“Print is dead.” -Egon Spengler, NYC, 1984
I’m an enormously big fan of books, magazines, leaflets, broadsides, and the occasional flyer. I have never read an e-book and I do not own, nor do I plan to own a Kindle. I’m not against that kind of thing, and certainly do my share of online reading, but my preference leans heavily towards the real printed thing. Perhaps I inherited this love from my father, let’s call him The Common Reader.
So my interest was definitely piqued to hear about Distilled Magazine, a new print-only publication whose first issue came out in May. In a time when most magazines and newspapers seem to be struggling to find ways to stay relevant in the real world and monetize themselves in the online world, it’s refreshing (and not a little eyebrow-raising) to see a new publication devoted to being available only as printed material.
The magazine is published by Johanna Ngoh, the founder and executive producer of the long-running Spirit of Toronto whisky and spirits show. Ngoh has also been writing about whisky and spirits for well over 10 years (check out this great interview with Ngoh on misswhisky.com.) Her editor’s note lays out the vision for the bi-annual magazine nicely: in-depth stories to savor in print only, about the craft of fine spirits-making.
Just to give an idea on the breadth and scope of the first issue, there are articles on Gentian root and a small Swiss producer of Gentian eau de vie, the perennially under-the-radar Ben Nevis distillery, Italian distiller straordinario Gianni Capovilla, Armagnac producer Martine Lafitte of Domaine Boingnères, the history of Tiki drinks, and a profile of Catoctin Creek and their rye whiskey. There’s also a section of spirit reviews, a detailed look at the Singapore Sling, and welcome section of good spirits books to read.
Firing up a print-only, artisan spirits mag doesn’t sound like an easy path to success in this day and age, but Ngoh sees potential in what she calls “passion publications”. I very much enjoyed Distilled’s premier issue, the writing is warm and appreciative, the photos are excellent, and the subject matter a good combination of off-the-beaten-path with timely and relevant. Well done, people, I’ll definitely look forward to more of the same with the second issue.