When I joined 1789b, I was expecting a sedate and sober (in a manner of speaking) place where serious bourbon lovers could have a civilized discussion about the world’s finest beverage. What I found was different than what I expected.
At first I was surprised at the number of members who really didn’t seem to be all that interested in bourbon at all. Several introductory posts began something like this, “I don’t know much about bourbon but the co-founder of this site invited me to join. We got to know each other through the Cigar forums.” Odd, I thought, that a place that was supposed to be the home of serious boubon-peoplewas being populated by cigar people whose interest in bourbon seemed to be marginal. The opposite was true too. Ed Phalen, a pillar of the bourbon community, was nominated for membership. The public comments about his nomination were overwhelmingly positive. Then one of the founders of the forum posted that some members had sent him private concerns about Ed and that his nomination was under review. Then the whole thread disappeared.
Other aspects of the membership were curious. I was told that certain classes of people were deliberately excluded from membership. There were to be no people associated with “the industry” at all, even those who work at liquor stores were excluded. But one of the most frequent posters while I was there was someone who was for many years (and to my knowledge still is) an employee of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD). Bloggers (should I have been insulted?) and professional writers on American Whiskey were also excluded to preserve the purity of the
Another thing that was surprising was that in a forum that was supposed to be for “mature” persons, there was plenty of pettiness. Cheap shots at those excluded critics and bloggers abounded. There was even a thread entitled “John Hansell whining AGAIN” which was a response to this post from Hansell’s blog. Taking shots at someone unable to respond didn’t seem particularly gentlemanly to me.
1789b was most disappointing in how unbelievably BORING it was. One of the most active sub-forums was one devoted to food. Not bourbon & food, just food. Many of the threads were very similar to ones on SB.com, and not the interesting ones either. One of the most potentially exciting sub-forums at 1789b was the “guest of the month” sub-forum. Someone in the American whiskey industry was invited to join 1789b for a month and interact with the membership. The first (and only) month I was there the guest was David Perkins of High West distillers/bottlers. What could have been a very cool experience was nothing but a bunch of softball questions (“How do you find such great whiskeys?”) and more thinly veiled shots at whiskey writers (“What do you think of critics who say things about you?”).
In spite of all this, I stayed. The private bottlings that members of 1789b were getting together for their membership were just too mouth-watering so I decided to stay on to take advantage of those.
I didn’t log on for about a week and a half because I was so bored and annoyed with the forum, and my arthritis had just started to rear its ugly head. When I tried to log on again, I discovered that I couldn’t. I tried again the next day but I still couldn’t get in. So I sent private messages to my friends on SB.com who I knew were 1789b members (including one of the founders) to ask them if they knew what was going on. A few replied but they knew nothing. Neither founder never replied. I replied that I didn’t really have to time to post regularly anyway due to my schedule, which was certainly true. But I was also fed up with the forum and frankly a little miffed that I had not even received an email or message telling me that my account was about to be terminated. As far as I can tell, my account was deleted because I failed to post often enough to fulfill the forum requirements but I have still not received any official explanation.
In the end, I bear no ill-will toward any members of 1789b or the management, although I would like an explanation of why I was booted. I still consider most of the membership of 1789b to be friends and I understand the desire to filter out the “noise” of the internet. I just realized that I am not a gentleman’s club kind of person. I’m a saloon guy. I like the noise, I like the newbies, I like the trolls and most of the time I like the mods. Maybe there’s a place for 1789b in the online whiskey world. They certainly seem to have found their niche, but SB.com is my internet whiskey home and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.