Robert Parker, The Whiskey Critic


May 8, 2013

As renowned wine critic Robert Parker apparently enters the whiskey critic space, the whiskey blogger world has sent a clear message: Keep out.

Parker, 65, sold his 34-year-old Wine Advocate in 2012 and faced international scrutiny after his employee, Jay Miller, allegedly took a “cut-price deal of €20,000” to write reviews on Spanish wine. More recently, Parker’s Wine Advocate sued its former employee Antonio Galloni, who earned $300,000 annually for reviewing wine.

Suffice it to say, Parker limps toward his second act.

If he hopes to make a new career in whiskey writing, he’s off to a bad start.

KL Wines Spirits Journal pointed out that Parker gave “Rollins Creek” a score of 94 points in his newsletter. While no Rollins Creek exists, Rowan’s Creek, made by Willet, sure is delicious bourbon.

Bourbon Hall of Fame writer Chuck Cowdery calls Parker’s comparison of Hudson to the hard-to-find Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old insane.

The harshest review comes from Tim Read of Scotch & Ice Cream in his post, “Taking The Bait – Git Offa Our Property, Park!” Read uses Parkers words against the wine critic, pointing out how Parker wanted to write about bourbon after watching the FX tv show Justified. That’s true. Parker said that.

So, here we are: A legendary wine critic entering the whiskey space after watching television.

I say, let the readers decide.

Just as wine readers demand terroir definitions or properly spelled grapes, whiskey enthusiasts will not reward brand misspellings or comparisons of 4-year-old New York bourbon to 23-year-old Stitzel-Weller-made product. Does he know about Stitzel-Weller?

Parker will bring 50,000 more readers, who will buy subscriptions to magazines I write for and will read KL’s, Read’s and Cowdery’s blogs. His dance with whiskey is good for all of us.

But, if he wants this to be more than a one night stand, Parker has a long way to go before he commands the same respect level he did in wine.

Thanks to Parker, most Cabernet Sauvignons are bottled at 14.5% alcohol and 12.5% alcohol is nearly extinct in the United States.

Can he influence similar change in whiskey?

Only if readers let him.