in the direction of Koreatown, L.A.).