Under the Influence?

How blind is blind faith?

Watford FC
Watford FC

Am I going all religious on you?  Well that would depend on your definition of religion I guess.  You could say that when it comes to Watford FC (@WatfordFCSays) I am a fanatic (where else does the word “fan” originate), zealot, I have total and complete blind faith in my team even though I know that we are, on occasion (for occasion read decades) pretty awful but I still support them, always have, always will, regardless.  However, what I won’t do is suggest that everyone immediately switches their allegiance to the might Hornets (free dram for all that do*), or tell you all that we are the best team in the world (we aren’t, sadly).  I also imagine, even if I did, you are not going to agree with me and suddenly develop a passion for Watford above all others. The same is true of my musical, comedic and artistic taste, but would it be true of my whisky taste?  Probably, but if I were a noted expert would it still hold true?

Get where I am going with this article?  And you all thought I had gone on some crazy sugar rush fuelled rant about religion and/or football (for shame).

I am going to tell you that I have had the best whisky in the world, and its Asda Smart price (@asda), will it suddenly sell out everywhere like Old Pulteney 21, no? Why not, what’s the difference?  Ah yes one is just my opinion the other is the opinion of a “noted” expert, and as such sold out pretty much everywhere.

Is this because it really is the “best whisky” in the world (is there such a thing) or more likely that because it has been recommended by an expert (in this case Jim Murray), whisky fans en masse, troop out to the shop, or order online.  If you have a whisky of the year in 2012, will there be a different whisky of the year in 2013? How convenient that there just happens to be, in the space of a year, a brand new, even better whisky.  Cynical, moi?

101 whiskies
101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die

Now don’t get me wrong, I like to hear other people’s opinions on whisky, I like to read blogs, reviews, articles, books, I like it all.  I own a copy of Ian Buxton’s 101 Whiskies to try before you die (@101whiskies), it’s an interesting read, but do I subscribe to it like a bible? No. Do I like every choice? Do I think it’s exhaustive? Is every whisky “one to try before you die”? In my opinion, no, but I wouldn’t imagine for one second that Ian Buxton expects, or even want’s, every single person to read this book (if you’ve not read it you should) and just agree with every choice.

World's best whiskies
World’s Best Whiskies

If you do decide to pick up a copy of this book (go for it, you’ve nothing to lose), read it, if you agree with it wholeheartedly then good for you, but what happens when you pick up The World’s Best Whiskies by Dominic Roskrow (@whiskytasting) (if you haven’t, give it a go) and there’s a difference of opinion between the two books, Ian Buxton’s choice isn’t in Dominic Roskrow’s book.  Whose advice do you take? And why? Is one opinion really more worthy than the other?

Why stop at authors of books, what about respected bloggers?  If Dave Worthington (@whiskydiscovery) or Kat Presley (@whiskydiscovkat) of Whisky Discovery or Miss Whisky (@themisswhisky) or Johanne McInnis (@whiskylassie) (to name but a few) suggest they have a top whisky, should this not inspire a legion of whisky fans to go out and buy all they can find?

Laphroaig 10
Laphroaig 10

Why not the guy sitting in the pub, night after night, sipping a Famous Grouse (@thefamousgrouse), why not the woman at the bar drinking a Laphroaig 10 (@laphroaigwhisky), why not the barman at Wetherspoons, who tells you the “malt of the month” is the best whisky in the world (because he has something to gain maybe?) Is anyone truly impartial?

Still trying to work out if I am pro whisky guides etc or not….?  Well actually, (and this may surprise you) yes, yes I am, but as an interesting piece of reading, to maybe draw my attention to a new whisky or one I maybe haven’t heard of before, to make me want to try it in a bar sometime or to try and peruse a sample, not in a “oh my god, I have to buy it now, I don’t care that it’s two in the morning kind of way”.

I’m not just talking about experts views, but also clever (or not so clever) marketing.  I get that people will have a favourite distillery, I know I do (and no I’m not telling) but I fail to believe that every single expression released from a single distillery is amazing, and that’s ok.  You don’t have to love everything your favourite distillery does (really you don’t). Don’t be afraid to say I love *insert your favourite distillery here* but I don’t really like *insert said bottle here*, stand up now, take a deep breath and shout it loud…1, 2, 3 go!

There, doesn’t that feel better?

Freewill people, a great number have fought and died for the right of the majority of the world (not going on to world politics here, you all know what I mean) to have freewill, so go out and use it.  Have a little faith in your own personal tastes, yes go out there and learn, learn all you can, but try as much whisky as you can, don’t be narrow minded, for once don’t go against the grain (I can wait…..), no snobbery, no blind faith.  Be guided somewhat by the experts, they’re experts for a reason after all, but be your own expert too.

What’s your top ten whiskies? What’s your whisky of 2013, tell people, don’t be shy, in fact comment here, I want to know what your choice is and why.

Have a favourite expert, or author, or distillery, that’s great, really it is, but don’t always just believe the hype, there is not one single person out there that can tell you what YOU like.  Find out for yourself, try the suggested whiskies if you like, take distillery tours, join a whisky club, get some friends together and book a tasting, share samples and have fun, because that’s the whole point of whisky, (well it is for me anyway) I want to share it, debate it, enjoy learning about it but most important drink it.

Don’t be afraid to go against popular opinion, if you don’t like something then don’t say you do, just because an expert rates it. Be yourself (ok, i’m sounding too much like a self help book now, but you get the picture).

So Sláinte to you all, all experts in your own right!

Ps look out for my book next year………..Only kidding

*the dram is virtual, but seriously ‘Mon you ‘Orns

Kirsty Clarke (@kirstypryde1)

4 thoughts on “Under the Influence?”

  1. We had Ian buxton and Charles mclean up at the distillery and they often sign their books that we sell
    Another good blog..well done

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