Despite knowing that a number of humorless curmudgeons find this kind of thing annoying, I’ve always enjoyed concocting some cockamamie story about some preposterous whisky-related something or other for April Fool’s Day. I’ve enjoyed it despite occasionally not going far enough, or perhaps more accurately, underestimating how ridiculously far the whisky/booze/bar industry goes and ending up writing something kind of plausible despite its implausibility. So this year when I sat down to write something funny, it took me all of about three minutes to realize that whatever it was I had in mind, the industry had already beaten me to it.
I could’ve written a story about a new major release that comes in special 500ml “compact” bottles but costs even more than most other standard-size releases…but that just sounds stupid and no one would think getting less for more was funny.
I could’ve made up some bullcrap about a big whiskey heist, some Smokey and the Bandit caper where two charming guys in tight pants make off with a large amount of over-hyped bourbon…but no one really thinks stealing overrated whiskey is worth going to jail for, that’s just silly.
I could’ve gone macabre and made something up about a blended whisky brand creating a scant few, customized, presumably collectible bottles to house their cheap blended whisky. Instead of the usual fancy wooden box, or overblown Lalique crystal decanter, these special bottles could be made to look like tattooed skin because, you know, nothing says class like drinking cheap scotch out of some tattooed guys leg. Nah, nevermind, that’s gross.
I could’ve spun a yarn about a guy who walks into a liquor shop and buys a bottle of readily available Scotch for $90 and goes home to find that the same bottle just sold for three times that much at auction…and a mini of the same whisky sold for four times what he paid. People are stupid, we all know that, but a story like that…that’s going too far, people are not that pathetic, are they?
I could’ve written a hypothetical scenario wherein some huge, impossibly greedy company decides it’s ok to suck up the valuable legislative time of a state’s government by “persuading” a congressman to introduce a doomed-from-the-start law that attempts to weaken the standards by which a rival company makes a product. Nevermind the fact that the rival company sucked up valuable legislative time creating the standards in the first place, ostensibly to protect the heritage of the state, but really just to protect their own brand. The rival company got there first, so fair play to them. Nobody likes to read fiction about big companies forcing politicians to do their dirty work.
If I was really clever, I would’ve followed up the above story with another bit of farce wherein the huge, impossibly greedy company, stung by the legislative loss, decides to sue the state they previously had cozied up to for having a 77 year-old law that just doesn’t fit into their money-making…er, sorry, doesn’t allow them to make the best whisky they can. No one would think that kind of thing would happen in real life. Whisky companies don’t spend all their time influencing lawmakers and hiring armies of lawyers, they spend their time coming up with brainy schemes like expensive 500ml bottles of NAS whisky.
Speaking of armies of lawyers, maybe there could’ve been a funny story about a big company getting sued for using a name like “the Explorers Club” when there already was an Explorers Club. Instead of firing the intern who didn’t do the due diligence in researching the name, the big company could argue that their “Explorer’s Club” has a possessive apostrophe and the original does not – a semantic difference, yes, but an important one, especially since one club is dedicated to the exploration of the land, sea, air, and space, and the other club is dedicated to the exploration of overpriced travel retail booze and business class amenities.
Or maybe instead of an army of lawyers, there could be a navy of lawyers from one big company shouting, “avast!” to another big company for using a suspiciously similar sea-faring character to sell cheap rum. Everyone likes a good courtroom drama and the climax to this poop deck would be when the prosecutor, coolly antagonistic in a pretty nice suit practically mounts the witness and with all the confidence of Trafalgar square behind him, queries, “did Admiral Horatio Nelson actually wear an eyepatch or did you just make that shit up to compete with our mustachioed pirate?” High drama to be sure.
That courtroom stuff is pretty good. I could’ve written something about packs of whisky bloggers, egos running amok, snapping at each others throats and constantly fighting off accusations of ethical sluttiness and industry crony-ism by people who apparently hate whisky blogs yet spend all their time reading and commenting on them, or even “writing” their own, but there’s no story arc there. The characters are flaccid, the rising action tepid at best, and the denouement more concerned with page views and web rankings than anything else.
No, in the end, this year there will be no April Fool’s post. In the same way one red-blooded, cross-waving faction of American politics keep preempting the lampoonists and satirists by saying unbelievably stupid things, the whisky industry keeps churning out crap that sets the bar mighty high in terms of churning out lampoonist and satirical crap that makes fun the of whisky industry.