Whisky Advocate

Next week: Things that piss me off!

September 24th, 2010

I have decided that next week on WDJK will be “Things that piss me off” week.

For those of you who know me, you know that I try my best to be a nice guy. I do my best to avoid conflict. Life is just too short to make a big deal about petty bullshit.

However, there are several things that (maybe) don’t go as far as pissing me off, but they really are bothering me. Some deal with issues going on in the whisky business that shouldn’t be going on–things that I think just aren’t fair, and it’s time I told you what they are.

Others deal with statements that other people have made, and you may or may not agree with me. But we can get a discussion going and debate each topic.

I will put up one post each day, for five days straight. And yes, my posts will be very specific. They will address various whisky brands, whisky companies, and maybe even a whisky writer.

I’ll see you on Monday.

67 Responses to “Next week: Things that piss me off!”

  1. James says:

    This should be good–looking forward to it!

  2. Marc says:

    Go John! Do what you have to do. Looking forward to your posts and the discussions that follows. John, the champion of the whisky people, Hansell!

  3. DavindeK says:

    Oh boy! hold onto your hats!

  4. John Hansell says:

    If I’m still alive–and employed–by the end of the week, we’ll celebrate with a dram.

  5. Tim F says:

    Looking forward to this. There’s too much bland content and general inanity in whisky writing at the moment. This should be a lively debate. I wish more poeple would say what they really think.

  6. Tim F says:

    Obviously, that should say ‘people’ and I’d like to clarify that I while hate it when folk are controversial for the sake of it, I welcome a bit more straight-talking from people such as John who have both a clear voice and a good audience. I’m expecting fireworks.

  7. Kevin says:

    I’m guessing we’ll see some record setting comments sections on the upcoming posts – looking forward to it!

  8. Scribe says:

    John, I am grateful that this sentence — “(My posts will) address various whisky brands, whisky companies, and maybe even a whisky writer.” — did not include these words at the end: “…and those who comment on my blog!” 🙂

    Should be a good week!

  9. Michael says:

    Looking forward to it!
    By the way, what started to upset me are the prices some stores charge for older or “discontinued” whiskes. They are even much higher that the ones at auctions.

  10. Gllaguno says:

    Wow! Those are big… b@… ideas!! This should clearly express the feeling of whisky drinkers around the world about prices, marketing strategies and the disappointment with certain products and unlawful practices of the industrie. i’m sure some people are going to get angry, but “truth shall prevail”, I think the point of John is to show who needs to correct their way according to the views of their own clients.

  11. B.J. Reed says:

    Oh, this should be lots of fun!

  12. Barry Jay says:

    Now this a great idea. In our world of political correctness, so few really tell it like it is…after all, we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Sometimes, we all need a swift kick in the you know what to shake things up. You’re a respected man in your industry and those of us who had the pleasure to speak with you in person, we know you don’t say anything in haste. Actually, I find your insight and sense of reality quite fun! And that’s before a few drams….

  13. John,
    I know that you are a real compassionate kind of guy.
    I like to talk straight too, but sometimes we have to “bite our tongues” !!
    I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
    Let the debate roll!

    • I got no tongue left 🙂

      Looks like an interesting read next week. Wonder if the thing that annoys me most will be on the John’s list as well. Time will tell 🙂

      Us whiskyentusiast can be very passionate about our hobby. I just wonder what things can move someone in the catagory of being pissed off :-), which I grade as worse than being annoyed!


      • John Hansell says:

        “Annoyance” is probably a better word (and more appropriate) than “pissed off”, but the latter sure is a better attention-grabber. 🙂

      • Oh My, just as I wrote this something happened whiskywise that really pissed me off 🙂


        (I probably come back to it later, I think I wait a week until John posted his, this weekend it wouldnt pass censorship anyway)

  14. Joshua says:

    SHould make for a very interesting week, John! Looking forward to reading!

  15. Paul M says:

    Do your best to be eloquent and diplomatic. Take the weekend, and a few drams, to get your thought together. You’ve set up rules and guidelines with this blog to not use any foul language, among others, for all of us to follow.

    With that in mind, I am looking forward to your rants!

  16. Lavinia Turnbull says:

    Haha….should be fun…I know there are certainly some things that get my goat 🙂

  17. It’s always good to be outspoken, diplomacy notwithstanding. Biting your tounge for too long will eventually hurt 😉

  18. Henry H. says:

    Whoa, a Friday cliffhanger. Thank goodness we have to wait only until Monday rather than next season! In all seriousness, John, we’ll look forward to some straight talk.

  19. Mark C says:

    Yeeha! I’m buckled in. This should be great reading.

  20. C57 says:

    Looking forward to this.
    @Tim F – I agree we need some more straight talkers. I found a couple (JH was one of them ) in Beer Hunter Whisky Chaser – Ian Buxton was another.
    Tthese guys have influence and their candid comments need to be heard.

    Cheers John

  21. MrTH says:

    Holy cr@p! I picked a bad week to stay in a B&B with no wi-fi. Hopefully I can catch up somewhere!

  22. Red_Arremer says:


  23. Tanguy says:

    Not sure what you are going to talk about but you sure have already started the process.! I need a shot of Bourbon at once, not a dram of Scott Whisky, so let see if that will get you going. You just don’t know what you are in for!!
    The Cowbo Way!

  24. Tanguy says:

    By the way, we just came back from the Bourbon Festival in Bardstown Kentucky ! So we are all pumped up about BOURBON

  25. Texas says:

    Wow, sure wasn’t expecting this. Next week will be interesting.

  26. Jason Pyle says:

    Wow, hell of a setup. Can’t wait for Monday. Keep it juicy John!

  27. Chap says:

    Oh dear. Good luck and we’ll make bail, I suppose…

  28. Chris S. says:

    I really can’t wait for this! Go John, let it all out. A man has to have “big balls” (to use an old AC/DC song title) to do such a thing and it seems you have them.

  29. Thomas W says:

    Bring it on! Can’t wait!

  30. lucky says:

    This is going to be fun! I’m hoping some of the apparent lies told by Rum manufacturers and importers are one of the things that piss you off.

  31. Willie says:

    This is a really well executed manoeuvre John. Now everyone is listening. I can’t wait 🙂

  32. sam k says:

    I’m not sure if I’ll be able to sleep for the rest of the weekend.

  33. […] I have so much rattling around in my brain right now, I’m putting up this bonus weekend post before my evil twin takes over on Monday. […]

  34. H.Diaz says:

    First time I’ve seen the word “bullshit” on our favorite blog. I love it.

    We don’t normally read about the business side of things here, something I’ve always been curious about.

    If we, the whisky buying public, are being ripped-off and/or treated unfairly, someone should let us know. Thanks John.

  35. I_SPEY says:

    Promising, can’t wait any longer, John!

  36. Ryan says:

    Life is too short for petty bullshit, but some bullshit just isn’t petty… like how most WDJK readers are already suspicious of that ever-thinning gray line between some whisk(e)y reviewers and whisk(e)y industry marketing. We are tired of the commoditization of whisk(e)y, and of the never-ending parade of look-alike/taste-alike imitative products being marketed to us as epic classics. Tired of guerilla artificial scarcity rumors. Tired of continually watching industry players pick favorites and make business alliances with no intention of improving their products for consumers, but with every intention of financially helping themselves and hurting others. And tired of being kept in the dark about how global climate change issues are effecting the whisk(e)y industry by making it, “a hotbed of innovation for the adoption of renewable and low-energy technologies,” but hardly any such innovations–or their effects on whisk(e)y production–are ever related to consumers. In short, most WDJK readers already suspect there is a whole lotta bullshit going on in the business of Whisk(e)y, and we are hungry for folks inside the whisk(e)y cosmos (like yourself) enlighten us openly and honestly. One week probably isn’t enough!

    • Henry H. says:

      Obviously, liquids containing ethanol have been commodities since someone realized they have trade value. Yet I am extremely interested in the DETAILS behind what you’ve written. Who, what , when, where? (Sadly, we already have the answer to ‘why?’) Ryan, please elaborate. And John, please encourage – rather than constrain – a long discussion of these details as ‘Pissed Week’ unfolds. Thanks.

      • Ryan says:

        My gripe is with branding, not the seedy mechanics of manipulating supply-and-demand. Of course there will always be motivation for maximum profit, but several rings down the inferno are an unrepentant multitude of commoditizers whom conflate mediocre, interchangeable products with innovation and/or prestige; and whom shamelessly co-opt “experts” into product placements disguised as credible reviews… or worse. Examples abound. I have no problem with folks making money, so long as they make it manufacturing more whisk(e)y than bullshit.

        • Henry H. says:

          Thanks Ryan. I certainly agree, yet I’m hoping we can get to naming names among the examples that abound. As a relative newbie, I’m betting I can be fooled some of the time by the slick marketing. Hope to read some very specific opinions about all this during the upcoming week.

  37. Michael says:

    One thing we quite ofter forget is that those who started distilling whisky in 18th and 19th century were not doing it for anything but money. Greed was a motivator then and it is now. I am afraid that it is only us who want to see something pure and unique in this business, we are interested in.

    • That’s quite true indeed. The whole Scotch whisky industry is based on the worldwide distribution of cheap blends. That weird single malt stuff came much much later, and sometimes it looks like especially Diageo are still somewhat suprised by their popularity.

      • JohnM says:

        Yes, and the Scotch whisky industry bought up and closed down Irish distilleries… The industry hasn’t just become this way over night.

        • Willie says:

          True indeed. Nevertheless there is no reason why consumers should have to put up with misleading information designed only to extract their cash in exchange for inferior products. To expose BS is not the dark side, at least as far as the consumer is concerned.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      And whisky started as a for profit industry, without scruples, based on greed.

      And civilization in cities and nations started as pure militarist racketeering on a grand scale. And effective fire departments as a mandatory free public service started when fires in impoverished areas of London spread to wealthy areas.

      But origin isn’t essence and whisky isn’t essentially a commodity shuffled around by stuffed suits.

      And civilization isn’t basically a racket.

      And your local fire department isn’t just a convenience for the rich.

  38. Luke says:

    John, Let’s hear it – good and hard!

  39. two-bit cowboy says:


    I appreciate the level-headed mediator in you, even when I disagree. Unlike many, I can’t say I look forward to seeing the dark side here.

    Steady she goes, mate.

  40. Sean says:

    John, I really hope you discuss whisky pricing in the US. How can Laph 18 be $75 in Texas or Minnesota and $120+ in Arizona or California? Or how some higher end bottlings get huge price increases here over the UK but our entry level bottles are even cheaper than buying it in the UK?

    • Michael says:

      I have been asking the same question for ages. No one even attempted to explain.

      • Red_Arremer says:

        What’s the best thing I can do for themselves with the stuff their moving? What’s the most I can charge? The biggest deal I can get? The most I can move? The most generous I can be to an important business relation who’s?

        These questions come up at every level of production/distribution and they’re answered differently based on the different circumstances of the entities involved. So prices vary a lot from place to place. We might often be pissed off if we knew the decision making process, which resulted in a given price variation.

        • Sean says:


          Plus I think we get screwed by not being able to buy it straight from the distillery as that is a price control. If you live in london, and TWE is selling HP 12 for 10 pounds more than the distillery you just order it from the distillery. That helps control the price as the whisky shops can’t mark it up as much.

    • Lawrence says:

      Do think that the price variation might have something to do with the different levels of taxation of spirits from state to state?

      • Michael says:

        Taxes do not apply differently to low and high end products.

        • Lawrence says:

          It depends on the jurisdiction. Where I live it certainly is true.

          In the jurisdiction next door to where I live it is not the case at all, same level of taxation whether it’s $25 bottle or a $5000 bottle.

          However there is more margin for the manufacturer of a Rolls Royce than a Lada. So I agree on that point.

    • mongo says:

      sean, i thought you’d like to know that the laph 18 is available for $45 at one minneapolis store….$65 at most others.

      • Michael says:

        …and this $45 price for Laphroaig 18YO definitely contributes to my frustration about whisky market. I cannot even begin to understand how this could be 🙂

      • Erik M says:

        Wow! Which store in Minneapolis? It’d be well worth the drive time for me

    • Tanguy says:

      Depending on how many bottles were released in a State, often retailers speculate on the products. I have experience that in Michigan many times with Limited Edition Bourbon are sold for much higher than normal release prices in other States.

      • Michael says:

        Can one import alcohol to Michigan? I thought that there is a state monopoly there (like in Ontario, Canada where I am). In jurisdictions like these you can set any prices, you want.

        • Tanguy says:

          It is not a State monopoly as in Ontario. The State decides which products can be sold and which one are not necessary in the market, then the normal private distribution takes care of the process. Consquently we are missing half the products available in other free markets such as Illinois for instance. These strick laws are a residu of the prohibition time when our friends from Windsor where pouring illegal booze (H. Walker) across the river into Detroit.

          • Michael says:

            What I meant to say was that if whiskey could be privately imported to Michigan then prices would have to fall down. By the way, there is always a way to do private import. I even have whisky sent to my Ontario address.

  41. […] as mentioned in an earlier post and now the editor of Malt Advocate magazine, John Hansell, is letting us into the darker corners of his brain where the little niggles live. These niggles eventually grow up and get too big meaning they need […]

  42. […] suppose this could be a continuation of the “Things that piss me off“  posts from a few weeks ago. While I’m normally a mild-mannered individual, there […]

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