Whisky Magazine Issue 90
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Tim Forbes has worked for The Whisky Exchange since 2003 and looks after the company's online presence including The Whisky Exchange Blog.
The sudden democratisation of whisky criticism – whereby anyone with a laptop and an opinion can shout the odds about whatever annoys them – presents whisky producers with new problems. The bigger they are, the harder it is for them to present themselves well on the digital stage, which paradoxically favours the smallest bit-part players ever to find themselves with a global voice in a multi-billion pound industry.
Digital technology has long been regarded within the industry as an expensive inconvenience, and is paid only lip-service by most companies. Consequently, the majority of official distillery websites are an unfortunate mix of the bland, the twee and the utterly cringeworthy – unwise, considering the potential damage to brand image an inept digital marketing strategy can inflict.
My suspicion is that the vast majority of malt drinkers are happy with the blurb on the back label of their favourite dram, and remain blissfully ignorant of the vitriol, inanity and shameless bootlicking prevalent on the majority of whisky blogs, many of whose authors have clearly realised that a bit of self-publicity goes a long way in the brave new bubble of internet whisky content, and are frantically making hay while the sun shines.
The big company nightmare goes like this: Imagine you're a brand exec for Glen Thingy.
Your company has spent decades building relationships within the trade, and millions of pounds on your global marketing campaign. But when you Google your brand...