I’m Published!

I’m published! That’s right. Yours truly, the Scotch Noob, enjoys page 14 billing in the Fall 2011 issue of The Whisky Advocate (the artist formerly known as Malt Advocate). Ok, so it’s a letter to the editor, and I sound a bit pompous and like I have no sense of humor, but I’m still psyched! There’s my name and the URL of my blog right there in the magazine. Heady stuff.

I figured I’d take this opportunity to expound upon the views that landed me in this month’s issue. Even if you haven’t read Terry Sullivan’s piece “The Blogger Menace” from the Summer 2011 issue, I can summarize it for you pretty quick: he gets a few quick laughs at the expense of us talentless hacks in the blogosphere, who are taking his livelihood and giving it away for free on the Internet. Yes, it was meant to be funny and I apparently can’t take a joke. Here’s my (published! squee!) rebuttal:

Dear John, I’m lapping up the current issue of Malt Advocate – congrats on 20 years! Great stuff as always, and I particularly like some of the new illustrations. Very eye-catching. I just read “The Blogger Menace,” by Terry Sullivan. Ouch. I feel like I should misspell and mispunctuate a few times in this email in order to live down to Mr. Sullivan’s expectations. To him, I’d like to say that I believe that “professionals” and amateurs can coexist in an industry where there is so much to talk about. I’d also like to remind him that we both have similar goals: to use our experience to entertain and enlighten those lovers of brown spirits who are willing to read our opinions. Whether or not he gets paid for those opinions is his problem, I think, not ours. Finally, an analogy: should the small-time craft distiller (or brewer, or winemaker) just give up his or her passion because the stuck-in-the-mud “professional” industrial big dogs wail about infringement on their turf, or is it possible that their coexistence might be good for the industry as a whole? Yours, Nathan Keeney scotchnoob.com

Ok, so I may have been a bit bitter at the time. My points, I think, stand. In any industry, an ‘old guard’ of seasoned professionals is likely to emerge, which feels encroached upon by start-up, amateur, out-of-the-box thinkers that threaten to unseat it. (I don’t count myself among those start-ups, by the way, I just talk about whisky online – I don’t even get advertising revenue.) This pressure on the professionals to stay relevant – to keep up their game – can only be good for the end consumers and the quality of the product (whatever it is). Imagine a world where all of the Scotch distilleries were owned by one company, and no independent distillers stood up to challenge that company’s dominance, instead choosing to sell their handcrafted spirits to the aforementioned giant… for blending purposes. Is that a world you’d want to live in? It certainly didn’t work out too well for the Irish. *duck*

I understand that Terry’s column was meant to be funny. He certainly has a way with words. However as a writer of “unedited digital drivel” myself, I don’t relish being the butt of this particular joke. For more on the subject, see David Driscoll’s – K&L’s Spirits Buyer – take on this specific issue here. Have an opinion? Feel free to weigh in below by submitting a comment.

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  • Well spoken, Nathan. You don’t sound a bit bitter or pompous ;). I, for one, am a huge fan of your site and several other “unprofessional” bloggers around the interwebs. What good is it for me to wait around an entire month for some snob of a scotch critic to finally wake from his stupor and belch out a 5 sentence review of a $250 bottle of rare whisky that can only be bought in Hong Kong? I want to know what my friends (that’d be you) and neighbors think about the myriad of scotch that lines the shelves at my local store! Show me one single paid blogger that is willing to review bottom shelf blends, or NAS pedestrian single malts.

    You da man! And don’t you forget it. I look forward to your posts with great anticipation.

    P.S. you really should get some ads on the site. You deserve to be paid for your work.

    • Sal, Thanks very much for your kind words. I do this for the fun of it (and maybe a free sample here and there), and because I love whisky and love sharing my opinions about whisky. I’ve thought about ads, but I plan to wait until I have a certain level of traffic to really consider them. Plus, if I were getting “paid”, I’d feel a lot more guilty about missing weekly deadlines! 🙂

  • Nice piece, Scotch Noob! I also agree with Sal that I like to read reviews by average people of bottles that are available in my liquor store. I also read professional blogs like John Hansell’s, but they really are different animals and serve different functions. Honestly, I would not have the passion I do for whisky if not for the great amateur bloggers like yourself and Jason over at Jason’s Scotch Whisky Reviews!

    Also I think that most consumers are discerning enough to see through any amateur bloggers out there unrightfully bashing some particular spirit. I know I have bought bottles of whisky despite some of my favorite bloggers not liking them! So, I really don’t see why the professionals need to be threatened. Even if the article was a joke, there’s always some truth to every joke!

  • Excellent piece, Nathan. On one level, it’s gratifying that Terry Sullivan and others like him appear to think amateur whisky bloggers have such influence! As other commenters have noticed, though, to perceive bloggers (particularly individual bloggers) as a threat is to do a gross disservice to the intelligence of consumers with even an average interest in whisky – and I think we can assume that people willing to spend time reading amateur whisky blogs have a greater than average interest!

    Excellent blog, by the way – for some reason I’ve only just come across it. I really admire your prose style: more whisky blogs should adopt such an unpretentious, gentle wit (to which I can only aspire!).

    • Thanks Josh! I really like the visual style and layout of your blog – every page is individually beautiful – and it makes me wish I had more time (and talent!) to spend on style. I’m looking forward to reading through your archive as well. Cheers!

  • As you know, technically you are already published by virte of this blog. The difference, of course, between you and The Whisky Advocate is that you are not mainstream media . . . yet. Your writing is good. Surprisingly, some leading whisky critics are more technocrats in the sense they are very knowledgeable about the intricacies of whisky production (wood management, still operaion, etc.), but are actually fairly boring or middle of the road writers at best. They are published because they have been in the game longer than you and were there at the right time and place.

    I am sure that if you submitted an unsolicited article on a new release, with an interesting angle, without expecting payment, you might be pleasantly surprised to see yourself in print, and not in the letters to the editor section.