By Dave Broom

It's all a matter of angles

Dave ‘The Brush' Broom on potting, pirates and promotions
If the truth be told, I’ve never been particularly good at snooker. The myopia doesn’t help. Neither does the fact that I usually only end up playing it at the end of what has already been an extremely long night.Who am I kidding? It’s down to a total inability to work out the angles.I was never good at geometry at school. Why should things change suddenly? OK, so there’s the occasional lucky shot, but I’m not fooled into thinking that it is any more than that; bizarre, freakish chance.This total ineptitude was on full public display on Jura recently. The table was there, so was a gathering of what I had previously thought of as some of the more recherché members of the whisky industry. How wrong could I be? While the more refined members of the party sat and chatted, those who picked up the cue displayed evidence of having wasted their teenage years in sticky carpeted basement poolhalls.At least I managed to instil a certain element of humour into what was on the verge of becoming a tense game. I was dubbed Barnes Wallis for my ability (or skill as I prefer to call it) to bounce the cue ball over the colour I was aiming at and directly into a pocket — or off the table entirely. At one point, feeling a little more confident — I blame the Port Ellen for that — I tried to lie along the table in order to slide the red into the bottom left corner pocket. I fell off. You see? Just couldn’t work out the angle.You couldn’t accuse Leonard Russell, aka ‘the Glengoyne pirate’, of that.Earlier in the day he had staged a sea-borne raid on the Islay festival by commandeering a (very rich) friend’s gin palace and sailing it into Port Ellen harbour.It was an act of such brazen cheek that you just had to applaud — and taste some more unpeated Highland malt with the smoke from the Port Ellen maltings drifting harmlessly above.What’s the betting that the Islay boys will have a reciprocal piratical act worked out by the time Whisky Live comes home to Glasgow? He saw the angle. He scored.Whisky is all about angles — whether it is writing, asking questions, finding new avenues to explore or selling it. This magazine is a case in point, (he said, sounding proprietorially).Our success, or otherwise, can only be measured by the number of angles we explore.Critics may moan about insufficient hard-core technical features, but you have to remember that this title is not just about talking to the connoisseur but tries to reach the new drinker. That means having a balanced editorial and if it means more whisky-drinking rock & rollers then so be it.Cutting yourself off from a potentially wider readership can easily result in a title which is boring and one-dimensional and which doesn’t challenge preconceptions, doesn’t take risks, albeit controlled ones.The same goes for whisky marketing. In the past month, as well as falling off a snooker table, I’ve spent four days teaching London bartenders about whisky. They weren’t reluctant pupils either — they wanted to learn, were hungry for information. People who have both been overlooked by and who haven’t been interested in the whisky trade are now mixing, serving — and drinking it. Whisky is no longer just about glass and bottle ads, restricted by ludicrous convention. It is about new angles, seeing new opportunities, using different perspectives to open up the public’s mind.An industry which waits for people to find it, which only talks in one way, which resists change, is one which is moribund — in the same way as a publication which rejects the realities of the world we live in and the possibilities that exist within it.Let’s hope that we’re both better at it than I am on the green baize.