In last year’s version of this post I noted that 2018 had been the busiest year thus far on the blog by some distance with both page views and the unique visitor count going up over 2017. Well, 2019 was busier still: page views went up by 24% over 2018 and unique visitors rose 13%. The chief interest of those new visitors, however, I suspect was different than in years past. I suspect that 2019 was the year in which this became more of a food than whisky blog, at least from the point of view of the majority of visitors. Yes, there were more food than whisky posts in my year-end top 10 rankings by page views last year as well but in 2019 there was only one whisky post in the top 10 (the perennially popular discussion of Glendronach’s “single cask” shenanigans) and only eight in the top 50! Given that this coincided with the number of unique visitors rising as well, I suspect it’s less the case that the whisky readers have gone away than that there are just a lot more food readers now. For what it’s worth, I still think of this as a whisky and food blog, in that order, and the number of whisky reviews per week/month/year has remained constant for a number of years now. If that’s what you’re most interested in, that’s not going away.
The dramatic rise in interest in the food content can be put down, I think, to two factors. First, the continued support of Mike McGuinness who runs the Twin Cities Metro East Facebook group and who is committed to supporting food bloggers all over the Twin Cities metro. Mike’s support has meant not just more readers for my reviews of East Metro restaurants but of pretty much all my Minnesota reviews. I very much appreciate it. Again, if you live in the Twin Cities metro and are interested in food, you should really join the East Metro group.
The second factor, I am pretty sure, is my increased engagement—both on the blog and on Twitter—with the coverage of Indian food in the American food media. By far my most read post this year was my critique of Saveur’s “Jalebi” disaster. The posts in my “Covering the Coverage of Indian Food” series have also been very popular, or at least highly read. I keep hoping that I’ll have less and less reason to write those posts but, alas, there seems to be an endless supply of material. Here’s hoping that 2020 will be better on that front.
Here now is the list of the top 10 posts by readership in 2019:
- What the Actual Fuck?
- Angry Trout (Grand Marais)
- Pineapple Chutney
- Glendronach Confusion (or What is a Single Cask?)
- On the New and Old Curry Denialism
- Joan’s in the Park
- Against Family
- Dim Sum at Mandarin Kitchen
- A Return to Homi and the Question of Who Makes Money Cooking Mexican Food
- Lao Sze Chuan
One big surprise here and that is the large number of people who read the review of Lao Sze Chuan, which was originally posted in 2018 and didn’t make the top 10 list for that year. The restaurant’s name has changed, by the way, which makes the upsurge in interest all the more surprising. Falling out of the top 10 is my review of Under Bridge Spicy Crab in Hong Kong, another review whose popularity I never understood. Still going strong, however, are not only the Glendronach post but also my pineapple chutney review. I’ve never come across much public discussion or praise of the recipe but the views keep coming. The other restaurant review surprise is the high showing of my write-up of Joan’s in the Park. Sitting just outside the top 10 is my review of the marketing for Priya Krishna’s book, Indian (-ish) and my review of the book itself made it into the top 20 despite having been posted in the middle of December.
Taking the booze posts by themselves, this is what the top 10 looked like:
- Glendronach Confusion (or What is a Single Cask?)
- Vallein Tercinier, Lot 70
- Longrow 18, 2019 Release
- The Secret Islay (The Whisky Shop)
- Les Bidets 35, 1982 (L’Encantada)
- Hazelburn 14, 2004
- Clynelish 23, 1996
- Lagavulin 11, Offerman Edition
- Oban, Distiller’s Edition 2017
- Laphroaig Cairdeas 2018
A couple of surprises here too (The Secret Islay, Oban D.E) but otherwise what we see is a bunch of recent releases plus two brandy reviews that were retweeted by Sku (who keeps raising his advertisement rates, now requiring not one but two jars of lime pickle at a time). No American whiskey in the list but then again I only seem to have reviewed five of them in 2019. I’ll try to up that number this year. I do note that none of those five reviews received as much readership as my post from 2016 on Col E.H. Taylor, Bourbon and the Problem of Tradition.
Any other visitor statistics of interest? Facebook was, by far, the largest source of page views (and presumably visitors). The list of countries from which the most visitors come remained more or less constant. And that list is dominated by the U.S. Very few readers again from South America or Africa—I’d guess that’s true for all but one or two of the biggest whisky blogs.
I suppose I should have some words on the state of whisky in 2019. I don’t have very much to add to what I’ve already said on the blog: there is still very good whisky being made in Scotland (particularly in Campbeltown) but the industry as a whole makes it hard to stay very interested. This may, of course, be a function of the fact that I’m more than a little more jaded now than I was a decade ago but with rising prices and corporate interest in marketing-driven concepts showing no sign of flagging, it’s hard for me to be excited about official releases. And the indies seem also to have largely exhausted the caches of affordable, quality casks that were around through the first half of the decade. Of course, in the US we rarely get the most interesting indie releases anyway; and it’s also the case that it’s harder and harder to have whisky shipped from the UK or the EU. Why then do I keep blogging about whisky? Well, my whisky blogging has always been about tasting notes and so I’ll keep at it till I run out of interesting whiskies to take notes on.
As for words on food, tomorrow I’ll have my usual quarterly list of the Top 5 Twin Cities dishes and I’ll include there some thoughts on my favourite meals and dishes of the year from the Twin Cities and beyond, and on what I am hoping to see in that area in 2020.
Okay, enough navel gazing. Here now is the list of potential reviews for January. Keep in mind that I am about to leave for India for a month. I will not be reviewing whiskies on the trip. So all of these are reviews that I have already written or will have written before I leave. You can help me decide which I post in January and which get pushed to February or even March.
- Ardmore 10, 2009 (Old Particular for K&L)
- Aultmore 21, 1997 (Maltbarn)
- Ardbeg Drum
- Ben Nevis 18, 2001 (Old Particular for K&L)
- Benrinnes 15, 2003 (Old Particular for K&L)
- Black and White, 1940s/1950s
- Blair Athol 21, 1997 (Old Particular for K&L)
- Bowmore 14, 1996 (A.D. Rattray for BevMo)
- Bowmore 21, 1996 (OMC for K&L)
- Brora 25, 7th Annual Release
- Bunnahabhain 18, 2016 Release
- Caol Ila Distillery Excusive, 2017
- The Singleton of Glen Ord 12
- Glen Spey 12, 1999 (Blackadder)
- Glacier Distilling, Swiftcurrent Single Malt
- Lagavulin Jazz Festival, 2017
- Linkwood 1988-2013 (G&M for the Soho Whisky Club)
- Linlithgow 28, 1982 (Mackillop’s Choice)
- Littlemill 29, 1988 (OMC for K&L)
- Longrow 14, 2010 Release
- Park 18, Borderies (Cognac)
- Port Ellen Pe5 (Elements of Islay)
- Tamdhu 19, 1999 (OMC for K&L)
- Yoichi 26, 1987 (SMWS)
As always, if you’re particularly interested in any of these, please write in below. I hope to hear from you more in general in the comments this year.
And thank you all for reading.