The right way is the long way: in whisky and marketing

Glengoyne Whisky Distillery prides itself on having the slowest stills in Scotland. My sister and I visited a few months ago, and in huge letters on the doors to the building holding the stills and the washbacks, it reads:


Everywhere at the distillery and on their website and whisky, this particular brand proclaims proudly: we are slower on purpose. For good. To create a different kind of whisky. Even slower, even longer than the others. All good Scottish whisky takes time (there’s a minimum of three years required for whisky to be whisky), but most distilleries let the whisky wait and rest and become its best self over a period of 10, or 12, or 18, or even 25 years or longer.

I’ve been thinking about how much good work goes on in the quiet, in the dark. When the whisky is bottled, it’s clear. None of the flavours from the barrels and the time have come through. And every year, the flavours and the colours begin to seep into the liquid from the barrels. From the bourbon barrel or sherry barrel or port barrel. This happens by the whisky simply….sitting there. In the dark. In the quiet. Being in the right cask with the right flavours, year after year.

Nobody sees it. From time to time the master distiller may test the whisky and see how it’s coming on, but until it’s finished, bottled, and presented to the world, you don’t even know it’s happening. They are doing good work. Slow work. Patient work. The Glengoyne website uses words like “savoured”, “appreciated”, “stillness”. They proclaim “unhurried since 1833”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about rushing. Christmas is one of my favourite holidays of the year, and yet no matter how hard I try, there’s always a little rushing added in. Did I get this secret santa gift ordered on time? What day will we be celebrating Christmas and can everyone in the family make it? Did we order the right food? Did I remember to buy the whisky?

I don’t like rushing. I prefer the long way, the patient way, the quiet way.

My business will be 10 years old in January. A business is like a good whisky. It’s not to be rushed. You can do good things in 3 years (the minimum for whisky to be called whisky), but how much more maturing is done in 10. And how much further there is ahead: how much good, how much depth of flavour and spirit.

As we consider our own brand, and the brand of the businesses we are privileged to serve, we remind ourselves we get to choose. You can decide what your brand stands for – like Glengoyne saying “others may do as they like, but we move slow on purpose and here’s why. Here’s what it delivers for you”. Similarly, PF has a philosophy of the long game. The work you put in now bears fruit many years ahead – and that’s hard. At first it can seem much more appealing to hurry. Rush. Get the quick wins. Use ads or promotions or discounts or offers. Be visible. Get noticed. Go viral. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

But when we see the businesses who are getting that “drip feed” of the best kind of clients coming from they don’t even know where (“you seem to be everywhere!” or “I’ve been following you for years and now I’m ready”), and when we look at where we’ve come in ten years, we’ve realised that’s our style. That’s our game, our brand. The long game with the deeper results.

We’re rebuilding the new PF website, and one of the core messages on it will be “Better, not more”.

Because we want to work with people who don’t want MORE leads for the sake of it. People filling in forms, more prospects, hurry, hurry, hurry. We want to work with those who are tired of more (which cause problems later), and instead want better.

People who honour and value themselves so much they wouldn’t take on a client who didn’t respect that and have similar values, no matter how much money it means.

People who charge what they’re worth, and focus on showing where that worth comes from – a philosophy, an approach, a way, a track record. Sort of like a warehouse full of barrels sitting quietly, producing over a period of years, not minutes.

We get the privilege of saying “yes, we go the long way, and it takes time, and it’s worth it”.

So for those of you who appreciate and lean into that philosophy: you too, keep going.  Take your time. Recognise change and maturation happens slowly, steadily, almost imperceptibly, until one day you have this beautiful amazing thing (a whisky, a book, a business).

Take your time. All the best things do.

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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon