Tag Archives: facepalm

How (Not) to Drink Whisky


The majority of this is pure silliness, it’s little more than whisky affectations gone to the extreme. To typical drinkers – meaning those of us  who go out to drink to have a fun night with friends where we spend time talking about anything BUT the quality of our drinks – there are only two bits of information here worth mentioned.

  1. For 22 year olds, its rare to have to add water make it smoother. Note, however, that I don’t say “You shouldn’t add water!”.
  2. Adding hot water to your drink will make it difficult to appreciate the subtleties of scotch whisky.

All of the other items are either nonsense, or tips for professional tasters and whisky critics.  For one, I’ve never run across a bartender who has heaped dozens of pieces of ice into a “scotch on the rocks”. It’s an exaggeration. Second, ice  in the drink is perfectly acceptable (albeit in a small amount), because it changes the nuances of the drink as the ice melts and the drink goes from cold to room temperature.

Also, I don’t think bars would look too kindly on folks, either customers or bartenders, who swirled whisky in a glass and then flung the spirit upon the floor.

Yes, great whisky can be poorly handled. People mindlessly handle well made products all of the time. But even the consumer who desires to treat a great whiskey with respect should approach the drink that’s comfortable to them. Anyone doing 95% of what the gentleman in the video is doing is little more than a poseur in my eyes.

Diageo: Perfecting The Art of Petulance

The arrogance of these corporations, and the  people that represent them, is, at times, jaw-dropping.

On Tuesday, 2 days after the award, I (James) took a phone call from Kenny Mitchell, Chairman of the BII in Scotland and Chairman of the Award Committee explaining the situation. To directly quote Kenny:

‘We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened. The awards have to be an independent process and BrewDog were the clear winner’

‘Diageo (the main sponsor) approached us at the start of the meal and said under no circumstances could the award be given to BrewDog. They said if this happened they would pull their sponsorship from all future BII events and their representatives would not present any of the awards on the evening.’

In my opinion, Diageo is stellar at making mostly good, but not great products. Guinness is a good, but not great beer. Tanqueray is a good, but not great, gin. They do have some great products, but these are the exception and not the rule. Look over their brands and see if you disagree with me.

Here’s the thing…people have been figuring out how to create great beers and great gins, and realizing that as a small producer of these products, they can fiddle and shape their recipes on a regular basis with a quick turn around.

Diageo has difficulty in competing against the new breed of brewers and distillers, in large part because the company is so large.  Change that needs to occur in a large organization is a slow, laborious process, getting buy-in from people who may not even be on site. Change is a long term problem for any large corporation.

So they play short term games. They brag about their silver medals, without telling you that twenty-two other brands won a silver medal at that event.  They bully Award Committees by threatening to pull supporting income.  They get “brand ambassadors” to become walking, talking commercials for their product. This is, in my experience in researching both the whiskey and beer industries, their short term solution for their long term problem.

Their other short-term solution? Remove the products that are actually great. Bushmills, also owned by Diageo, makes a stellar 21-year old whiskey. And I’ve heard from people in the industry that several people at Diageo wants to kill the product. Why? Because it’s expensive to create a high quality product, free of defects. And waiting 21 years before seeing only limited profit on the product seems counter-intuitive to many corporate-types. Other products that have high-quality but low to no profit margins are removed without fanfare.

Here’s the thing – Corporations want to make a lot money. This is the first order of business. Small businesses, know they don’t have the resources to compete against a corporation whose goal is to make lots of many, and they know they can’t compete on a mass produced scale – so these small businesses do something different. They provide a product that has to outshine the Diageo-type product that everyone is aware of.  And when these producers do create such a  product or service, they should be lauded for it, because producing  and selling a great beer, gin, or whiskey is hard fuckin’ work.

Simply put, to pull that award away because it wasn’t an operator that sold Diageo product, is both petty and childish, something I’m finding representatives from Diageo are getting quite good at.

<i>(h/t to Boing Boing and congratulations to Brew Dog.)</i>

Coca-Cola and Their Obesity Response

Riffing off of Marion Nestle’s recent post about Coca-Cola, marketing, and obesity, I think that it’s not a problem that Coca-Cola should be a participant in the conversation about the growing of America’s waistline. Hell, the more companies involved in such discussions, the better off we would all be.

That being said, the Coca-Cola company, nor any corporation for that matter, should solely drive the discussion, at least not without chance of proper questions to be asked of them and their own presumed culpability in the matter.

There in lies the dissonance. Companies like Coca-Cola don’t want a dialogue. It might put the company at risk, which in turn, puts their stock at risk, something that is a big no-no in the corporate world. It’s far, far better, from their point of view, to get in front of the debate, and lead it in the direction where questions surrounding their marketing, health claims, and pricing strategies simply do not get asked.

The result of this is silliness such as Coke’s Live Positively website, designed to give the impression that they care about the obesity issue. Yet, if you look around this site, the one unequivocal answer to helping consumers reduce caloric intake, i.e. drink less soda, is not mentioned once.

In fact, the opposite is true. Looking at their section on Active Healthy Living, Coke promotes guiding principles: Think, Drink, and Move. You’ll note that “Drink” comes before “Move”. You’ll also note that when clicking on the “Drink” link, it takes you to one of their many branding pages, where they boast of their “500 beverage brands inclusive of more than 3,500 beverages”, many of which are no where near what one would consider a healthy choice for consumption.

I’ve said this before about McDonald’s, and it holds true for Coca-Cola: Creating an illusion that their products are healthy is a difficult one to maintain in the long run. When your primary product is sugar water, and you major goal for your sugar water is to have people consume it in excess, it’s difficult to hold the position that Coke’s interest is equitable to the interest of those trying to be healthy.

It has to be a difficult position for Coke to be in. After all, they can’t just say that their products are little more than empty calories. They can’t imply that their beverages are little more than an affordable luxury item. But this is exactly what they are. They have the science to prove it. As do we.

They know this. They just can’t say it. And when a company cannot be free to speak to the facts when engaging in dialogue, for fear of adversely affecting their stock prices, they become a dishonest broker of information in the national discussion.

Rachel Ray is a Palestinian Terrorist supporter?

Who knew?

Right-wing nutcase Michelle Malkin has won a victory over baby-talking Food Network personality Rachael Ray, who was hawking obesity-causing products for fast-food company Dunkin’ Donuts while wearing what appeared to be a kaffiyeh, the cotton scarf that most Americans associate with Palestinian nationalists, especially the much reviled late Yasser Arafat.

Michael York then poses this stumper:

It’s probably hard for many people to decide who deserves the lion’s share of their wrath: Malkin for ignorant (and, as always, borderline racist) demagoguery, the insipid Rachael Ray for aggressively embracing the role of foodie icon while shamelessly peddling nutritional nightmares, or Dunkin’ Donuts for manufacturing said fare in the first place and for backing down in the face of Malkin’s toothless swagger.

You can do what I do Michael, and believe all three to be vile idiots, albeit for separate reasons.

And now for a bit of Vegetarian Haggis

I’m fairly sure that the phrase of this post has rarely been uttered. But it sort of rolls off of the tongue, does it not?

At any rate, vegetarian haggis does exist, found here, and forwarded to me by my future travel-in-crime partner Krysta.

This would be an opportune moment to bring up my ever more hackneyed disbelief of meat-like vegetarian dishes. Logically, I get it. Tastes and desires dictate the need for certain dishes to exist, a statement even more true in the vegetarian world. This is an educated guess, to be sure, but it seems logically consistent.

Emotionally though, I always have problems with dishes like these. Because if your body or mind is telling you that you desire the flavor of sheep’s hearts, livers, lungs, that has been minced with onion, oatmeal, and suet, then a large part of me believes that your body isn’t buying the whole vegetarian program.

Michelob is a Craft Beer?

That’s what they will want you to believe according to their new marketing campaign:

Michelob will spend $30 million next year recasting itself as a member of the craft segment. Michelob’s entire portfolio sold 450 million cases, per IRI, for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 24.

Comparatively, craft category leader Boston Beer last year shipped 49 million cases, per Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Michelob’s “Crafting a better beer” ads will even mimic Boston Beer’s Sam Adams ads.

The reason for their new image?

Case sales of craft beers are up 17.1% at food, drug, liquor and c-stores for the year ended Nov. 3 compared with a 0.08% increase for the overall category.

Y’see, according to the Anheuser-Busch’s of the world, it’s not that the craft beers are selling a better product. It’s just that they’re marketed better.

Of course, marketing is the only answer they have at the moment. They can’t come out and say the craft beers, on average, are better than the Michelob’s and Miller’s of the world. If they did they’d immediately give credence to the craft beer industry as being the better quality brands. Then they’d have to change their recipes.

And neither of those things are going to happen. So, instead they get cynical and manipulative, hoping no ones notices that they aren’t actually small time brewers.

The definition of Chutzpah…

…or stupidity, I can’t decide which.

Taco Bell set up shop in Mexico

The fast-food chain, which in 2006 achieved the No. 6 ranking among the top 100 U.S. chain restaurants by promoting its menu to Americans as authentic Mexico, is doing an about-face south of the border.

In its first store in Monterrey, which opened last month, Taco Bell is advertising itself as quintessentially “American,” with a menu that offers french fries and soft-serve ice cream.

And the Americanized taco – the crunchy, meat-filled corn shell sold in San Diego and other U.S. cities as a Taco Bell taco – has been renamed a “tacostada” in Mexico. It’s a made-up word that is a play on tostada, which for Mexicans is a hard, fried disk of cornmeal always served flat, with toppings.

Oh there is so much irony to enjoy in this article, but the “tacostada” is the clear winner.

And who knew that they marketed themselves here in the U.S. as authentic? With Mexican immigration reaching areas as far away as Maine and Seattle, does anyone really believe that Taco Bell is authentic? Or is Yum brands that delusional?