Oct 122017

So…Port Ellen, Brora and Rosebank.  Wow.  I’m in shock.

I knew Port Ellen was coming at some point.  Brora and PE announced the same day?  And Rosebank right after?  This is the second coming of the holy trinity.  I’m stunned.  Almost speechless.

I have some pretty strong opinions about this, but I’m not quite ready to articulate.  Suffice it to say I am tickled pink and not sharing the cynicism others are.  How ’bout you skeptical buggers that keep me on my toes?  Thoughts?


– C

 Posted by at 8:44 pm

  52 Responses to “The Lazarus Act”

  1. A cynical cash grab?

  2. I think these should simply be treated as new distilleries. Let the spirit be judged on its own merits, not a history of different people, different stills, etc…

  3. I’m surprised it took them this long for PE at least. It’s going to take quite some time before the spirit matures enough for a release, even an NAS one with old juice tesspooned in.

    So I’m not certain it counts as a cash grab per say. The pressure is going to be on them to produce quality old school whisky as these are specifically brands that are so revered by the connaisseurs, not necessarily something marketed to the average punter.

    I’m keeping an open mind, while Diageo is to many the equivalent of the empire in Star wars, they are also the ones that produce so many of the whiskys that still consistently give us whisky fans a hard-on. I might dislike their methods, pricing and Nick Morgan’s contempt for experienced whisky drinkers that dare make their voices heard. The core malts made my Talisker, Lagavulin,Caol Ila, Mortlach and others are still stunning.

    Sorry for the long winded reply

    • But if you look at their best malts from those distilleries, they are way overpriced compared to similar IB or other malts entirely. So the evil Empire continues (on to episode 8….)

      • I agree with David. They will essentially be new distilleries. The honey trap is the legendary names, and that is what we will be paying for, not necessarily the same outstanding quality of the originals. Although it is entirely possible for new distilleries to produce some excellent juice: to wit Killkoman and Kilkerran. It will be a long time before there is a 30 year old “new” Brora or Port Ellen and one would expect prices to reflect the youth of the new spirit. A 12 year old Kilkerran costs around $70 here.

    • I think it’s awesome. I can’t wait . even tho I’ll be in my 50s when we get a 12 year malt from either. But I agree it’s a bold move that will take time and a lot of money that would not be recouped for decades. if diageo was not the giant it is we would not be getting such special releases and this kind of resurrection.

      • If Diageo were more than a DUMB giant they’s never have closed the distilleries and destroyed them in the first place

        • You think you’d have made a different business decision in 1983?

          • I would have… I might have slowed production or halted it but would have preserved the distillery instead of dismantling them.

          • David, other than an emotional(?) opinion that distilleries ought not close, what would you have based that decision on?

            Do you think Port Ellen and Brora are special in deserving to stay running even if their product wasn’t needed at the time, or would you have also preserved ALL the distilleries that were closed by their owners over the years? Like, all the ones that The Lost Distillery Company has tried to mimic? Or Glenglassaugh in 1986? How about all the ones that made Campbeltown the “whisky capital of the world” in the 1800s?

            My point is that it seems easy to look back from 2017 and say, “duh—of course these dumb giants shouldn’t have closed our legendary distilleries.” But I imagine these decisions were made by competent people assessing the situation at the time. What would we have known then that THEY didn’t?

  4. I should have mentioned that I count myself in as one who sees them as the evil empire also. I was speaking purely from a qualitative point of view. Did you mean Episode Lagavulin 8?

  5. “We see this as an opportunity to get these places back into distilling, and…enable a whole range of new drinkers to come into this area by being able to taste these whiskies that are 10 or 12 years old, whatever it might be.” The current plan is to bottle the whiskies once they reach 12 years old, although Morgan won’t rule out the possibility of bottling sooner. – Whisky Advocate (http://whiskyadvocate.com/port-ellen-brora-distilleries-will-reopen/).

    Right, like Dr. Nick will make the call when these are bottled and, suddenly, their age matters… as opposed to starting to recoup on £35 million (and Ian Macleod’s £12m) years earlier? Sure. Look at the prices on the Special Releases and then tell me that this won’t be about producers fleecing the masses using a bunch of adjectives based on a bunch of whiskies the great majority have never tasted to begin with. Is this about giving the little guy a break or about, at a minimum, making the most expensive 12s, now that Morgan plans to miraculously find some more numbers? All the economic geniuses who constantly try to explain to me that “it’s a business” in defending the industry on other fronts should have the answer on that one, but they’ll probably shut up this time for reasons unknown.

    They’re legendary distilleries to be sure, but what part of their legends were ever built upon overpriced/overhyped stuff of between 3 to 8 years, and what part of their legends will now be built upon such products going forward, Dr. Nick’s “plans” notwithstanding?

    Maybe these renovations will really matter to collectors in 20 years plus, when enough time and trouble has been put into some of the new expressions with nosebleed prices but, in the meantime, it will be the same ol’ nonsense: NAS stuff sold on the backs of legendary reputations that have little to do with the present day or with the new whiskies themselves. Same with things now happening at Bowmore. Seeing the Bowmore Vault Edition 1st Release has come to stores recently, it’s a little disappointing (if not really surprising) that Bowmore wants to continue the “everything is important but the age we don’t want to talk about” angle, particularly on something branded so traditional and premium at $200+. Casks, environment and terroir, all vital. Cask time? Trivia, just because it’s what everyone wants to tell themselves and because it makes some people more money.

    So, three more future Mortlachs and more current grist for the whisky buzz mill but, by definition, no restart products more than 10 years old for more than a decade… and probably precious little product information in the interim. More opportunities for opinion makers to talk up/defend the coming new trendy crap in public while they drink the far more expensive tried and true at home.

    As I’ve said before, for me, improvement in whisky means improvement in the whisky that I can afford to drink. That being the case, I don’t see much to be excited about with the reopening of Port Ellen, Brora and Rosebank. With those names on the labels, I have no reason to think that the affordable stuff will be a step up, or that the stuff that’s a step up will be affordable.

    On the upside, the next decade promises to be a pretty good time to be a Gaelic folktale writer.

    Commence au festival!


    • Agree 100%, Jeff.

      To me, this fits the characteristics of market tops. There are countless examples of large corporations overpaying for mergers/acquisitions at, or near, the top of stock market valuations. They do this because they are flush with cash (from years of expanding markets/profits) they don’t know what to do with. The smart companies (usually small entrepreneurial ones) jump on a trend early (in whisky, one can use Arran/Kilchoman as examples). Mega corps are usually too bureaucratic/slow to recognize new products/markets. By the time they do, its too late.

      Given the number of new distilleries that have opened over the last 5 years, and the number still in the planning stages, suggests a new “whisky loch” is building. By the time these late comers dump product on the market a) assuming current demand is stable, supply will more than satisfy demand or b) new generation of drinkers will have moved on to something else and supply will then be much greater than demand. The idea that demand will continue to grow (based on China & other emerging markets) has been floated for so long with no real evidence that it is unlikely to soak up all the new 3-8 year old whisky.

      In any event, in my 7 years of buying whisky I have only once tasted Port Ellen – a let down from the hype. I can’t afford the currently available stuff and I certainly have no plans of spending $100+++ in 2023 on 3 year old whisky (Kilchoman included).

    • Jeff, did someone claim this is about giving the little guy a break?

      • That’s the way I read it – “enable a whole range of new drinkers to come into this area by being able to taste these whiskies that are 10 or 12 years old, whatever it might be.”


        • Also, from the lines in the original Whisky Advocate story in the preceding the first quote I gave:

          ‘Diageo wants to give whisky lovers who have been priced out of current bottlings of Port Ellen and Brora the opportunity to taste these distilleries’ whiskies at a cost they can afford. “We see this as a real opportunity to allow [access for] those whisky enthusiasts who’ve been somewhat disenfranchised from Port Ellen and Brora, because of the high prices for the special releases.”’


        • Gotcha. Thanks for pointing out which bit your comment referred to.

          Well, yeah, that’s BS. Nobody is spending £35 million to give anybody a taste of anything. Obviously this is corporate spin to the real point that they want to SELL new whiskies to that “whole range of new drinkers.”

          But this seems like standard corporate spin to me. Like, car companies don’t develop sport cars because they want to enable drivers to feel the exhilaration of the road—they do it so they can sell cars to said drivers.

          I’m guess I’m saying that you’re right, but that the point you dismantled is just standard marketing BS that we should expect from pretty much every seller everywhere.

          • Oh, none of it’s rocket surgery, to be sure… just connect the dots – but not taking Dr. Nick at his word is sometimes considered unsporting or unfair, even if it is plainly prudent.


    • Well, I suppose I might fairly be called one of the “it’s a business” industry defenders. I’ll take a spin through some of the points Jeff made.

      Is this 100% about being able to sell some expensive whisky a few years from now? Yep.

      Will they probably sell expensive NAS whiskies, possibly teaspooned with older malt, as soon as barrel #1 reaches its third birthday? Yeah, I imagine.

      Will this be about producers “fleecing the masses”? Well, unless they force us to buy them, no. I currently leave many many many expensive whiskies unbought, and I expect these will join them.

      Bottom line for me: These are new distilleries that are 23% more interesting than other new distilleries because they will, purportedly, be trying to recreate some awesome old whiskies that I never got to taste. It’s as if they’re The Lost Distillery Company, but with the means to really try recreating the whisky of the lost distilleries. Brora is going to refurbish the old stills? Cool. Port Ellen will effectively be a brand-new Islay distillery? OK, that’s fun—just like Ardnahoe.

      One day, I will decide whether to buy their whiskies based on price & what reviewers say they deliver. Same as any other whisky. (And if our expectations about prices are correct, then the decision is very likely to be “no thanks.”)

      • “…they will, purportedly, be trying to recreate some awesome old whiskies that I never got to taste. It’s as if they’re The Lost Distillery Company, but with the means to really try recreating the whisky of the lost distilleries.”

        Whether you can ever really go historically home again in terms of production is a very interesting question, but the last time anybody tried that with premium products might have been the Macallan Replica Series; a lot of fun was had by all.



        • Ha. That’s funny.

          To make my point again a different way, this Port Ellen and Brora business (and Rosebank I guess—but count me among the many who are less interested in that one) is just like a juiced-up version of what we’ve seen with the Gerston, Lossit, and Stronachie stuff. Good fun. Worth tasting. Worth buying if they price matches the quality.

    • Hi there,

      a bit off the original topic… but you coud have guessed who speaks for the no side.
      His name has been mentioned in posts here… and it can be doubted that new Port Ellen will mature on Islay.

      • All they have to do is fill 2 identical casks with the same spirit and put one in Pitlochry and one in Port Ellen and check them out 10 years later.

        • Chris 1, I had that thought too. And then I heard the counterpoint in my head about how two casks can be “seemingly identical” and yet produce different whiskies.

          Or at least, that’s what the sellers of single-cask whiskies often tell us.

          Anyway, if that’s true, then I can see how you’d never really have “identical” casks to make the comparison with. Sad!

        • Then do it scientifically. Get 60 “identical” casks and randomize 30 to each group. then put in spirit from the same batch (or each run split 50/50). Then move them to maturation. Then leave them for 10 years. marry 20 casks at each location together, and marry 10 from one location with 10 from the other. Bottle and taste blind and see if there is a difference.

          Give me the funding and I’ll do the experiment.

          • Great! Where do I send the check?

            I suppose the way you lay things out is the way you’d l have to do it. And I imagine nobody ever will.

            As made 100% in the article that Kallaskander linked, there are industry folks on both sides of the question who don’t want their position undermined. As long as we never really know, everyone can keep doing what they want and claiming it’s for the benefit of the whisky.

      • “Traditionalists may have glossed over the truth of maturation…” – Dr. Nick Morgan

        Perhaps… what about imbec…. whoa, wait a minute – it seems that Nick can argue only one silly point at a time:

        “The size of cask, the species of wood, its previous contents, the number of times it has been used to mature whisky, besides THE LENGTH OF TIME IN WOOD, all play a significant part in determining the spirit’s final character.” (uh, emphasis added).

        So age does matter? What happened there and when? So NAS isn’t really so much a case of “running out of numbers” as it is a case of omitting relevant, even significant, production info? Fancy that.

        Instead of an exploration of that revelation, of course, we get “Scotland’s marine microclimate is pretty consistent”, just to make the case for the hand Nick’s been dealt here; age is a whole different pan of baklava, depending on whether it’s front-and-center or just a passing reference.

        And, when Nick isn’t criticizing Romantics and Traditionalists, he’s engaging in romanticism and traditionalism:

        “Scotch is loved around the world for its diversity and incredible quality; that passion for brilliant whisky was there when those first whisky bonds were built and remains there still today.”

        But, anyway, just making everything supposedly “debatable” IS the name of the game here. Get two distillery talking heads “arguing” with one another and it must somehow follow that there’s something TO “argue” about; that there are no simple facts to be acknowledged, just some endless “debate” to be kicked around and leaving any “truth” ready to be molded later as producers see fit. If I’m willing to “argue” that some rocks “might” fall up, suddenly it calls gravitation into “question”. Get anyone willing to take “the other side” on any subject and I guess we suddenly “don’t really know” anything.

        Next – Be it resolved: Glenfiddich is located in or about the region known as Speyside. If it were “found” to be located on Islay, how much would that alone be worth to the bottom line?


  6. You can never have too many Islay distilleries. Regarding Brora and Rosebank, we could use another classy low lander and a peated highland malt. It’ll be interesting to see how closely they get to the original distillery profile if that’s what they plan on doing. If not, it’ll be cool to see what lies ahead for these distilleries and their independent profiles.

  7. Pencil me in among the cynical. Nothing I’ve read indicates this will make these products any more approachable financially for me. Maybe I’ve been reading Jeff too much but this just reeks of a cash grab based on name more than substance. I expect early releases will indeed be early releases, age information persona non grata. Down the road ages will appear as suddenly relevant but only as it pertains to price justification.

    It’s rarified strata beyond my reach and shall quite likely remain so. This is less about improving the market accessibility than it is about improving the bottom line. Make no mistake, I understand business is about making money, that’s what drives my mutual funds. As an investor I give a solid hurrah. As a consumer I give it a solid whatever. I understand, accept and applaud people’s enthusiasm for their return. Never having tried the older products I really can’t comprehend the relevance for the whisky market at large. I’m all for more excellent whiskies, I remain unconvinced this will further that goal.

    • They’re good points and, to be clear, I’m not against people making money – without a profit to be made, there would be no whisky. My problem comes from producers increasingly seeking profit maximization, often at the expense of both consumers and the product, while pretending that they’re doing something else – oh, no, this is about creative flexibility or about providing opportunities to a new generation of drinkers, etc. Understanding producers’ motives doesn’t, for me, mean blanket approval of their methods. Nonsense is still nonsense, regardless of who profits from it.

      I think it’s a good point, too, that, in various adversarial economic situations, it’s handy to know what role you actually have if you want to get ahead. If someone is a whisky consumer, but spends most of their time in thinking about whisky while role playing being a whisky producer or marketer, it’s little wonder that they end up adopting those perspectives and/or become overly sympathetic to them compared to their own interests. We’re not all on the same side just because we like whisky.


  8. The cynicism runs deep!!! How can it be bad news that more distilleries will be opening – especially distilleries with such a rich history? Whether the eventual product is within everyone’s price range is irrelevant because no whisky is within everyone’s price range. “Price range” is subjective. It’s also fascinating that they announce that they won’t release whisky for 10/12 years and people immediately assume that’s bullshit – I guess people have all been burned by the NAS fire to the point that they don’t trust big drink conglomerates and their bait and switch marketing. My larger point is that there will be whisky produced from 3 iconic distilleries that weren’t producing them during the last few decades . That first run of 10/12 yo whisky might be overpriced, but, then again, most are. Unpopular opinion alert -$100 for Ardbeg 10 is overpriced. I’m not saying it’s not fine whisky, I’m just saying $100 is too much for it. If Port Ellen 10yo is $120 are we really going to get the pitchforks out for that as we pull the Ardbeg 10 off the shelf – especially as the glowing reviews start pouring in ? At least I’ll eventually have the option to buy from those distilleries – which I currently do not. Right now very few people have that option.

    • Dave, it’s not that there are 3 iconic distilleries that are starting up after decades of silence. It’s three completely new, unproven distilleries that are being rebuilt using iconic names. It is clear that the companies expect the names to boost sales, and they will, because there are a lot of ignorant whisky buyers out there…

    • Legitimate question: I’ve not been in the game long enough to have been around when PE, Brora, Rosebank were producing whisky actively, they’ve always been dead from my purview. The question then is were these distilleries iconic when they were open or is just the aura of a shuttered distillery coming back to life?

      And yes, more distilleries that will end up producing quality whisky is always a good thing.

    • “Whether the eventual product is within everyone’s price range is irrelevant because no whisky is within everyone’s price range.” – true enough, but when a distillery’s products fall outside my price range, it’s the distillery’s products, not my price range, which suddenly becomes irrelevant. Maybe some people don’t have a price range for whisky; I think there are three distilleries about to be refurbished with those people in mind.

      “It’s also fascinating that they announce that they won’t release whisky for 10/12 years and people immediately assume that’s bullshit.” – personally, I just think it’s good thinking, given that the announcement comes from the guy who told us NAS was about running out of numbers and that the possibility for younger expressions is mentioned in the very same sentence as talking about holding the product for 12 years.

      I am skeptical to say the least; the whisky that made these distilleries’ reputations in generally of not only a different age range than the affordable stuff we’re likely to see on the shelves, but it’s also from a different era OF whiskymaking that we’re not likely to see return in our lifetimes. Most of the top-rated Broras are of 20 years+, and there are still some clunkers in there (http://www.whisky-monitor.com/index.jsp?did=23&distilleryName=Brora+single+malt+scotch+distillery).


      • My feeling is that they have run out of (or are running out of) stock that is saleable at higher price points so they are indeed ready to cash in on the aura created around these distilleries over the past 20 years. These distilleries weren’t owned by diageo almost 40 years ago when they shuttered and, as far as I can tell, were producing great whisky (or at least that’s what the old timers say). The 1980s were tough on the whisky industry as a whole. Is there any guarantee they’ll be any good? No. Is it likely they will be? Yes. I’m sure they’ll source the best barrels and the best minds to ensure as much as possible that they don’t screw it up. It’ll be overpriced, surely, but just about every whisky currently is.

        • “Is there any guarantee they’ll be any good? No. Is it likely they will be? Yes. I’m sure they’ll source the best barrels and the best minds to ensure as much as possible that they don’t screw it up. It’ll be overpriced, surely, but just about every whisky currently is.”

          I’ll give you this: it’s likely that they’ll be called good just because they’re Brora, Port Ellen and Rosebank (much as Ardbeg is now), because that’s exactly what cashing in “on the aura created around these distilleries over the past 20 years” is all about. As with current movies, the best minds are deployed in the propaganda/marketing department because financial success can’t be allowed to hinge on something as fickle as quality assessment; the people who spend the initial outlay want that money back, and far more, REGARDLESS of product result and they’re very serious about it. As for being overpriced, that too is in the eye of the beholder… but I’m thinking that these will set a new standard.


  9. Hi there,

    the news reached me in England where I was not willing to fiddle around with my smart phone and breaking my fingers…

    IMO this is investing into the next whisky circle. For the current boom these three whiskies will come too late. Probably the intention is to have something interesting when the circle is almost fully closed and things can only go downhill.
    When the interest in whisky has ebbed down so far as it has been down in 1983 when PE and Brora were closed (Rosebank an three more as an afterthought in the early 1990s) it well could be the plan to have incentives to get it into an upward swing with three cult whiskies again and not have to wait out its natural course.
    I do not think that that it has to do anything with capacity not even in the case of Rrosebank for Ian MacLeod.
    I consider it a piece of anti cyclical thinking at its best.

    As to the bottles in collections and stashes… part of their value was the certainty that nothing would ever come again from these distilleries.That migth be a problem for some collectors but more for long term investors or gamblers. Somebody looked up the investor grading of PE after the news?

    Another thing. I do not know about Rosebank but PE and Brora have had very chequered production histories especially in the last years where they produced on call what Diageo needed. The famous Broras come from a very limited time when she substituted for Caol Ila which was under rennovation.

    And not every cask of PE still lying somewhere in a warehouse is mana from the heavens. Ask Douglas Laing.

    As all this is still pretty far away let’s sit back and enjoy the show and the whiskies we have.


    • That’s a really interesting take on it, particularly if someone at Diageo IS already thinking in terms of “post-bust reboot”.


  10. Maybe we’re looking at things in the wrong direction. All this talk about a tired genre of spirits, that has descended to repackaging tired versions of its former greatness.

    At the same time, Canadian whiskies are surging in quality – look at the new Wiser’s releases – age statements, higher ABV, and at a fraction of the price of similarly presented Scotches. And – once you “get” Canadian whisky – some great flavours.

    • True enough – I picked up the CC 20 and, given some time/space after opening, it settled down to be a very good whisky.


      • If 20 is good, maybe 40 is twice as good?

        Not so sure… out of the barrel at 60% and into the bottle at 45%, and a price ta of $250?

        At least it has numbers…

        And a 40 YO scotch would set you back a lot farther.

        • Well, that is the trick: whether you’re talking benefits of age, quality or value, you’re up against the law of diminishing returns. Beyond most qualifying minimums, twice as much time won’t usually give a whisky twice the benefit, and spending twice as much money usually won’t give you a whisky that’s twice as good either. Value (QPR) usually declines with the more you spend as well, as increases in price far outstrip increases in performance. Scored fairly, even JW Red Label is a better value than JW Blue Label, but that leaves aside any consideration of minimum standards of acceptable quality.


  11. Hi there,

    I do not want to hurt anybody’s feelings… but Canadian whiskey is not playing a big role here in Europe and I doubt it does in Asia.
    Canadian somehow slept through all that exiting times at least seen from where I live.
    Pardon me but I think its share in the boom – if it has any – is not the biggest. It may be seen otherwise in Canada of course.
    So I would not say that Canadian is a counterpoint to a dying boom.

    That Canadian whiskey can be great is beyond doubt but I think its clout is not the biggest.


    • Oh it’s marginalized to be sure – and whether deservedly so is a somewhat debatable question; not necessarily bad in and of itself, of course, but pretty much the Wild West in terms of what goes into it.

      From Wiki:

      “Canada’s Food and Drugs Act require that whisky labelled as “Canadian Whisky”, “Canadian Rye Whisky” or “Rye Whisky” be mashed, distilled and aged at least three years in Canada. As with Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey, the alcohol content of the spirits used may exceed 90%. Thus, much of the spirits used in making a Canadian whisky, prior to aging, may have less grain-derived flavour than typical single malts or U.S. “straight” whiskeys. To improve marketability, it may contain caramel colour (as may Scotch) and flavouring, in addition to the distilled mash spirits.

      All spirits used in making a Canadian whisky must be aged for at least three years in wooden barrels of not greater than 700 L capacity (a requirement similar to that for Scotch and Irish whisky and longer than for American straight whisky). The final whisky must contain at least 40 percent alcohol by volume. No distinction is made between the quality of the barrels – new or used, charred or uncharred barrels may be filled for aging.”

      Min. 3 years, no particular grain requirement unless marketed as “rye”, colouring, direct flavouring, just “wooden barrels” (as opposed to steel), so huge leeway in terms of the end result, particularly if you’re looking for a neat sipper. Talk about your freedom and flexibility! Still, I think that, like bourbon, the possibility’s there for it to take a big bite out of Scotch, particularly given the predominance of generally vanilla and indifferent sherry (conditioned) casking and a growing indifference to age considerations. At least Gibson’s, for all its limitations, understands that age does make a difference – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHYxA0jpV7U

      It’s sad that, increasingly, they’re alone.


    • “These will be small-scale, profitable units appealing to a changing market and benefiting from an already established reputation. It makes perfect strategic sense, as well as making folk feel all fuzzy and warm.”

      While I get the perfect strategic sense, I don’t exactly understand why it’s “supposed” to make “folk feel all fuzzy and warm” – but, as is often the case, tangible benefits are something that producers work from, while the intangible fluffies are largely good enough for consumers, or when talking to consumers. People who don’t greet the distillery reboot news with enthusiasm have “hearts of stone”, yet I gather that wasn’t true of producers who wouldn’t reopen these distilleries UNTIL the numbers clicked – there, not playing to or giving into warm and fuzzy feelings (prematurely, I guess) was just “good thinking”. Economies of scale first, sentimentality (if you buy into that) as a marketing punchline.

      From Broom’s perspective, if you don’t agree that everything that benefits the industry benefits the consumer, you’re being antisocial. Maybe he’s right; by reversing that thinking – not agreeing that everything that benefits the consumer benefits the industry – the industry has been acting rather antisocial toward me for years now.

      “What, then, does this say about the health of Scotch in a week when the Scotch Whisky Association claimed that tax hikes had directly led to a sales loss of 1m bottles in the UK? Can the market cope with three more distilleries being added to an already rapidly expanding estate?”

      “I’d be more worried about not getting those sums right than about the relatively small amount of spirit coming from the rebooted trio. Three cheers for them, but wise heads are required if the faith that all of the industry has in the projected single malt boom is to be repaid.”

      Like the industry itself, Broom spends a lot of time worrying about whether the industry will be alright while, from a consumer’s perspective, I couldn’t currently be less worried… about the industry.


  12. Hi there,

    hi Jeff


    the figures show you are not completely off track. Premiumisation in itself and the demise of cheap blends are not very social. And for the industry… As you make your bed so you must lie on it.


    • I find it hilarious that Karen Betts thinks the members of the SWA need to see a cut on whisky duties because of the “disturbing trend” that volumes are down but values are up; as if members of the SWA wouldn’t be happier making all their increased revenue on the basis of fewer bottles sold and lower production costs. But, again, good news for the industry is supposed to be good news for everybody… according to the industry… and anything that can be interpreted as bad news for the industry means that the industry needs more prof… err, consideration.

      Here’s some more “premium” crap: http://www.richardsiddle.com/news/2016/2/6/why-premiumisation-in-drinks-deserves-to-be-taken-seriously

      Notice that there’s discussion of product story, but not product quality (as that’s in the eye of the beholder), and that we get this combination on the subject of “premiumisation”:

      “But the phrase has become so widely used for a whole raft of products that it is in danger of becoming meaningless unless we really get to grips with what we mean when we use it.

      It is not alone in the spirits vernacular. Describing a product as “luxury” has become so common that you almost feel sorry for any producer that genuinely has a new “luxury” product to talk about such is the contempt some in the trade have towards the term.

      So let’s batten down the hatches and try and protect the world of “premiumisation” before it too loses its touch with reality, if it is has not done so already.”


      “The beauty of the premiumisation trend, and why we should all work hard to preserve it, is that it means different things to different people. What you perceive to be a premium product might be very different to what I think and there’s the opportunity.”

      so it’s all about “really getting to grips” with a term that actually has no definition beyond a personal one anyway. So, theoretically, everything is “premium”, just like everything is “small batch”, depending upon what your idea of a “big batch” is… so it’s all smoke and mirrors. If, on the other hand, the idea of “premium” has been somehow “made” meaningless and has lost its touch with reality, whose idea was that?

      Strangely enough, the author himself has an answer:

      “I have to admit I have been as guilty as everyone else on the writing side of the spirits fence for quite happily quoting brand managers and ambassadors with all their “premiumisation” plans for the category.”

      Yep, full-blown hooey.


  13. Hi there,

    “The first thing to understand is that when we talk about premiumisation we are not just talking about an expensive product. Yes, it could be, but it in the main it is less about price, more the aspirations that the brand stands for and, more importantly, the values it represents to the consumers who want to drink it.”

    Could please somebody show me the way to the next affordable if not to say cheap premium product?
    The one that aspires to give me great value for little money? Taanstafl? I would think so.


    • Exactly – if it’s not about price, where are the cheap premium products, and what makes them so beyond just declaring a cheap product as “premium”? If premium has any real meaning at all, doesn’t it mean “expect to pay more” and isn’t that the point?

      But it’s kind of a ridiculous, circular, thing anyway:

      We have a guy who:

      Admits to helping make the idea of “premium” meaningless through overuse;

      Saying that people need to “get to grips with the idea of premium”;

      While said idea is so plastic as to have no definition, which is why the term is so commercially exploitable in the first place;

      And while said exploitation is exactly what the whole piece is designed to help businesses do in the first place, so they can charge more;

      Which, in turn, is what serves to make the idea of “premium” meaningless;

      And this guy will quote you when you call your product “premium”, because that’s what he does;

      Which is sort of why “premium” belongs in the whisky lexicon along with “smooth” and “tasty” and “small batch” as terms that are plainly intended to have positive connotations, and boost prices, without really saying anything – the essence of marketing.

      Like the moon, whisky is a harsh mistress.


  14. Hi there,

    be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss.


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