“You don’t drink whisky?”
Variations of that reaction have escaped my lips numerous times while meeting or interviewing people who work in the whisky industry. Not the brand ambassadors, of course. Nor the distillery managers or the master blenders. The people I’m referring to are the actual whisky makers: the mash man, the still man, warehouse workers or engineers. Sure, they may drink it once in a while, but for the most part, most of those guys would much rather have a pint than a dram.
No matter how many times I heard this refrain, I still expressed shock. Here they are, working in a whisky distillery, surrounded by a spirit desired round the world at often exorbitant prices, and they essentially ignore it.
Eventually, I realized that they were no different than plumbers who don’t fix their own sinks, mechanics who don’t fix their own cars, accountants who don’t do their own taxes: this is their work life. They can’t make it their whole life.
Lately, I’ve fallen into step with such people. In mid-February, I began working as the director of communications and marketing for an organization in Los Angeles that puts on some pretty significant public arts and open streets events. Our last one at the end of April drew nearly 200,000 people.
My job consists of writing, doing social media and giving interviews, among other things. On top of that, I’m still finalizing my book release, so my “free” time has been spent focusing on things like design, contracts and such.
As a result, the Whisky Guy Blog has been very quiet as of late. I’ve also been mostly absent from the whisky discussions I so love on Twitter and on the whisky writers Facebook page. I follow discussions as best I can, and I start most mornings catching up on reading blogs from my favorite whisky thinkers, but I don’t interact the way I would like.
Not that I’m absent from tweets and Facebook comments. In fact, I spend two to three hours a day doing that from sunup to bedtime. I just happen to be doing it for my job.
The absence from my personal tweeting, updating and blogging has bothered me, quite frankly. I love writing about whisky and love engaging with everyone in the whisky fabric. I feel like everyone else has been at a party, and I’ve been stuck at work. Which, in a way, is the truth. I’ve also had plenty to say in my abstract whisky/life way, but by the time I’m able to write, the thought is gone or the timeliness of the insight is stale.
Interestingly enough, while my participation in the whisky conversation has diminished, my enjoyment of the drink has increased. During my five year semi-retirement from a “real job,” there was nothing special about taking time to drink a whisky because I had time to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Now, with time at a premium, having a nightly dram is a pleasure, a respite, an eagerly anticipated moment to savor flavors that excite me and ignite memories that move me.
Every so often, when the stress of not blogging or joining the whisky conversation builds, I stop and think about the subject of whisky.
Whisky is a damn slow thing. It’s downright lazy. You stick in a cask and then it…sits. For years. Decades even. That whisky ain’t going anywhere. And, here I am getting stressed about not having written in a month. During that same time frame a few molecules of spirit may have evaporated. Crazy stress in my head. A wee evaporation in a cask.
Besides, there are a few hundred whisky bloggers out there who are keeping the conversation going. There are even whisky bloggers writing about why those few hundred whisky bloggers are so obsessed about writing in the first place.
As for me, I will get the rhythm of the job down, I will get my book published and I will return to whisky conversation when I am able. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy reading your whisky insights, checking in on your conversations and raising a nightly toast to my whisky family.