Now, unless they set out to attend a tasting, the Scotch Chix don't usually go into a liquor store expecting free whisky. But, a tasting experience was their expectation going into Cadenheads. That was a mistake. However, the Scotch Chix primarily went to Cadenheads expecting to have a robust discussion regarding whisky with the proprietor (after all they had just come off of their trip to Paris discussing whisky with the folks at Le Repaire de Bacchus), and finding new whiskys to try. They had carefully perused the Cadenhead's web site and noticed that Cadenheads not only carried their own IB brand, but they had some really cool whisky from some of their favorite Distilleries. Consequently, the Chix had saved up their Whisky allowances for the trip to spend on both IB and OB purchases. The Scotch Chix think that those were reasonable expectations.
The visit was very disappointing. When the Scotch Chix and their Gents entered the shop, the proprietor, who was in the process of offering samples to other customers, glanced at them but did not acknowledge they were there. This was rare for Amsterdam, where friendliness is the norm. They were happy to entertain themselves, and spent a good twenty minutes perusing the shelves and gathering their OB purchases, a single cask from Highland Park and an offering from Springbank they hadn't seen before. They did, however, notice the continual cold shoulder from the clerk, who had finished with his other customers but had not turned his attention to the Scotch Couples. Finally, DC Scotch Gent got the gentleman's attention and asked for the price on the Highland Park.
CA Scotch Chick took this opportunity to ask about the Cadenheads brand. The cold shoulder had not been imagined. The gentleman simply was not interested in discussing Cadenheads, or it appeared in making a sale to the Scotch couples. CA Scotch Chick told him that she wanted to buy a bottle of Cadenheads, asked what he would advise for somebody who likes Highland Park and Springbank, and if she could have a sample. The response was, "We don't give samples." I guess he didn't realize that the Scotch Couples had seen him offering the samples as they entered.
The Scotch Couple voted with their feet. They returned their purchases to the shelves and left the store. Looking back, they thought that they were probably pegged as tourists since there were four of them and they were obviously from the US. This was not a situation that they were used to. Since the Scotch Couples don't exhibit the negative traits associated with "Americans," they don't usually run into stereotyping.
CA Scotch Chick posted about her bad experience on the Whisky Forum, and received some interesting responses. The first was from the owner of the Cadenhead's shop in the Edinburgh, who said, in essence, "I'm sorry it happened. Come see me. I'll teach you all about Cadenheads." The second was from folks in the Netherlands who said it is not legal to give samples where liquor is sold, but it is done surreptitiously. The final response came a couple weeks after the post from the gentleman at the Candenheads in Amsterdam himself. He had joined the forum specifically to respond. He apologized, indicated that he thought it was just a cultural misunderstanding, and reiterated what others had said that there should be no samples, but if we had been patient they would have come.
CA Scotch Chick accepted his apology. The Scotch Chix are still disappointed by the experience, but they also admit that unless they are at a tasting, they shouldn't expect samples, even from stores with a reputation for giving them. Will they give Cadenheads another chance? Probably not in Amsterdam. They will, however, give them a chance the next time they are in Edinburgh.