Looking Back at 2022


Please join me for a trip into my navel as I look back at 2022 on the blog.

I am approaching the 10th anniversary of the blog (which will be marked in the last week of March ’23). As per my old pal, Sku, you’re supposed to end your blog after 10 years and so I am on the clock. If 2022 ends up being the last full year of the blog [it won’t] then it was a pretty successful year, with the most traffic by far (up by another 10% this year). Where did all that traffic come from and what was read most? Well, one thing I can tell you is that the most popular post of the year in terms of page views was not a booze or restaurant review or a recipe. What was it? Well, let’s take a look at the larger picture first.

Geographically, people came from all over the map. Here, in fact, is the map.

As you can see from the colour shading, the vast majority of the traffic came from the US. India was once again in second place, and now well ahead of the United Kingdom in third place. The rest of the top 10, in order, are: Canada, Germany, Australia, France, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Singapore. Not that there’s huge amounts of traffic coming from countries outside the top 10 but I am pleased anyway with the global reach of the blog. Only sections of West Africa, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, North Korea, Papua New Guinea and Greenland have managed to resist the siren call of my reviews of whiskies released 15 years ago and my looks at immigrant markets in the Twin Cities. I hope they’ll do better in 2023.

In terms of internet sources, most of the traffic is organic: coming from direct links/bookmarks or searches. The vast majority of my referral traffic comes from Facebook, with Twitter a distant second, followed by Pinterest, Instagram, FoodGawker, a few whisky blogs that still link to me and a food forum or two. The Facebook traffic is almost entirely courtesy Twin Cities Metro-centered Facebook groups. The most significant of these is the East Metro group and I continue to thank Mike McGuinness and the group for their support of an unfashionable food blog in the era of TikTok.

What are people reading?

The few people who’ve stuck with me since the beginning know that for the first few years this was almost exclusively a whisky blog. I added restaurant reviews and then regular recipes and it slowly transitioned to being a whisky and food blog. Now, even though I post three whisky and two food posts a week, it is effectively a food blog. By which I mean that the food content is by far the most viewed on the blog. It’s not just that the traffic for the food content has gone up; the traffic for the whisky reviews has dropped a fair bit. As to whether this is because my whisky readership doesn’t like the presence of food on the blog or because whisky blogs in general are in decline or that my readers have finally gotten sick of my output of untimely reviews, I don’t know.

But the fact is that of the top 100 most read posts in 2022, as of midday on December 31, only six were whisky-related. Of these six the top three were not whisky reviews: The Real and Fictional History of Loch Lomond; Glendronach Confusion (or What is a Single Cask?); Col. E.H Taylor, Bourbon and the Problem of Tradition. The three whisky reviews? Springbank 10 (2021 Edition); Highland Park 13, 2006 (Cask of the Forest); The Secret Islay (The Whisky Shop). Here is the list of top 20 most read whisky/booze reviews:

  1. Springbank 10 (2021 Edition)
  2. Highland Park 13, 2006 (Cask of the Forest)
  3. The Secret Islay (The Whisky Shop)
  4. Ballechin 17, 2004 (WhiskySponge)
  5. Lagavulin 12, 2021 Release
  6. Grander Rum 11, Islay Cask Finish
  7. Oban 14
  8. Laphroaig 10, Sherry Oak, 2021 Release
  9. Bowmore 18, Deep & Complex
  10. Longrow 18, 2014 Release
  11. Caol Ila 12, 2008 (Adelphi)
  12. Balvenie 18, PX Finish
  13. Ardbeg 8, “For Discussion”
  14. Bowmore 15, “Golden & Elegant”
  15. Delord 25 (Armagnac)
  16. Kilchoman 9, 2012, Bourbon-Influenced Batch
  17. Unnamed Orkney 14, 2006 (Signatory)
  18. Lagavulin 11, Offerman Edition, Charred Oak
  19. Mortlach 14, Alexander’s Way
  20. Springbank 18, 2021 Release

It seems quite clear that official releases dominate this list, comprising 14 of the 18 whisky reviews. Will this mean I will review mostly official releases in 2023? Probably not. I have nothing against official releases per se but most of what comes my way via bottle splits is independently bottled. I have not accepted samples from importers/distributors/producers for more than 9 years and have no plans to start doing so now. The few full bottles I do buy are mostly official releases but it’s been years now since I’ve bought very many bottles—my focus for the last couple of years has been on drinking my stupid “collection” down and not trying to grow it.

Okay, so what was happening on the food front? Here are the top 20 food posts by views:

  1. A Highly Subjective Ranking of Indian Restaurants in the Twin Cities Metro
  2. Masoor/Mushoor Dal Variations (Recipe)
  3. Mucci’s Italian (St. Paul)
  4. A Guide to Ordering at Grand Szechuan (Bloomington)
  5. Owamni (Minneapolis)
  6. Christmas Lima Beans with Coriander and Roasted Cumin (Recipe)
  7. Tenant VI (Minneapolis)
  8. Ha Tien Supermarket (St. Paul)
  9. Godavari, Finally in Person (Eden Prairie)
  10. Khaluna (Minneapolis)
  11. Eating at Hmong Village, November 2022 (St. Paul)
  12. Myriel (St. Paul)
  13. Twin Cities South Asian Restaurant Rankings, 2022 Update
  14. Estelle (St. Paul)
  15. Pineapple Chutney (Recipe)
  16. The Weekend Buffet at Indian Masala (Maplewood)
  17. Roast Chicken with Indian Spices (Recipe)
  18. Black Beans with Cracked Spices (Recipe)
  19. Kalsada (St. Paul)
  20. Grand Szechuan: The Return (Bloomington)

A special mention is due here of my review of my meal at Bukhara in March, views of which have really shot up in the last couple of months. It missed making the top 20 by just a few views. Restaurant reviews dominate the list. I got yelled at on a Facebook group a fair bit for my review of Owamni, but I also heard backchannel from a fair number of people over the course of the year who were also ambivalent at best about their meals there. Of the recipes, it’s no surprise that a number of bean/legume-related recipes are on there, as the Rancho Gordo Bean Club Facebook group is another whose support I very much appreciate. The perennial popularity of the Pineapple Chutney recipe continues to please and surprise me—the latter because I never actually hear from anyone who has made it. I am also pleased to see that my post about curry denialism is still in the top 50—alas, the relevance of this post does not seem to fade as the years pass.

So, what was the most read post of the year? It was, against all odds, a post about a poem. Well, I suppose it’s tangentially a food and drink post as it was part of my short-lived “More Poems About Food and Drink” series that I started early in the pandemic when I wasn’t sure what I might blog about. The specific post is on Arun Kolatkar’s “Irani Restaurant Bombay“. I would love to put the appeal of this post down to the brilliance of my insights and a resurgence of global interest in poetry but I fear the answer is probably that it is on a university exam list somewhere in India and desperate students are clutching at every internet straw they can as they study.

Alright, so much for 2022—what can you expect in 2023? That look ahead will come tomorrow. I wish you all a festive and safe New Year’s Eve in whatever manner you celebrate it.


 

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