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There’s a heating and cooling company in the metro Detroit area with a rather interesting radio commercial.

In short, the commercial presents the company’s services by introducing the owner who, over the course of about thirty seconds, speaks in a way that implies that he’s performed some sort of scientific analysis of the wants of his customers. Eventually he ends the bit by saying something like, “And what I discovered is that people want to be treated as I would want to be treated.”


I think I understand what he’s trying to emphasize. He, like anyone else, would want a good product at a fair price, and that’s just what he intends to do for his clients. But I should mention that by presenting his business practices this way, he made it sound as though he only recently learned this very important tenet of capitalism, and the discovery came only after significant data mining. In context, the whole commercial could be interpreted as trying to communicate that he’s been in business for forty years, but over the course of the last thirty-nine of those years, he would have ripped you off. The last thirty-nine, he would have given you a crappy product at an ungodly price. But now in his fortieth year, the numbers prove that’s not the way to do business.

Again, hmm.

I know, I know. Any reasonable person probably wouldn’t dig that deeply into the commercial’s actual—as opposed to perceived—messaging. But still, here’s what you said. Here’s what implications come from the words chosen and then arranged. I’m not sure I want to do business with you because it took thirty-nine years to figure out something that I have to believe is fairly basic to business administration.

I’m not a business man, but even as a kid selling painted rocks at my mom’s garage sale, I knew there was a very real delta where price and quality met. I was nine. I needed money to buy new handlebars and grips for my bike, and I knew that I couldn’t sell these ridiculous things for a dollar. But with a price tag of fifty cents and a pitiful look, I could probably unload a few. Still, even with such a risky business plan, I knew that for fifty cents, the rocks better be painted pretty frickin’ amazingly, otherwise I’d most certainly be filing for bankruptcy before my mom yelled for me at noon to come in from the sun for a sandwich.

I think I sold four or five. When I dropped the price to twenty-five cents, I sold ten more in half the time. Of course it was to various grandmothers who really only did so because they felt sorry for me. Sure, it took me two or three hours in between to find the balance, but either way, its premise was instinctual.

Again, maybe I’m being unreasonable. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe. But go ahead and admit it—it’s nitpicking like this that’s necessary when it comes to offering or withholding whisky endorsements. If I (and so many others) didn’t listen to every word of each dram’s pitch, you might end up wasting your hard-earned cash on something you wish you hadn’t. Of course, in the end, it’s all opinion. You can take it or leave it. But one thing is for sure: The person sitting where I’m sitting is listening very carefully.

I “listened” very recently to the Exceptional Blend from Sutcliffe & Son, and once again, these guys are proving to have all of the whisky instincts in place and up front for a really great dram. No, Sutcliffe and Son isn’t a powerhouse distillery. Last I heard, it’s barely a handful of folks, and all are very dedicated to fashioning good whisky—not selling it—making it. The proof is in this blend.

The nose is one of fine inspiration. I could hear—um, I mean, smell—the influence of a honeyed Balvenie and a sherried Macallan. Of course I can’t say for sure that these even exist in the blend. You’ll have to look somewhere else for that information. Nevertheless, these sweeter waftings sing a tender song that carries you into a palate of glazed walnuts, thinned cream, nougaty cherries, and maybe even turning toward something a little drier—something Merlot-like.

The finish is a swift end to the melody, although there are a few instruments still ringing after the symphony has quieted—namely the cherries and the glaze.

In the end, Sutcliffe and Son aren’t trying to sell you painted rocks. They certainly aren’t giving the impression that they’re figuring out this whole whisky-making thing as they go. These guys know what they’re doing and they’re mixing up good stuff.

But there is one fault I need to share. I’ll be darned if I can’t get this stuff here in Michigan. It makes me crazy. I have to review these tiny little vials that contain a little more than a shot, and once they’re empty, they have me leeching on them like a deer tick.

“Just… a… little… more…”

Sheesh. For cryin’ out loud, get this stuff to Michigan, already!