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Are You Being Priced Out Too? — Dramming
Post image for Are You Being Priced Out Too?

Are You Being Priced Out Too?

by Oliver Klimek on July 23, 2014

I haven’t been buying much whisky lately. Not because I did not want to, there are plenty of interesting bottles on the market. But as whisky prices have been rising for a while, and quite dramatically so in some cases, I feel myself more and more priced out of the higher end malt whisky market.

I have only so much – or so little – money to spend, and I have to pick the bottles I buy wisely. Sure, there are many who on Facebook proudly post pictures of tables bending under the weight of pricey “new arrivals” with most bottles going into the triple digits. But there are also bound to be others who cannot just spend a few hundred or thousand on booze because they feel like it. I also do not belong to the kind of whisky bloggers or pro writers who are in a position to just as proudly post pictures of all the bottles sent to them for review, easing the pain of having to buy all their whisky from their own money.

I don’t consider myself poor, but my income is not high enough to allow me to pay just any price for bottles that I have previously loved. 100 quid for the Highland Park 18? Forget it, however excellent it may be. And even if the price of a bottle remains flat, you cannot be sure if the liquid inside still is of the same quality. I am not the only one who for example was disappointed by the current bottling of Lagavulin 16.

The discussion if this is an unavoidable effect of the forces of The Market or an evil plot of the whisky industry bosses to fill their bank safes with more cash does not lead far. Megabytes of blog articles have been posted about the possible causes and explanations of what has been happening on the whisky market. Either way, it is the consequences of this development that we have to deal with. Beyond entry level bottlings, “premiumization” has gone rampant, and more than one whisky producer has begun to put their products on pedestals and market them like Gucci shoes and Louis Vuitton handbags with the corresponding price tags. And prices of independent bottlings have reacted to this trend as well.

So what should you do if you feel unable to cope with this development? I am sorry but I cannot give you a definitive answer here. Much depends on your personal situation and disposition. I for one will definitely be more picky when buying new bottles, preferably after having tried a sample. Luckily there still are bottles on the market that offer great quality for a decent price. But they are becoming less and less.

I certainly won’t cut back in a way that I would buy more entry level bottles instead of more expensive ones just because they are more affordable. I have always had some on my shelf, they have their place; but since my interest in whisky is more than just casual I do want to explore more of the whisky world than just the “lobby”.

Other than that, I guess more of my booze money will go into more affordable malternatives for the time being. There are plenty of interesting spirits out there which have not been hyped as much as whisky. Yet.

The whisky industry will not get as much money from me as before, but they couldn’t care less with so many finacially potent customers just waiting to jump in. But I do trust in the cyclical nature that the whisky market has proven to have in the past.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

SK July 23, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Have stopped buying.

Have tried sherry and I am very impressed. 30 YO for under £30.


sku July 23, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Very well stated and something many of us are feeling just now. My solution: Armagnac.


Jordan July 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Even cognac still has some incredible deals. Pierre Ferrand Reserve has an average age of 20 years and can sometimes be found for under $60.


Oliver Philp July 23, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Yes, Armagnac is a very good alternative. Waitrose have a very nice traditional VSOP Armagnac that sells for around £22. Living in Scotland the main drawback is that the range available is not as good as with whisky.

I bought a bottle of Domecq the other day, yet to open it. Rum can also represent good value as long as you have a sweet tooth.


Mark July 25, 2014 at 4:04 am



Oliver Philp July 23, 2014 at 7:05 pm

For a long time now most of my acquisitions have been either supermarket discounts on ‘lobby’ whiskies or premium offerings obtained via some kind of discount channel or connections in the industry.

You note, as have I, the decline of the Lagavulin 16. However the price, only a couple of years ago at least in the UK, was around £35. These days expect to pay £48. So it’s a double whammy 🙁


Jordan July 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Over the last couple of months my purchases have been going way, way down. I think I’ve bought more amaro than whisky. I have at least a hundred unopened bottles that will take me years to get through. Those will also translate into several times that many samples as I make swaps with other people. New releases just keep creeping up and up with decreasing quality, so the incentive to try to keep up with it all has gone near zero. There are still some things I would like to get, but they’re mostly semi-dusties that haven’t had their price jacked up yet.

On the upside, it’s left a lot more money in my budget for going out to eat or drink with friends, which is nice.


Michael July 23, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Thanks for writing this, Mr. K. This is where I’m at, too. In April, I established a 4-month bottle buying freeze (ending next month!). Psychologically, it has been an educational experience. It has helped me witness a buying obsession (addiction?) in myself and many others. And it has turned a spotlight onto the fact that most whisky fans that I know have been purchasing at a much greater rate than we’ve been drinking, and doing so for years. Since pricing is increasing rapidly and quality is in no way rising to meet it, perhaps we’re now presented with the opportunity to drink some of our stash instead of adding to it.

I don’t want to seem holier than thou about this, especially since I emphatically violated the freeze last month. Just want to encourage folks that the stuff in their cabinets is probably better than the stuff on retailers’ shelves right now. And even if it isn’t, when are we going to drink what we’ve already bought?


Oliver Klimek July 23, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Your story sounds rather typical compared to others I have heard. Indeed this may be the time to turn to whisky accumulated over the years. I have to say that I have managed to stay rather disciplined in buying whisky with not much of a stash to speak of. So what I have would not last mee too long. And I am by no means advocating some kind of boycott here. I will continue to buy whisky, but on substantially lower throttle than in the past.


Michael July 24, 2014 at 2:35 am

Yeah, I’m not advocating a boycott either, for a change. 🙂 That buying discipline you mentioned is admirable. It’s something I will exercise when my buying freeze is done.


kallaskander July 24, 2014 at 10:04 am

Hi there,

the last bottles I have bought were all Signatory bottlings. Here in Germany there is no independent bottler with a better price quality ratio at the moment.
Douglas Laing et al. have become ridiculously expensive after the company split as have Duncan Taylor and even Gordon&MacPhail seem to begin to lose grip on reality.

Buying OBs? Very rarely in the last 5 years and if only when I felt the price was right for what was offered. No Ardbeg, right!

I have the feeling the piranhas are in a feeding frenzy and try to gobble up our money in the biggest chunks they can swallow.
Again Highland Park or rather the Edrington Group behind it has to be named as an insatiable price driver. Edrington is always first in setting bad price examples and other companies are only too willing to follow.

The thing is – not only do we have our personal thresholds when we feel priced out of the market. Some of us have principles as well. I for example do not pay 90.- € for a 14yo Laphroaig IB bottling nor 70.- € for a 15yo Auchentoshan IB bottling nor anything where I feel that the price is just not justified.

On the other hand there are bottlers and distilleries where you have a good feeling when you see the prices which is confirmed when you open the bottles most of the time. Glenfarclas I would say are reasonable even if they are rising prices Signatory I have already mentioned. Billy Walker with Glendronach and Beriach Angus Dundee with Tomintoul and Glencadam and others as well.

Other companies are just swiming with the flow it seems – because they can. Glenfiddich 12yo was 19.99 € for years and started to pick up only a year or so ago and is now about 28.- €. Their 18yo was about 40.- € for a very long time and is now proceeding towards 50.- €. The latter price is still good compared to other 18yo offerings.
But the recent Highland Park hike as catapulted them out of my market for certain.



keith sexton July 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

Since you mention Signatory, I’d just like to say that every bottle of whisky I’ve had that has been bottled by Signatory has been really enjoyable. It’s to the point where I really don’t mind spending money on a product of theirs, because I trust it will be real good. Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I’m impressed by them.


Gal Granov July 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Quite so Oliver.

Prices indeed have gone higher, and I’m also exploring (m)alternatives. Sherry is one, but sherry is not available so widely in some places… also Armangac i have yet to really fall in love with.

OBs are not the way to go. some IB’s are better priced and offer nicer ABV / $ rate…

let’s hope we’re almos at the top, and that it’s going to be downhill from now


Toby July 24, 2014 at 6:08 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more, Oliver! I’m not in a buying freeze phase, but, over the last 12 month, my purchases have been going way down. Prices getting too high and too much NAS whiskies coming into the market. Sad, sad times ….


Andrew July 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

I agree with you that more and more bottles are being marketed like Louis Vuitton bags, but ironically, the one truly “Louis Vuitton” brand, Glenmorangie, is putting out an impressive range of relatively affordable and inflation-resistant bottlings. Hell, the 18yo is $90 here in Canada!


Steffen Bräuner July 25, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Very well stated and something many of us are feeling just now. My solution: Craft beer (whatever that is..)


Keith July 25, 2014 at 10:12 pm

It’s nice to see the ever-upward sailing price of whiskey, as much as I love the stuff, has pushed people toward exploring some other things, as it has me. After rolling my eyes at escalating prices for both big distilleries as well as the questionable little guys ($130 for 375ml of a 9 month old whiskey???), I decided this was the year I taught myself more about amaro, Irish whiskey, and those blends everyone in the world EXCEPT whiskey enthusiasts drink.

It has been a great deal of fun. Amaro is exciting, challenging, rewarding, sometimes shocking, and really inexpensive as an obsession. The price increase affecting American and scotch whiskey has not been quite as pronounced with Irish whiskey, and my dram of the summer has been the superb Tullamore Dew 12yo single malt, which set me back about $44. Ditto Redbreast. Both are substantial tasting, but still have that characteristic lighter touch of Irish whiskey, which makes them really pleasant during the warmer weather.

I’ve also rediscovered Chivas, and will defend Cutty Prohibition and Black Grouse as well. All of which can be had for pretty cheap.

So I guess, after my initial crankiness over being priced out of the market, I’ve found ways to turn it around and make it something really enjoyable.


Jeff July 26, 2014 at 10:54 am

Consumers ARE being squeezed at both ends of product value: the good stuff’s not cheap enough to buy and the cheap stuff’s not good enough to buy (and, frequently, not even all that cheap). Pass the Armagnac.

Ironically enough, the professional whisk(e)y media has, in its own way, been describing this situation of some time, although one has to read between the lines to see it. With high-end products, professional reviewers often find themselves unable to give personal testimonials that expensive bottles they cannot, or will not, buy themselves, but which they praise to the skies, represent good value for money. At the low end of things, reviewers talk about how “interesting” this or that new NAS-labelled dram is before, in some incredible moments of candor, talking about how THEIR purchasing has slackened off and how they thank their lucky stars for all the bunkered bottles they have salted away, presumably to be consumed while they wait for affordable value to return. Although the pros hardly do so much as nibble at the hand which feeds them, it is interesting to note that even some of the most experienced, but least critical, of the drinkers among us have been seeing what’s been going on for a while now.

As Oliver says, there are a couple of theories about how we got here. To me, though, it’s sort of like climate change: if you believe, in your gut, the cause to be manmade, then the solution too must be manmade. Boycott? Maybe not of all products, but I advocate the boycott of NAS so as to see them re-labelled with more actual production information, if only because if, as the industry predicts, the current “NAS-class” of youthful products is going to become the new face of what’s affordable and a surprising number of us might occasionally end up “in the lobby” by default, it might be nice to have more, rather than less, info about what we’re drinking. Those who don’t support the idea of a boycott directly can do so indirectly if, indeed, they end up leaving whisk(e)y for the greener pastures of other spirits (and I don’t blame them). I think this, not surprisingly, would see Oliver and me currently avoiding many of the same bottles, if for different reasons: he because they are “in the lobby” and I because they are NAS.


dolzan July 26, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Oliver, well put. And I agree with Jeff completely – I believe just sitting at home and moaning about the situation is no good, at the very least we have to do something ourselves. It may not change anything, but I for one will be more at ease with myself whilst knowing that I will at least not be contributing to all this madness. Boycotting NAS stuff and refusing to pay over the top for a bottle of whisky seems the obvious thing one can do.

And let’s face it, there is not THAT much good NAS whisky around – even Uigeadail which was once a prime example of how good NAS whisky can be is not that good anymore. Which in a way is exactly one of the main things that are the matter with NAS – the producers can offer completely different whisky under the same label whenever they desire to do so.

However, in saying that, I do not hold much hope that the situation is going to get better any time soon. One only has to look for example at the newly established Whiskybase Marketplace and the astronomical amounts that people are willing to offer there for some young and NAS whiskies.


Jeff July 27, 2014 at 2:33 am

Thanks, and I fully agree: boycotting NAS might not change anything, particularly in terms of the quality of bottle contents, either now or going forward, but, as you indicate, accurate production info would at least mean that consumers would have notice of content changes – and, as a matter of principle, I think we’re paying far more than enough to have that information on the label.


Skeptic July 28, 2014 at 6:23 am

At my current rate of consumption with no purchases I have a conservative estimate that I have at least 20 years of Whisky on my “to drink” list and a few more if you count the “to save” bottles. That means I’m beholden to no distillery. Put it simply, I don’t HAVE to buy anything.

That doesn’t mean I don’t WANT to buy anything. There are still some good quality bottles out there. I just found a store selling Macallan cask strength at $73 Canadian. I like the bottle I tried so I bought it (and may get more). It is NAS but it’s proven.

In terms of something still being produced, I like Aberlour A’Bunadh. Will I blindly buy bottle after bottle? No, but I like to buy ahead for batches that match my age, and if I read good reviews of a batch I will get it, as long as the price doesn’t go up ( it has increased by 0.1% (10 cents) in Ontario in the last 4 years).

Do I plan to buy the new Macallan series? The new IB Mortlach? Way overpriced, and no evidence it is worth my paying that much. I’ll pass. I have a lot of capacity to wait this out.

The number of distilleries offering high quality scotch at an affordable price is dwindling. Seeing Bladnoch close was sad. Their near cask strength offering were excellent, and cost a fraction of some others. I’ve tasted a couple of expensive or rare malts, and none were better than the humble Bladnoch.

And I have no problem drinking diet soda or non scotch spirits. I don’t drink for a buzz, the alcohol content is incidental. To be honest a glass with a lot of ice, a couple of slices of squeezed lime, and PC no-name diet tonic water beats a Johnny Walker Blue. And while the price of limes (and electricity for the ice) is rising, I can get 2 litres of the “tonic” for less than a dollar.


Jeff July 28, 2014 at 3:53 pm

I agree that Macallan CS was “proven”, but I’d also point out that it’s dead – and killed by the degradation of product value that NAS facilitates; if it doesn’t matter what’s in the CS because it’s good, the thinking goes, it won’t matter what’s in the colour-coded ones either and we can kill the CS to drive people to them. But the real problem with NAS labelling is separate from the high or low quality of any given bottle, however, because the overall message of NAS to consumers is that quality is somehow independent of content – and this craziness should be resisted on the principle of logic alone. The idea that, with NAS, “it doesn’t matter what’s in there so long as it’s good” is largely based on the somewhat wilder idea that “what’s actually in there (the classified information) isn’t as relevant to quality as the label name or the colour (the unclassified information), so you don’t need (or just aren’t paying enough) to know about content anyway and that content can change without notice”. And content, evidently, does change without notice; despite its relative price stability, A’Bunadh has seen fair-sized swings in batch quality and so, also, in product value – and A’Bunadh’s “one of the good ones”. Yet Ardbeg, Aberlour, or any other producer knows that it can’t just throw any old whisk(e)y into an NAS-labeled bottle and expect a high, or even constant, level of quality to be bestowed by the uninformative label’s magic powers; they KNOW content matters and, if it matters, it then matters for consumers as well because the industry did away with the days of “hey, you can trust us” long ago.


Skeptic July 29, 2014 at 5:59 am

Hard to disagree with you Jeff, but I still maintain that there are good bottles out there and some are NAS.

The big problem is finding out which ones (I agree batch variation even among good ones is an issue) without wasting too much cash. And when you taste a good one, can you even afford it now.

So as I said, having no loyalty to any brand or type of spirit, or spirits at all makes it easy. If I like it, if I can afford it, and if it is worth (to me) the asking price, I will buy it. If not, I have my stores and I have my diet tonic water….


Jeff July 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Absolutely – there are some good products that carry NAS labels, but they are not good (or bad) BECAUSE they carry NAS labels; quality is independent of labelling, so the fact that there are good ones can’t really be used to defend NAS. Quality depends upon bottle content and NAS is to be condemned because it obscures relevant bottle content information upon the implied idea that consumers don’t need to know it (so content can change without notice) but, incredibly, DO need to know about some recent disaster which befell the distillery, product which was shot into space, or the legends surrounding various Scottish geographical features instead.


two-bit cowboy July 29, 2014 at 7:31 pm

I’m ever amazed how a discussion of “… too high prices” can so quickly turn into NAS-bashing. Despite the recent firestorm of anti-NAS blog posts I’m not convinced the two topics are related.

When I first began drinking single malt Scotch I would occasionally let myself afford a bottle of Glenfiddich (with no age statement) instead of my then beloved Chivas Regal 12 year old. That was the late 1970s – early 1980s, and the single malts available to me were the three Glens: fiddich, livet, and morangie. Did anyone back then consider those whiskies sub-par because they didn’t have an age statement? Did we know “exactly” what was in the bottles? No to both.

I heartily agree with Skeptic that there are some good NAS whiskies out there, and quite a few come at a good price, although good whisky and good price are a matter of perspective. Here are a few recent examples available here: anCnoc Peter Arkle 3 ($60), anCnoc flaughter ($60), Glenrothes Alba Reserve ($55, recently reduced from $65), Old Pulteney Navigator ($50), Tomatin Legacy–a vatting of 5 yo bourbon cask and virgin cask whiskies–($30), and, credit where it’s due, Talisker Storm ($65).

In another vein Kilchoman has offered 16 single malt expressions in the USA (that doesn’t account for the myriad shop-exclusive malts). Most have been NAS, but in nearly every case the distillery has told us the age(s) of the whiskies in the bottles. My other favorite distillery–Arran–portrayed their Devil’s Punch Bowl releases (oh, no, a Scottish geographic feature) without an age statement but rather told us the specific casks and their vintages that made up the whisky. In other words we didn’t have to wonder whether the whisky had been teaspooned. Full disclosure: Pure genius. And better than an age statement really — we don’t have to wonder, “Is there some 16 yo whisky in my 12 yo?”

Since Oliver’s post the media have been reporting the conglomerates’ hard times in China. Will the behemoths try to salve their wounds by raising prices even higher in other parts of the world?

As ever, Oliver, a great post. I’m curious about one thing. Have you, or any of the other long-time anoracs, seen a whisky boom that resembles the one we’re in? I’m guessing “no” because I don’t recall ever hearing about a global boom as big as this. I for one don’t want to see the bubble burst. There are many many whiskies available at still-reasonable prices (lots and lots of IBs), and I think a bust would stifle much of the affordable creativity we’re seeing today. I’m at the age where I don’t want to suffer through a decade-long bust so I can enjoy cheap whisky until the next boom.


Jeff July 29, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I brought up boycotting NAS because the topic of boycotting (and why nobody supported it in general) was brought up in previous posts. As for NAS not being related to higher pricing, I think that it is the new foundation OF it. When people are willing to pay ever-larger prices for products the youth of which is pretty obvious, but is somehow presented as irrelevant, one of the results is going to be the eventual premiumisation of anything with an age statement. If it’s becoming rarer to find anything with years in oak in the double digits (which can be substantiated) as the market turns to youth, there’s little doubt that you’re going to be paying more for it – both for the age involved and for the simple benefit of knowing what you’re drinking.

I don’t consider NAS-labelled products (there really is no such thing as “NAS whisk(e)y” – there is no process involved beyond labelling, but a 12 age statement does need 12 years in oak) to be necessarily “sub par” for lack of an age-statement, as some are of good quality and value; I consider the marketing/labelling in general to be unacceptable because, in an era in which there is a lot of young product to be pushed, NAS labelling is an obvious way to degrade offerings over time without notice. Obviously full disclosure is an even better solution to this problem than age statements. I do find it strange, however, that you say such a measure would be “pure genius” while defending early fiddich, livet, and morangie NAS labels on the grounds that it wasn’t important to know what’s in them. Does production information (and teaspooning for that matter) matter or not? Although it’s clear how these products can be degraded, were/are ANY of these expressions somehow made better (for the consumer, not the producer) by having that information concealed?

As for Scottish geographical features and other quaint items of interest, we both know that their stories are, far more often than not, offered on NAS labels INSTEAD of a lot of relevant production information rather than in addition to it, much less in addition to anything coming close to full disclosure in most cases. If the industry would give me age statements or, even better, full disclosure, I’d gladly take the stories too, but I won’t take the latter in PLACE of the former.


kallaskander July 30, 2014 at 10:29 am

Hi there,

I guess it is natural that a discussion about pricing turns to NAS label issues. NAS is the worst case of price to age to value ratio risks and guesses one has to make or take.
I find all NAS offerings too expensive and that leads us to the “full disclosure” issue so it is natural that this should come up as well.
With a NAS bottling I have nothing to hold on to in justifying – and accepting – a price. If NAS were about selling younger whisky quicker to enhance cash flow and given all these NAS whiskies are only 5 yo in their core of… they must be less expensive.
And here we are at the heart of the disclosure issue. What do I really get when I buy a NAS malt? Is the core 80% of 5 yo with tablespoonend with nuch maturer whiskies to even thing out? Is it a NAS vatting of 3 5 and 7 yo old whisky – a multi vintage – which makes up a core of 95% young whisky enhanced by maturer stuff and so on.

On another subject I once posted that one day distilleries will ask special prices for casks that were matured at the distillery which made the whisky.
When you take into consideration the latest hike of Highland Park 18yo the trend is to rise the prices for any whisky with an age statement. Which is still a step further.



kallaskander July 31, 2014 at 11:37 am

Hi there,

not quite topic but close enough….




Jeff August 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Thanks for the link. Certainly a lot of really funny stuff here:

“Having taught consumers to seriously value age and regional identity in single malts, can the whisky industry really change its tune?” – Well, goodness, yes, I think it CAN because it’s in the process of doing it – but the real, and unasked, question is “does changing its tune make any sense, or reflect any truth about whisky or is it all just about sales?”

“With age statements discreetly dropped, the message is now more a case of “don’t look for the number”. By doing so, Ken Grier, director of malts at Edrington, owner of The Macallan, believes producers are able to improve the quality of the liquid. “I’d argue that in some ways you have greater flexibility to vat up products with a wider array of spirits that may give you greater balance and complexity than if you were simply restricted to products over a certain age,” he explains.” – Very true, Ken, but WHICH liquids “may” you (or may you not) be improving? First-line single malts that you’ll otherwise hold to make expensive age statements, or second- and third-rate casks that are better blended away anyway? And why does using “products of a certain age” mean that you’re “restricted” from placing an age statement on it?

According to Grier, 1824 has allowed the firm’s whisky maker, Bob Dalgarno, to look at their inventory of 160,000 different casks and “cut it a different way”. He explains: “Once the colour decision was taken it would have been illogical to have age constraints, because you need to have casks of different ages to get to a colour.” – Sure, but even more illogical is how colour is so important for the 1824 Series when it’s evidently irrelevant to age-statement whiskies sold in age/price steps ascending from 18 years.

“For Ronnie Cox, malt whisky is an organic substance that matures at its own pace depending on the quality of the wood. He says: “Just being a 12-year-old is no guarantee of quality if the whisky was filled into exhausted, third-fill casks.”” – Fair enough, but who decided to use crappy casks in the first place, and how does not talking about age with NAS remedy that? Isn’t the message here that, if age statements don’t always carry authority on the subject of quality, it’s not because of any flaw in the theory of age maturation, but because of the industry cutting corners on casking?

“(Nick) Morgan believes the trend for dropping age statements is partly down to “the relentless drive for innovation in the single malt category where every week there have to be new offerings”. He adds: “Frankly it’s less about running out of stock, than running out of numbers. The only one yet to appear on a label is unlucky 13.””- So NAS is about… RUNNING OUT OF NUMBERS? I just about pissed myself when I read that. There are quite a few numbers that are, quite intentionally, left rather largely unused, Nick: 3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9. Morgan needs to get a mathematician on staff.

And finally,

““Age came in with a vengeance with the launch of the Classic Malts in 1987, and since then we’ve had about 25 years of ‘age, age and more age’ as people tried to establish the category and differentiate their products from others in consumers’ minds,” he (Nick Morgan) laments.

Thus if the industry now feels constrained by age statements it has only itself to blame.”


“But, as Paterson says: “Many consumers are still hooked on a magical age – that’s the way whisky’s been marketed. So it is up to the industry to convey the message that age isn’t everything.””.

Now, no matter what you personally think about the importance of age to whisk(e)y, if you consider the subject as it’s just been presented above, as simply a marketing point to aid sales, you’re left with three possibilities:

1. Industry experts were formally lying about the great importance of age just to sell product, or
2. Industry experts are currently lying about the irrelevance of age just to sell product, or
3. Industry experts have never really known the significance of age, but it’s never mattered what they say about it anyway – so long as they can sell product.

Now, tell me that you can trust the industry’s message (take your pick) about age.


kallaskander August 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Hi there,

I have been away for a few days but reading your analytical interpretation I would say it is all about creating shareholder value.

And age still does matter greatly from a point of above 18 years on. From 18 and above age matters to justify the figures they want to draw from our pockets.
Just look what Nick Morgan wants for his 25yo Mortlach in a 0.5 ltr. bottle.

I wonder how he justifies that – if Diageo is not beyond justyfing anything already.



Dario October 9, 2014 at 8:14 am

Great article Oliver … exactly what is going on in my “whisky universe”, I agree to every single word.


Maltklaus April 10, 2015 at 11:44 pm

This article is, in my opinion, now even more current then when it was posted with the Euro being as weak as it is. I too have cut down considerably on buying new bottles. There’s only a finite amount of money (for me) I can comfortably spend and when the price/performance ratio isn’t right anymore, it’s time for me to look elsewhere. There are still lots of affordable and great quality bottlings out there, but you have to look harder and they are becoming scarcer. I’m not yet looking seriously into malternatives (I dabble, but that’s it), because Whisky is “my” aged spirit of choice. But, anyway, even if quality whisky were to be completely out of my budget over night, there is a wee stash at home to get me through until the bubble bursts. Burst it will, sooner or later – and when it does, I’ll have some money stashed aside from bottles I don’t buy today 😉


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