My first scotch, courtesy of my father in law George was an Ardbeg 17. Tastebud suicide or brilliant move? Well in my case a little of both. I choked, sputtered but added ice, finished the dram and... continued to try peated whiskies.
Please do not consider this my first rant of 2017 however there are some points I hope will be considered!!!
Here it is January 9th and already four times this year I've either seen or been included in the following request: "Hey I'm new to scotch or bourbon, so what would you recommend I try".
Key words number 1: I'M NEW
Key words number 2: WHAT SHOULD I TRY...
Here is what baffled me... I know people are simply trying to be helpful and start sending out all sorts of recommendations to this "newbie" immediately -> WITHOUT asking any questions what so ever. I received private messages on 3 of the 4 occasions saying: "Thank you for taking the time to talk to me a little, the rest of that stuff was crazy overwhelming and not very helpful!?".
So... think about this for a minute. Would you do the same if someone asked you to recommend a type of dog? What about a car? "I love my Subaru - Buy one". Errrrr, ok... why?
In my opinion (and this is how I've done this for years) - There are several points to consider when someone asks you to recommend something to "TRY"...
1. Where do they live? If you live in South Carolina USA and someone from the UK asks you to recommend a bourbon... WHY would you recommend something that is only available in South Carolina???
A: Do some research - Where do they live and what is available there... Don't recommend something they can never buy.
3. What do these people like? Why.... would you recommend all the things you like? Whisky is subjective as subjective as everything else in our lives. "I like the colour purple - you should wear purple too". Errrr... no.
Take a few moments to see what types of flavours they like. Easy questions such as:
A: What whiskies have you tried so far? Or what ones did you really like?
B: If they have never really tried whisky: Do you like sweet? Do you like the bitterness of coffee or chocolate, what about wine - do you like white vs. red? Beer? Rum? Super easy questions that will help you determine where to possibly point them in the right direction.
4. You are part of a HUGE #whiskyfabric!!!
What about offering to put them in touch with someone you know near them for help? Or better yet... what about sending them a few little samples after you've determined what they think they might like to try? A try before you buy sort of deal? What a great introduction to the #whiskyfabric and what we are all about!
Now, maybe it's because you've been a whisky enthusiast for many years and you've forgotten how overwhelming and scary venturing out into buying your first few bottles really is? Either way, you may want to consider the points I've mentioned above when someone throws the "What should I try?" question. If you do, a few things will happen:
A. You'll be a trusted source that this person will rely on or refer other friends to.
B. You'll really get the hang of recommending whiskies to suit the person and not the other way around.
Like I said, not a rant... just some advice from a whisky enthusiast who remembers standing in front of the large wall of whisky and worse... being led down the wrong path because someone simply didn't take the time to get to know me just a little. Please feel free to add the list of points you are trying to lend a helping hand.