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Things that make you go, "hmmmmm."

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Rigmorole started a discussion

Ralfy of Ralfy.com has always gravitated to small, craft distilled and aged whiskies without fake carmel coloring (and flavoring in some cases), that's true. He also has terrific taste in whisky, especially single malt whisky, and Bruichladdich is a top notch distillery, to be sure. Ralfy is quite knowledgeable about whisky, and hard alcohol in general, and his personality on Ralfy.com is quite funny, charming, and fun to watch.

However, despite all of these positive reviewer "marks" for Ralfy.com, (I'll give him 92 out of 100), I noticed some coincidences today that I thought maybe some other whisky drinkers would find interesting. I discovered them on my own, so I'm not sure if this is old gossip. If it is, my apologies.

I actually don't like gossip, but I also don't like "funny business" from reviewers that are supposed to be neutral and non-biased in their reviews. I'm not saying Ralfy is biased, etc., but I think the facts (listed below) are worth considering.

Here are the facts:

On May 16, 2010, Ralfy physically went to Bruichladdich and interviewed the manager of the distillery there. That is extremely rare for Ralfy.com. Normally, he sits in his cold basement and chats over a barrel. (Ralfy's whisky reviews have been around since February of 2009.) Ralfy reviewed a fine old bottle of Mount Gay rum on March 7 2011 and gave it a 92, which is a very high rating by his usual scale. Remy Cointreau owns Mount Gay rum. Rum reviews are very rare on Ralfy.com. Out of 336 reviews, only ten or eleven review rum. Why review a Remy product approximately one year before the buyout? Coincidence? Perhaps. That's certainly possible. Ralfy gave the Laddy Ten his Whisky of the Year rating at the end of 2011. It is a great scotch, after all, especially for a ten year.
Ralfy reviewed the Laddy Ten in January of 2012 and give it a Malt Mark of 90, which is quite high for a ten year. I'm not saying that Laddy Ten didn't deserve a 90, I'm just giving the facts. For me, the interesting thing about this review is timing: two favorable reviews of a flagship new direction for Bruichladdich (The Laddy Ten) right around the time that Bruichladdich could have been trying look its best, especially if the hint of a buyout was already "distilling," so to speak.
Remy Cointreau bought Bruichladdich on 23 July 2012.

I appreciate the trivium and quadrivium when it comes to analyzing the facts. I always try to put "who, what, when, and where" before "why."

I will go ahead and leave out "why" in this discussion because that's up to you, the reader. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

I would also like to say this: I enjoy watching Ralfy.com immensely. I like his personality, his taste, and his expertise.

I also like Bruichladdich a great deal as a distillery and I think that the purist direction, moving towards craft whiskies is brilliant. I've tasted four of the single malts from Bruichladdich and enjoyed them all immensely for their unique characteristics. Each was pleasantly different in its own way.

I also like Remy Martin cognac, as well as Mt. Gay rum, although I've never tasted a fine old bottle Mount Gay best. In my younger years, I drank it with soda water on ice.

However, despite all of these things, I don't like to be manipulated as a consumer. I know, I know, it happens all the time, in all sorts of ways, day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade . . . but still, when I turn over a rock and find something odd, I like to point it out to others, just to see if I'm way off base, or if I'm on to something. If I had any friends that I could chat with this over a glass of whisky, I would not put it on the Whisky Wall. But I don't. So here it is.

Let's hope these coincidences are merely that: coincidences and twists of fate. That is certainly one of the explanations. I happen to believe sasquatches a real species of animal, as well. No, I'm serious, I really do. And why is that, you ask? Well, I've really honestly heard ape-like screams and jabbering while camping in deep deep woods of the Pacific Northwest, USA. I've also found questionable tree breaks, heard tree knocking, found very strange scat, etc. Camping in "hot zones" (with sightings) has been a hobby of mine since 1999. Most people would not believe me if I told them about the strange stuff I've encountered in the deep woods in areas that are notorious for sasquatch activity.

This discussion is merely an expression of my curiosity about the whisky business in a forum with people who know more about whisky (and the business world) than I do. I belong to no whisky clubs, I have never gone to a whisky tasting or a whisky event, and yet I absolutely love whisky. My only opinions about the various whiskies that I like or dislike have to do with my own taste buds, my nose, and my brain. I use reviews to find out the "goods" for myself. They help to steer me away from bad purchases, but once I have a bottle of something, I make up my own mind about whether I like it, as do most people.

I have nothing to gain from mentioning the six coincidences (numbered above), other than having my curiosity satisfied from some friendly observations of other connosrs.

I also love Scotland a great deal. Great people, great whisky, great culture. This said, I've never heard any accounts of sasquatches in Scotland. I have heard occasional rumors of "little people" (similar to the hobbits of the Island of Flores in Indonesia?) living in Scotland, and most of those sightings happened centuries ago, but no sasquatch sightings to speak of. . . . .

7 years ago

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@systemdown
systemdown replied

I'm a big fan of Ralfy. I won't comment on any potential conspiracy between Ralfy and Bruichladdich / Remy Cointreau, but I will offer some counter-points to play "devil's advocate".

  1. Ralfy has visited several distilleries in his vlog series, Bruichladdich being one of them. The fact that he visited them in 2010, a full two years prior to any sale to Remy Cointreau would seem to me to be a stretch to suggest any link between early "insider" promotion of Bruichladdich at that time.

There was rumour in both late 2010 and mid-2011 that both Bruichladdich and Ardbeg had been sold; this was quickly squashed by all involved - so as far as the whisky world was concerned, Bruichladdich would not be sold and that was that. In particular, that rumour in late 2010 was vehemently denied by Mark Reynier.

  1. Mount Gay rum is highly available. Ralfy likes to promote spirits that are mostly available to his audience, no matter where they are in the world. As you say this isn't the only rum he has reviewed.

  2. The fact that Ralfy reviewed the Laddie Ten in late 2011 / early 2012 can probably be attributed to the fact that the distillate for the new Laddie Ten under Jim McEwan started in 2001. Hence, the first ten year old was always going to be due in 2011 - of course Ralfy could not have reviewed it any sooner than that. Could he have delayed the review? Probably - but given his appreciation of Bruichladdich dating back to the early days of his reviews (he reviews the 7 year old "Resurrection" dram in review #32 in March 2009) - he would have had an eye on the pending release to give a timely review. Ralfy himself says that he chose the Laddie Ten as his whisky of the year due to its ubiquity and relative affordability instead of going for something in the ultra-premium (and unaffordable) bracket. Again, something that is very consistent with his approach since day 1.

  3. The Laddie Ten most likely deserves a score of 90 as you say so I don't see anything strange there. A score of 95/100 might have raised some eyebrows, however. Ralfy tends to rate on the higher end of the scale from what I've seen, there are much tougher critics out there who are more frugal with their scores.

7 years ago 9Who liked this?

@CanadianNinja

This post hurts my brain...

7 years ago 11Who liked this?

@cpstecroix
cpstecroix replied

I heard Ralfy also has Barrack Obama's Kenyan birth certificate in his bothy.

7 years ago 7Who liked this?

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

I don't think Ralfy has done anything out of character. There aren't many distilleries like Bruichladdich. Another is Springbank which Ralfy has given as much attention. Also Ralfy admitted he used to be a rum drinker. I don't find it strange that he may have liked Mount Gay. I do not suspect Ralfy of pushing anyone's agenda other than his own.

7 years ago 5Who liked this?

@YakLord
YakLord replied

Taking five single points out of context does not make a pattern (you mentioned six, but I only see five). How many other distilleries has he personally, or other individuals he has posted videos from - visited? How many other distillery reps has he interviewed? How many other products has he reviewed? I think if we were to select four different arbitary facts and points in time regarding other reviews / distillery visits that he's done we might be able to conclude something different. As @CanadianNinja said, this post hurts my brain...

7 years ago 5Who liked this?

@thecyclingyogi

can anyone confirm where ralfy was on november 22nd, 1963? seriously, ANYONE???? sure, he was only one year old at the time, but maybe THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE WANTS US TO THINK!!!! who knows how deep this goes, man! time to put my tin foil hat back on and head inside....

7 years ago 7Who liked this?

@two_bitcowboy

I can't seem to locate the mute button on this remote control ...

7 years ago 7Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Nonsensical, illogical, bollocks!

7 years ago 6Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

@systemdown

I'm a fan of Ralfy's sight, as well. Otherwise, I would never have noticed the five points I raise. I mentioned five, not six. Six was a typo.

Systemdown, I like the way you actually put some thought into your post, rather than merely reacting like the others, some of which rely upon straw man fallacies rather than facts.

Systemdown's response is a very cool and interesting post.

If I wasn't a fan of Ralfy, then I would not have noticed the coincidences. It took time watching review after review to notice them.

As I said about Ralfy's score of 90 for The Ten, it was the timing that I noticed, not the score.

As for the other unproductive (but predictable) responses from others: it's worth mentioning that we live in a culture where speculation is considered to be the indulgence of "conspiracy theories." That tendency in the populous (to shrug off conspiracies and to make the phrase "conspiracy theory" a phrase synonymous with unproductive thinking) is a part of our cultural programming by the media, Hollywood, and our governments, which is also a conspiracy to keep us from thinking about conspiracy theories.

The phrase "conspiracy theory" was drummed into our heads by the media thousands of times since 2001. Over and over and over again, always with the same tone and inference: that conspiracies rarely happen and anyone who speculates about a conspiracy is foolish.

In truth: conspiracies are what make the world go round. I can't think of a major economic policy or war in the past century that was not tied to the very definition of a conspiracy, which is "a secret plot on the part of powerful forces."

My post merely raised some possibilities. It did not point the finger at Ralfy. I was interested to hear any feedback about the actual five points raised in the post, rather than defensive and reactionary posturing that is quite boring, actually. . . I merely raised a few possibilities; I did not cast judgment in my post.

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

@cpstecroix

I would also like to point out that Ralfy always, to his credit, speaks out against the mechanization of distillers. This take jobs away from local towns that need them. I personally would much rather drink a glass of hand crafted whisky any day that something that comes out of a robotic plant with computers doing all the work.

As a rule I don't like the buyouts of smaller distillers by massive corporations. That is what got me to thinking about the Bruichladdich buyout and the timing of Ralfy's reviews. If it's not mere coincidence, which it certainly could be (Laddy Ten is a delicious bottle, I'm sure), then Ralfy might be the victim here. He was quite impressed by the local ownership at Bruichladdich and now it is owned by an international corporation. He seemed genuinely charmed by Bruichladdich's management style as well as its fine and creative whiskies when he did that interview of Laddy Ten only five months or so before the buyout by Remy.

I am willing to give him the benefit of any doubt. I was merely pointing out the coincidence of the timing involved in his reviews that certainly didn't hurt the buyout going through.

Let's hope Remy does not mechanize Bruichladdich at the expense of local jobs and "hand crafted" whisky. After all, Remy could continue to produce whisky with no carmel and a good alcohol ratio and still mechanize. I, for one, will be curious if the distiller up there on Islay keeps making whisky the old fashioned way: with human beings that are experts at their own part of making a fine finished product.

Goodness knows, the United States is overrun by foreign corporations moving in with mechanized plants and calling their products "Made in the USA." What's ironic is that many of the Japanese automobile plants that are using mechanized plants on US soil and employing very few local Americans are not even owned at the very top by the Japanese all. They are owned by multinational robber barons that divided the "spoils" after World War II and built up Japan as a workhorse for them. The same thing happened after the Korean war. Poof, magic, after enough of an incubation period, now, miraculously, Korea is a major auto producer as well as a high tech magnate.

My hat's off to the locally owned and managed distilleries in Scotland that have not "sold out" quite literally speaking. Kudos to them!

7 years ago 4Who liked this?

@thecyclingyogi

i think this thread needs to be renamed "things that make you go, what the f...?"

7 years ago 6Who liked this?

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

@rigmorole "Systemdown, I like the way you actually put some thought into your post, rather than merely reacting like the others"

"As for the other unproductive (but predictable) responses from others"

"I was interested to hear any feedback about the actual five points raised in the post, rather than defensive and reactionary posturing that is quite boring, actually"

How was my post not thoughtful and reacting to your points? I was trying to highlight that your concerns actually fit into Ralfy's character completely - not at all out of character for him, and thus, not indicative of anything nefarious. Ditto with @YakLord's response.

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

I was in a hurry and late for work when I typed that. Some of the responses were obviously more than just say "Bollocks" and stuff like that. Yours was great. Sorry about that. Thanks for your reply. I type at 105 words per minute and it's hard for one to read one's work in this little text window.

As for conspiracy theories in Scotland . . . I noticed that the Scottish stopped paying to add " fluoride" in their drinking water. Way to go! It's better not to have fluoride in the water used in whisky production and it's better not to drink low grade industrial fluoride by products in your water.

Bravo to Scotland for stopping the fluoride in water. Too bad that most of the United States pays to pollute its own water with ansenic, low grade fluoride and dozens of other waste products that are labeled "fluoride." The so-called "fluoride" in drinking water is no where near the higher grade fluoride used in toothpaste, by the way.

All of those pollutants are bad for whisky production. Perhaps that is some of the reason that Scotland no longer has "fluoride" in the water.

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

@TheConscience

Your "theory" is based on the most fragile coincidences and correlations. You have no evidence, or even a compelling narrative, to make your case.

Worse still for your "theory", systemdown and valuewhisky provide explanations for the coincidences you observe that are more accurate, more elegant, and more compelling than yours, and which fit all of the facts you raise. Occam's razor - look it up.

I am amazed though, because you really do have a proper conspiracy theory here. However, your tirade against 'conspiracy theories' and how they are 'shrugged off' by a lemming-like population is a straw man argument, again, devoid of any real concrete evidence. Your bizarre tangents don't really help your case, either.

While you’re here, though, you should make a case for how Ralfy and the Loch Ness monster faked the moon landing.

7 years ago 6Who liked this?

@MCM
MCM replied

@TheConscience, but my favorite part so far was the conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories.

7 years ago 4Who liked this?

@cpstecroix
cpstecroix replied

Informed, logical speculation is healthy. The opposite does nothing more than undermine otherwise good people by planting seeds of doubt, no matter how preposterous the claim may be. Defeating rumours and slander is always a losing proposition for the maligned party. The real harm conspiracy theories have, though, is to distract the population from real, informed debate on topics which matter. In this case, the (now tired) discussion of the economic viability of craft distillation in the face of large, monied conglomerates has taken second seat to baseless speculation that Ralfy may be some sort of (willing or otherwise) corporate stooge.

I get it, speculating about conspiracies is fun, in the same way that gossiping is fun. To my mind, they have about the same moral character as well.

So, moving this discussion(?) on; what's your favourite dram these days @rigmarole?

7 years ago 5Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

For those people who missed the whole point of my conversation, here it is:

--On May 16, 2010, Ralfy physically went to Bruichladdich and interviewed the manager of the distillery there. That is extremely rare for Ralfy.com. Normally, he sits in his cold basement and chats over a barrel. (Ralfy's whisky reviews have been around since February of 2009.)

--Ralfy reviewed a fine old bottle of Mount Gay rum on March 7 2011 and gave it a 92, which is a very high rating by his usual scale. Remy Cointreau owns Mount Gay rum. Rum reviews are very rare on Ralfy.com. Out of 336 reviews, only ten or eleven review rum. Why review a Remy product approximately one year before the buyout? Coincidence? Perhaps. That's certainly possible.

--Ralfy gave the Laddy Ten his Whisky of the Year rating at the end of 2011. It is a great scotch, after all, especially for a ten year.

--Ralfy reviewed the Laddy Ten in January of 2012 and give it a Malt Mark of 90, which is quite high for a ten year. I'm not saying that Laddy Ten didn't deserve a 90, I'm just giving the facts. For me, the interesting thing about this review is timing: two favorable reviews of a flagship new direction for Bruichladdich (The Laddy Ten) right around the time that Bruichladdich could have been trying look its best, especially if the hint of a buyout was already "distilling," so to speak. (Timing, timing, timing, as in the calendar day and year, is what I find interesting here, NOT the malt mark.)

--Remy Cointreau bought Bruichladdich on 23 July 2012.

7 years ago 4Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

@cpstecroix Your reply went up as I was composing my latest reply, which was merely meant to show how my innocent original curiosity inspired this conversation that has quickly degraded into people taking pot shots at me.

I just saw your reply, cpsetecroix. Thanks for asking about my favorite dram. I really like Glenfarclas 21 these days. Delicious. I'm also debating buying a bottle of the Laddy Ten. I'm very curious about it.

Thank you for asking. I hope your "whisky moments," as Ralfy says, have been happy and rewarding as of late.

All the best, rigmorole

7 years ago 1Who liked this?

@TheConscience

@rigmorole Your conversation had a point? I mean, an actual valid point other than your baseless conspiratorial musing? cpstecroix summarized the danger of this kind of 'conversation', especially in the bit about baseless speculation. You need to read his post very carefully. And if you are ruffled by these malicious and deleterious 'pot shots', perhaps you should refrain from posting baseless speculation in a public forum.

Now, on to more important things like our shared appreciation for Glenfarclas 21. I also recommend the Laddie 10.

7 years ago 4Who liked this?

@cpstecroix
cpstecroix replied

Glenfarclas 21 is great, as is the Laddie 10. Personal favs for me right now are Glendronach 15 and Flaming Heart 4.

7 years ago 1Who liked this?

@NilsG
NilsG replied

Can someone help me out and bump up removed comments to at least -4, I wanna read all of this!

7 years ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

Hmmmm is what I usually say when pondering the selection of Stilton vs Danish Blue to pair with Laphroaig Quarter Cask.

7 years ago 1Who liked this?

@NilsG
NilsG replied

@rigmorole Just want to say that the way I read your post I didn't get the feeling you were trying to slander Ralphie, and I don't think you meant any harm. I completely disagree that your observations give any indication of Ralphie being biased, but I don't have a problem with you asking the questions. I don't think less of you for it, and it doesn't upset me. And I hope you will continue to be contribute to connosr despite this posts negative response.

Athough I would recommend thinking twice about posting thoughts that could be discrediting loved-by-all whisky vloggers. And mentioning Sasquatch will never add any weight to your arguments in a whisky related discussion.

7 years ago 6Who liked this?

Rigmorole replied

@NilsG Bra att höra från dig! Tack.

7 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Wills
Wills replied

Comments get buried? I can't read them then :(

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

indynoir replied

@NilsG: Nice to see someone who can make observations or critiques with class. I found some of the snarky comments a real put off, even if there was merit to the content of some of there criticism. Intolerance and lack of empathy with others opinion is tending toward narcissism. There should be no place for that on a gentlemans site.

7 years ago 2Who liked this?

@ajjarrett
ajjarrett replied

I am not sure if many of you still watch online reviewers to help shape your opinion, or even to get an idea of a whisk(e)y before buying, but must admit I have decreased my consumption. I have been watching more cat and Asian small claw otter videos. HA! But I digress. In one of the more recent Ralfy reviews on the Glendronach 18yo Allardice he spent of time taking issue with the new expression found on the container. It used to say, "Natural Colour", but now it says, "Natural Cask-Imparted Colour." Raldy took issue with it because (if I remember correctly, and no I won't go and re-watch to be 100% sure) that there is a way they heat the inside of the cask in order to elicit the existing sugars to add color but can avoid adding E150A.

I must admit, back in the day, Ralfy's consumer advocacy was one to follow and support. Now, I just think it has become almost a cult mantra and making some people whisk(e)y snobs, based on colour, ABV and filtration (or the lack there of). Again, I digress.

My post on this thread is to ask you all three questions:

First, have you seen this bit by Ralfy? If so, do you 'agree', 'disagree', or find it a non-issue.

Second, what do you personally (setting aside Ralfy) think of the change in language, which by the way is also on the containers for the 12yo, and I assume all of the more recent releases.

Lastly, if you do watch Ralfy's review of the Glendronach 18yo, I actually recommend (I usually don't do this) reading the comments below. There was an 'interesting' exchange on the topic of whether or not the label on the bottle is the so-called 'contract' with the consumer, while others argued the information stated on the containters is also a 'contract' with the consumer. What's interesting is, Ralfy did respond and defending his position. Any thoughts?

I must admit, after reading some of the comments, my first thought was, "Damn I need to watch some cat videos." My second thought was, "Damn, I need a stiff drink." My final thought before I went to the cat videos, "Some people take these things a bit too far, just buy what you enjoy and get on with it."

2 days ago 1Who liked this?

@ajjarrett
ajjarrett replied

I am not sure if many of you still watch online reviewers to help shape your opinion, or even to get an idea of a whisk(e)y before buying, but must admit I have decreased my consumption. I have been watching more cat and Asian small claw otter videos. HA! But I digress. In one of the more recent Ralfy reviews on the Glendronach 18yo Allardice he spent of time taking issue with the new expression found on the container. It used to say, "Natural Colour", but now it says, "Natural Cask-Imparted Colour." Raldy took issue with it because (if I remember correctly, and no I won't go and re-watch to be 100% sure) that there is a way they heat the inside of the cask in order to elicit the existing sugars to add color but can avoid adding E150A.

I must admit, back in the day, Ralfy's consumer advocacy was one to follow and support. Now, I just think it has become almost a cult mantra and making some people whisk(e)y snobs, based on colour, ABV and filtration (or the lack there of). Again, I digress.

My post on this thread is to ask you all three questions:

First, have you seen this bit by Ralfy? If so, do you 'agree', 'disagree', or find it a non-issue.

Second, what do you personally (setting aside Ralfy) think of the change in language, which by the way is also on the containers for the 12yo, and I assume all of the more recent releases.

Lastly, if you do watch Ralfy's review of the Glendronach 18yo, I actually recommend (I usually don't do this) reading the comments below. There was an 'interesting' exchange on the topic of whether or not the label on the bottle is the so-called 'contract' with the consumer, while others argued the information stated on the containters is also a 'contract' with the consumer. What's interesting is, Ralfy did respond and defending his position. Any thoughts?

I must admit, after reading some of the comments, my first thought was, "Damn I need to watch some cat videos." My second thought was, "Damn, I need a stiff drink." My final thought before I went to the cat videos, "Some people take these things a bit too far, just buy what you enjoy and get on with it."

And if you see my photo of my recent purchase of the Glendronach 18yo you can see the change on the container. The photo is on the thread of "which bottle did you just buy and why?"

2 days ago 0

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@ajjarrett Your purchase of the Glendronach 18 was based on having tasted it on Japan. Whisky as with anything changes over time, from batch to batch, Glendronach, Benriach, and Glenglassaugh, purchased from Billy Walker are under the ownership Brown-Forman. The Glendronach you tried in Japan ... was it the same version you recently purchased? The 15 Revival is now matured in PX and Oloroso Cask, the 18 continues to use Oloroso Cask maturation. The consistency between the Billy Walker and Rachel Barrie bottling is that the bottle label has never stated " Non Chill Filtered - Natural Colour". That, is found on the Tube Container. A lot of people seem to have been imfluenced by the article "Glendronach is older than the what the label states". Older may not always better. There are Glendronach Fanboys with a mania much like Springbank fanboys. Trust your own taste. It would have been more prudent to have purchased your Glendronach 18 when you tasted it on Japan. The only way for you to know is to crack open a bottle and determine for yourself how it compares to your taste memory or notes. Then again watchimg funny cat videos with a dram could be way more entertaining. It beats the heĺl out of watching the curmudgeon.

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