Finally, we are here today and featuring the Scotch and Time interview. This interview is long overdue but seeing as how Eric is such a busy guy, we were able to fit it in. Most of you don’t really know who or what Eric is really about, unless you’ve had the pleasure to attend his events, or speak to him on the gram. They say with age comes wisdom, that would mean Eric is full of wisdom… On the other hand Eric is the founder of the Scotch and Time series events. He saw a gap in the market and filled it with his own solution, the scotch and time solution. Why Scotch and Time? Who the hell knows.. I think it has something to do with his geeky fascination of watches.. but don’t hold me to that. What I do know, is that Eric, knows his craft. So sit back and enjoy the read.
Eric, a lot of people know you and your account for the different things you’ve done in the whisky industry. But I know your first love was wine. Tell us how did that transition from wine to whisky occur what triggered the change?
E: Ha! , I was known for watches before either. I am actually more knowledgeable on the watch side than either wine or whisky. Unless you have millions of dollars in timepieces there’s really no way to take the same 10-20 watches and spice it up enough to make a fun IG Page unless you’re an amazing photographer which I DEFINITELY am not. I collected wine fairly heavily from about 2000-2010 but as some of my collection started to peak (age wise) I found it difficult to drink enough of it. I was a workaholic and at the end of a long day I wanted a glass (not a bottle) and pre Coravin and other methods to extend wine it wasn’t practical to open a good bottle and waste it. Suddenly an ounce of Macallan 18 a couple times a week was a great alternative. Sometimes I was so exhausted I fell asleep after a sip. The next morning I woke up covered the glass with a napkin and it was just as good the next day. As you know a bottle of sealed whisky lasts indefinitely and even an open bottle under the right conditions is good for years. So the love affair began lol.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
E: Honestly whisky is NOT my passion. Interacting with people is my passion. I enjoy whisky of course but I can easily go a month without drinking any alcohol. To be honest I drink far less than a guy who posts a bottle twice a day should. I love buying bottles, not as an investment but just because I want to learn. Meeting people and becoming friends with the many great people in the industry where we meet an enjoy each others company in whisky and non whisky events are what I have enjoyed most. I have made some really great friends here and I think I have connected many people on IG. That brings me more pleasure than just the Whisky itself.
What were you like growing up?
E: I loved all sports. Being a little guy I had to be faster and stronger in order to compete. I think that’s what created the mentality and mindset I have now. All my life I had people telling me what I couldn’t do and rather than wallowing and sulking it created a drive. When I’m told I can’t do something I make it a mission to do it. It doesn’t upset me and I don’t do it to prove anyone wrong. I do it for myself. Every challenge is a lesson. I was really a shy quiet kid growing up. I’m the same now only I’m less quiet. Still, shy although no one believes me. I’m pretty much the same guy off and on social media. I’m quiet when I’m with strangers still.
Most people have been to a whisky fest or a whisky live event or a private $3000 a ticket whisky tasting event. But your Scotch and Time Series events are free and populated by some of the rarest whisky available. What else should we know about the Scotch and Time Series events? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
E: It’s not a competition. I find myself in conversations and sometimes comparisons with these big Whisky Events and I guess I’ve never really explained what the Scotchandtimeseries is. I created it as a thank you to the Brands who supported me when I was a nobody….. not that I’m anyone now. When you don’t have many followers and yet brands support you because they like who you are or what you do, it makes you want to give something back. What can you give them though?? I decided to bring my IG friends and the brands that I enjoy together so they can meet and learn from each other. I think many people have met through the Series. More importantly, many friendships have been created. So yes it’s a sponsored party. The brands get exposure as well as making connections with top whisky influencers. You can’t buy tickets and you can’t ask for an invite so it’s not an event. You can be a brand partner/sponsor or you can be a friend who also happens to have a passion for whisky.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
E: I did this page as an escape from my crazy work schedule. I don’t measure it as successful or not. I’m definitely not in competition except for with Ely @thescotchwhisperer just to bug him lol
How do you think the spirits industry will change over the next decade?
E: I think the spirits industry has to really make a bigger effort to embrace and understand how to make social media work for them. It’s a powerful and cost-effective tool but as with everything you need to know how to best use the tool in order to be effective. The ones that can do that will grow quickly.
What marketing strategies do you find work best to appeal to your audience?
E: Marketing what??!! I honestly do this for enjoyment. I don’t use any strategy. I post pics and just write up a random caption. A post takes 2-3 minutes for me to type up and I never put any thought into it. I get asked how I can post 2-3x a day. A simple answer is that the 3 posts take less than 15 minutes combined. The rest of the time I’m just socializing. Wouldn’t IG be more fun if you’re not always trying to one-up someone?? When you’re not checking how many likes and comments you have all day?? There are very few paid Whiskygrammers so using up so much effort for a piece of the pie that doesn’t exist seems irrational.
Eric help us break the stereotype once and for all. A lot of whisky aficionados and snobs state that the older the whisky is the better it tastes. Is there any truth to that statement or should we not judge whisky based purely on the numbers.
E: I have never given specific reviews on whisk(e)y. I will share what I enjoy but I’ve never paid much attention to it. I believe that its a personal preference and don’t want to try to skew someone’s opinion. If someone enjoys a particular style of whisky (sherry bomb, Islay peat, wheated bourbon, etc) I try to make recommendations of what else they may enjoy. Getting into a what is better is almost like politics. I try to avoid it. There are many reasons why older whisky is more expensive and that I’m more than happy to discuss because it helps to put it in perspective. It’s great to have an open mind. You learn the most that way.
Eric how do you choose which brands to work with?
E: For my events, the only requirement is that you make great whisk(e)y. It helps if they already understand what I do. If I have to explain it I generally tend to avoid working with a brand. In order for any relationship to work there has to be mutual respect. If a brand doesn’t do it’s due diligence beforehand it shows me that they don’t value social media and what it brings to the table for them. I don’t ever want to convince someone to work with me. I want them to come to me because they see the value in what I do. Macallan and Highland Park have always been my biggest supporters. Without them, there would probably not be a Scotchandtime Series. Brands like Dancing Goat who went out of their way to establish a relationship and appreciated what I do also helps. I think they’ve benefited greatly because they embraced the type of exposure I provide.
When did you realize that publishing your photos on Instagram could potentially become a career?
E: Again, I don’t think of it as a career nor did I set out for it to be. I had to start charging for brands to participate because I had to cover costs for travel and food. Soon it got to the point that I was putting 2-3 months preparing for events and dealing with logistics and finding the best people to participate. So I had to leave one of my jobs in order to keep the events growing. So if taking a $50k a year pay-cut is a career it’s one I wouldn’t recommend unless you love what you do.
What have been the major challenges for you hosting the Scotch and Time series events?
E: Finding the right venue is always the biggest challenge. Then finding the right people to attend the events. It’s not about inviting the biggest influencers because often they come and drink and connect with brands but they don’t post or support it. So when that happens you must be able to learn from it and make sure that the next time you’re clear on what you expect for the free admission or you don’t invite them anymore. If someone has 5k followers but post 20x that’s better than someone with 40k that posts once or not at all. Stories are fine but posts are what the brands look for. I never tell someone what to post but I do tell them they must post. Without this why would brands bring rare bottles and pay to support the event??
Based on personal experiences, what advice would you give Spirit PR companies in terms of engagement with consumers and working with the right Influencers?
E: Usually PR Companies do more than just whisk(e)y and spirits. It’s not a bad idea to use someone “in the know” to help make suggestions on the event setup and who to invite. Paying a little money up front will more than makeup for the headaches that are saved and the time wasted trying to find the right people. Don’t try to do everything. Reach out to someone but be fair and compensate them. There is doing something because of passion and then being taken advantage of.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
E: I hope there was some value here for the readers. I’m actually fairly private and I know I’ve been avoiding this interview for a LONG time. I just don’t do it for the limelight. I do it for fun and I hope that most of you also do it for fun. It’s just IG so don’t do it for others. People either like you or they don’t and I KNOW I have plenty of both that follow my Instagram. We can be ourselves. We are going to get judged either way so if I’m gonna be damned I’d rather be damned for being me rather than being damned for being someone else. Thanks for taking the time to read.