Storm waves pound the Islay coast near Port Wemyss, September 2011.

When the waves are crashing and the water’s rising around you, it helps to have some basic principles in mind. These are ours.

Each week, you give us valuable time to talk about whisky. Your trust and devotion allows us to share the story of whisky in ways we never imagined years ago, and we will always respect your time and your passion for whisky.

In today’s world, it is important to understand where the information you trust comes from and how it is obtained — but it’s just whisky, you say. Consumers buy billions of dollars’ worth of whisky every year around the world. Whisky is a business, and WhiskyCast strives to apply the same ethics and principles of any well-respected media organization in our coverage of the whisky industry.

To be transparent, and to keep you in-the-loop of the community you’ve helped to build, here are some things you should know about the journalistic and business sides of WhiskyCast:

WhiskyCast reports facts, except in the tasting sections of the media platform where opinions are clearly marked. On the rare occasions where Mark Gillespie offers commentary on a subject, it’ll be clearly identified as such.  We very rarely use PR people in interviews — we interview the people who make the whisky you drink because we believe in getting you as close to the cask as possible. We cover news based solely on its editorial value, and neither ask for nor accept any compensation for covering a story on WhiskyCast.

WhiskyCast does accept advertising in a way which we believe it best fits into the community — including limiting the number of advertisements in each podcast, and guaranteeing access to small brands and emerging brands for certain WhiskyCast offerings. We do this so you don’t feel overwhelmed with ads, our advertisers get exposure, and growing whisky brands can advertise in a venue within their financial and distribution constraints. Any brand partner on WhiskyCast has agreed to our advertising policies and understands they have no editorial control over the content of WhiskyCast. We take all possible steps to avoid confusion between editorial and advertising content, and do not accept any “pay-for-play” content from outside entities.

WhiskyCast does accept expenses-paid trips to cover some stories, but always fully discloses that fact during the story, and only accepts the trip if the story has editorial merit and WhiskyCast retains all editorial control.  In some cases, the organizers of a whisky festival or event may pay for what is commonly known in the U.S. radio industry as a “remote broadcast” along with our travel expenses, and again, we will disclose that when it happens.

In rare cases, we are offered a “sneak preview” of whiskies to be announced at a future date under what’s known in journalism as an “embargo” — an agreement that the story will not be reported until a specific date and time. While we don’t like the practice, we will honor embargoes as long as the story does not appear elsewhere before the specific date and time previously agreed to. In other words, WhiskyCast won’t be the first news outlet to break an embargo, but once it’s broken, we will report the story. This policy is common practice at many major news organizations, and it allows us the ability to do more extensive reporting in advance to help bring you more complete coverage of a story.

With the rise of interest in whisky-based investments, we should note that the partners in CaskStrength Media do not own any stock in spirits companies, either directly or through mutual funds. We also do not participate in the various whisky auction markets, either as a buyer or seller.

WhiskyCast accepts samples for nosing and scoring, and it is often the only way we can obtain a sample for an expression not sold in the U.S. We comply with U.S. Federal Trade Commission regulations requiring that we disclose which samples we receive for review. Other than the sample received, WhiskyCast has never, and will never, accept any consideration for adding a whisky into the tasting notes section or for scoring discretion.

Currently, WhiskyCast (CaskStrength Media) does not do consulting work for distilleries, and has not accepted payment from whisky producers for anything other than advertising on WhiskyCast’s various platforms or the production of branded podcast series completely separate from the content we produce for WhiskyCast.

WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie does participate as a judge in whisky competitions where entries are judged blindly, and where no compensation is paid except for travel expenses to a central judging site.

There’s one area where we need to clarify a point of writing style, as many whisky makers have earned advanced university degrees and use the title of “Dr.”. We use Associated Press style, as is common practice among many news organizations, and “AP Style” traditionally limits the use of the “Dr.” title to those who hold degrees in medicine, dentistry, optometry, or veterinary science. In our show notes and other copy on the web site, we will use “Ph.D.” on first reference to someone who holds that degree. For those who have been awarded honorary degrees, we applaud the work that led to that significant honor, but will not refer to them as “Dr.” or list the degree after their name. We should note that in some U.S. states, medical societies have persuaded state lawmakers to actually make it illegal for anyone who does not hold a medical, dentistry, optometry, or veterinary science degree to refer to themselves as “Doctor.” 

It boils down to this: the WhiskyCast team has more than 40 years of journalism and business expertise, and we use it to further our goal of being the leading provider of whisky news, information, education, and conversation.

If you ever have a question about these principles or anything else about WhiskyCast, please use our contact page to ask. We want to hear from you.