Over in the Cleveland Black Bourbon thread, Chuck wrote:
obtain their samples? Are you contacted via your blog or website asking
for a mailing address? That seems most likely and I'm sure you would want
to confirm a distillery connection before offering up personal information
but is it possible that some of the smaller/micro distillers aren't aware of
who the "top whiskey reviewers" are?
Not trying to stir any pots - am just genuinely curious.
If I'm going to produce a brand of whisky you can bet I'll darn sure find out who the best reviewers are, if only to learn who to avoid.
Actually, as John Q speculated, the first contact I have with someone is usually an email asking if they can send me something and asking for the best address. I always reply with a 'no promises' disclaimer. I do sometimes get things out of the blue. Call me crazy, but I'm not going to put something in my body until I know a little bit about who sent it.
Sometimes it's a PR agency, sometimes it's PR staff at the producer, sometimes (with micros) it's the proprietor or distiller who contacts me. As for how they decide who they cultivate and who they don't, you'll have to ask them.
Some of it is prety obvious. I have two books out, have written dozens of articles for WHISKY and Whisky Advocate (and others), have published a newsletter for almost 20 years, and have operated a blog for more than 6 years. I've been here on SB.com since the beginning. It's pretty easy to distinguish me from somebody who opened their Blogger account last week. All the producers care about is whether or not you are an influencer. They may pick one person over another because of a demographic they're trying to reach, so I imagine a female whiskey blogger will get more attention from producers than a male with similar credentials. A lot of it's hit or miss and sometimes when I'm on some of these press junkets, I'm surprised by some of the other people who are there, in terms of them seemingly having a very small reach. Heck, I think I have a very small reach but, realistically, I have more than most.
were/are small sample bottles and not full, sealed bottles (which would be
less suspect but not entirely without risk in some cases.)
Regarding your "no promises" disclaimer - does that refer to your honest
opinion (pro or con) after tasting the sample or that you may or may not
actually review the sample (or a combination of both?)
The 'no promises' disclaimer means I accept no obligation of any kind for accepting the sample.