Whisky, food and an indefatigable volunteer force make a former church in Groningen the place to be.
We all like to feel special. We love being pampered and told that we are being rewarded for being… well… us. It is part of the human condition I suppose, a manifestation of our own self worth – our own inflated sense of worth some would argue. Why should we get something just because we exist? That’s one for the psychiatrists among you.
I began musing on this when I read of yet another whisky show which offered a VIP option for attendees. This has become so engrained in shows recently that it hardly raises an eyebrow. Yet what does whisky’s equivalent of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket get you? It could be early entry, it could be food, or access to drams which aren’t available to others. In one case, the VIPs were the only ones to get access to in-depth masterclasses. Any other classes simply showed whiskies which were available on the floor.
By only allowing wealthier visitors access to certain whiskies, shows are creating a divide and preventing the spread of education.
Let’s look at this in more detail. Earlier entry, in simple terms, means you pay more to be able to try more whisky. Why can’t the show simply run for longer so that everyone can get an equal chance? Restricting the time available opens up the real possibility that those who haven’t taken the VIP option will drink more quickly when they do finally get in. Result? Carnage.
It is the access to drams and classes which worries me the most, however. Both are examples of the creeping elitism which is appearing within whisky. This approach quite clearly divides whisky into the haves and the have nots. The monied folks can drink any dram they want; those on a smaller budget have to make do with something else. That isn’t what whisky is about.
A whisky show should be egalitarian, it should be about enjoyment and education. It’s the only opportunity that most people have to try some of the bottlings which they know they cannot afford to buy, but are still interested in.
Restricting classes to VIPs is, however, the most insidious manifestation of this elitist approach because it restricts education to those who can afford to pay for it. Where, I ask you, are the new generation of whisky drinkers going to come from if knowledge is restricted in this way? How can the industry hope to educate bartenders or students, people who are low in budget but high in interest if show organisers refuse to engage?
I’d think twice about attending a show which runs a two-tier system. There are alternatives. There are rooms out there filled with people who want to talk, and share, and celebrate in a spirit of equality. Whisky is for everyone.
- Does ice ruin or improve single malt Scotch?
- How do Sherry casks flavour whisky?
- Booker’s resists Scotch Whisky Bible revival
- Arran releases second Smugglers’ Series malt
- Rare whisky tasting notes: Batch 13
- New whisky tasting notes: Batch 66
- Scotch under the microscope in new TV series
- Masters of Whisky reinstated by Diageo
- New bottler targets Scotch whisky collectors
- New whisky tasting notes: Batch 65
Festivals and events 05 October 2016
Tasting everything from rare old malts to fresh-faced new spirit from the broader whisky world.
Festivals and events 26 January 2016
Heading way out west for the 11th edition of the must-attend event of the Canadian whisky calendar.
Latest news 27 April 2016
Over 25,000 visitors are expected at Speyside’s annual whisky festival this week.
Festivals and events 31 August 2016
The Polish festival upped the ante for its third year with cigars, igloo bars and a rock concert.