I’ve just returned from Islay, the quintessential whisky island. I spent a glorious week there in a cottage along with Canadians Graham MacKenney and Johanne McInnis (of whiskylassie fame) and Ansgar and Thomas Speller (the team behind whiskyspeller). But this post is not going to be a travel report, not really.
On Islay, there is a custom known as the ‘Islay Wave’. When the local motorists pass each other on the island’s often single track roads, they wave. This takes many forms, from a barely visible lifting of the finger through a reserved opening of the hand to a full on enthusiastic ‘hi there, haven’t seen you in years, how ARE you!?!’. This custom is participated in gladly by visitors (once in the know) and gives driving on Islay a special, welcoming feel. Even though none of these people know who you are, they extend a hand in what I interpret to mean: ‘thank you for sharing this road with me, and may you have a good journey’. They don’t know anything about you, yet give you a small unconditional token of respect.
Another phenomenon I was made aware of during the past week is #whiskyfabric. Originally a twitter hashtag it means as much as ‘the mesh which is composed of all those writing, twittering, conversing and facebooking about whisky’. It took me a while to catch on to this one, probably because my twitter presence in the past few years has been lurking at best ;). Whisky (and by extension, whiskyfabric) has had glorious success in the past years, growing and growing with new voices adding themselves to the weave daily (one of which was mine). With this growth however, there is an increase in (strongly worded, sometimes volatile and crass) dissenting opinions as well. More often than even a short 4 years ago, when I started being interested in whisky, this results in ugly arguments and the im- or explicit formation of like minded groups with, at times, a rather hostile view of the ‘others’ and no great scruple in expressing that view.
I feel that there is a potential loss of diversity there. While a tartan made from just 2 colours can certainly be a nice piece of cloth, the addition of a few more does make a much more interesting weave, in my opinion. Therefore I propose a Whiskyfabric Wave, not so much in the physical or electronical, but the metaphorical sense. If you see someone expressing an opinion which is completely against your beliefs or principles, at least grant them the courtesy of acknowledging that they too have been gripped by the water of life. You may think they in it for all the wrong reasons, do all the wrong things, but they are part of the fabric. The least you can do is give them that cursory measure of respect by not dismissing them out of hand. If however, upon further inspection, you discover they are immature twats which should not be allowed to own a computer let alone a twitter account, by all means block them and tell the world
p.s. the above picture was taken on Jura. Sue me.