Yesterday I tried an 'English' whisky I've never heard of before. It shall remain nameless. I stumbled across a distillery shop, was offered a sample of 'their' whisky and it was.... alright. It was whisky. The distillery who owned the shop do many, many lines of flavoured gins and some rums with a premium rum, gin, vodka and whisky in matching bottles with matching branding. A few questions - not wishing to be rude - made clear that it was a blend of 4-6 year old whiskies which made them older than the distillery itself. The only local element was either they were blended in that area of England or that the proof was cut down to 40% abv with local water. The people in the store - and the description on the website - offer the only tasting note as 'smooth'. This did not stop them selling it as a local product in high end stores in the area. The kicker was that it was being sold for £50 a bottle. This got me thinking. I've seen a number of new distilleries pitching into the £50-£70ish range for their standard bottles with limited releases up to double that. The SWA say the average bottle price in the UK is £15, with the big names in main supermarkets going from £20 to £50 for something like a Balvenie Double Wood, Ardbeg 10 or Glenfiddich. Any new distillery is having to balance generating cash flow, laying down stocks, releasing whisky that is young (but not too young!) and trying to get into retail channels. If we know that average price is £15, plenty of people look around £30, but if new distilleries are starting at £50 and unable to absorb cost increases of raw material and energy and haulage and the like, then I wonder what small distilleries will do as their bottles become increasingly expensive if they don't build a sufficient reputation to make fans like us dig into our pockets then I wonder if we'll start seeing small distilleries struggle with stock they can't afford to sell. Though I fear it won't stop those willing to badge anonymous blends as local in order to sell to tourists at higher end attractions at premium prices for a mediocre whisky!

Posted by Chris Ratcliff at 2022-10-26 16:20:15 UTC