Why Honest Inquiry Matters More Now Than Ever

Less than two years ago I was buying Aberlour a’bunadh for about $75 a bottle. Now…no less than $107.  Lagavulin 12 sold for about $120 back then.  I can’t grab it for less than $160 in most places now.  Highland Park 18?  Give or take a $30-$40 a bottle increase of late.  Talisker 25 landed here about a year and a half ago at $225 or so.  That same edition has been jacked up to over $400 in most local shops.  Perhaps the most egregious example though is Glenfarclas 40 year old.  Bottles here were retailing between $400 and $500.  Now?  $1,100.  Same malt.  Same packaging.  And not even an attempt to convince consumers that there is a rationale behind the 220% increase during this time period.

Ok. The dollar is weak, some say.  Not that weak.  Barrels are in short supply and costing waaaaaay more.  Nuh uh.  Many from within the industry have spoken and written about this.  Especially in regard to bourbon barrels.  Rubbish.  Producers can’t keep up to demand.  Nope.  Not even remotely true.  I’ve spoken to many folk in production roles who say they are producing in surplus right now to ensure no future shortage of mature stocks.  Ah, but mature casks have been decimated, right.  Yes, probably.  I’ll concede that.  So it could be fairly assumed we’d see a bit of an uptick in prices for older malts.  After all, scarcity often determines market, aye?  But how does this explain the soaring price of young malts and non-age stated expressions?  If you’ve been drinking whisky for a while – and know your stuff – your senses will absolutely and unquestionably attest to the fact that the malt in the bottle is young, young, young.  You can’t hide that.  The sticker prices we’re seeing though, are not out of line for what would have graced whiskies reaching the two decade mark just a couple dozen months back.  Boiled down, this effectively means that many drinkers are priced out of older malts that were previously affordable to them, and are now being stretched even for what were, generally speaking, ‘entry level’ expressions.

So, knowing this, as we do, why are we not speaking up more? Why are we not writing articles and sending in notes to whisky publications?  Why are we not asking questions of the ambassadors at the festivals or via social media?  Are we that afraid of questioning an authority that seems to have no qualms about totalitarian pricing schemes?  When we have questioned them in the past about other related issues such as NAS, we were haughtily put in our place or blacklisted.  Ok, so be it.  Dissent is never accepted with open arms.  But think of it this way:  a few months back the world went mad when the price of cauliflower jumped from $2.99 to $7.99 a head.  Same with celery.  The news reported it daily.  Facebook and other social media was a seething hotbed of indignation.  And now?  Hey…I had $2.99 cauliflower for dinner last night.  Not kidding.  If the furor hadn’t gained traction I’d bet we would still be paying those prices even if there were some sort of agricultural recovery from whatever shortage or plight there had been.

The reality is that the less that is said in the public sphere, the easier it is for the brands to continue policies of escalation. Malt lovers have become the epitome of ‘bloody, but unbowed’.  No matter what prices are thrown at us we seem to be unwilling to buckle and say ‘I can’t afford this’, or even more importantly in terms of making a case, ‘I won’t afford this’.  Why not?  Pride?  Are we trying to impress someone(s) by continuing in the face of outright gouging?  Or are we simply so enamoured and in love with either the spirit or the cool cache that comes with it that we refuse to knuckle under or bite the hand that feeds?

It’s been said before in the debate against NAS malts, the way to truly make a dent in this madness is to hit ‘em where it hurts. In the pocketbook.  Vote with your dollar, in other words.  I get it, but let’s be realistic.  That only goes so far when the bottles keep disappearing from the shelves irrespective of a devoted few boycotting or simply disengaging from the madness.  And why are they still selling?  As I hinted at above, I think there are some folks out there that are simply keeping up with the Joneses and overreaching their financial stations.  Hey, I’m guilty.  I’ve done it.  I also think there will always be non-whisky folk that ignorantly purchase bottles as gifts based on retailer’s suggestions or prestige name recognition.  And finally…there will probably now always be those out there who see a perceived opportunity to turn their whisky buying into some sort of investment.  They buy with an eye to the horizon for future values, not realizing (or willfully pretending otherwise) that they’re buying at the top of the bubble (or near it) and any profit made will be slim indeed.  Showing up too late to the party, in other words.

I don’t know. Perhaps I’m simply speculating.  I’ll be the first to admit that the logic of this current state eludes me.  Even more confusing is that it seems to escape the understanding of every knowledgeable whisky drinker I know, and yet it keeps getting worse and worse.  Anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) should have some idea as to how I see this one playing out.  The takers keep taking ‘til the rest of us have nothing left to give.  Things only bend so far before they break.  At that point the whole ruddy thing collapses.  And then we’re back to mourning a new round of lost distilleries.

So what do we do? It’s simple, I think.  Unfortunately it won’t make you any friends.  The answer is that we start speaking up and asking questions.  With honesty and intent.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, forums, comment sections, direct emails, face to face conversations…whatever tools and platforms you have.  It’s time to start asking the tough questions of the owners and brands…’why are we paying the prices we’re paying?’  And when inevitably you get the infuriatingly condescending and dismissive response from some notorious reactionary such as Nick Morgan, be ready to walk away from the brand that can’t tell you why their pricing schemes are built to exclude you.  It seems they don’t want you anyway if the cost is beyond your means.  Let’s acknowledge it for what it is.  Hey, I recognize that a Ferrari is not in my budget, but I have to admit that I love the hell out of my F-150.  From the driver’s seat I can look down at the guy in his Ferrari that is racing to the next red light, where we’ll again be side by side.  Life is full of checks and balances.  Just sayin’.

So here I’m asking you to start throwing some questions around a bit. Start being a little bit louder.  Do it with respect, but do it.  You’re only going to make it better for all of us.


 – CurtVendetta

62 thoughts on “Why Honest Inquiry Matters More Now Than Ever

  1. Cameron

    yep, prices keep climbing and climbing. Hardly anything comes out these days under $100. Seems like $120 to $180 is the baseline if you want to get anything new and interesting that comes out.

    The worst offender this year that I noticed was Glendronach/Benriach. The prices of their Batch release single casks went up at least ~50% or so, from say $189 for the 1994 last year to $289 for the 1995 this year. The 1970’s release this year essentially doubled… It’s unfortunate because I liked to defend those brands as great value.

    Personally, I haven’t even been tempted to buy any Glendronachs or Benriachs this year. I’ve noticed the Batch-whatever single casks have been sitting on Calgary store shelves for a lot longer this year than previous years so maybe Glendronach/Benriach have in fact overstepped and their product will sit all year.. let’s hope. Maybe it’s just the economy in Calgary though, and other markets aren’t flinching.

    So what can we say? It’s all based on demand, and if demand doesn’t slow down even with continued price hikes, why would the brands relent? We can ask the $$ question a million ways, but the answer will simply always be demand and supply. Maybe even just demand. Brands won’t be afraid of making long-term enemies of their consumers who will either forget who raised prices when and by how much, or who will naturally begin to associate that brand with more of a luxury. If things go bottom up, and prices need to fall, I doubt any of us will hold grudges and the brands know that. So they have every incentive to “get while the gettin’s good”, as they say.

    The ONLY way to make a difference is to stop buying. Unlike vegetables, whisky is an entirely unnecessary, luxury product that some would even consider a vice or toxin. No one in the general population, media or in politics will sympathize with us about prices of a luxury item, and nor should they, IMHO. I’m bummed to be priced out of good, aged whisky (and even some NAS releases, yeesh), but I can only show it by buying less, sadly.

    1. Mike. M

      Couldn’t have said it better myself Cameron and Curt. I have adjusted to price increases accordingly, Glendronach is a perfect example Cameron.

      The last Glendronach I purchased was from a co-operative wine and spirits store, a 17 year old. It use to be $117 now its $260. I knew this information in advance so I purchased two. One day later, they made the price “correction” to $260. I have better things to WASTE money on.

      By WASTE, I mean this. That 17 year old had sat their for 3 years, untouched by price increases. So, WTF?! Its already been here for 3 years, how do you justify a price increase based on the canadian dollar losing weight when its been sitting on the shelves for 3 years!!! There are no logistical
      increases high enough to offset and justify a 200% plus increase when its already made the journey and just sat there collecting dust.

      I’d be somewhat happy to pay upwards of $150 a bottle on a 17 year old single cask bottle of glendronach. Emphasis on the somewhat; a personal threshold. Anything more than that completely turns me away from the product so much so that Im actually disinterested.

      I dont feel cheated cause someone else is willing to pay the money for it. But, for the people with the passion and the advanced sensory perception without the financial affordability it is a sad inevitability. Unless, people start taking it more seriously and making more conscious decisions.

      I no longer purchase Glendronach, Macallan, Ardbeg, Laphoaig, or any of the other major brands. I purchase from the little guys like Arran and Kilchoman. Why? Cause they’re the underdog. I like underdogs, Rocky Balboa comes to mind when I think of them.

      At least I can justify a 5 year old Kilchoman at an average price of $100 because they’re trying to increase their net income after costs of revenue, which is not easy when you’re a young distillery.

      1. ATW Post author

        And further…even the indies. Recently saw an 8 year old ADR Glen Moray at something like $130. And a Malt Whisky Company Tullibardine 2010 at $140. An 8 and 5 year old respectively. Neither ‘cult’, ‘collectible’ or anything. Seriously?

        Look at SMWS prices. Crazy. Especially for young ones. Value gets better with age, but then you’re paying hundreds per bottle.

        Hepburn’s Choice? First Editions? Insanity.

        1. Mike. M

          I agree with you on all those independent bottling prices. They’re too much. I always wanted to clarify something. I haven’t specifically gone out of my way to boycott the previous distilleries I mentioned. It’s simply a natural frame of thought that occurs from my point of view as being disinterested. If I don’t see anything I like, I don’t purchase it. Take the path of least resistance with an equivalent result.

          There’s some positives to this situation though. I’ve given bourbon and Irish whisky more of a chance as of late. I was at a whisky festival about a month ago and one of the guys poured me a dram of Old Grandad Bourbon. I was shocked!! A stunner at $30.

          It’s an NAS, but it’s a bourbon and I don’t see any issue with it because as much limited knowledge as I have about bourbons, most of them have been NAS.

          This week I was at an Irish Whisky tasting. Another stunner popped out, a cask strength Cooley, 13 years old with beautiful tropical fruit notes. This one was a little more expensive at $100 and normally I wouldn’t even give Irish whisky a consideration.

          But, I’m slowly expanding my tastes cause of the price of scotch whisky. Amrut is one of my favourites. I also like a splash of Crown Royal Harvest Rye with Coke on the weekends.

          If we expand a little it may also be good for other bottlers and distilleries. Why should Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glendronach, etc get the lions share of the patronage when there are some reasonably priced whiskies from around the world?

          Maybe we should all start being a little more open minded and flexible, including myself. That way we can try other types of whiskies which in turn would support the efforts in reducing unjustified price increases and supporting worldwide distilleries at the same time.

          1. Veritas

            Where I live Old Grand dad is $35. I haven’t tried it, but I have tried the OGD 114, a beefed up version, which I got for $20 in the US some time ago. Definitely worth buying at twice the price.

            I’m not a fan of Crown Royal Northern Harvest. I wouldn’t buy it even if it had an age statement. Sadly, I received a bottle of it as a gift recently. But I won’t “lower” my standards just because the spirits I like go up in price. I’ll just be more selective in what I buy and buy less. I won’t drink something I don’t enjoy because what I do enjoy is too expensive.

            건배 !

          2. Mike. M

            The Crown Royal Harvest with Coke wasn’t suppose to be taken seriously; it’s satire. I wouldn’t expect anyone to compromise their values. Being more selective and buying less of it is definitely another approach.

          3. ATW Post author

            @Veritas: “But I won’t “lower” my standards just because the spirits I like go up in price. I’ll just be more selective in what I buy and buy less. I won’t drink something I don’t enjoy because what I do enjoy is too expensive.”

            And therein lies the rub, aye? I won’t downgrade either, but I will hunt far and wide to find bargains.

            I know many out there that have moved to bourbon or Canadian. I simply can’t do it. Economics are one thing, but why punish my taste buds because of the poor behavior of the market? 😉

          4. Veritas

            I don’t know if it is a question of punishing taste buds. If you don’t like bourbon or Canadian (though in each case the variation is almost as wide as with Scotch) you ought not waste your money or liver cells.

            However, just as some people enjoy both bourbon and sherry matured, peated and unpeat, Irish and Indian malt whisky, single and blends, it is not outside the realm of imagination that one could appreciate high quality spirits from North America as well.

            I like some Canadian whiskies, and some bourbons. One of two of each category are probably among the 15-20 I keep in my “top 5”. Sure, 8-% of the time I’ll reach for a single malt but there are times when I just feel like one of the others more than anything else.

            Always quality, mind you.

            Point being (NAS and price issues aside for this particular post), there are good spirits out there that for some are as good as Scotch. It’s not lowering standards to drink them.

  2. Jerry

    It’s so simple, I just turn my snobby nose up at bottles without a number on it.
    Didn’t these people learn in marketing kindergarden that labels with numbers sell? (look at No7 Jack Daniels, lol)

    The other bullshit is about rarity. Which is total horse-poo since most distilleries output 1.5M liters (assume 25% is bottled and 75% garbage down the drain, you still have about 2000 barrels filled/yr, so your “limited” edition of 30,000 bottles is less than 100 barrels used.) For example, Hanyu has 400 casks left, lol so there’s like 80,000L or 115,000 bottles of 700mL left at minimum, assuming no butts/gordas/pipes.

    Benriach and Glendronach are just testing the market. batch 10 was expensive, batch 11 was cheap, batch 12 is outrageous

    Buy while you can for quality products, the rest can rot in a glass with coke.

    1. ATW Post author

      All true.

      The only problem with it all that I’m seeing is that the bottles with numbers on them keep going up and up. The brands are almost forcing those drinkers without sufficient means (read: lotsa bucks) towards their NAS expressions. Maybe this was part of the plan. Who knows.

      Frustrating as hell, but I see it happening. You’ve been at WP Whisky Fests with me before. You see how many people walk out at the end of the night with the latest NAS Pulteney? Or Laddie? Scapa? Oban?

      Kinda feel like malt lovers are being herded.

  3. Robert

    I’ve been bitching about Scotch prices on other threads here for a while, but actually took a stand a while back. Now I’m buying mainly bourbon, as I can get good to great bourbon for little money. Just bought a $12 Evan Williams BIB (50% ABV) and $41 Russell Reserve Single Barrel. The EW is decent on the rocks or with Coke, but next time I’ll spring for $20 WT 101, which is a very good sipper. The RRSB is truly a great whiskey buy I’d recommend to anyone. WT Rare Breed is $37 and Elijah Craig 12 YO Barrel Proof is about $45, when I can find it. These are also great bourbons. At these prices the only decent Scotches are Glenmorangie 10 ($30), Ardbeg 10 ($40), Compass Box Oak Cross ($41), Clynelish 14 ($45), ….. Mmmmm, that’s about it, unless I go for mediocre blends. Next level is in the $55-$65 range, and jumps to $80-$120 fairly quickly. I’d still spring for another 2015 Cairdeas ($70), Lagavulin 16 ($65), Nadurra 16 ($75), Arran 14 ($60), but I’m not shelling out over $100 again in the near future for any whisk(e)y. I’d love to pick up a case each of Lagavulin 12 and Glendronach 18 (God, I love those two!), but it just ain’t happening.

    1. ATW Post author

      Hm. Locally: Glenmo 10…$65. Ardbeg 10…$70. Oak Cross…$65 (I think). Clynelish 14…$80. Cairdeas 2015…$110. Lagavulin 16…$110. Nadurra 16…$90.

    2. Chris 1

      Yo Brother Robert.. If you can get Ardbeg 10 for 40 bucks and 2015 Caideas for 70 you’d best be grabbing as many as you can while the gettin’s good.

  4. David

    LCBO is releasing Laimrig at over 20% above the price of the last batch it carried, and $10 more than the Devil’s cask 3.

    But at the same time they are selling Tempest V, an outstanding 10 YO whisky, for under $90.

    You just can’t base a world view on the LCBO…

    I think the reason he drinks companies are getting away with it is that they make their stuff seem rare and good enough that everyone scrambles to have some of every batch, one to drink and one to keep (Ralfy’s recommendation – buy 2 – almost wonder if he’s caused more problems than solved). In some markets you never know when you’ll get something again so you buy more.

    I’ve succumbed to it. Although I try to buy quality only I’ve accumulated far more than I ought to have. And when a new batch of a known expression is released I’m there trying to get my hands on it, or I’m feeding into the enthusiasm of others and buying things they can’t get (AND PICKING UP SOME FOR MYSELF FOR GOOD MEASURE).

    I think in a way we are to blame. For most bottles it’s a quick creep like A’Bunadh, Laimrig), and we’re still allowing ourselves to be sucked in.

    I’m trying. It’s not easy. So many attractive expressions. Why do I feel I have to have some of everything good?

    I’ve set a goal to end the year with as many unopened bottles as I started. I probably won’t succeed so my secondary target is a 7% increase this year. It doesn’t mean stopping my purchasing, but decreasing the differential between what I buy and what I open.

    Next year I hope to keep my net increase to zero with a secondary target of 3.3%, and in 2018 I hope to see an actual decrease in my collection, with continued negative growth after that.

    If I can reach balance before the next election, why can’t Canada?

    1. kallaskander

      Hi there,

      I think one could write volumes about this issue. But probably the people that matter would never read them. Or even bother.

      There are a few „facts“ hard ones and softer ones that could be read as signs of the times – or writings on the all. It is only that the whisky and whiskey industry chose to ignore them.

      I am sitting at the othe side of the Big Pond and here we read the same story over an over. In the last three years the export of Scotch whisky has increased by value but declined in volume.
      Easy explained, they ship less but what they ship costs so much more.

      We read here that single malts are big in the US – as everywhere – but blends do struggle angainst ever increasing amounts of bourbon and rye being drunk in the US.

      The share of single malts was 2-3% in the global Scotch whisky market about 10 years ago. The figures now claim it is striving towards a share of 10%.
      But that means that blended Scotch has lost 5-6% over the last 10 years in a market valued by billions wherase the single malt increase of 5-6% is in a market which has until recently counted its profit in millions.
      Does the Scotch industry try to have compensation from the single malts for their losse in blends? You bet!!!
      Especially in the US one of the biggest whisk(e)y markets there is. AND they try to compensate their losses against native American whiskes and the very popular Canadian variety – about which not much people are talking.

      From my side of the pond I can see light at the end of the tunnel of ever climbing prices.
      Here some sure bets for rapid clearings of shelves begin to stall. The new NAS Laphroiag Lore of which the distillery says it contains malt from 1993 and officinados claim it contains malts from 7 to 21 years of age is not flying from the shelves at a price of about 100.- €uros as otherJubilee Laphroiag’s did recently.
      A series of excellent special releases for Germany by the importing company for Germany which honours famous Scots and usually is made of 18-20 yo malt used to sell out in no time – when it was below the 100.- €uro price mark. The last edition of a 20yo malt was at about 125.- €uro… and is a lead zeppelin.

      Only soft evidence as I said but customers are reacting. Too slow but they do. The boom which is now ending built up slowly as well. In my experience crashes happen fast when the time is ripe. We are headed towards the next whisky crisis.

      Finally let me point you to the excellent analysis of http://www.divingforpearlsblog.com/ by Michael Kravitz who is looking at the US market especially.





      1. ATW Post author

        I completely agree. Customers are wising up. There is a surge of indignation here that is growing steadily. It comes up in every discussion when we gather with a new bottle to pop open. I’ve spoken to some of the best retailers in the city and they are struggling to justify prices to consumers. Fertile ground for revolution.

    2. Collegiate

      David it is easy to get caught up in the “must have, latest release” game. I used to find myself buying into this cycle, with me purchasing more than I could possibly finish. The LCBO makes this all worse as they seem to only release stuff about twice a year, making you feel like you have to buy all the new releases or you may miss out as something sells out and never returns. Total pain. Anyways, the real solution is simple and I am finding it working well enough for me – stop buying NAS. Do that and you all the sudden are not interested in like 90% of all the new releases with their hype machines at full. Focus on age-stated stuff (or at least cut back on NAS products) and will probably start to realize that most of them aren’t all that great and your life would be better without them.

      1. Veritas

        I don’t know. I have my eyes on a number of age stated bottles (Booker’s, Redbrest 12 CS, Some of the Glendronach SBs), definitely more ” will always exceed the “able to drink”.

        건배 !

  5. Jeff

    I don’t really understand how boycotting brands over “inevitably” unconvincing pricing explanations – “be ready to walk away from the brand that can’t tell you why their pricing schemes are built to exclude you” – makes sense when boycotting products over the fact that their NAS marketing is obvious industry bullshit (logically indefensible in what it says about the “label-dependent” importance of age), a far more clear-cut issue in my book, is somehow “unrealistic”. Then again, I don’t know how the “not telling anyone what to do rule” gets waived here, but was invoked on NAS as the very reason this site didn’t/”couldn’t” actively recommend NAS boycott participation – Curt would boycott personally, but not recommend that anyone else do it. And is it now, with pricing, boycott in name only, or boycott in everything BUT name, or some other nuanced approach that escapes me?

    Even ignoring the foregoing, if we DID have an ad hoc boycott against overpriced bottles/brands (however defined), how long would it be before we’d HAVE to have reviews on this site of those self-same bottles/brands on the basis that acknowledging their quality “is only fair” (even though their quality was NEVER the issue) and that somehow their review will do more damage than good for their sales/pricing by keeping them in the public eye? Less than a year? I can almost read them now: “the pricing here is completely usurious, but there’s no denying that this is some VERY good whisky, and I’m looking forward to the next expression – I know, mea culpa”.

    Where is the consumer outrage over the current state of things? Where indeed; I’ve sought to encourage such for a long time over something far more straightforward, even blatant, than price increases – with NAS, the industry equivalent of saying that rocks fall up. If people are themselves guilty of supporting what they’re concerned about, then why don’t they start the campaign against outrageous pricing/NAS/bottle flipping/whatever with the guy in the mirror? If the logic of the current state eludes folks, then stop playing into it. I don’t mind reading reviews of bottles I can’t afford but, if the prices involved are really becoming that irksome, then maybe discontinuing the promotion of these products through purchase and review would be an idea. I think it could easily be argued, after all, that reviews and bottle boasting about high-priced products serve to encourage “keeping up with the Joneses”, people overreaching their financial stations and, most importantly, the perceived normalization of these prices as being reasonable and palatable for others.

    I get the issue about prices, but let’s be realistic, or at least consistent, about whether walking away from the shelf works or not – it does, by the way; people just have to have the strength to actually do it instead of detailing their various excuses not to take action. Folks interested in honest inquiry first have to be honest with themselves about what they’re really doing. It’s also this aspect of the issue that tends to reduce it for me from any kind of moral crusade to just very large people on weight loss reality shows complaining about how hard it is to stop eating cream pies – if you have no willpower to help yourself by stopping what you’re doing, and are part of your own problem, then that’s the first thing to work on – the cream pie ain’t to blame. For what it’s worth, I already boycott whisky that I think is overpriced; I don’t buy it – maybe people have problems with that last part.

    Oh, and Boycott NAS!

    1. ATW Post author

      First things first…it is fucking whisky. Not starving kids in Ethiopia or curing cancer. I take it seriously, but not to the point of self-flagellation. Let’s be realistic. We all like whisky. If we boycotted everything that we found slightly irksome (or even massively irksome) we’d all end up living monastic lives in the dessert. I, for one, am not willing to be immolated for the sake of a drink I share with friends and use to add a little something extra to memorable occasions.

      Second…as soon as someone thinks they can tell me what to do I will immediately turn the other direction. I have an inherent ‘fuck you’ switch that gets flipped as soon as soon self-righteous wank says ‘do this’. For this very reason I refuse to tell people they should boycott or do anything for that matter. I will lay out my thoughts, open an avenue for discussion and if people see through the BS (as many here do) they will make their own call.

      I’ve said it before, quoting Ella Wheeler Wilcox, ‘to sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men’. You and I not buying these products is great…in theory. Inevitably a few will join us. And Nick Morgan will happily cash his fat paycheques and continue to talk shit about us (in veiled generalities regarding who is really speaking to). Boycotting is silence. Marching and protesting gets others involved.

      My saying be ready to walk away from it means just that. There are certain brands I won’t buy now, just as there are certain expressions released by certain brands I won’t buy, even if I may but others they release. I’ve learned – and continue to reinforce this opinion the longer these debates rage (or any issue in life really) – that nine times out of ten blanket statements are idiotic and nothing more than shortcut solutions. An example…’boycott all NAS’ is embraced because ‘boycott all NAS except for blends, some bourbons, some world whiskies, Compass Box in the case where X happens’, etc becomes too difficult to manage. If a brand is FORCED to put either youngest age or NAS on the label, and their product has 40+ year old whisky and 20 year old whisky…it’s completely understandable why they’re telling us to go fuck ourselves when we raise holy hell. It hurts them, due to archaic regulations. This is where CB is asking for transparency. Again…in some cases it is understood why it happens even if I hate it. I don’t want to force CB to call it a 20 year old. I want them to be able to tell me what is in it.

      But I digress. That is a different argument.

      I am at a junction in my life where I refuse to be held to some arbitrary rule that has been prescribed by a public stance over something we all acknowledge. Whether it is NAS or price (which are intricately linked as of now). Just because I won’t support the NAS thing does not mean I cannot from time to time buy an overpriced malt if I want it. Port Ellen being a prime example. That is my call. And further, just because I won’t go pick up a case of Macallan Ruby does not mean I am wrong for not calling others to arms to boycott high-priced or NAS malts. That is theirs to manage.

      I appreciate your dedication, mate, but you come from a place of militancy I’ve not embraced since my university days. The world is more nuanced than that. It’s big business. I hate it too, but I can’t lie…I shop at Wal-Mart from time to time. And not all my books come from little indie bookstores. I like bands that sell more than 5,000 copies of their albums as well. What I’m saying is…sometimes big biz wins. That’s the price we pay for being part of society. Doesn’t mean I won’t continue to pick my battles, but I will do so on my terms, not because someone thinks it is all or nothing.

      Now…full circle…

      Not everyone gives a shit about NAS expressions (as we’ve seen here). And others could care less about chill-filtration, E150A, low bottling strengths, etc. We’ll never agree on all of this. And that keeps it interesting. One thing we can likely all agree on though, is that the inflation of whisky prices is hurting us all. Even some of the highest rollers are know are taking passes on bottles they used to buy cases of. Tell me why we shouldn’t speak out about it and confront the producers about it?

      Hahaha…man, you have a way of waking me up in the morning better than my coffee does. Cheers, mate.

      1. Jeff

        I think you needed waking up, and you’re still groggy.

        First things first – it is only whisky, but there’s no point in commenting about it if the commentary isn’t forthright – just something I feel at this junction in my life. You’re telling people what to do here – re-read it until you find it or even consider that “my saying be ready to walk away from it means just that” DOES mean just that, or just who ARE you talking to? Talk around it how you like, we both see the contradiction, which is why you’re talking around it so much. And reviewing NAS expressions isn’t protest, it’s promotion.

        “An example…’boycott all NAS’ is embraced because ‘boycott all NAS except for blends, some bourbons, some world whiskies, Compass Box in the case where X happens’, etc becomes too difficult to manage.” – it IS too difficult to manage because there’s no NAS that makes any sense in what it says, not about marketing, but about whisky. As with crazy pricing, what people don’t like most about NAS is hearing that they directly encourage this crap through purchase and review. Many “don’t care” about NAS because that’s their way of getting around supporting a damaging form of marketing that they can’t logically defend, full stop. You tell me that you shouldn’t actively be fighting NAS and actively advocating it should be done, yet we’re somehow “all agreed” about the terrible nature of our local pricing, different as it is from place to place (and that people are also guilty of supporting, even where egregious), but yet you’re “not telling” anyone to do anything about it? Sorry, pull the other one.

        And on transparency, and the “right” to information that NO ONE is obligated to give consumers, even in the form of “archaic” age statements, March has come and gone. Did those talks between CB and the SWA ever take place? Just wondering if anyone knew.

        As to the larger issue, it is what it is what it is – if whisky comment sections have taught me anything, it’s that it’s far easier to listen to someone bitch about a problem that they ADMIT they contribute to themselves (and will continue to contribute to in the future) than to convince them to actually change what they’re doing to help fix it. I don’t know if it’s something in human nature or whisky fan nature. In whisky, everything is somehow rocket science when it comes to consumer action, created by those who don’t want to think critically or take action themselves. It’s always the producers who should change what THEY’RE doing yet, if you ask the shareholders,the producers are doing just fine, thanks. If people’s emails of pricing protest amount to “I really don’t like your pricing, but ‘Ill probably still buy the next expression because you’re doing such a super job”, people might as well save the wear and tear on their keyboards – and if it IS about walking away from unresponsive brands on price, then we ARE back to the issue of “unrealistic” boycott, so let’s be clear there too.

        The repeated message here is “do this, but not really”, so I don’t really know what it’s all about. If what you’re saying is “sometimes big biz wins”, then what exactly is the problem that you won’t paradoxically reserve your right to contribute to if somebody calls you on it?

        But it’s all good, and it’s differences of opinions that make horse races. Cheers!

        1. Chris 1

          I love these little verbal jousts between Jeff and whoever. I generally can find convincing points from both combatants, in this case Curt and Jeff. If someone compiled Curt and Jeff’s greatest hits we would have all the problems of the whisky world solved.
          I’m staying put in my ringside seat for this bout. Over to you, Curt.

        2. ATW Post author

          Would love to have drams with you one night, mate. Responding to these long comments is intimidating. Not content-wise, simply in the amount of time invested. As always, you’re one of the few I MOST enjoy speaking with, but wish we could verbally joust over a bottle of some sexy single cask.

          More to come when I have time.


  6. Skeptic

    “Less than two years ago I was buying Aberlour a’bunadh for about $75 a bottle. Now…no less than $107

    I thought you said you were no longer buying NAS whiskies, even though you were going to review them…

    1. ATW Post author

      I don’t buy ’em. Two years ago, however, I did. Notice I said ‘now…no less than $107’, not ‘when I buy them now…$107’.

      1. Skeptic

        Sorry, given the verb “was buying” in the previous sentence followed by saying “now”, the implication is purchasing.

        Technically, it doesn’t matter what you meant, but what you implied.

      2. Veritas

        So what do you do when you are faced with an outstanding review on batch 49 or 53, and know that it will all be gone when the boycott is over and you won’t get any…?

        건배 !

        1. Chris 1

          Veritas. That would hardly be the end of the world, mate. Sometimes you just have to take a stand. Find a good AS alternative. It seems that A’Bunadh has taken on some mystical, mythical stature in the whisky community. It ain’t that great, or that much better than everything else, for crying out loud, especially at current pricing.

        2. ATW Post author

          Couple things…

          1) I don’t think there has been an outstanding batch of a’bunadh in a long time. Nothing I’d regret missing out on anyway.

          2) The above query could equally be applied beyond Aberlour, and the reality is that there aren’t really any malts anymore that I have to have. Sounds jaded, but it’s more like slightly disillusioned. I get more excited about finding neat indies (all of which boast age statements, high strengths and cask info).

          3) I opted out of any sort of boycott terminology some time ago. Granted I don’t buy them, but I do that on principle, not dogma. As soon as I say ‘boycott’ I have Jeff, Skeptic and everyone else policing my every move. It becomes tedious and tiresome justifying my existence, to be honest. As happened above. A game of words. It doesn’t matter any longer what I’ve done in the past, the slightest slip of the tongue (keyboard?) and I end up having to explain myself. Here’s the reality…I don’t buy NAS whiskies. They piss me off. I don’t, however, do this to appease anyone but my own moral compass. And ultimately if I decide to change direction at any point, I will. That’s life. Of course, now I’ll have to defend that statement and say once again…I DO NOT PLAN TO BUY NAS WHISKIES.

          I may sound testy about this all, but the whisky world is a fractious mess right now. Declining quality, increased marketing bullshit, soaring prices, pissy little cliques and far too much confrontation related to something I love. It starts to sap the fun out of it all. I’ve said before when it starts to feel like work I’ll quit. Been close lately a few times.


          1. kallaskander

            Hi there,

            would be interesting to know where you see the difference between principle and dogma Curt… when the final common pathway is not buying NAS 😎

            The pricing level in this boom time is becoming/is a problem for whisky producers. Their customers move away. Slowly but the more is written and talked about that the value for money ratio is askew the faster and the more whisky buyers will quit the game.

            Jeff asked about the talks between Compass box and the SWA. I do not know if they took place.

            But here is a lengthy piece which at least tries to make the quest for more tranparency clearer.



          2. ATW Post author

            Hey, Kallaskander.

            Principle: Self-guided moral path.
            Dogma: A path dictated by some external authority.

            In regards to NAS…I choose not to buy. I won’t not buy because that’s what anyone is telling me I should do.

            Simple as that.

            And from the sound of things you agree with what I’m suggesting. “the more is written and talked about that the value for money ratio is askew the faster and the more whisky buyers will quit the game.” This is when the brands have to adjust. Simple market-driven economics.


          3. ATW Post author

            And thanks for sharing that article. Good read. Interesting to hear Ronnie Cox’s take on it.

    2. Chris 1

      I hear you Skeptic, but it could be worse. Here in BC A’Bunadh has gone from $70 a few years ago to $92 last year and is now $134 . For my money there is no realistically priced Dalmore, no Macallan, no Lagavulin, no Ardbeg, no Laphroaig (except maybe QC), no Talisker, no Benriach , no Glendronach. Even the entry levels of all these are way overpriced. Laph 10 is now $92 and the weak 15 is a goofy $201. I no longer buy anything at BC Liquor Stores unless absolutely necessary. A friend and I have a case of carefully selected bottles coming from Edmonton. Not necessarily much cheaper, but mostly stuff unavailable here. I’m doing most of my buying in duty free these days, Ardbeg 10 and Talisker 10 and a few others are still good buys and come in 1litre bottles. Other wise I wait until we visit my in-laws in Oregon or they are coming up here.

      One other point of note. Where we used to get 750 ml bottles of everything, now a great deal of the decent single malts are coming in 700ml bottles. So, more money for less product. They are gouging us every way possible.

      1. Brent

        Same boat for me in Manitoba. 30 months ago I was paying $62 for Revival and under $50 for Glendronach 12. Now they are $100 and $75 respectively. All the prices have gone goofy of late locally and people locally are still buying like crazy. The only bottles I’ve purchased locally are a couple of Revivals (mea culpa) because they are short-term discontinuing it and I’m not confident it will return as the same. I’m also still stocking up on Nadurra 16 until it goes because it remains a somewhat reasonable $79 locally.

        Otherwise I buy in the U.S. or when I make it to Alberta and stock up as best I can given various restrictions. I expect I drink a fair bit less than many at only about six bottles in a calendar year. I have about 60 in storage, so I’m good to ride out any storms for some time. I will miss out on lots of good stuff likely but the prices are getting just too stiff for me to be overly experimental. My last trip to Alberta I snagged another Allardice @ $125 because I really enjoy it and I fully expect it to make the same jump the Highland Park 18 did recently. We can’t get it in MB and if we could, given the price of the Parliament is $201 now I wouldn’t buy it locally anyway.

        I’m not sure it’s not just the climate of all things these days though to see just what the consumer will pay. I inquired about a muffler for a Nissan Altima the other day. Not at the dealership, just at Midas and it was running $800. For a simple muffler? It’s not that long ago they were $200 installed. Toilet paper, scotch, mufflers, cauliflower – too many people buying regardless of price and it seems they all want to test how far we can go. S’crazy man.

  7. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    an interesting point in case


    Just too expensive and the remedy? More of the same, the first one didn’t work out, let’s make anonther one.

    It is not the only case of Diageo losing its touch and driven by greed and need for interest and revenue releasing products that make you shake your head.

    Boxing Hares Smoky Goat dozens of NAS-ty Taliskers… and that is just whisky. There is much too much flavoured Smirnoff and buying into Indias UBL group… but I digress.
    But not far. Diageo’s excursions into entrepreneurship with their investment arm Distill Ventures Group and into think tanking with their Whisky Union seems to be flawed – judged by the results so far. Seems the giant has the feeling that they are no longer capable of invention from their core and from within.

    Haig Club does make another strong point imo. Cut out the story driven marketing of products. Buy my story the whisky comes free is a very weak marketing strategy if the product does not live up to the story. Very few whiskies promoted in this way do. Highland Park Ice anyone?

    So it is good to see that something as marketing driven as Haig Club which is a premium product only in price not quality fail because it is just too expensive and not good enough for the money.
    It should send a strong signal down the line and up into the highest echelons of the management that a purly mone driven whisky business will be losing out on a not a too far day.


  8. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    I could have placed this in the NAS Thing thread but as it is about questioning somebody….

    But yes, agrees Cornthwaite, “NAS does have a role to play as consumers begin to understand more about the taste, profile and quality of malt away from age”.

    “It is imperative that, where these releases come to market, the consumer is able to understand why there is no age statement and not simply forced to accept an inferior alternative to previous releases that the distiller no longer has the required stocks for.”

    “All the malts we have released and plan to release have age statements, boasts Clark. “The debate about transparency in NAS is interesting but, for me, nothing is as transparent as an age statement.”


    Hopefully this stays in the public section of justdrinks long enough.

    Ian’s comment: Age Matters, then, just not as much as once it did.

    He could have gone a bit further for example saying that it does matter when it is used to collect as much money as possible.

    And he could have said much more.


    1. Jeff

      “This introduces the vexed topic of No Age Statement (NAS) whiskies, a category which “we virtually invented more than a decade ago”, claims Bruichladdich’s spokesman Carl Reavey.

      “Events in the wider industry have overtaken us,” he continues, “resulting in what amounts to a crisis of confidence among both consumers and critics. We have moved swiftly to address this issue, with our support for greater transparency.”” – Bingo! The consumer has no REASON to feel any confidence in industry “experts” who multivintage, accept unavoidable loss to Angel’s Share without blinking and build warehouses, effective cathedrals TO age maturation and leaving product there for DECADES, and who THEN say “age doesn’t matter to ‘some’ whisky, depending upon our marketing/logistical problems”. As for Bruichladdich “virtually” inventing NAS a decade ago, I thought the folks there could only walk on water, not alter time.

      “Others, such as William Grant with its The Balvenie Tun 1509, Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix and Ailsa Bay releases, aim to reflect the creative nature of the making of the whisky. But yes, agrees Cornthwaite, “NAS does have a role to play as consumers begin to understand more about the taste, profile and quality of malt away from age”. – “away from age”; so these whiskies are UNAGED? People who confuse not talking about a whisky’s age and a whisky not HAVING an age are very stupid indeed. Hopefully, Cornthwaite doesn’t run the stills on any regular basis.

      “Age Matters, then, just not as much as once it did.” – Buxton plays it cagey here; you can read that as what he’s saying (which makes the industry happy) OR as what the industry’s saying and he’s pointing out the contradiction. The question that no one wants to touch, however is “when exactly did age start ‘mattering’ less?”. Don’t expect an answer from the industry head shed anytime soon.

  9. Robert

    Another good thing about bourbon is that the best stuff is 6-12 YO, which makes it more affordable. And some good bourbon is NAS (but many of them give you a general idea of what is in it). There are distillers that think they can shill some older or “specially selected” barrels and sell them for much more, and that’s fine with me. Let the idiots with too much money spend lots on bourbon that’s not any better. These run for $100-$250, but I don’t see any reviewers rating them any higher than what I can buy for $20-$50.

    Scotch distillers have lost the script even more. They are charging such high prices for their wares that they are committing economic suicide. Sales are beginning to slide and they are raising prices, cutting quality and even expanding operations. Sounds like a big bubble is forming, and they quite deserve the end results. Although I was not pleased with the sale of Bruichladdich (which is currently being poorly managed) and now BenRiach, those guys were smart to sell near the peak. Unfortunately whisky drinkers will be the ones that suffer as JD will totally ruin those products within 5 years. (BTW I dislike JD products).

    Just my rant for the day.

    1. Jeff

      I just wish we could all return to whisk(e)y sanity by “admitting” (as if it were really ever in doubt) that age matters to products. Easy as she is on the eye, even Mila Kunis can’t really make NAS at Jim Beam make sense (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e88ajQePG0Y). Again, the message is always that age both does AND doesn’t matter, as if labels dictate physics. I also hereby disown any “nice rack” jokes.

    2. David

      Agreed for the most part. Bourbon, because of the climate and the casks, doesn’t need as long to mature. Some of the older BTACs are fabulous but aside from the occasional Stagg that I can never hope to get my hands on, Booker’s states the precise age, sometimes to the day (each batch between 6-8 years), and it is pretty much my favourite bourbon. ECBP is 12 years.

      In terms of quality they are up there with $200-300 Scotches (some fine CS oldies like Glendronach 17 YO single cask), they are as good as but usually cheaper than A’Bunadhs…

      I say GO BOURBON!


      Elijah Craig 12 YO is apparently about to lose its age statement, as is the Knob Creek Single Barrel 9 YO (not CS but 60% so close), and there are concerns that the ECBP may be come history or rarer than hen’s teeth.

      Which then brings up another point.

      If the bourbons are going the was of Scotch, do you buy up the AS bottles while they last, thereby stoking supply, jacking up price and supporting the producers? Or do you pre-emptively boycott them to punish them, and leave those awesome rich, oily morsels on the shelf (presumably for someone else)?

      1. Jeff

        I wouldn’t boycott anything with an age statement; reward good marketing and punish bad. Preemptive boycott is like preemptive arrest; there is no crime where there is no crime. Buying an AS whisky is “supporting producers”, but buying any whisky, including NAS products that people “just can’t give up” is supporting producers too; the question is what marketing one supports in the process of buying a product that people are going to buy anyway, and you’ll see more tomorrow of what you vote for with your money today. Besides, I don’t need any preemptive boycott – with the LCBO’s hard work, I’m being priced out of most things worth buying fast enough as it is.

        The industry tells people that, with “some” whiskies, age doesn’t matter; if people agree with that nonsense, they lose age information and, of course, age. Nobody’s taking age statements off to make anything any older; they just don’t want to have the conversation about the impact of age and the higher profit margins of selling younger product at older prices. Not rocket science, never was, and the results are continuing to come to a shelf near you. Maybe we’ll lose odometers next to “help out” the used car industry because it’s under “a lot of pressure”. Less information isn’t making whisky better, but it is making people less informed, all over what they “don’t need to know”.

        The war on age information (and on age itself) continues on many fronts, bourbon being only one (http://recenteats.blogspot.ca/2014/02/the-bourbon-fountain-of-youth-dropped.html).

        Bourbon is dropping age statements because consumers hold bourbon to no higher standard than scotch and, as we know, that’s not really any standard at all; everyone is worried about what they “leave on the shelf” while they complain about whisky’s downslide – going along, in the aggregate, with the idea that the only way to “save whisky” is to know less about it.

      2. Brent

        The transition of the Knob Creek from 9 yo to NAS has already started on our shelves, you can readily find both in the commissar. I’m not much of a bourbon guy unfortunately (like tequila I did a lot of damage earlier in life that’s ultimately a disservice to the spirit but is difficult to overcome) so it doesn’t really affect me that much, but I feel like I should keep one or two decent bottles around. And yes Mila could almost have me drinking Beam but for those chasers of spumante bambino and the after effects that tasted more like beam than bubbly.

        Like LCBO the MLCC is doing the same for me as for Jeff – at minimum I get twice a year price increases for apparently no real reason, just time to jack up the profit margin. I think I’ve mentioned before that I buy very little locally. I did go on a tear on Nadurra 16 buying them up but we had a nice price on it relative to the rest of the country and even the US. Otherwise I stock up when in Alberta and the US which amounts to 4-5 times a year. That brings home 10-15 bottles a year. Would like to buy some more in the short term to build up stock, especially the Glendronachs.

  10. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    speaking of rewarding marketing ….


    The sentence “Glengoyne’s 10 Year Old and 12 Year Old tubes have been redesigned to give the products great shelf stand out in an increasingly competitive single malt market” strikes me as strange…

    Can anyone see that the single malt market is in any way competitive? I mean other than super premium offerings hunting premium offerings prices aiming for the skies and age dwindling to being to small to mention?

    I have read that some single malt distilleries in Scotland have already gone back to a five day week from a 7 day week and slowly we come into a time where the first increasing of distillery capacities in Scotland must show in much more whisky stocks around the age of 10 years – if it hasen’t been bottled as all the NAS-ty stuff beforehand.
    But is there a competition going on which can be seen and felt in decreasing prices? Not here in Europe.

    So what is Glenngoyne aiming to compete for with a new design? For standing out more among ever more expensive single malts in the range 10-12yo? That competittion is stiff indeed.


  11. Jeff

    Meanwhile, in the realm of bourbon pseudoscience: http://whiskyadvocate.com/2016/05/11/buffalo-trace-experimental-collection-2016-infrared-light/

    “The Experimental Collection is packaged in 375ml bottles, with six bottles from each infrared light experiment in a case. Both entry proofs were bottled at 90 proof. Each label includes all the pertinent information unique to that barrel of whiskey. These whiskeys retail for approximately $46.35 each and will be available in late May, 2016.”

    Experiments are being conducted alright – gullible consumers are the test subjects.

      1. Jeff

        Oh, the label information is great, but one gets the impression that “the infrared process” must be very expensive indeed ($46.35 USD for a half bottle of 6 year, 5 month bourbon at 45% ABV).

        “The first group of four barrels underwent 15 minutes of both short wave and medium wave frequency at 70% power. The second group of four barrels was subjected to 30 minutes of both short wave and medium wave frequency at 60% power.” – maybe things were kept to “70% power” max. (of what, who knows – does that thing go to 11?) because no one could afford 100% for 37 1/2 minutes. Precise information about an undefined process is so… scientific.

        Stranger than the thinking behind this cash grab is at least one reaction to it, in this case from Sam Komlenic:

        “How can anyone know what the effects will be unless they actually try it? Though this may sound like an over-the-top idea, it is just one of the many and various experiments Buffalo Trace has tried in the pursuit of better whiskey. My hat is off to them for their ongoing efforts in their quest for quality.”

        Fair enough, if someone actually believes that consumers should pay a premium to provide a “verdict” on Buffalo Trace’s “experiments”, although it sets a dangerous precedent in a whole new area of marketing silliness (I’d like to see some casks that were prayed over vs. a group that were subjected to a magnetic wave machine operated by an atheist) , but then there’s this:

        “Oh, and it will sell out regardless of how any of us really feels about it. Again, congratulations, BT!”

        So it doesn’t really even matter if it’s all bullshit; BT’s to be commended for their “marketing savvy” if they can get people to bite, period. Unless some commentators are industry connected, I’m never sure why the success of whisky marketing campaigns, particularly those that succeed at all costs, are a cause of celebration with some people. Then again, Sam Komlenic IS the copy editor for Whisky Advocate – a telling sign of what’s being “advocated” – and he SHOULD love these types of stories; it was only a press release reprint with an intro paragraph. WA rides to the defense of marketers again. Thank goodness.

        1. skeptic

          You have to pick your battles. Decide what’s important. Here you have clear information what went into producing the contents of the bottle. If people are dumb enough to fall for the marketing, that’s their problem.

          Poor people scraping together enough for their next meal will likely not buy this expression. If there are people out there with too much time and money on their hands, the whole principle of capitalism insists that BT grab what it can while it can…*

          *disclaimer – this is not meant as an endorsement of capitalism or any other economic model…

          1. Jeff

            I see it all – uninformative labels (not the ones here) and sketchy “experiments” – as part of one battle against bad marketing (potential victimization of the poor being another issue altogether). I can’t give the BT experimental madness a pass just because it has nice clear labels and I can’t subscribe to the “if God didn’t want them sheared, He would not have made them sheep” Eli Wallach school of capitalism; the ability to successfully rip someone off doesn’t convey the right to do so on the basis that “the mark” had it coming. The gullible will always be with us, but some nonsense just needs to be denounced.

            The “so long as it works” attitude might be fine for the industry and its supporters if they want to espouse it, but consumers acquiesce to it to their disadvantage. Going along with our theme of honest inquiry, there should be some commitment to honesty, not just expedience, at large.

          2. Chris 1

            “Capitalism is like a dead fish. It may sparkle in the moonlight, but it still stinks.” Karl Marx.

  12. Jeff

    Here’s something a little interesting: Diageo is reaching out to its employees as a voting block to help keep the UK in the EU on the coming referendum – http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/diageo-warns-brexit-vote-eu-8233832.

    Beyond the questionable ethics of this, there’s the point that the same people who will tell you that their hands “are already tied” on labeling law by foreign powers beyond their control will now tell you that staying in the EU is best so as to avoid restrictions and entanglements.

    Chief Executive Ivan Menezes: “As a business we rely on our ability to trade with increasing freedom all over the world, and do not want new trade restrictions.

    “Even if the UK is ultimately successful in all its negotiations, they would take years to conclude and their terms may not be as good as those which exist today. It makes little sense for us to risk this uncertainty.”

    Menezes is probably right in that the current lay of the land represents optimized conditions for business; a lot of people have spent a lot of money to make it so – that conditions are not “optimal” for sharing product information with consumers seems a very minor consideration to the same people (and the latter condition doesn’t stand to hurt the former by any means; if people knew what they were getting for what they are spending, they might, frankly, be a little put off). Sure, current terms “are good”, but for who?

    The SWA, of course, is also in favour of staying in the EU (http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/21/forget-about-sterling-what-will-brexit-mean-for-scotch-whisky.html).

    “The EU’s weight and expertise in international trade helps give us fair access to overseas markets through the agreements it is able to negotiate with third countries,” said David Williamson, public affairs director of the Scotch Whisky Association. ” And of course the protection of the Scotch Whisky geographical indication is rooted in European law.”

    Probably true as far as it goes – but, under current law, you can’t supply detailed info on the age of the product itself while, ironically, what information CAN be supplied through age statements isn’t detailed ENOUGH for the “experts” and the “purists”, so the “obvious” solution is to supply none. It’s a synergy built in a boardroom that, unfortunately, has few outspoken critics.

    Also see: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/brexit-scottish-firms-notably-whisky-industry-alarmed-at-exit/news-story/683172bc184bee331deed80bd56c888e.

    It brings into focus that what might be good for the UK might be good for the whisky industry, but not for whisky consumers, or for Scotland (depending on your politics), so the question itself leaves me torn – particularly when the same folks citing economic benefit for their firms do so in the context of remaining in a supposedly unchangeable system that, “by necessity”, leaves the consumers who actually generate all the profit “unfortunately” in the dark about what they’re buying.

    1. Jeff

      Yeah, interesting – ‘As a blender, NAS [Non Age Statement] whiskies open up new horizons. People say NAS means “young whisky”, but it doesn’t – it’s a balance between young and old. I do get a bit annoyed when people dismiss them’.

      NAS doesn’t necessarily mean young whisky, but it doesn’t necessarily mean multivintaged either; just whisky with an undeclared minimum age – and if there’s a need to balance young and old with a lot of NAS, then age obviously matters to what is being balanced. NAS also doesn’t mean whisky that somehow couldn’t have been previously blended together or that couldn’t carry an age statement. It always means whisky with a minimum age that isn’t perceived as being compelling as a selling point – “age doesn’t matter here, but it does over there”.

      I get annoyed when the people who supposedly know the most about whisky are willing to mislead people for the sake of marketing.

      1. Chris 1

        “In their own words..?” More like in the agreed upon line of shite that the industry has decided every one of their members is required to spout when asked about NAS. They all sound like they are reading it off a teleprompter or out of the whisky industry manual on how to answer awkward questions about NAS.

        “It gives us the freedom to create.” Bollocks, just tell us the age, if it’s a decent 5, 7 or 8 year old at a decent price we’ll buy it. If it’s crap, like much of what you have “created” so far, we will not.

        There are some very good NAS offerings out there…A’Bunadh, Uigeadail, etc. so please don’t force us to avoid them as a matter of principal. Just fess up the fucking age and all will be right in the whisky world…except perhaps the outrageous prices.

  13. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo’s head of whisky outreach added: “To continue this special birthday we wanted to release a brand new bottling to Lagavulin enthusiasts worldwide.

    “The 25 Year Old is a sublime expression of Lagavulin, I couldn’t think of a better way to pay homage to the distillery managers. This year our aim is to bring as many people to Islay and Islay to as many people from around the globe as possible to celebrate years of craft and passion.”

    Isn’t it just terrible to have to release a 25yo Lagavulin for an anniversary bottling when there could have been such a huge playing field if only these terrible limitations would not exist for the master blender?

    There could have been a blend of 25yo Lagavulin with the first anniversary bottling the 8yo or there just could have been an NAS offering by the name of Lure or something apropriate like that.

    Oh the possibilities of freedom for the master blender! But then you have to admit that it would have created terrible lmitations on setting the price point.
    A NAS – even if named Lure or anything else alluring – would not have allowed to set a price of 1200.- $.

    Those d…’d limitations!

    And speaking of bringing as many people to Islay as possible… it is a rumour that the 1200.- $ a bottle include the trip all expenses paid!


  14. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    not quite sure where to put it….

    some weeks ago a wave of doubt and despondence swept through the blogosphere.

    No few bloggers asked themselves if blogging about whisky still made sense concerning the state things are in.

    One of them – http://www.dramming.com – is switichng to other subjects – among them whisky.


    In the light of the need for honest inquiries here are his reasons. It means one less I fear.



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