Post image for The Alrik From Glen Els – The German Ardbeg Look-Alike

The Alrik From Glen Els – The German Ardbeg Look-Alike

by Oliver Klimek on September 18, 2013

Germany has turned into a major whisky producing country in the last years, at least with regard to the number of distilleries which is in the triple digits now. It is dificult to keep track of all the new releases, and one particularly interesting bottling I have noticed only now when I saw a picture of it on Facebook.

The Hammerschmide distillery in Zorge is offering a single malt called The Alrik under their Glen Els whisky brand. Apparently the 2012 edition was given 95 points by Jim Murray in his latest Whisky Bible. Now the 2013 edition is on the market.

alrikAnyone familiar with the distilleries on Islay will notice a striking resemblance of the bottle design to Ardbeg. The ornaments around the label, the eleborate A, even the small logo with the year of establishment on both sides of the A; all this is too similar to be called a conicidence. And not very surprisingly the bottle contains whisky made from heavily smoked malt.

I am not in a position to judge the legal aspect here. If this design constitutes plagiarism in a legal sense or not is not really relevant to me. It may be relevant for Ardbeg, though. I just think it is a shame that this brand appears to be designed to ride on the waves of the Ardbeg hype.

alrik2Regardless of what you may think about the branding and marketing of Ardbeg, the company has invested a lot of money and creativity in making the brand what it is today. The only creativity I see in the design of Alrik is the obvious effort to resemble Ardbeg as closely as possible while trying to avoid the impresison of a clone.

Being German myself I am saddened that this distillery wants to appear as Scottish as Scotch, from the name of their whisky brand to the bottle design, especially as the whisky is not even distilled in proper pot stills of traditional shape.

In German there is a wonderful word to describe people who do things like this: Trittbrettfahrer, literally meaning people who cling to the platform of a bus or train in order to get a free ride.

Normally such look-alike bottles can be found on the bottom shelves of supermarkets as cheap imitations of big spirit brands. But the no age statement Alrik costs €139,50 which makes it more expensive than all regular Ardbeg bottlings. I have not tried it, so I cannot judge the quality of this whisky, but I am sure the bottle design helps to keep up the price by sending out subliminal messages of greatness. This may well be the underlying reason.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mahatma September 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

This product is a f***** shame for all German distilleries. I will promote not to buy it…everywhere.

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Michael September 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Quote: “Germany has turned into a major whisky producing country”
How many litres of whisky a year are we talking about?

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Oliver Klimek September 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm

“..at least with regard to the number of distilleries which is in the triple digits now.” I don’t know how much they produce.

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KDS January 25, 2014 at 10:54 am

I will promote to buy this product, since the quality is really superb – especially compared to most of the Ardbeg bottlings of the last 3 years (except Feis Ile 2012 and Supernova SR – these were really nice). I would just be glad if the Alrik would be produced as much as Ardbeg to lower the price since these are much higher compared to standard Ardbeg bottlings.

But back to the topic:
If you compare the 2 As even with a quick look almost everyone – especially the whisky drinkers see, that there are many differences. Ardbeg A is stylized and more Island/Scotland celtic, Alrik A is just mainland celtic style. Nothing typical for Islay or Scotland and there have been celts in the heart of nowadays Germany, too. And since when does Ardbeg really have the monopoly on celtic styles (especially middle european celtic styles)?

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