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Issue 124 - Craft Wars

Whisky Magazine Issue 124
December 2014


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Craft Wars

Liza argues the case for making 'craft' nomenclature

Consider, for a moment, Manhattan. For the last several decades, stories of the city and its characters were the stuff of legend. Cultural movements were reactions against the status quo. Each went from grass roots to historic and, in the process, changed how we think, what we talk about. Perhaps this is best, most concisely illustrated with music: Disco, an appropriation and fusion of Latin, psychedelic and funk styles, swept through the underground nightclubs in the 1970s. A revolt against increasingly homogenous pop music, it became a scene wherein counter-cultures expressed themselves. Today it plays over the sound system in Gap and Starbucks. As a movement takes on momentum, everyone wants to claim it as their own. Everyone wants a piece of it. Its popularity ultimately, and ironically, leads to the erosion of its core values. The trailblazers become historical figures – icons, even. The original values they stood for become footnotes. The superficial qualities – a punk song's driving baseline, for instance – becomes the defining characteristic. The movement's edges become dull. Authenticity becomes tough to find.

And so it goes with craft distilling. In the early days, it was a subculture, and now everyone wants a piece of it. So much so that, as a recent cover story in this magazine addressed, the colossal and historic whisky companies are appropriating the term as their own, proclaiming it was theirs all along. “Craft distilling was really born because peo...

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