Blogging about whisky is fun. Besides the personal interest and satisfaction it gives and the strong integration into the whiskysphere, it creates contacts and opportunities, not the least of which is receiving samples to review from distilleries.
The collective of blogs furthers the education and the body of knowledge about whisky and helps whisky lovers decide on how to spend their hard earned cash on expressions, and in calling out the distillers and the corporations when they fail to put the whisky drinker on equal footing or when the products put to market don’t stand up to the standard we have come to expect from the producer. Thus, bloggers provide an important community service.
But it isn’t clear that all blogger-industry relationships are on the up and up, and the public image of whisky bloggers isn’t always pristine. If you follow the community on Facebook and the cynical but not ungrounded Whisky Sponge blog, you’ll come across rants and articles such as “Whisky Bloggers to be Renamed Bribe Units” and “Ardbeg Just to Send out Money Next Time“, mostly concentrated in the early fourth quarter of the year, coinciding with the publication of annual guides and special releases. I have seen views of bloggers as brown-nosing distillers in order to receive samples.
Granted, part of the being a blogger is receiving small samples to review different expressions, and as long as it doesn’t influence the review there’s nothing wrong with that. If a blogger receives payment or other consideration for their views, this needs to be brought to the open. Thus, to ensure that integrity, it seems to be high time for bloggers to post a their terms and be fully transparent.
I’ll take this oopportunityto state my own guidelines, and to use this platform to call upon my fellow independent bloggers to adopt and publish their own statement of integrity.
Maltandoak.com’s Statement of Integrity
Malt and Oak is an independent whisky blog, offering my own views, opinions and news from the world of malt whisky.
These are my guidelines:
1. All whisky reviews published are of whiskies I have personally tasted and noted. Guest bloggers only write about their own personal tastings.
2. With the exception of official whisky samples, I accept no consideration whatsoever from any distillery, bottler, distributor, drink company or store for my opinions.
3. I maintain strict impartiality and objectivity in tasting all whiskies, not least when tasting official samples. Any review of official whisky samples sent to me will be so noted in the post.
4. I will accept invitations to tastings, events and official visits, and full disclosure will be made on any tasting notes and articles resulting from these events or visits.
5. Any sample received over 30 ml in volume is shared with fellow whisky bloggers. In any event, no sample larger than 100 ml will be accepted.
6. No advertisements promoting specific brands will be accepted.
7. I will answer any inquiry by my readers as quickly and as fully as possible.
8. Should I give a link purchase the reviewed whisky, it will be given free of any commercial interest. The link given will always point to cheapest selling price I found on the web. No commission is paid, nor any other consideration given, for such link.
I hope that if bloggers will clearly state their interests it will add to the credibility of our reviews and separate community actors from commercial actors in the whisky space. This is not to say that there’s no room for commercial actors, only that there must be clarity on who is who.
I completely agree with you. It’s actually the reason I started writing my Tasting Notes. I wrote this on the first page of my blog:
“There are a lot of people writing about whisky. There are few people that write independent reviews. If you have to believe the first category, there are only excellent whiskies. That just is not true. There are a lot of excellent whiskies yes. As there should be because whisky today is expensive! But there is a lot of indifferent product and some stuff is just not good enough. There is a clear need for independent reviewers. I am one of them. I have nothing to do with the industry. I don’t sell anything. I don’t have the perfect Palate. My opinion is as good as yours! I just taste whiskies and tell you what I think about them. That’s all.”
I am very honoured that I’m mentioned in the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015 on page 89 as follows:
” Jan van den Ende presents his honest opinions on everything from cheap blends to rare single cask bottlings ”
I do not attend any events but I think it should be possibe to do so without losing your identity. I do not recveive samples from the industry. I think that should be possible as well as long as whisky bloggers inform their readers about it. On the other hand I do receive a lot of samples from people all over the world looking for a second opinion.
Michael, I’m completely with you in this matter. Whisky Blogging should remain what it is. Giving individual opinions on whisky. Good and Bad. Expensive and Cheap. Blends and Single Malts. From Scotland and elsewhere. Whisky blogging should not become cheap propaganda for the industry. The industry is capable enough of executing their own Propaganda campaigns.
Hear Hear, Jan 🙂