The Tippling Point

Suppose you’re a dedicated aficionado of bourbon and, over the years, you’ve grown so attached to a prized Kentucky brand that you’ve become a shareholder in the company. The idea of buying a lesser bourbon never enters your mind, and scotch whiskeys offend your sensitive palate. They taste like liquefied cardboard.

Then the distiller of your beloved bourbon announces the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) named Ian McMillan. Over the course of the next 18 months, the Lexington and Louisville newspapers report the following:

  • The master distiller has been replaced by a pharmacist;
  • A thousand employees have been laid off, salaries of blue-collar workers have been frozen, and shareholder dividends have been increased;
  • The company has borrowed $600 million from the Bank of Scotland;
  • The company’s hundred-year-old secret recipe has been “reformulated”;
  • The new CEO and his management team are being investigated for obstructing the inspection of the company’s distilleries;
  • An undisclosed percentage of the company’s shares have been bought by an Edinburgh-based hedge fund;
  • Three executives in McMillan’s inner circle have been indicted for tax fraud;
  • The company’s online marketing operation has been outsourced to a media-relations firm located on the Isle of Skye;
  • The CEO has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by 17 former employees, most of whom are female;
  • McMillan used a subsidiary slush fund to pay for a $130,000 fishing expedition to Loch Ness;
  • The company has implemented a program to purge whistleblowers, immigrants, and self-supporting mothers from its employment rolls;
  • The CEO has hired a team of private investigators to find out who leaked the fake news about Scotland’s involvement in the company.

In the meantime, the directors have taken no action except to rubber stamp the CEO’s initiatives and downplay his inexplicable fondness for single malts.

We on The Other Side are left with several questions:

  1. For how long do you believe that the new boss is the same as the old boss?
  2. When do you begin to send angry emails to the Vice President of Customer Relations, a former investment banker named Jamie McGregor?
  3. At what point do you try a Tennessee brand of bourbon?
  4. When do you give up hope that the old recipe will be brought back?
  5. When do you sell your shares and begin to recommend your new bourbon to friends?

Or do you shrug your shoulders, cash your next dividend check, and buy a $75 bottle of imported scotch?


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