Has whisky drunk itself?

I like Taylor Swift. I think 1989 is a great album and I listen to it regularly. I regularly defend diageo and Macallan are one of my favourite distilleries. I wouldn’t class myself as a hipster. I don’t live in East London, know nothing about coffee and I own nothing released on the warp records label. I’m not cool and I don’t prefer the early stuff. I am, however, a bit fed up with whisky at the moment. There. I said it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love whisky, it’s just not exciting me at present. The whole industry is leaving my weary. It seems every day something else is just annoying me. Today it’s the lakes bringing out a 3 year old English malt and auctioning the lot. Last week it was the a’bunadah price rise finally hitting retailers and going from a decent whisky I’d get on offer from Waitrose to a ridiculously overpriced NAS insult to my intelligence. There are of course some exceptions, but they’re feeling very much like exceptions at the moment. There’s a million new distilleries coming online with 3 year old juice and I couldn’t care less about trying them. A new lowland distillery thought it appropriate to release their first 12 year old at £250. And it sold out immediately on allocation. I’ve never spent over £200 on a bottle of whisky but if I did I’d want it to be a hell of a lot more special than that.

Prices are crazy across the board. I fell in love with Benriach 21 at a recent festival, but it’s £120. A few years back it would have been £80 I have no doubt. Prices across the board are soaring and we’re not seeing anything for the extra money. Whisky is simply over priced at the moment, there is very little value left anywhere. Independent bottlers are great but a lot of them are bottles that I like to try rather than own. They’re always a gamble being single cask and currently the prices are silly for these too. Just try finding a sub £100 bottle of Clynelish. 

Personally I can’t see it continuing. There is too much whisky coming online from distilleries old and new and demand isn’t keeping up. Exports finally went up slightly this year after years of a shrinking market. Hopefully a large market correction is coming, and it can’t come soon enough. The question is if and when it hits will there still enough demand to meet the over supply? 

Right now I’m being excited by other spirits. I’m crazy enthusiastic about rum, where there is real value to be had. I’m experimenting with sipping tequila and mezcal. I’ll always hold a love in my heart for whisky, I just hope it excites me again soon.

3 thoughts on “Has whisky drunk itself?”

    1. Absolutely. I don’t care about the top end, Macallan 50 can be £1000,£10,000 or £100,000, I’m not buying it. But at the affordable end of the market bottles that were previously sensible money have gone to silly money. Squeezing the single malt prices because blend volume isn’t increasing significantly I presume

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  1. Great article. Hope you (and the other authors) don’t mind me adding a link to a similar justified rant about the prices from new distilleries in particular? https://malt-review.com/2018/10/10/new-distilleries-are-pricing-themselves-out-of-relevance/#comment-1807

    I feel exactly the same and have pretty much vowed to buy only from distilleries that offer known quality at, relatively, affordable prices. The word relative here being the killer . . . cheapest bottles are c£35. £35 for some ten year old malt based spirit is still pretty excessive in my opinion. I keep telling myself the bubble will burst but I just don’t see it. Some whiskys have increased in cost by 100% in the last three years, most by at least 30%. Given the financial/job market I can only take that as a determined effort to make whisky affordable only to the rich. We’re regressing ha ha!

    Apologies for droning on but like you I feel passionate about this and it’s also making me weary; and I’m losing a lot of respect for vast swathes of the industry. As an antidote, I’m also getting into more rums and tequila, there are some gems to be found for sure!

    Cheers

    Ryan

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