You know, when I started writing this blog almost six years ago, I thought it would be a casual kind of thing. I’d get inspired, spin off some witty prose, and forget about it until the next stage of my whisky adventure. I named it “The Scotch Noob” because it sounded better than “The Whisky Noob”, and I used a rocks glass instead of a tulip-shaped glass in my logo. (Doh). There were maybe a dozen websites devoted to whisky tasting. A lot has changed since then. Whisky is twice (or three times!) the price that it was, and there are probably twice the number of distilleries around the world. Whisky mania has reached a fever pitch, and the bubble (if it is a bubble) keeps growing. The whisky industry might be changing, but I’m still just as much a newbie as I was when I started this adventure, and I’m sure I always will be one. Not because I’m inexperienced, but because there’s still so much to learn about wood-aged spirits: So many distilleries and expressions to try, so much innovation yet to occur and innovative products yet to be released, and so many chances to re-learn how truly little I know about our favorite drink. Perhaps that’s what originally tempted me to the world of whisky, and what keeps me captivated still: The vast breadth and inexhaustible depth of the possibility space that is whisky.
In that time whisky has seen a worldwide renaissance that has driven droves of new whisky lovers to the hobby and spawned lasting trends that, marching in parallel with similar trends in cocktails, craft spirits and craft beer, have brought (good) whisky fully to the mainstream. I now hear young people at bars calling for specific bourbons in their Old Fashioneds and I spot single-malt flights on menus. I see whiskymakers raised to the level of celebrities, and distilleries – many of which still look like the large industrial factories that they are – planning expansions to handle the overwhelming number of curious tourists that arrive year-round. I see the names of newly-announced and newly-opened distilleries on a weekly basis, and hear the names of old stalwarts on the lips (and on the labels) of characters in modern TV shows and movies.
It hasn’t all been roses, though. In that time I’ve witnessed crass one-upmanship and heard self-serving drivel from the mouths of self-proclaimed whisky aficionados (myself included, I regret to admit). I’ve seen whisky prices climb… and then double. I’ve seen age statements lower, and then drop altogether. I’ve seen favorites dry up on the shelves as they became allocated per retailer, and then waitlisted, and then auctioned off because six bottles per year cannot serve the demand of thousands. I’ve seen large whisky heists make the national news, and short-sighted laws impede innovation. I’ve been frustrated by antique and outdated shipping and retailing laws, and listened to the woes of whisky lovers trapped in states or provinces with government-run liquor stores that didn’t know a Lagavulin from a Laphroaig… and didn’t care.
As a writer, I’ve been attacked on grounds ranging from not caring enough to caring too much about whisky. I’ve been accused of shilling for corporate interests, and of having inferior tastes. I’ve been (virtually) shouted at for disliking a whisky, and for liking one. Then again, I’ve been thanked and complimented more often than I’ve been reviled, and that’s what really matters to me.
Finally, I’ve seen the pageviews on my blog rise from 100 a day to (at the peak) 11,780 in one day. I keep doing this because you people keep coming back to read it, and I will always be grateful to you for that.
Thanks for reading.
-Nathan, the Scotch Noob