Amid the daily headlines about discrimination in various organizations, I have to admit that I also feel it as a young whisky drinker. But I understand why it happens.
I'm 27 years old, and while I'm male, I'm still not part of the typical whisky-drinking demographic. (I need to be about twice this age to be part of it.) So, when I go to whisky tastings, master classes, stores, shows, etc., it's always interesting to see how people treat me compared to the more mature members of the group. Some people are great - they're happy to give me as large a pour as they did for everyone else, they're happy to tell me about the whisky they're pouring, and they're happy to ask me what I think of the whisky after I've taken a good quaff. Others...not so happy.
Some amount of judging a book by its cover is understandable. They would be correct if, based on my age, they assumed I don't have a lot of disposable income to use for whisky purchases. But that won't be the case for long. They would not be correct to assume I don't know what I'm tasting, or that I don't care, or that I just want to get my hands on anything alcoholic.
I think that if whisky producers, bottlers, and marketers really want to start moving more product, they need to not only SAY they target the young-and-not-yet-but-soon-to-be-affluent crowd, but they also need to start TREATING the younger crowd like they're being targeted. Of course, there will be the members of the younger crowd who do abuse the tastings and who do act like morons. But that's true of any group.
I'd like to take a moment to recognize the people who, to date, have consistently been kind enough to regard me and any other young person as an equal member of the whisky-drinking crowd. They are:
- Tim Bachelder, friend and Boston-area connoisseur
- Jeff Fine, owner and whisky guy at Atlas Wine and Spirits in Medford, MA
- Elliott Fishbein, owner and whisky guy at Town Wine and Spirits, Providence, RI
- Joe Howell, whisky guy at Federal Wine and Spirits in Boston
- Brian Johnson, regional manager for International Beverage
- Ryan Maloney, owner and whisky guy at Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA
- Dave Russo, friend and Boston-area connoisseur
- Garrett Tingle, manager at Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square
- Melissa Webster, friend and Boston-area connoisseur
The whisky world needs more people like these.