Whisky Advocate

Special Announcement: follow my real-time whisky reviews on Twitter

August 18th, 2009

Beginning this week, I will be starting something new. I will be reviewing whiskies “real time” on Twitter. Now you can get my impressions (and rating) of a whisky the very moment I taste it.

Nothing will change in the way I review whiskies. I will still review them in my “tasting room”, using the same glassware, at the same time, etc. The only difference is, instead of typing my review into my Word document, I’ll be typing it on Twitter.

Each review will begin with a photo of what I’m about to review, followed by additional tweets as I nose and taste the whisky. The review will end with my formal rating of the whisky, which will eventually appear on my blog and in Malt Advocate. Other than the possibility of minor formatting to convert my tweets into the structure of my magazine reviews, the tasting notes, and ratings will be identical.

At the beginning of each week, I will announce a schedule of the whiskies I’m going to review that week, along with the dates and times of the review. If you want to follow along, all you need to do is get a Twitter account and sign up to follow me. It’s really very easy. Several hundred of you are already following me. The other nice thing is that you can also chime in after my review and exchange comments with other people following me and reading my review.

This idea came to me over the weekend, while I was at the Buffalo Trace distillery. I tweeted during a media lunch with CEO Mark Brown, while tasting new Buffalo Trace whiskeys later that afternoon, and also during Elmer T. Lee’s 90th Birthday Party that evening. For those of you who didn’t have the good fortune of being invited to these events, my tweets were the next best thing. And judging by your comments on Twitter, you really enjoyed this. I’m now going to apply this same concept to other things that I do, like when I review whiskies.

There’s also another benefit to this besides “being there with me” when I review whiskies real-time. These days, the really “hot” whiskies often sell out on-line or at retailers very quickly. The sooner you can be informed, the better. And there’s no faster way to get my reviews than real-time.

So, here’s my schedule for this week. All reviews this week will begin promptly at 4pm, Eastern Standard Time.  This week, I will focus on three new American whiskeys of great interest to bourbon and rye enthusiasts:

Wednesday, August 19th: Jefferson’s Presidential Select 17 yr.

Thursday, August 20th: Four Roses Mariage Collection, 2009 release

Friday, August 21st: Rittenhouse Rye, 25 year old, single barrel

Give it a try. Get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, include me as one of the people you are following (@JohnHansell), catch my reviews and join in on the discussion aftewards if you want to.

P.S. If you don’t want to follow me on Twitter, you can still see my most recent tweets on the right sidebar of this blog. I’m not sure how fast the link works, but it shouldn’t take too long.

21 Responses to “Special Announcement: follow my real-time whisky reviews on Twitter”

  1. WhiskyNotes says:

    To be honest, I’m not sure about the added value of reading a review in real time and having to puzzle it together myself (lazy me, sorry). It’s like reading a book one sentence at a time, with 5 minutes breaks.

    Well, maybe I’m not really into Twitter after all…

  2. John Hansell says:

    Maybe you’re not…yet. And if that’s not your thing, that’s fine by me.

    And I realize that some of you probably think that I’m beginning to lose my sanity. That’s okay too.

  3. Kevin says:

    I for one am looking forward to this! Thanks!!

  4. Tanguy says:

    Just a great idea, looking forward to follow you on the 3 next tasting.

  5. WHISKYhost says:

    I think if this is done right it has the potential to be very, very interesting. Like Kevin and Tanguy I’m looking forward to this.

  6. Sku says:

    Will these reviews also be posted on this page under the “My recent tweets” heading?

  7. John Hansell says:

    Sku, yes, I have expanded the link on the sidebar to include my five most recent Tweets. I shouldn’t need more than five tweets to review one whisky. I’m going to go and add this information to my posting above. Thanks for reminding me.

    So, one alternative to following me on Twitter is simply to look at my “Recent Tweets” on the right sidebar.

  8. Harvey Fry says:

    from simply nationwide to the whole wide world & NOW: THE GALAXY & BEYOND!

    from faster than a speeding bullet to inter-continental in your face & NOW:
    REAL TIME DANCING ON THE DIME!

    too bad you didn’t think of it BEFORE GLEN WONKA WAS ALL SOLD OUT!

    i feel so left out= maybe i’m gonna have to spring for a cell phone^

    GREAT IDEA, JOHN

  9. John Hansell says:

    Thanks everyone. We’ll see how it goes. Should be fun.

  10. Dutch says:

    I do follow your tweets, but I am not able to get the pictures, I guess you need a web enabled phone for that, and that’s out of the budget right now.
    Following in real time has no advantage that I can see, all our liquor is sold to the retailers by the state (Michigan), and it takes a while for them to get anything new in. But I’m going to give it a go and see how it works out.

  11. John Hansell says:

    I’ve been thinking about the structure of the review on Twitter. I’ll probably break it into segements, similar to the way I write my reviews:

    1)First tweet: The details of the whisky (name, age, strength, price, etc., along with a picture.)

    2)Second tweet: General comments about the whisky being tasted (uniqueness, special qualities, etc.). I will probably start my tasting notes here too

    3)Thirt tweet: Continuing and concluding with the tastings notes

    4)Fourth tweet: Overall opinion and rating

    So the plan is to keep it to four tweets, organized this way. I realize that some whiskies (like a 50 year old Glenfiddich) might require an additional tweet or so, but that will be the exception to the rule.

  12. sam k says:

    Thanks for starting with the Americans!

  13. Neil Fusillo says:

    Considering the 120-character tweet limit, I foresee this as being… restrictive as a media through which to express any possible complexity of thought.

    Call me sceptical…. but we’ll see how it goes. It shall be a fun experiment nonetheless.

  14. Carl says:

    Twitter is great for short, simple thoughts about a current event. When you have something to say that’s not short and simple, or when what you’re writing has lasting value (as a whiskey review does) it’s the wrong medium.

    I can see value in you being able to interact with your followers during a tasting, but aside from that, I think a blog article is a far better format for communicating the depth and complexity that’s often present in a whiskey review (unless you want to end up doing simplified reviews). This is certainly the case for anyone not following in real time.

    You might consider using twitter while tasting, and afterwards writing a blog posting that could incorporate the feedback you received during the tasting.

  15. John Hansell says:

    Neil, Carl, here are my thoughts on this.

    First, this is just another platform to share my reviews with people. The reviews will essentially be the same, whether on my blog, twitter, or in Malt Advocate. The only downside here, if there is one, is the extra work and responsibility put on me.

    Yes, there will be brief “breaks” in my review, progressing from one tweet to the next, but I look at this as a possible time for reflection, as people often do during conversations.

    Bottom Line: If my reviews reach a new audience by doing this, then we all benefit.

    Second, if you do not follow me on Twitter, then nothing will really change. You’ll still get my reviews eventually on my blog and in my magazine. There is a chance that I might do some blog-only or twitter-only reviews, but they will be minimal.

    Third, Twitter allows for intelligent interaction just like blogging, only very close to real-time. It should be interesting to see how it plays out.

    So, the way I see it, we have nothing to lose (except for some of my time), and plenty to gain.

  16. Whisky Party says:

    John,

    I’m a little skeptical about this as well. I’m not sure I see the added value of this vs. just writing your stuff up here at the blog and then shooting out a link. On Twitter, if there are multiple messages to convey a single point, a lot o the value is lost because it is much harder to ReTweet.

    Probably the best thing I’ve seen re: whisky tastings on Twitter was the Macallan Twitter Tasting hosted here in NYC a few months ago:

    http://whiskyparty.net/?p=498

    I would actually suggest you do something similar. I would love to see you lead an open Twitter tasting here in NYC at DBA or one of the newer, Brooklyn-based scotch bars (Char No. 4, Jake Walk).

    If you are going to do anything different with Twitter, I would suggest you start following more of us whisky bloggers and enthusiasts on the service and engaging in the online conversation. Twitter is a two-way conversational tool but right now you are using it as a one way broadcast tool.

    Hope this is a helpful critique. You know I’m a huge fan of all you do.

    • John Hansell says:

      Thanks Whisky Party. Advice always appreciated. And I will check out the Macallan Twitter Tasting.

      To your last point, I fully intend to have this be a two-way street. I added approximately 60 people yesterday who I am now following (including you, btw) and will continue doing so. And at the end of my tasting today, I stuck around for almost 30 minutes answering any question that came up. How many of the leading whisky writers are willing to do this and be this approachable? Jim Murray told me last week that he really doesn’t see the value of Blogging, Tweeting or even Facebook, nor does he feel like he has the time for it. I’m just trying to make myself accessible in as many platforms as possible, to get the good word out to as many people as I can.

      We’ll see how it plays out. For now, I (and some others) are enjoying it.

  17. Whisky Party says:

    Yes, I see that you did. Apologies.

    I’m still not sure that live tweeting a private tasting is the best use of the format, but I definitely appreciate the effort you put in yesterday now that I’ve gone back and read through the feed.

    Cheers.

  18. Mike Dereszynski says:

    There seems to be more talk about Tweeting than tasting.??The Media becoming the Message?? To “para” the old Clash song “can we have more music/whisky please”
    Heres another question John. While you were celebrating Elmers Birthday did you have time to talk with Jim Rutledge and was/is there any talk about the Kirin Suntory rumors (Suntory buying up Kirins portfolio which includes Four Roses)?

  19. sam k says:

    Way ta go, Mike! What say you, John?

  20. John Hansell says:

    Mike, Sam K, no worries, plenty of tasting (and talk about whiskey)is on the agenda. Sometimes we gotta talk about this social media stuff too, because the way we all communicate with each other is changing. We’re all learning this stuff together, one day at a time.

    Mike, I didn’t talk “shop” with Jim. Didn’t think it was proper at a birthday party.

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