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Rockefeller
12-27-2012, 07:20
New thread although this may be a natural follow-on to: K&L Fear Tactics? (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?18866-K-amp-L-Fear-Tactics)


K&L Awards 2012: Whisk(e)y of the Year (http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2012/12/26/kl-awards-2012-whiskey-of-the-year.html): "We have not yet released this whisky. It will be available this weekend and we will have roughly 500 bottles of it - all available at K&L only."

Ok, even I have to say it. There is such a huge conflict of interest here.

Two Davids, this is not an attack on you or K&L (as I'm a fan) and I completely recognize that it may very well be the best whiskey you tasted all year, BUT I think there should be a clearer separation of the "Store" from the "Blog." Otherwise you risk a certain loss of reputation/legitimacy from readers. Similar to the separation of the Equity Research/Banking/Sales&Trading areas within a major bank, it is not simply improprieties that are important to control but also the appearance of improprieties.

Trey Manthey
12-27-2012, 07:47
I don't see the blog as anything other than a well-written sales tool. There's no journalistic code of ethics governing what they write about in their posts.

When you search any decent bottle on Google, K&L's website comes up first. Useful/interesting content is the most effective tool in good search engine optimization/marketing.

LostBottle
12-27-2012, 08:47
Rockefeller, I agree with most of what you said, except the part about the blog losing legitimacy. It is impossible to lose something you don't already have. Recognizing the K&L blog as something other than a series of articles that benefits a for-profit retailer (otherwise known as advertisements), would be giving it entirely too much credit.

RVTsteve
12-27-2012, 09:35
While I don't totally disagree with all the statements made here it's important to recognize that the blog wouldn't be what it is without being so closely connected to a well respected industry retailer. I think there is legitimacy to a lot of what they write about because of their relationships within the industry and their position within it. There wouldn't be the insight, the travel notes, the exclusive barrels and so on that I like reading about.

And yes, they're trying to sell booze, they make no qualms about it while at the same time trying to provide an appreciated source of information for those of us interested. I think they have a track record that gives them some ability and leeway to say the whiskey they have is the best they've tasted given the criteria they lay out in the blog.

To me the issue that arises isn't them trying to sell out their booze, I don't think they have a problem with that. It's that nobody else has had the chance to taste it! This whiskey doesn't necessarily deserve to be in the running because while it was found in 2012 and may be officially released in 2012 99% of people who buy it won't really have the opportunity to taste it until next year.

All that said I also think it's important to point out that David addresses this thread's specific concern in the blog, for whatever it's worth.

"There’s a lot of weight thrown behind the term “Best Whisky of the Year.” When whisky critic Jim Murray called Old Pulteney 21 the best single malt of 2012, we sold through hundreds of bottles in few hours. That’s fine for Jim to say because he’s not the one selling you the bottle. He can say whatever he wants and no one will accuse him of trying to increase his liquor sales. When we at K&L throw around a phrase like that, there’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with it. We can’t easily play favorites - especially when it happens to be a K&L exclusive. Clearly, there are many great whiskies on our shelves...
...If we would have come out and said, "Best whisky of the year" in August, we would have 1) sold through the pre-order allocation much faster and 2) still had four whole months left to possibly taste something better. Now that it's the end of the year and we're done tasting new whiskies, we're ready to stand by our earlier assessment."

Rockefeller
12-27-2012, 09:49
"There’s a lot of weight thrown behind the term “Best Whisky of the Year.” When whisky critic Jim Murray called Old Pulteney 21 the best single malt of 2012, we sold through hundreds of bottles in few hours. That’s fine for Jim to say because he’s not the one selling you the bottle. He can say whatever he wants and no one will accuse him of trying to increase his liquor sales. When we at K&L throw around a phrase like that, there’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with it. We can’t easily play favorites - especially when it happens to be a K&L exclusive. Clearly, there are many great whiskies on our shelves...
...If we would have come out and said, "Best whisky of the year" in August, we would have 1) sold through the pre-order allocation much faster and 2) still had four whole months left to possibly taste something better. Now that it's the end of the year and we're done tasting new whiskies, we're ready to stand by our earlier assessment."

Very fair/good point!

I skimmed through that portion but a re-read satisfies my need for disclosure of interests.

CoMobourbon
12-27-2012, 10:28
In any case, there should totally be an SB thread with running comments on the KL spirit blog. I mean, I get why the Davids disable comments - the freedom from critique, etc. But come on. It's a major internet publication for all relevant intents and purposes (i.e. those of whiskey geeks).

Once you publish something, especially once you publish something to the internet, you don't control it or the resultant discussion. If the author wasn't completely dead before the advent of the internet, then he/she is definitely stone-cold dead now.

MauiSon
12-27-2012, 11:15
K&L Spirits Journal is one of my favorite blogs, not least because there's often something new to peruse - gotta love activity and a slug of retailer viewpoint. Objectivity on a subjective topic is an impossibility.

squire
12-27-2012, 12:18
Hey, I like the blog and thank David for taking the time to do it. While I may disagree with his assessment of a particular whisky (and not buy it, my money, my choice) I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his visit to the distillery.

silverfish
12-27-2012, 20:29
Once you publish something, especially once you publish something to the internet, you don't control it or the resultant discussion.

Spoken like a true Gen X/Y/whatever who thinks everything on
the net is free and feels entitled to use someone else' material
as they see fit. Who are you to say an author doesn't control
material they publish? You might discuss it wherever you want
but by disabling comments, K&L is exerting some control over
the "resultant discussion." Contrary to what you may think, the
entire internet isn't in Public Domain and not yours for the taking.

RVTsteve
12-27-2012, 20:39
I always figured they disallowed comments because when they allowed them they got blasted by spam.

sailor22
12-28-2012, 06:00
Perhaps the thing to remember is that it is a blog by a whiskey salesman who loves whiskey. He isn't trying to con anyone but his job is different than yours and mine.. and whiskey isn't just his hobby. It will have a slightly different slant than a blog by a enthusiast who earns a living doing something else.

I really enjoy David's blog. It's honest, insightful and usually reminds me why I find enjoying brown spirits so much fun. Also I have come to appreciate where his palate and mine are similar and where they diverge which is a great help when making purchases. And helping with purchases is his job.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts David.

silverfish
12-28-2012, 06:16
I always figured they disallowed comments because when they allowed them they got blasted by spam.

That might be but DD didn't include spam as a reason for disabling comments:

Part 1 (http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2011/7/18/no-comment.html)
Part 2 (http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2011/7/25/no-comment-part-2.html)

Cigar Dan
12-28-2012, 07:01
Spoken like a true Gen X/Y/whatever who thinks everything on
the net is free and feels entitled to use someone else' material
as they see fit. Who are you to say an author doesn't control
material they publish? You might discuss it wherever you want
but by disabling comments, K&L is exerting some control over
the "resultant discussion." Contrary to what you may think, the
entire internet isn't in Public Domain and not yours for the taking.

Not only is that a load of rubbish, your comment is downright rude. CoMobourbon never suggested that the author did not retain rights to what he wrote--he simply said that they cannot control how it is quoted nor the direction of any discussion that it might generate. K&L's control over the discussion is limited solely to their own web site (which is their right). Any notion that they might have of their ability to control that discussion elsewhere is pure naiveté.

T Comp
12-28-2012, 08:02
Perhaps the thing to remember is that it is a blog by a whiskey salesman who loves whiskey. He isn't trying to con anyone but his job is different than yours and mine.. and whiskey isn't just his hobby. It will have a slightly different slant than a blog by a enthusiast who earns a living doing something else.

I really enjoy David's blog. It's honest, insightful and usually reminds me why I find enjoying brown spirits so much fun. Also I have come to appreciate where his palate and mine are similar and where they diverge which is a great help when making purchases. And helping with purchases is his job.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts David.

And thanks for sharing your thoughts too Steve as these are my thoughts too :cool:.

squire
12-28-2012, 09:57
And anyone who doesn't like it can change the channel.

smokinjoe
12-28-2012, 10:16
And anyone who doesn't like it can change the channel.

You have a knack for using a minimum number of words to make excellent points.

:toast:

David D
12-28-2012, 10:29
Rockefeller, I agree with most of what you said, except the part about the blog losing legitimacy. It is impossible to lose something you don't already have. Recognizing the K&L blog as something other than a series of articles that benefits a for-profit retailer (otherwise known as advertisements), would be giving it entirely too much credit.

We live in a black and white world these days it seems.

The K&L Blog exists in a shade of grey, however. When I do hour long podcasts in my free time to help people learn more about the great producers in this industry, they're downloaded by thousands of people all over the world who live in places that K&L can't ship to (thanks to the handy-dandy download map included on the podcast site, I can see this). 75% of the hits on the K&L blog come from states that K&L cannot legally ship spirits to (which I can view on our statistics mapper). Therefore, the overwelming majority of people who read the K&L Spirits Journal Blog are people who do NOT shop at K&L. Why is that? This has greatly affected the way that I write.

That being said, my job is to sell whisky. When we sell more whisky, my bosses are happy and I get to do my job for another year. A job that pays for me to go to Scotland and taste whisky (which is awesome). I can't continue to write the blog unless I sell people more whisky - a blog that is read by thousands of people who cannot shop at K&L, even if they wanted to.

So while I in no way deny that my goal is to excite readers into wanting to purchase whisky (hopefully from us), the truth is that most people who tune in everyday are not shopping with us. Therefore, most of my posts are "advertisements" for other retailers.

Even though I've come to realize that most of our readers are not customers, I still write the blog everyday because it's fun. People email me all day long who want help selecting whisky, but not from us. I help people who live in Massachussets select whisky from their local retailer in my free time at home. When I'm not getting paid I help people buy whisky from other stores. Crazy, right? So, even though my role is to boost sales for K&L, I end up boosting sales for other stores. If I was only about writing "advertisements," I would shut down the blog completely because it's not directly helping K&L sell more booze. It does seem to be helping people enjoy their whisky, however, by the comments I'm reading so far here on SB.com

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read it and correspond via email. It's a lot of fun. I appreciate all the feedback as well. Very touching. Thanks!

-David D

squire
12-28-2012, 10:42
Take heart David, they're no legal restrictions on my travel, I'll get by there someday.

G-Rat
12-28-2012, 13:21
We live in a black and white world these days it seems.

The K&L Blog exists in a shade of grey, however. When I do hour long podcasts in my free time to help people learn more about the great producers in this industry, they're downloaded by thousands of people all over the world who live in places that K&L can't ship to (thanks to the handy-dandy download map included on the podcast site, I can see this). 75% of the hits on the K&L blog come from states that K&L cannot legally ship spirits to (which I can view on our statistics mapper). Therefore, the overwelming majority of people who read the K&L Spirits Journal Blog are people who do NOT shop at K&L. Why is that? This has greatly affected the way that I write.

That being said, my job is to sell whisky. When we sell more whisky, my bosses are happy and I get to do my job for another year. A job that pays for me to go to Scotland and taste whisky (which is awesome). I can't continue to write the blog unless I sell people more whisky - a blog that is read by thousands of people who cannot shop at K&L, even if they wanted to.

So while I in no way deny that my goal is to excite readers into wanting to purchase whisky (hopefully from us), the truth is that most people who tune in everyday are not shopping with us. Therefore, most of my posts are "advertisements" for other retailers.

Even though I've come to realize that most of our readers are not customers, I still write the blog everyday because it's fun. People email me all day long who want help selecting whisky, but not from us. I help people who live in Massachussets select whisky from their local retailer in my free time at home. When I'm not getting paid I help people buy whisky from other stores. Crazy, right? So, even though my role is to boost sales for K&L, I end up boosting sales for other stores. If I was only about writing "advertisements," I would shut down the blog completely because it's not directly helping K&L sell more booze. It does seem to be helping people enjoy their whisky, however, by the comments I'm reading so far here on SB.com

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read it and correspond via email. It's a lot of fun. I appreciate all the feedback as well. Very touching. Thanks!

-David D

I for one really appreciate the blog and podcasts. You could ship to me I think (Missouri) but I'd rather buy local. Postage for something like booze doesn't fit into my budget. That being said if I lived in San Fran well I know a great place to buy whiskey there. It doesn't surprise me one whit that you spend your free time helping others who can't really benefit you. When you love something kickbacks aren't the bottom line. Keep doing the blog, keep doing your thing. I appreciate it for sure. The podcasts with Rachel Barrie and Jim Rutledge were amazing. Learned more from those than I have anywhere else. Thanks for your hard work.

Phil T
12-28-2012, 13:48
I have a quick question. Maybe I'm naive, ignorant, or something else. But why does David D continually have to come on here and explain or defend what he does. I don't get it. I thought this was a friendly community

PS..I have never done business with K&L, read his blog, or listened to a podcast.

Rockefeller
12-28-2012, 13:51
I'm kind of tempted to buy the '79 Glenfarclas now. Should I pull the trigger?

squire
12-28-2012, 13:52
Because the internet provides an opening for anonymous rudeness.

Rockefeller
12-28-2012, 13:55
Because the internet provides an opening for anonymous rudeness.

By the way, I was pretty clear in my original post that it was not an attack or even questioning of integrity but rather a desire to find more separation/clarity of potential conflicts of interests. I subsequently noted that I accepted their explanation within the post.

Rockefeller
12-28-2012, 13:59
Oh thank god John Hansell is online! Perhaps he can be the voice of wisdom and reason!

LostBottle
12-28-2012, 19:18
We live in a black and white world these days it seems.

The K&L Blog exists in a shade of grey, however. When I do hour long podcasts in my free time to help people learn more about the great producers in this industry, they're downloaded by thousands of people all over the world who live in places that K&L can't ship to (thanks to the handy-dandy download map included on the podcast site, I can see this). 75% of the hits on the K&L blog come from states that K&L cannot legally ship spirits to (which I can view on our statistics mapper). Therefore, the overwelming majority of people who read the K&L Spirits Journal Blog are people who do NOT shop at K&L. Why is that? This has greatly affected the way that I write.

That being said, my job is to sell whisky. When we sell more whisky, my bosses are happy and I get to do my job for another year. A job that pays for me to go to Scotland and taste whisky (which is awesome). I can't continue to write the blog unless I sell people more whisky - a blog that is read by thousands of people who cannot shop at K&L, even if they wanted to.

So while I in no way deny that my goal is to excite readers into wanting to purchase whisky (hopefully from us), the truth is that most people who tune in everyday are not shopping with us. Therefore, most of my posts are "advertisements" for other retailers.

Even though I've come to realize that most of our readers are not customers, I still write the blog everyday because it's fun. People email me all day long who want help selecting whisky, but not from us. I help people who live in Massachussets select whisky from their local retailer in my free time at home. When I'm not getting paid I help people buy whisky from other stores. Crazy, right? So, even though my role is to boost sales for K&L, I end up boosting sales for other stores. If I was only about writing "advertisements," I would shut down the blog completely because it's not directly helping K&L sell more booze. It does seem to be helping people enjoy their whisky, however, by the comments I'm reading so far here on SB.com

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read it and correspond via email. It's a lot of fun. I appreciate all the feedback as well. Very touching. Thanks!

-David D


David, I was not bashing your blog, just acknowledging what it is. In fact, I want to give you compliments on the blog, it really is smart. You have managed to take your obvious enthusiasm for the retail spirits industry and focus that into an impressive marketing campaign for your place of work. You were smart in realizing that this non-paid advertising channel is extremely effective at building the K&L brand position, generating a ton of impressions (I am sure the conversion rate, and incremental revenue, is pretty solid despite those that cannot purchase from K&L), helping to move emphasized inventory, and fostering relationships with the distilleries that can get you the store single barrel offerings like your "Best Whisk(e)y of the Year", the K&L Exclusive Glenfarclas. Kudos!