The revamped Whisky Advocate (nee Malt Advocate) arrived in the mail today and it is as impressive as expected. As I paged through the issue, it struck me that some of you might not know the back story here.
This magazine has been around for more than two decades and it grew to become one of the most respected spirits-oriented publications in the world over those years. A while back, I’m gonna say late last year but I’m not sure, it was bought by M. Shanken Communications, publishers of Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado and Market Watch (a drinks industry business magazine). That brought an infusion of financial and publishing support that raised things to a new level. Founder John Hansell and his staff remain at the helm and the result appears to be the same high-quality product with a more attractive package and more potential to move forward than it had previously.
It further struck me that this was quite similar to something like the AB InBev acquisition earlier this year of Goose Island. Despite the nervousness of the beer geeks, so far the results of that deal appear to be similar: product remains solid, support is stronger. Of course, there was an embarrassing and amusing subplot to the Goose Island take-over (which of those adjectives apply depend on where you’re standing) and we’ve seen nothing like that as yet. However, Whisky Advocate Managing Editor Lew Bryson is currently in Denver at the GABF and drinking just a little bit. There is still hope.
Now some of you true believers who clicked through that link to see what I was referencing might say “Lew would never do something crazy like that
1″ Ah, you sweet innocent souls. It has been my experience that the farther away from home that Mr. Bryson roams, the less…um…civilized he gets. Take this incredible evening in Prague which I wrote about way back in 2005:
Eventually we came across Tlusta Koala, which appeared to be a small pub and turned out to be a large one, with a much bigger back room not visible from the street. We went it and sat down and ordered beers. Next to us was a table of four women, on a platform raised about two feet above ours. That elevation and juxtaposition apparently did not serve them well as they were the prime beneficiaries when Bryson, to put this politely, broke wind. Proficiently.
It turned out to be, in my experience at least, the most memorable, I’d have to say unique, “opening line” in barroom history. “Who the bloody hell did that?” yelped one of the ladies, who turned out to be from England, Scotland and Ireland. And the game was on. Glaser, who was seated closest to the women (and over whose head Lew’s salvo had apparently passed harmlessly), soon became engaged in a serious conversation and Givens, whose appearance would lead one to believe he was the most angelic of the bunch, announcing that “my hearing is bad and I can’t understand Scottish from a distance,” promptly joined their table.
I didn’t participate immediately, having had my quota of strange females for the evening, which was probably wise, because the topic of discussion quickly became international politics, with U.S. policy as the focus. This led to an eruption of sorts when Byrne joined in, the women’s less than favorable evaluation of the Bush agenda clashing with his, um, troglodyte political perspectives. Between that and all of them casting the occasional wary glance toward Lew, it was a weird conclusion to a long day.
To be fair to the Big Guy, that was not even the most disturbing moment of that long, long night. I had my own special experience before we ever arrived at Tlusta Koala (hence the “having had my quota of strange females for the evening” remark above:
It is now somewhere between 1 and 2 in the morning. We are lost, in the sense that we can’t find the place we’ve set out to find (we learned the next day that it’s closed for renovations) and determined not to retreat to the hotel in shame. The other four guys are about half a block in front of us while Lundstrom and I lag behind. Suddenly a young woman rushes out of the shadows and grabs him, but he breaks free. Now she turns her attention to me.
She grabs me–and by “grabs me” I mean “grabs ME,” if you get the picture–presses herself against me and says
Sex! Sex! Two Minutes! Two Minutes!
Two minutes? Holy cow, I say to myself. She wants to have a cigarette and talk about it afterwards? Or maybe foreplay?
Okay, I don’t think that. Or say that. What I do say, loudly, several times, is “Gay! Gay!” which I think is damned clever. And it works. Before I can even add the obligatory “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” she steps back and walks away.
It is then pointed out to me, when I catch up to the others, that she might have had her brother waiting there in the shadows and I could really have been, well, screwed. I shudder and we move on.
As the header I just applied to these meanderings suggests, there was some perhaps interesting or useful information early on as I starting writing this, but we have now gone far afield. These things happen. I could just delete the whole thing, but the time I’ve spent is too valuable, at least to me, to have it entirely wasted. And, if I’m lucky, Lew will come through and provide the closure that makes the entire thing make sense. I have faith. It’s not worth much, but I understand it’s comforting to some and am willing to give it a chance.SHARE