From P. T. Ale, The Archiestown Office of Messrs Sparge, Badger & Joe:Dear Mr Haydock,
Further to our earlier conversations, it is with regret that I must write to you to remind you of your strict obligations with respect to certain clauses in your contract with Whisky Magazine.1) Humour: under the terms of your agreement you are restricted to no more than three jokes per 1,000 words. Whisky is not a humorous subject. Moreover, as humour is not directly related to the distillation or maturation of single malt whiskies, its presence in the magazine is largely superfluous. Excessive use of humour must desist forthwith.2) Tasting notes: as heretofore indicated ibid., the use of the words or phrases "like a musty bung cloth", "drinks like distilled dung", "how can anyone who thinks they know about malt whisky even put a glass of this bilge to their lips", "shot through with sherry and sulphur", "crap", "like a walk on an Islay beach covered with rotting whale carcasses" is strictly forbidden. "Astonishing", "remarkably fragrant", "delicious", "I almost wept with joy", "even better than the last one I tasted" etc. etc. should and must be used at every opportunity without discrimination or prejudice (well, not too much prejudice anyway). Please note that phrases, paragraphs or sentences beginning "quite possibly the best … " are currently
subject to a copyright dispute instigated by a certain third party. We are challenging on the grounds of ubiquity.3) Scoring whiskies: guidelines for scoring are to be strictly adhered to on a 1 to 10 scale as follows: 6.5 - 7 Mediocre, nauseous etc. 7.5 - 9 The rest 9 + Islay whiskies4) Libel and slander: as stipulated in the amendment to section 14F, you cannot comment unfavourably in print or speech on behalf of Whisky Magazine, or otherwise pass judgement on the professional skills, sanity, writing abilities, waist measurements or moral turpitude of any of the following persons, parties or particulars: anyone with a beard; distillery managers; the Editor of Whisky Magazine; anyone who works for a non-FTSE quoted company; self-styled malt whisky fans, fanatics and fantasists; or the Archiestown Ladies Club. See also point 5 below.5) German whisky enthusiasts: should not be mentioned or alluded to at any time or under any circumstances (see also point 1).6) Fantasy: the use of fantasy, fact, original research, or any sort of creative or imaginative writing or content is most strictly forbidden, particularly if humour, fantasy (or, worse, 'fancy') is involved. With respect to this stricture you may be interested to know that your article, The two Tommies, or how whisky first got a blush on its cheeks, which purported to be a history of the use of colourings in malt whisky, has resulted in litigation from aggrieved parties against our clients. We should indicate that we have established (contrary to your assertions) that there is little or no evidence that Sir Thomas Dewar was a homosexual, that Tommy Tunnock ever existed or was related to the famous Glasgow confectioners, and that if he did he never conducted a relationship of any sort with Sir Thomas Dewar, and that the world-famous caramel wafer bar was not created at the time that the act you described was alleged to have occurred. We will be writing to you on this matter further under separate cover.7) Music and musicians: the random use of misleading and gratuitous musical metaphor, for example: "this Mortlach reminds me of Miles working on his horn on a Southern summer's morning", or "this Ardbeg must surely be the Status Quo of Islay Whiskies." It is restricted to senior writers only.8) Sexual innuendo and smutty asides: see above clause.9) Self-allusion: all writers are obliged to refer to themselves at least five times in every 1,000 words. Phrases such as "Without me the industry would never … ", "Of course, few realise that I was the first … ", "When I selected the 17-year-old it was far better than … " should be used ad infinitum / ad nauseam wherever possible.10) Passion etc.: under no circumstances should any writer attribute a sense of ability, achievement, skill, care, concern or passion to any industry figure unless they are a) dead; b) about to retire or retired; c) exceptionally rich and influential; d) are associated with a certain Islay distillery near Port Charlotte that can do no wrong.I trust that in all future columns submitted for publication you will give due consideration and, for that matter, diligence to all the points outlined.