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Obscene Desires At Annandale

by Oliver Klimek on February 23, 2015

Starting a Scotch whisky distillery from scratch is not easy. First you need to invest a lot of money to get it up and running, and then you’ll have to wait at least three years until you can sell your first bottles of whisky.

To generate revenue during this period distilleries can do a number of things. They can bottle their newmake spirit and sell it, the can also distill gin or vodka that do not require cask maturation, or they can sell futures for the recently filled casks. But this is nothing compared to the ingenious idea the new Annandale distillery has come up with.

A few days ago Annandale announced that they are selling their first ever cask for one million pound sterling. But that’s not all. Cask #8 is priced at £888,888 which admitteldy was done to attract filthy rich Chinese to spend their money on lucky numbers. And the silliness does not stop here. 75 casks in total, filled in the first month of operation, are on offer for premium prices. The other casks up to #10 cost £500,000 down to £300,000 and the remaing 65 will set you back £100,000. The prices for the individual casks can be found in a PDF file on the distillery website.

The prices of the first 75 casks add up to just over £11 million. This sum is suspiciously close to the £10.5 million that was quoted as the cost of the entire distillery project. This means that Annandale wants to earn back their complete initial investment with only one month’s worth of production.

This must be the most ambitious funding plan ever in the whisky industry. The reasoning behind the ludicrous pricing policy is remarkably self-referential. According to the Scotsman, distillery owner David Thomson stated:

The price tag is high, reflecting that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone to become a part of Scottish history and to own the Scottish whisky industry’s most valuable cask.

Apart from promoting the rather disgusting attitude that a fat wallet is all you need to secure yourself a place in history, this statement essentially says that the price of the first Annandale cask is so high because the special thing about it is that it is the most expensive cask ever. And maybe someone could explain the difference between “expensive” and “valuable” to Mr Thomson, please.

I am still not quite sure if all this is meant seriously or if it is only a PR stunt to attract publicity. If the latter is the case, they certainly have succeeded, as me writing this article clearly shows. But can they be happy with the image they provoke of themselves?

Nobody demands that a whisky distillery shouldn’t make a profit. It’s a business, they make the whisky and we give them our money so they can make more whisky and also earn their living from it and maybe pay out a dividend to their shareholders.

But there is a line between striving for profit and greed, and by slapping obscene price tags like these onto their casks without ever having sold a single drop it is beyond any doubt on which side of the line Annandale has positioned itself.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gal Granov (@galg) February 23, 2015 at 2:08 pm

This has to be the silliest idea EVER. who is willing to shall that amount for a cask from a distillery you have never tasted anything from (or any distillery).

OMG

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two-bit cowboy February 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Time will determine whether this is silly or brilliant.

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Oli March 6, 2016 at 11:18 am

Brilliant? Why don’t you put your money into this great distillery then, sucker?

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Dunno February 23, 2015 at 7:31 pm

If some sucker buys it, they will pocket a cool million. If not, they can always bottle and sell it at good price anyway. And they can wait for several years to find the buyer. And add free publicity. Brilliant, really.

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Simon13 November 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Update.

I have it from a good source that not one cask has been sold.

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Oli March 6, 2016 at 11:19 am

Oh now, what a shame. Jesus wept 😀

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