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Jumping the shark - crowd-sourced reviews

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@Nozinan
Nozinan started a discussion

I happened to come across this in Ralfy's weekly review:

www.patreon.com/ralfy

Ralfy is now giving people the "opportunity" to buy him wee dram.

Now I'm no different from the next fan. In the past I would have been very pleased to meet him. I found his videos engaging and informative. I think I'd probably still enjoy a chance to share a dram with him if he came to my neck of the woods.

But I've noticed a change. From the 2009 3-minute reviews and concrete info to longer, more "philosophical" reviews. The slow creep of google ads. The removal of his whiskystuff page, no longer responding to direct messages on Facebook.

And now a direct solicitation for cash to help support his independence in reviewing.

Is this the natural progression in online whisky commentary? I'd like to see what people think before posting my own heavily deflated Canadian currency worth

8 years ago

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Replies: page 1/5

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Nozinan, I see no harm in Ralfy allowing his followers to buy him a wee dram. He claims a dollar is plenty. I suspect he will receive more than a dollar from some.

We all know the price of harvesting bottles for our whisky bounty, it ain't cheap.

8 years ago 4Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Ralfy is becoming more and more self-serving and increasingly less relevant. I think he has lost his way. The truly eccentric don't need to keep telling you that they are eccentric and his working class hero schtick is wearing thin. I'm afraid I can no longer sit through 20+ minutes of Ralfy's often paranoic philosophising. I'd be totally done with him, but I'm waiting for him to finally reveal the meaning of life.

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas replied

Ralfy = good

Whisky = good

Unwanted philosophy = skippable

8 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

I'm thinking about the optics. It just doesn't feel right.

Here is a man with a collection so extensive that he will not outlive it, and the more of it he drinks the more it will outlive him. And he wants us to give him money for booze? There's a difference between buying someone a dram in person and sending him money.

I wonder if he stopped working when he left for the Manx Bothy, and he has no income, and all his savings are ironically in liquid assets.

It almost feels like the movie star you loved as a kid is now doing guest spots on fantasy Island or infomercials...

8 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden replied

I'm not sure how to feel about this to be honest. If he wants to make a career out of his reviewing who's to say he's in the wrong. I sure appreciate his input before purchasing new stuff.

on the other hand he looses some originality and charming appeal when asking for money, I sure pick that up too. Not sure about this one way or the other

8 years ago 0

@Pandemonium
Pandemonium replied

I believe Ralfy might be on a slippery slope, Whisky sampling is a fun hobby, but it should stay that way. From the moment you're starting to take it too serious and try to make a living out of it, it can become quite dangerous. What I'm trying to say is that I've seen this type of behaviour before and it usually doesn't end well. When people who are neither storekeepers or professionals, start living for whisky they tend to become very single minded and quite unstable. I've seen people hoarding whisky they don't really need, spend more than they should on exclusive and rare whiskies, ignoring health advice from their doctors and environment and even whoring themselves out for free stuff if they can't keep up financially. I'm not sure whether it is the habit-forming aspects of alcohol or the unnatural urge to collect, maybe both, but when you see these symptoms it might be time for a sabbatical.

Whisky is a fun product, but make sure it is not the only aspect that defines your life, be sure to exercise sufficiently, spend enough time with friends and family, ask yourself with each purchase if you really need another bottle and if you have to spend so much money on it. Free samples from the industry or fellow reviewers are fun, but from the moment you start customising your review to get more free stuff you're truly lost.

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Pandemonium

A lot of wisdom in what you write.

I wish I could say I didn't see some of what you write in myself... at least when it comes to collecting more than I need. Personally I rationalize it at the time with "but what happens when I finish the bottle if I can't get any more bottles?" and later with "my kids will have some great stuff". There are some who get along ok with whatever they find, and others who need to know they have what they like in the wings...

But as for the other stuff... I think I'm ok.

I think I've seen the other things developing in our video friend. I find it sad. And the this most recent stunt is pushing him further over the edge towards irrelevance.

And once you put all your eggs in one basket and drop the basket.... If he wakes up one day and finds he has 1000 bottles of scotch and no live friends and no one watching his vlogs....

I like whisky, but I could give it up in a minute for my family. I'd miss the online stuff more than the drink, actually, but even that.

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

@bourbondrinker

I agree with you @OlJas . Although I seldom watch his videos now, when I do, I fast forward the damn thing. I work in a software company and I can't handle too much irrelevant info any more.

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas replied

@bourbondrinker , for what it's worth, I meant "skippable" in the most literal sense. You can skip it if you want. I don't. It's a handy feature for those (like you) who don't care for it.

Actually, as long as he's talking about anything at all whisky-related, I'm along for the ride and appreciating it.


As for the weird speculation above about Ralfy's personal life and whisky's supposed dominance on it, let's cool it a bit. He's a charming, giving fella who seems to have may more friends a fuller life than most people I know. And it's worth noting that among the charity, motorbike, landspeed records, art auction, and various "extra information" segments of his that I've skipped past in my many merry malty Ralfy-watching moments are PLENTY of PSAs in which he's advocated moderation, caution, balance, and all the rest.

8 years ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@OlJas

And don't forget his "PSA" on prostate cancer where he advocates "self-examination"

whiskyreviews.blogspot.ca/2011/11/…

To you that may be a PSA..... to me that's TMI

I'll stick with the more accurate PSA - Prostate Specific Antigen (the screening blood test)

8 years ago 0

@Alexsweden
Alexsweden replied

Well put @OlJas, let's not forget all our "malt-moments" shared with ralfy via YouTube. He is a great guy and I believe he has much to offer in regards to both whisky and philosophy

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

@Frost
Frost replied

I like Ralfy's reviews, he can't be accused of "phoning them in". He maintains the passion and enthusiasm for all these years, and that is something to admire.

8 years ago 5Who liked this?

maltmate302 replied

I just feel Ralfy's a bit short of cash at the moment. I don't think he's working these days because he left his undertaking job in Glasgow so he could look after his sick mother on the Isle of Man and I ,for one, applaud him for making this decision. The life he leads is expensive, whisky and attempting world landspeed records don't come cheap. He could easily whore himself out to the likes of Diageo, I'm sure they'd love to sponsor him but he prefers to maintain his independence and I don't see the problem in him asking for a small donation to help with this. Ralfy played an important part in my early whisky development and I will always be grateful to him for that.

8 years ago 5Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@maltmate302

2 issues:

First: cash

There's no question he is to be commended for moving to be closer to his mother.

But in terms of the costs...we all make choices and we deal with the consequences. I took a 30% pay cut to be able to spend more time with my family. But I made sure we would be able to afford it.

If Ralfy is not gainfully employed, he can choose where he spends the google add money he gets for his reviews. One could also make the argument that he could live off the proceeds of selling a small amount of his reserves in Scotch, if he is being accurate in his description of his collection. And he'd still have enough left to review online if he chooses to.

Second: Reviews

It is very enlightening to look at reviews of his a few years apart side to side. I happened upon his reviews by accident. It was a google search for Glen Breton. From there I backtracked and learned about the "basics" and I agree I gained a lot of useful knowledge.

But his reviews have become different over the years. No more the "three minute review" he started with. They are longer, filled with more and more tangential, pseudophilosophical things, and to be frank I no longer find them educational. It is now rare that I see a whisky he reviews that I really want to go out and get. The Benromach 100 is an exception, not the rule (and not accessible here).

This is not to say he's not entertaining. He is, and I usually watch the reviews within a week or 2. But has now branded himself as a philosopher-renaissance man. It is not feasible in this day and age to be an expert on everything and yet he has opinions on anything.

In summary, he has changed. He used to be a small operation and was one of the first to use you-tube to discuss whisky. He has, over the last 6 years, become a legend, nowhere more-so than his own mind.

I take this as a cautionary tale, as a warning to myself to try to be more humble.

8 years ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Ralfy put me off with his paranoid rants around the Scottish Independence referendum. He is convinced that Scotland would be better off out of the United Kingdom and that Westminster is somehow bleeding Scotland dry. The fact is that more money per capita goes to Scotland for health care, education and social welfare than to the English. Ralfy actually thinks that Scotland should keep all the North Sea oil revenue and could exist comfortably on the proceeds of oil, whisky and tourism. Maybe with oil at $150 a barrel, certainly not at $40 for very long. Just ask a Canadian. And when it comes to prostate examinations, I'll stick with my doctor, thanks Ralfy. I'm sure he knows much more about what to look for than either you or I.

I agree with Nozinan that 22 minute "reviews" are self indulgent and less than riveting entertainment. Every two-bit blogger is trying to make a living or achieve some sort of second rate fame these days in an internet/You Tube free for all. Ralfy should stay out of that and stick to his original self professed mandate: No strings attached, independent reviews of affordable, accessible whiskies. The man has lost his way.

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

maltmate302 replied

@Nozinan I know that this is just speculation but it's possible that his mother has lived longer than was expected now his savings have all but disappeared , its been about six years now. We all try to plan for a rainy day but sometimes fate throws a spanner in the works. Saying that I am also not too comfortable about him asking for money for whisky as he has stated many times that his Google ad revenue covers his whisky purchases. Perhaps he would have been better advised to ask people directly to sponsor his speed record attempt , these things are nearly always sponsored by certain companies and individuals. and I can't disagree that he could sell off some bottles to raise money either.

As far as the reviews go I haven't listened to a full one for a while ,I usually listen to the review at the beginning and then I skip to the score. Twenty plus minutes is too long for a whisky review. I'll bow to your greater knowledge that he's lost the plot a bit, perhaps the adulation that he gets online has gone to his head .Also he does still respond to Facebook but these days not to everything because he could spend all-day online responding to questions, the amount he gets I would find overwhelming . Saying this I still find Ralfy entertaining and informative I hope he can get back on track because he's one of life's good guy's.

8 years ago 1Who liked this?

@McTeague
McTeague replied

Top bloke. I have no problem with his Scottish crackerbarrel side.

8 years ago 5Who liked this?

@NAV26
NAV26 replied

Who will critique the critics of the critics?

8 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@NAV26 Is that not what we are doing right here?

8 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas replied

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Indeed.

8 years ago 1Who liked this?

@FMichael
FMichael replied

I'll start by saying that I've learned alot from Ralfy when his vlogs were no more than several minutes.

Nowadays I find myself 'fast-forwarding' to the 3/4 mark to get his final notes, and a score.

8 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@OlJas "I don't know. Coast guard?" _ Homer Simpson, 1989

8 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Well, I watched his latest review yesterday and he started right off reminding us how eccentric he is and how idiosyncratic his reviews are and how much he knows and how much of an insider he is. 23 minutes later I'm pretty much bored shitless. The man needs to get over himself. Sorry, but this is essentially ego running rampant. He's probably a very nice guy, but the internet has convinced a lot of people that they can have their 15 minutes of fame and then bleed it dry. Andy Warhol must be turning in his grave.

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

I have to say... the last two were less interesting than usual. Now that I look at things with a different eye... I am even more convinced he has changed.

Sad, really, the earlier stuff was very educational.

Happens to the best of them, Schwartzeneger, Montalban, Ralfy...

8 years ago 1Who liked this?

@NAV26
NAV26 replied

@nozinan, I think this chat is critiquing a critic. In order to critic the critics someone would need to critique the critics of the critic. I personally don't have a lot of time for this sort of thing, but I believe a bit of humility is in order when discussing or comparing ourselves to others interms of personal lives and finances on a public forum. I will say this I find Ralfy a lot more interesting then many of his critics and would rather watch his YouTube videos on whisky than all but a handful of connosrs contributors.

8 years ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@NAV26

Fair points, but the thing about the internet is that once you put yourself forward you lose control of the reaction to your contribution.

Now for someone who posts a tweet or photo of an event or something for others to see, I think it's fair to cut some slack and not be critical, and I would likely not complain.

But in this case Ralfy has changed the mandate that has come only from himself. At first he had a few mainly factual videos on the nuts and bolts of whisky after which he had 3-5 minute reviews on various (mostly accessible) malts. A video version of what some people do here.

This has morphed into more. More of everything. More obscure tastes, more obscure spirits, more topics of discussion, from cigars to politics to health care. He also speaks as an authority on any topic that he chooses to discuss.

I think it is completely appropriate and fair for other people to use the internet to criticize this if we deem it excessive or inaccurate. For goodness sakes, he advocated monthly self rectal exams (I'll spare you the details he got wrong in addition) for prostate cancer. That is just so wrong on so many levels (not just scientifically). And when I pointed this out to him he was unapologetic and never issued a retraction or clarification.

Early on into my time on Connosr I jumped into a topic that I probably should have treaded into much more carefully, and I was criticized as well.

For me, this is like the first time you realized your favourite teacher actually got paid to teach you (you thought she was doing it out of love of teaching).

I like most of his reviews, but I have now grown cynical. Is it something different? Because to me Ralfy is panhandling on youtube.

I see a lot of people on the streets of Toronto who could make better use of the $1-2 a month per person he's asking for....

8 years ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

I remember the topic you jumped into @Nozinan, and that you were roundly scorned for intimating that some connosr members might be prone to drinking a bit too much Oddly, when Ralfy counsels a similar restraint, he is applauded for his public service.

@NAV26, I have to agree with Nozinan that if you put yourself out there on the internet as an authority on almost everything, you better be prepared for others to disagree. Ralfy invites feedback, so he should be prepared for some of it to be negative. Ralfy is essentially preaching to the uninitiated, consequently most of the comments he receives on YouTube reinforce his overinflated view of himself. There are a lot of members on this site who are deeply experienced and well versed on the world of whisky. They know a bullshitter and a self-promoter when they see one.

Don't go away mad, brother, we are all just listening to and learning from each other here. Cheers.

8 years ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Dan fingers. Period (.) between much and Oddly.

8 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Did it again." Damn fingers." I think I'll just go and have a dram of Ardbeg now.

8 years ago 1Who liked this?

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