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Mortlach Blues – How To Offend Those Who Made It Possible

by Oliver Klimek on March 5, 2014

Yesterday was a day I had been awaiting with a mixture of hope and fear. Diageo finally announced the pricing and the bottle design of their new Mortlach range.

The range which had been announced already in early December 2013 consists of 4 bottles of 500 ml size:

  • Rare Old NAS (£55)
  • Special Strength NAS (£75, Travel Retail)
  • 18 yo (£180)
  • 25 yo (£600)

Adjusted to standard 700 ml size, the guideline prices are £77 for Rare Old, £105 for Special Strength, £252 for the 18 yo and £840 for the 25 yo. There will also be 750 ml bottles for the US market but their prices have not been published yet. They will be available from June on, but only in select markets due to limited supply.

Diageo has decided to go the full monty with Mortlach. Back in autumn 2013 a group of influential whisky people was invited to a top secret mission to the distillery where the plans for Mortlach were presented: a multi million pound distillery expansion – or actually a clone of the existing distillery – and a new product range supposed to replace the singular Mortlach 16 yo Flora & Fauna bottling. Former SMWS ambassador Georgie Bell, who I had the pleasure to meet at the 2013 Victoria Whisky Festival, was appointed as brand ambassador for Mortlach in January 2014.

Initial reactions on social media to yesterday’s announcement ranged from disappointed over shocked to downright angry. Soon the word “Dalmorization” made the rounds. But other than a few “wait until we can taste it” comments, there was little enthusiam about the new Mortlach range, mainly because of the pricing.

I had been hoping for a proper Mortlach range for years, but I believed this was only wishful thinking until the news about the distillery expansion broke. A part of me was hoping for a Classic Malt style approach, but having become disillusioned by recent developments on the whisky market I also feared that Diageo would take it one step further. Which in fact has now happened.

The 16 year old Flora & Fauna bottling could be bought for £50 to £55. Now we have a no age statement whisky for £77 and an 18 year old for £252. With this pricing it is obvious that the ‘cheapest’ bottling of the range could never have an age statement. If its age is comparable to the 16 yo, people would ask why an 18 yo is so much more expensive. And if it is significantly younger, people would ask why it is so much more expensive than the older 16 yo. To name it “Rare and Old” just looks like a feeble attempt to justify the steep price. The standard argument for NAS of being able to pick the best casks regardless of age would not have had much credibility here when the name already suggests age and when there are proud age statements on the more expensive bottles.

“Dalmorization” was already mentioned. Diageo’s Nick Morgan stating “The bottles are strikingly different and I would call them decanters, not bottles. This range is all about redefining luxury in single malt whisky. The design and the size is part of all that intake.” certainly encourages this impression.

But actually the new Mortlach range goes beyond that. While it is true that Dalmore is asking silly prices for their high end bottlings that usually come in fancy decanters, they still do have a bunch of affordable entry level bottlings. With a NAS bottle for £77 (700 ml adjusted) Mortlach will have the most expensive official ‘entry level’ bottling of all working distilleries in Scotland.

Diageo will surely be able to explain the high prices, be it the rarity of the liquid, the extravagant bottle design or the salary of a dedicated brand ambassador who has no whisky to pour for half a year.

Mortlach has long been neglected by Diageo, and breathing new life into it certainly was the right decision. In principle. It is a truly great whisky, but there is one thing that Diageo appears to have forgotten here. For a long time Mortlach has been known as a single malt more or less only among the geeks. It has gained a cult status because of its unusual meaty character, especially when matured in sherry casks. Mortlach was a hidden gem only recognized by independent bottlers who have been providing excellent whisky for affordable prices.

Diageo should not be surprised about the heated reactions to the new Mortlach range. Mortlach’s high status as a single malt is largely due to the entusiasm of us whisky geeks. This one time we are not irrelevant. If we had not been spreading the gospel of Mortlach’s greatness for years and years, this distillery would doubtlessly continue to lead the sad life as Diageo blend fodder, just like Mannochmore or Glen Spey. It was us who made it possible. And it is a crying shame that now so many of us are priced out of it, no matter (or just because) how magnificent the whisky in those small perfume bottles is.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Gal Granov March 5, 2014 at 9:40 am

Good post Oliver,

I was thinking about writing a rant post of my own, but seeing this, It’s pretty much sums it all.

all we can do is vote with our legs. and do not buy any of that overpriced liquid. Sadly, i am sure there are enough people in the far east who’d love to get their hands on the bottles, and mix it with soda / coke, or whatever they do there. sad.

what’s sadder is that in a few year’s when 250 ml bottles cost 180 quid, we’ll look back and remember the “good old days” when 500ml cost just 180 quid.

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Thijs @ Words of Whisky March 5, 2014 at 9:43 am

Well put, Oliver. To call this Dalmorization is actually an insult to Dalmore. Diageo once again takes the whisky prices a step further, maybe this time it’ll actually proof a step too far? Who in his right mind buys a 500ml NAS-bottle for 55 pounds?

I’m happy I still have a couple of F&F bottles stashed for future drinking. Any new bottles of Mortlach I buy will have to come from independent bottlers, because I refuse to go along with this madness.

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Joe @ Whisky Wednesday March 5, 2014 at 9:50 am

Great post Oliver. I, like yourself was hoping for an affordable range of Mortlach bottlings! Nevermind aye? I’m sure the ultra-premium consumers will enjoy it!

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Oliver Philp March 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

Oliver, you summed it up perfectly. I too know Georgie from her time at SMWS and it pains me to see her take the Diageo shilling like this.

The sheer front of this release is audacious. As you say, this was a whisky for the geeks. By catapulting it straight to the top of the “premium” sector Diageo are trying to pull off a real life Cinderella story. The fairytale will actually be if it fails spectacularly and comes back to those who really appreciate good whisky.

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Yoav Gelbfish March 5, 2014 at 10:11 am

On the spot summary Oliver.

I guess we’ll continue to hunt for good IB bottles and let the far-east markets to gobble up and buy all those 500ml bottles

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Jonathan March 5, 2014 at 10:32 am

Whole-heartedly agree. You’ve expressed your thoughts (and the thoughts of many) perfectly.

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Billy March 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

I think (as you would probably expect) that you are giving us geeks too much credit. While Mortlach is known well within the whisky geek world, it doesn’t have, as far as I can tell, any particular status outside of our little gang.

It is good spirit, which Diageo are probably more aware of than us, and the traditional style lends itself to the big sherry end of the high-end market (the template laid out by Macallan and followed by Dalmore). Add to that the fact that it doesn’t have a big single malt brand relying on the spirit and it’s an obvious choice to lead Diageo’s charge into the premium market – a market in which it doesn’t, as yet, dabble all that much compared to the W&Ms and Edringtons of this world.

Yes – we did tell people it was good, but noone listens to us, especially not Diageo :)

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Oliver Klimek March 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

Your points are certainly valid, but I do believe that the “cult” image of Mortlach has paved the way. I strongly doubt that they would have come out like this with a virtually unknown name, no matter how good the spirit is. Macallan and Dalmore have built up their reputation over decades.

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Billy March 5, 2014 at 10:49 am

It is a virtually unknown name, that would be my point :) There are very few distilleries that they could have used for this project which aren’t loved by ‘whisky connoisseurs’. There are very few out-of-the-limelight distilleries that aren’t…

Now, nobody say ANYTHING about Dailuaine. At least not until I’ve stocked up on a few cases of the F&F.

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Oliver Klimek March 5, 2014 at 10:58 am

Maybe I should have put it differently: “The following Mortlach gained because of its quality and special character has convinced Diageo that there is a good market for it despite its virtually unknown name” Or why do you think they picked Mortlach over Dailuaine? ;)

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Billy March 5, 2014 at 11:01 am

If you think that the community’s love for Mortlach was the reason for the decision over Dailuaine then you are definitely starting to believe your own publicity too much :)

That said, if I’m wrong then the two mentions of Dailuaine above have sentenced us to a future in which another distillery’s whisky is priced out of our range…

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Oliver Klimek March 5, 2014 at 11:12 am

Sorry, but I beg to differ. I stand to my claim that the influence of those who already know and love Mortlach was relevant.

Quoting Nick Morgan again from December: “Nicholas Morgan, head of whisky outreach for Diageo, said Mortlach’s unique distillation process, which effectively distils the liquid 2.81 times, has ensured the brand is “held in high regard”.

Source http://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2013/12/diageo-to-release-four-mortlach-singe-malts-whiskies/

This is essentially paraphrasing my previous comment.

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Billy March 5, 2014 at 11:27 am

It’s also held in high regard by blenders, who have bought a lot more of it than regular drinkers and been doing so for a lot longer than we have.

See my opening comment about giving us geeks too much credit. We’re part of the equation, but almost certainly not as big a part as you make out.

Jeff March 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm

But if Billy’s point is to be taken at face value, who besides geeks and apparently enthusiastic blenders, ever really heard of Mortlach – much less ever thought it deserved this type of treatment (Diageo… now?), or that the market would support it? Or is the real point to be made here that Mortlach actually DOESN’T deserve this type of treatment? More widespread single malt bottlings, sure (again, called for by whom outside of the geeks?), but not treated as if it were heavy water in 1943.

People looking at this stuff will do research on the distillery before they buy it, and what will they find – positive comments from an enthusiastic community of whisky fans. And if the issue isn’t one of quality, but simply price, people will generally believe that which carries a high price must justify that price – so the geeks have really done a lot of Diageo’s selling for them.

Also, for all the bloggers up in arms over the pricing here (which is, indeed, outrageous), I’ll be very disappointed to see any blogger online reviews done on the basis of free samples talking this stuff up even further and seeking to justify prices which the writers themselves never paid.

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Gal Granov March 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Jeff

when i get a very expensive dram, i judge it according to quality, then i also say if i think it’s worth the $$$. i sometimes find it hard to recommend a dram for that price, and this goes into the review. same for some other i know. ;)

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Jeff March 5, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Gal

You say “all we can do is vote with our legs and do not buy any of that overpriced liquid”, but that which should be refused on the basis of principle when it’s at least a PAID proposition can be accepted when it’s free? So it would be wrong for me to buy it (and directly support this marketing), but fine for you to drink and review if it costs you nothing (or are we talking about some OTHER dram, not this one)? Is it somehow “sad” that there are “enough people in the far east who’d love to get their hands on the bottles, and mix it with soda / coke” because it’s assumed they don’t know anything about whisky, or because they’re not smart enough to drink for free? To be honest, it’s this sort of “the whisky justifies the means” thinking which makes me distrust a lot of bloggers.

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Gal Granov March 5, 2014 at 3:03 pm

of course.

I wont tell you no to try a macallan than costs 4000 quid per dram if a friend offers you a taster. it might be tasty. i will advise you not to buy the bottle yourself.
I see no reason not to try whisky and see how good it is, and if it has a correlation to price or not. i will urge you not to buy, and i will not buy a dram which is over priced, but tasting it is just fine. should u get a dram to taste, enjoy it my friend.

Distrust? I can gurantee i will never write a good review about a bad dram, even it it’s very expensive. never done so, never will. can you ask for more?

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Jeff March 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Of course?

It’s still not clear to me what your position is – it’s fine if it’s free? You say that people shouldn’t buy this Mortlach range on principle (pre-review it should be noted, because apparently, that’s just how egregious the pricing and marketing is here, and it’s certainly arguable – unless the “we” who should vote with their legs doesn’t include those who won’t pay anyway, so pricing isn’t really an issue), but anyone could drink it so long as SOMEONE ELSE paid for it? While I appreciate being given the same dispensation that you reserve for yourself, there’s a contradiction here. Distrust? Yes, deep distrust – don’t drams that have to be refused on principle in the interests of consumers (as this apparently does) have to be refused in all cases, or is it not really about principle at all and just about who pays the freight?

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Freddy March 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I think it’s unfair in the article to suggest that Georgie’s salary may in any way contribute to the cost of a bottle that’s clearly meant for luxury export gifting. Even if mentioned jovially or implying that Diageo use it as part justification.

Having Georgie as a brand ambassador is only upside in the news about the bottling of Chanel’s new whisky line.

They’ve given duty free a bottling to chew on which is smart… I suppose, because the rest is likely bound for Asia and the USA. It could probably be snapped up £20 cheaper if it were put in a Scotch whisky bottle instead of Eau de Mortlach.

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Oliver Klimek March 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I have no intention to shoot the messenger here. It is Georgie’s job to promote this whisky and having met her in person I am sure she will do it well. But a brand ambassador costs money that has to be earned by sales. If, like in this case, a brand ambassador is responsible for a single distillery, the cost of employment must be earned by selling whisky of this distillery. And what’s particular here is that there cannot be any sales for 6 months, but costs keep adding up. So it is an indirect cost factor for the whisky, just like advertising, press trips etc. I am very certain that a company like Diageo will consider any direct and indirect costs involved when they determine the price of a product.

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Jeff March 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Indeed, I think it’s fair comment – if the brand needs a paid ambassador, Diageo isn’t going to foot that bill itself, and it isn’t going to insulate the consumer from it either. Any other time, Diageo has never had a problem passing along its costs (real or imagined) to us and counting its revenues as a result.

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Freddy March 5, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Indeed I agree that case sales pay for the ambassador, as they pay for the whole marketing team however it’s not a brand ambassador’s remit to drive pure case sales for a whisky brand and she will never have her performance measured in case sales. That’s the job of the Diageo sales team.

Rather to ‘earn’ a salary, I think they’ll consider a brand ambassador someone who is able to justify to consumers the equity in a brand like Mortlach. They will consider any PR halo effect from the ambassador work of monetary value over the case sales, any time an interview or whisky tasting generates press for the brand through Georgie it will be considered value. The ambassador will be convincing us why we should pay the money for it ;)

I’m more concerned with the cost of packaging per every single bottle on the price… Than the cost of one employee spread across all sales markets and all of the volume of the product produced.

This just means I’ll have to be disgustingly extra nice to my friends at Diageo now to get my hands on a bottle…

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Mark March 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Ugh – this, combined with their continued price increases on their “entry level” expressions (I’m seeing Caol Ila 12, Clynelish 14, Talisker 10, etc. for $65+ fairly often now) is probably enough to get me to stop buying OB’s of Diageo’s products. Once I stock up on Lag 16 anyway :-/. However, this is really just the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the increased pricing for their other entry level expressions is really more than I feel comfortable paying for them.

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Chris March 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Well said, I live in Dufftown across from the distillery and I am not going to pay these prices that’s for sure. What a big let down after lots of hype about the new range

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Andrew W March 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm

“Mortlach has long been neglected by Diageo”: No it hasn’t. It has been producing at capacity for a number of years to provide malt for their blends, which is their focus as a company. It is only commercial opportunity (with the growth of the single malt market, in value and the success of brands like The Macallan) than means they are looking at it as a single malt now. It’s like Justin Timberlake leaving a famous and big selling boyband because he’s realised he can make more money on his own. It is simple ECONOMICS, my friend. That is what whisky is. Economic driven business. If you think anything else, you’ve swallowed a massive pill labelled ‘MARKETING’ where they sold you a dream about 25 years ago, and now you’ve woken up, you still think you’re living in this delightful land created years ago by men in suits where whisky was small, boutique and they needed you. They don’t need you now. Sorry.

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Oliver Klimek March 5, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Perhaps I should have added “… as a single malt” to the quoted sentence. I am well aware that Mortlach has been very important for the Diageo blends. And I am not that romantic not to have noticed the business aspect. I have written all too often about business trends I don’t like. They obviously were feeling left behind by the “decanter crew”, so they are now trying to change this.

As I said, I have become disillusioned over the years, and I am not really surprised by Diageo’s move to turn Mortlach into a proper luxury brand and purging its long time fans from the target audience. But that does not keep me from expressing my feelings about this, well knowing that what I write here is most likely regarded as irrelevant drivel at Diageo HQ.

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WR March 5, 2014 at 9:11 pm

A great post and comments thereafter.

Like many I’m not surprised what Diageo has done with Mortlach or is aiming to achieve here. My main disappointments are the prices generally and the smaller sized bottles which are insulting. The naming and designs of these entries in the new Mortlach range are poorly conceived. I would have thought after the NAS release there would have been an entry level malt or ‘bridge’ before jumping up to an 18 year old for £180. That’s a huge leap of faith from an overpriced no age statement bottle.

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Peter March 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm

I agree with Billy’s comments further up. Diageo doesn’t care what we think. Their CEO makes the retail value of this years Port Ellen release IN ONE MONTH. If this little whisky community raised Mortlach’s stock any, and I’ll concede that it probably helped, do you think Diageo feels duty-bound to offer us excellent malts at affordable prices? Hell no. The whisky industry is an industry, seems like an obvious thing to say, but people seem to forget that fact all too often. Diageo’s main goal is to make money, and they’re doing so know at a pretty good clip. They know this is all cyclical, they know they’ve got a potential hot brand to surf this wave of whisky popularity, they’re going to milk it for all its worth, the opinion of bloggers and aficionados be damned. We can all write scathing reviews of this line and it will still sell like hotcakes, Diageo knows this, we need to recognize it, too, and move on.

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Jeff March 6, 2014 at 3:21 am

I don’t think anyone really forgets that whisky is a business, expects to turn an entire industry around with a blog, or expects Diageo “to care”, but the idea of just “we need to recognize it, too, and move on” without commentary (?) about this sort of marketing just makes the next incident even more normal and commonplace – and this gouging is exceptional. Diageo isn’t standing around waiting for anyone’s approval to play its games but, on the other hand, silence from consumers indicates consent – and folks should be careful what they’re granting that tacit consent to. The value of truth isn’t found in its ability to move mountains, or even in its popularity, but in itself.

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Peter March 6, 2014 at 4:08 am

“The value of truth isn’t found in its ability to move mountains, or even in its popularity, but in itself.” That’s very laudable, noble, perhaps a little a quaint and all, but it doesn’t pay the bills these days. What truth are you talking about? Some mistaken truth that whisky used to be better and that the industry used to be more honest and less money-grubbing? The truth about how much, exactly, an 18 year old whisky should be sold for? What truth are you talking about, Mulder?

I should have clarified when I said we need to move on. I never said, or implied that we do so without commentary, I simply meant that the industry is there to make money, they don’t care about quality unless quality starts to affect the bottom line. We need to move on from thinking that this small community of aficionados is somehow affecting a multi-billion dollar industry, and expressing outrage when we think they’re not recognizing us for our important contributions. In an ideal world, we should all be calling ‘em on this crap. No matter how good the NAS “Rare Old” Mortlach is, everyone’s review needs to mention that the price is outlandish and therefore the whisky probably not worth it. We should all tell our local shops that we’re not buying the whisky because it’s too expensive and not worth it. We should all go to free tastings and tell the ambassadors that what they’re pouring isn’t really as good as the ambassadors say it is. But you know what that’s not going to happen. Most likely, all this Mortlach will sell really well, despite what this little community says. If I’m wrong, and it doesn’t sell, then we might get some good deals, but Diageo will try the same thing again with some other brand, because that’s what they do. Let’s just move on from this self-righteous indignation, shock, and disbelief, accept the fact that the industry is behaving like its supposed to behave and go from there.

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Oliver Klimek March 6, 2014 at 5:44 am

“We need to move on from thinking that this small community of aficionados is somehow affecting a multi-billion dollar industry, and expressing outrage when we think they’re not recognizing us for our important contributions. ” – That’s just what Jeff said in his last comment: We all know this. But still I will not look away. It is important for ME to state my opinion here, and I want “them” to know. And I know they read this. Even if it just because I don’t want to be seen as someone whose silence is judged as consent although it may only be silent surrender.

By the way, the number of people who read this article is on record level for this blog. This indicates that the issue really has hit a nerve, more than any other issue I have written about before.

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Oliver Klimek March 6, 2014 at 6:14 am

I should add a thing that I think is important yet should be obvious: I do not write this blog for the whisky industry. I write it for people interested in whisky. Some comments imply that the goal of this blog is to achieve some kind of change of mind in the whisky industry. While this would be nice to see I am not so naive that I believe what I write can have an impact.

Nobody says a newspaper should stop critizising the government in its commentaries because this will not make the government change its mind. It is not really different with a blog.

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Peter March 6, 2014 at 6:26 am

But you stated in your original post that you do have an impact, that “us whisky geeks” gave Mortlach the cache they’re cashing in on. Which is it, impact or no impact?

I never said that we should stop criticizing, I don’t see that Jeff said just that anywhere either, he made a similar point but wrapped it up in the well-worn cloak of mis-trusting bloggers (yawn). Again, I’m not suggesting we “look away” or that you shouldn’t state your opinion, but thinking that bloggers and whisky geeks somehow laid the foundation for the Mortlach releases and now we are being handed a great injustice in not being able to afford the fruits of our labor is…well, it’s perhaps a little delusional, or at the very least, naive to the ways of marketing. Yes, let’s continue to call the industry out on this kind of thing, but we have to do so as consumers, not as if we’re some indispensable research arm of the industry that’s being treated unfairly. It’s perhaps a fine distinction, but I think a valid one…you just made it yourself in your last reply. We most likely will not change the opinion of the industry but we can change the minds of the consumers.

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Oliver Klimek March 6, 2014 at 7:00 am

Now this is really an apples and oranges thing. We are discussing the impact of a handful of vociferous bloggers here. This is something pretty different than thousands of geeks praising the liquid of a great distillery. It is rather obvious to me that positive feedback from a lot pf people is more likely to be considered than criticism of a few pesky nerds.

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Jeff March 6, 2014 at 10:51 am

Sorry, Peter, but “paying” your, or anyone else’s “bills”, isn’t my job. “Mistaken truth that whisky used to be better”? – that’s no mistake, quality is in overall decline, just as the LEVEL of industry greed is clearly on the increase, just as this range IS a huge example of gouging that needs to be called out.

“We need to move on from thinking that this small community of aficionados is somehow affecting a multi-billion dollar industry, and expressing outrage when we think they’re not recognizing us for our important contributions. In an ideal world, we should all be calling ‘em on this crap. No matter how good the NAS “Rare Old” Mortlach is, everyone’s review needs to mention that the price is outlandish and therefore the whisky probably not worth it. We should all tell our local shops that we’re not buying the whisky because it’s too expensive and not worth it. We should all go to free tastings and tell the ambassadors that what they’re pouring isn’t really as good as the ambassadors say it is. But you know what that’s not going to happen.” – Why? Is somebody too busy? Doing what? It seems the problem isn’t that some don’t know what the truth is; it’s their reluctance to act on it. Maybe they don’t need a Mulder – maybe they need a backbone. Yet, for the evidence right before me, my observation that all bloggers can’t be trusted is… well… “well worn” – or maybe it’s just obvious as well.

Then you change your tune again: “We most likely will not change the opinion of the industry but we can change the minds of the consumers”, which, when put together with the earlier “they (the industry) don’t care about quality unless quality starts to affect the bottom line”, shows it is possible to affect the industry by affecting consumer choice – something the industry itself knows very well, which is why it spends so much on marketing.

And, as for not trusting some bloggers, my disagreement with Gal over telling people, pre-review, on principle (?), to boycott this whisky while bloggers can supposedly drink it for free speaks for itself. If you don’t understand it, please read it more carefully until you do.

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Peter March 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Jeff, reading carefully should also result in not cherry-picking and criticizing something out of context. You left out much of what I wrote, but since you’ve apparently tasted ALL the whisky from the beginning of time and therefore know the iron clad truth…you win.

You also seem to have “read carefully” the point which I’ve made over and over that it’s the indignation that Oliver concludes his otherwise spot-on post with that’s misguided. I’ve said repeatedly now that people need to continue to call out the industry on this kind of crap, but do so from the vantage point of consumers, not as this somewhat privileged group that’s somehow helping the industry shape their direction. I would think that would agree with you and your mis-trust, but then again, I don’t read very carefully.

Let me change my tune again (I’m very musical). You seem to think it’s possible for everyone to unite as one voice and vote with our dollars to sway the industry back to making better whisky at a lower price…and I agree that would be very pleasant, but one look at the Malt Maniacs page on facebook will tell you that’s not going to happen. The posts there these days often fall into two categories, people rightfully complaining about the state of whisky, and people posting pictures of their huge collections. Since that group is, for good or for ill, also populated with many industry folks…well, it’s easy to see how they might not think that everyone is outraged.

And finally, I actually did read, very carefully in fact, you’re disagreement with Gal. You might be surprised to hear that I actually understand it. Believe it or not, I think it’s an interesting take on it all, one that I haven’t considered. I guess that makes me untrustworthy. Seriously, I think you made a good point, perhaps a little idealistic (my guess is you don’t live your life in such an idealistic ivory tower), but still, in a situation like this where the gouging is so egregious, it would be fitting for people to just say it’s not worth reviewing on those grounds. We’ll see if it happens, I hope so. I don’t think that will stop a multi-billion dollar company from rolling out new products, marketing the shit out of them, and trying to make as much money as possible, but you never know.

Also, if you live in the U.S., you do pay other people’s bills, sorry.

MargareteMarie March 6, 2014 at 12:19 am

I agree with you Oliver. They do watch. They do read blogs. They do observe the bay. And they notice when a whisky which was released for 80 Euros is sold for 220 Euros at online auctions a few days later. It’s not only about their greed. It’s also about ours!

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Gal Granov March 6, 2014 at 6:19 am

I am with you Oliver.

we write for people to read as a blog is for whisky lovers. and not for the Diageo Directors…
but I am sure things do sink in at some time… and hopefully they will know we’re not happy. not that it’s going to change anything for them a few 100’s of geeks are not happy when millions will buy anything they market as “exclusive”.

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two-bit cowboy March 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

An interesting discussion. I haven’t read anywhere that someone has mentioned the alcohol percentage or proof (perhaps I simply glossed over it), but if I were to guess I’d say a very Diageo-esque 43%. How ’bout the color? Is it natural? Unchillfiltered? No matter, the folks who’ll buy these whiskies likely don’t read DRAMMING or any other worthwhile source of whisky information so they don’t know they should care about such things.

As for the bottles, well, frankly there are a few inexpensive bourbons dressed in better looking glassware. And I’m not at all sure why 500mls is “insulting”.

There’s one thing for sure: I’ll go through the rest of my life without having sampled these, and I’ll still have lived a rewarding life without regret.

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Jeff March 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

You weren’t taken out of context, Peter – the only problem for you came when I took your various statements to their logical conclusion: if bloggers can affect consumers (which you concede), they can affect consumer choices, and therefore affect the industry’s bottom line (which you concede is what the industry cares about and reacts to), and therefore the industry itself. I make no claim to “iron-clad truth”, but for all the industry’s defenders (paid and unpaid) and everything the industry has supposedly recently “discovered” about improving quality, who claims that whisky quality IS actually as good as it was 20+ years ago, much less actually improving overall from that past point? If the industry finally “has it right” about the importance of age maturation (instead of just reversing itself, which was all it did so it could sell younger whisky), shouldn’t quality be on the way up? Are all those people who are “rightfully complaining about the state of whisky” (and not just about pricing, it should be noted) wrong? Am I wrong? The distilleries which are currently in ascendance are primarily reboots and start-ups, and on the upswing because many of their initial expressions were so close to new make that some had to be called “spirit drink”- and, in many cases, the best thing that could really be said about them, and usually WAS said at the time, was that “this stuff will really be something special… in a few years’ time”.

I am actually surprised to hear that you understood my disagreement with Gal, given that you initially dismissively mischaracterized it as wrapping up some other point in “the well-worn cloak of mis-trusting bloggers (yawn)”. As for your theories about my personal life and how I live it… well, you were well into the realm of your own defensive delusion by then – neither here nor there in the larger scheme of things, but also the truth… sorry.

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Oliver Klimek March 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

Although this is true, I am not sure if “Blenders like Mortlach” is a sufficient selling point for a single malt aimed at the luxury market. After all Nick Morgan said the brand was held in high regard which is largely irrelevant to blenders. I did understand his remark to mean consumers rather than blenders. Maybe I misunderstood or Nick Morgan was being deliberately ambigous by not stating who actually holds it in high regard apart from industry insiders

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Billy March 5, 2014 at 12:03 pm

It’s almost as if he’s engaging in marketing :)

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