The Up’s and Down’s of Tweet Tastings.
Although lost slightly in the @Dewars storm, there was a little more twitter controversy of late, this time regarding “Tweet Tastings”. Don’t know what a “Tweet Tasting” is? Well, let me enlighten you, a “Tweet Tasting” is pretty much what it says on the tin. They are an opportunity for a group of people (on Twitter) to try, at a designated, time, date and hashtag, to try whisky and then write about it, nosing notes, tasting notes, finish etc.
They are sometimes run by the Distilleries themselves, or bottlers, but most often they are run by specialists, with Steve Rush (@TheWhiskyWire), being by the far the most prominent and well known. Alembic Comms Ltd (@alembic_tweets) is another notable company, with some impressive tastings to their name. It’s not only companies that run Tweet Tastings, Whisky Corner were part of a really interesting French Whisky tasting which was personally hosted by Franck Debernardi (@LaCaveDeCobalt). We ourselves hosted a Tweet Tasting, incidentally it’s nowhere near as easy as you may think, although holding it whilst have a club meeting at the same time may have been a bit ambitious (foolhardy), but I digress.
These will generally have been posted about on Twitter by the host a couple of weeks/months in advance, once you register your interest, you hit the fun part, waiting to see if you’ve been picked. If you are one of the lucky ones, you will have the samples sent out to you, sometimes you will know exactly what you are tasting and sometimes you will be going in blind, it’s all part of the fun. You will be notified of the others that have also been chosen and encouraged to all follow each other, you will also be given the hashtag to use within all your tweets. By using the hashtag you ensure that all partaking in the tasting see the notes and anybody who follows along at home, of which there are many. Quite often the Distillery will get involved on the night as well, an excellent example of this, was the quite frankly (in my opinion), amazing Bruichladdich (@Bruichladdich) Tweet Tasting, hosted by Steve Rush (@TheWhiskyWire). Here the team from Laddie actually tasted along with us all from Octomore farm, and it was everything you would want from a tasting and more.
I personally have partook in many Twitter Tastings (and would very much like to partake in some more), not only from my own account but also for @whiskycorner. In fact when I joined Twitter it was one of the very first things I used it for. Tom (@ifotou) had told me about the tastings and also gave me some good ideas of whisky people to follow, and thus I signed up to a tasting and was lucky enough to be chosen. It was genuinely one of the single most exciting things I have ever done, I was very new to both Twitter and any type of tasting, especially with other people that were already so knowledgeable and industry insiders too. I was quite nervous, but it was absolutely fantastic, everyone was so friendly and welcoming, quite often people will identify a note, which then helps others to pick it up too and when that happens there will be favourites, retweets and conversations. Great atmosphere, great knowledge sharing, everything that encompasses the #Whiskyfabric.
It’s a win, win situation, the distilleries get their product out there, tried, tested, recommended, commented about massively, they get to interact with their core clientele, and other whisky insiders, it’s better than paying a lot of money for marketing and advertising, especially as advertising can go so hideously wrong (@Dewars, don’t worry, I’ll let it go one day guys, honest). The tastings are happy, the host is happy, quite often the tastings will be so popular they trend, and the twitter love spreads round the globe, or does it?
Well apparently not, now I can hear you shouting at your computers as I type this, but nope, whisky enthusiasts, happily trying new whisky, talking about it, sharing it, happy distilleries etc, does not an entirely happy “Twittersphere” make. Why ever not, you say……(say it!). There appears to a growing breed of fellow tweeters out there who are not at all happy with Tweet Tastings. I don’t know if it’s jealousy, there are always rumours of tastings being a closed shop, or core tasters. My opinion on that (for what it’s worth) is that there will always be a set “core” of tasters, and this is because they bring with them experience, knowledge, friendliness and reliability, which can help the new, or relatively new, relax and watch the proceedings and comment in their own time, rather than feeling the pressure of setting the pace themselves, however, in my experience there are plenty of opportunities, for the new (or relatively) new to Twitter and/or indeed tasting whisky itself. However this isn’t the recent grumblings.
Apparently there has been a spate of Twitter users unfollowing and even blocking others because they are partaking in Tweet Tastings. The reasons for this, I believe, are primarily that they block up their newsfeed. I agree that on nights where there are tastings my newsfeed will mainly consist of the Tweet Tasting, however I follow a lot of whisky people, I like following Twitter Tastings, whether I am partaking or not. If it gets a little tedious, I stay off Twitter that night, yes folks it is that easy, or (in the words of Limp Bizkit) keep scrolling (okay not the exact words of Limp Bizkit, but what can you do?) I personally would not feel the need to unfollow or even block people because of it. Whatever next, blocking people because they talk football when their team’s playing? (Guilty of tweeting about the mighty Watford myself), or if they talk politics, or a TV show, or Justin Bieber (sorry I just couldn’t bring myself to @ Justin Bieber in anything I write). I personally, I might add, have been unfollowed for less, although at least I wasn’t blocked!
At the end of the day its Twitter, it’s a social media tool, everyone is entitled to an opinion, in fact that’s the point of having an account, you get to tell anyone who is listening what you think about anything you like, people can like it or not, it’s their choice, but just how much does an evening of tweet’s about whisky annoy you that you have to block someone you otherwise wanted to follow? Who are these people? Don’t worry I am not bringing any irony to the table, whomever these people are, they are of course, very entitled to their opinion and it’s just as valid, if not more valid than mine, but really, blocking someone because of a Tweet Tasting!
So at the end of the day, in my very humble opinion, Tweet Tastings are a great thing and long may they continue. I am happy to see the ones I haven’t managed to partake in on my newsfeed and if a day comes that I am not I will simple scroll through them (incidentally should that day come, shoot me, I have nothing left to offer this world).
If you have never tried a Tweet Tasting but would like to, I would definitely say do it, you will learn lots, have fun and meet some great people.
Kirsty Clarke (@kirstypryde1)