Discovering something enjoyable is one thing.
Sharing it with others is quite another.
In our latest blog post we explore the different kinds of pleasure that people access through whisky, and ask the question 'are we focusing on the right things?'
This is as much a personal journey for us as it is a professional one.
Before working in Whisky we were long time whisky lovers, discovering the industry one dram at a time. But now we're creating whisky experiences and putting whiskies out in the world we're thinking back to our own journey and wondering 'what was it that hooked us in?'.
We've been chatting about these ideas a lot the past week as we reflect on the different sorts of enjoyment people get from whisky - and how our first open studio gave us a very different quality of experience from our normal experience.
So much of the discussion in whisky is about what's in the bottle, and ownership of it. For some people, that's what it is all about, which is fine. 'Tasting' is the next level and a big focus of the whole whisky industry. But there's another level that we don't think gets enough consideration - the sharing of whisky with others.
It's a psychological fact that sharing positive experiences with others enhances enjoyment for all parties, and we believe that this somewhat unsurprising fact is key to our love for the category.
We've been reminiscing about our own journey ... Sometimes it was about the special bottle; The hype of a rare release. Other times the incredible taste. sometimes (if we were lucky) both! But there was also this thread of experience that was perhaps more than both of those things and for us, that was the moments shared alongside the 'main thing'. Spending time in the company of good people forming friendships and memories. That's a key component of the blend of things that made us fall in love with whisky... but (told you it was personal) recently we had been feeling that it's not what the world of whisky felt like to us of late. Until, that is, last month when we re-discovered the profound joy within the simple joy of sharing whisky with others on Burns night.
For sure there are reasons we'd maybe forgotten it. The pandemic, getting older (family/ kids) the shifts in socialising that occur as you reach a certain age. But we also think the way Whisky is promoted has changed. Online has re-shaped the overall experience - the very definition of sharing has evolved. But we want to pause for a second and ask if it is in a good way?
Most people don't need to be told about the relative fragility of the joy obtained from online interactions. We know how it all works, yet feel powerless to protect ourselves from it. We're as guilty as anyone! Yet it feels that the whisky industry is fuelling a transition to a status quo where simply owning a bottle, or sharing bottle shots is an end in itself. Tasting is still heralded as the key to the enjoyment of whisky but we'd argue the focus is shifting away even from that in some parts of the industry.
We watched one whisky company send a high end bottle out to influencers who were instructed to use it for content and then send it back - unopened. Our desires and definitions on what makes a good whisky experiences are influenced by these behaviours... and for me the fact that taste was not seen as part of the story is a depressing scenario. The fact that both parties saw value in this also scares me. And so this blog post is a counterpoint to this sort of culture that now pervades the industry.
To wrap up the thinking that has surfaced the last few weeks as we delve into our own experiences of whisky over the past two decades is not easy. But it centres around the levels of enjoyment and the focus the industry puts on each.
The sharing of whisky is the least focused on, but in our experience the part that yields the greatest about of happiness or enjoyment. Tasting is great and for sure trumps simply owning bottles that are never opened. We've started thinking about the effort we put into tracking down bottles or setting up tastings (which sometimes involve sharing). But we also feel as a whisky company it's our duty to ensure that our content offers people inspiration on ways to unlock this highest level of whisky enjoyment. If we can inspire poeple to put as much effort into creating those shared moments as they do tracking down the most desirable bottle then we're sure that many more people will discover the true joys of whisky. And that's a great thing.
There are always other bottles you could own - but the experiences you can create in the sharing of even less-than-perfect whisky moments are each truly unique, and in today's world increasingly precious. We believe in the idea that if people put the same effort into the creation of these moments as they did tracking down the rare bottles they've seen on the internet a whole new plane of enjoyment could be opened up.
That's why we want to bring people together to open a few bottles and share some drams. Because they are the truly priceless whisky experiences that are so much more easily within grasp than we often think. Which is for us, why whisky is truly magical.
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