Whisky Advocate

Irish whiskey article blunders continue

March 17th, 2008

As all the Irish whiskey companies clock in the overtime hours leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, so do the writers for newspapers and magazines around the country. Writers end up writing stories about Irish whiskey and know very little about the subject, which leads to errors in the articles that are published.

Most of the times, the mistakes are minor and I ignore them. If the author is smart, he or she will quote an expert who knows whiskey.

So it was with the author in Wisconcin’s Capital Times newspaper today, in an article titled, “Here’s what sets Irish whiskeys apart.” The expert the author quotes is David Drake, Bar Manager of Madison’s Brocach Irish Pub & Restaurant and “resident Irish whiskey expert.” I guess the author was using the “Irish whiskey expert” phrase loosely.  I will include only one paragraph of the article:

“Scotch whiskys are fermented over peat fires in open-top casks, which enables the peat smoke to permeate the liquid,” says Drake. “Irish whiskeys, most of which are blends, are always distilled in closed containers. This keeps out the flavor of smoke, and a triple-distillation process adds greater smoothness and refinement to Irish whiskeys.”

This kind of writing only alienates the consumer. When that happens, nobody wins. If you would like to be entertained by the whole story, here’s the link:

http://www.madison.com/tct/entertainment/277414

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.

10 Responses to “Irish whiskey article blunders continue”

  1. David S. says:

    I think this paragraph at the end of the article was my favorite.

    “The fiercely independent Cooley Distillery does its most interesting work with Murray McDavid 1992 Single Malt Irish Whiskey ($12). Murray McDavid is perhaps better known as a scotch distiller that maintains an unusual relationship with Cooley, whom they allow to take a preferred stock every so often and convert it to Irish whiskey. Cooley took a particular interest in the scotch distilled in 1992 — note the vintage date and not the age — and converted it to their usual one-of-a-kind product.”

  2. John Hansell says:

    Yes, that one is just as good as the paragraph I posted. Reading it a second time, I actually think your paragraph is even better.

    When my parents took me to church when I was a kid, I heard the stories of turning water into wine. But, I’ve never before knew that Cooley (or anyone else for that matter) could turn scotch into Irish whiskey. I was at Cooley last year and they didn’t even mention it to me. Amazing! ;)

  3. Di Blasi, Jonathan says:

    Ha ha, nice post there John, glad you did and reading the full article makes me realize why whisk(e)y continues to be one of the big mysteries in life! When “resident experts” don’t even know there stuff, it’s good you clearly know yours to help clear it all up. But of course, how many people will read more than what they deem as truth from a local paper? Sad actually authoritative figures continue to shroud and confuse whisk(e)y. Now I also better understand why people think it’s the smoky barrel that gives the whisky that funny smell! Let us know the response from “the resident expert” and confused journalist when you clear things up for them! All the best!!

  4. sam k says:

    Yowzah! That’s some fine journalism at work there, John, and I appreciate your putting the pretenders on the pillory. What a bunch of hooey! The Murray McDavid reference is priceless. And only $12!

  5. John Hansell says:

    I really am surprized that a publication that big could allow a story with that many mistakes. You have to work really hard to put that many blunders in a small article like that.

    I tried to find the author on the newspaper’s website to offer some comments, but I was not able to find him. He might have been a freelancer.

  6. JC Skinner says:

    Jesus wept! Writing drivel like that ought to be a sacking offence. Whatever happened to fact-checking in American journalism?

  7. BourbonbarrelTom says:

    Unbelievable I will go there personally and set both these fools straight. We in the world of fine spirit appreciation really need to see that the papers near us all know who to send their pens to when inspired to write about our favorite lingual delights, otherwise tripe like this keeps fools in the majority.
    TG

  8. John Hansell says:

    Thank you for helping to fight the good fight. –John

  9. David Drake says:

    Dear Mr. Hansell,

    I write to inform you and those reading your blog that many of my verbal comments were not represented accurately in the text of the article in question, and I informed the author of several of these mistakes as soon as I read the column. I take pride in product knowledge and am passionate about the craft, folklore and ritual of fermentation. As the bar manager, I represent Brocach and want to set the record straight for myself, and for the excellent and extremely high functioning Irish Pub to which I am fiercely loyal. I take an academic approach to our products, and lead trainings and tastings for a staff of 40. While I can appreciate and share the enthusiasm some of your readers have for Scotch and Irish Whiskey, I think that several of those contributing this blog show poor judgment in casting smug insults which serve only to support the misconception that high quality products belong solely in the realm of pretentious aesthetes. If their goal is to alienate people who might otherwise appreciate these things, they have succeeded.

    As for Malt Advocate – a great publication. I read it regularly at the local cigar bar.

    David Drake

  10. John Hansell says:

    David,

    Thank you for responding. I, too, have been victom of an author’s bad judgement, and understand where you’re coming from. The author never should have published that article without fact-checking it with you or someone else.

    Pretentious is something we don’t want to come across as being, that’s for sure. –John

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