Global drinks company Diageo, which recently upset whisky fans by scrapping Cardhu as a single malt and turning it into a vatted product, is now moving in the other direction.
It has taken its flagship blended brand Bell’s – and launched a vatted version of it for the off trade market.
The new Bell’s, called Bell’s Special Reserve, is said to be a response by Diageo to a perceived gap in the market. But one industry insider described it as an ideal partner to the Cardhu Pure.
“They are steps in the same path,” he said. “If a Bell’s blended drinker moves to a vatted version and likes it, then it’s a logical step to move on to another Diageo vatted brand. And drinking Cardhu Pure might easily lead that same drinker to try a single malt.”
Although the producers of blended whisky are reluctant to give a break-down of its component whiskies, or indeed to acknowledge they vary, it is a widely held view that the current Bell’s 8-Year-Old blend is particularly strong at the moment.
A vatted product based on its malts, therefore, makes a lot of sense and might be seen as the latest move in a complex move by Diageo to strengthen its presence in the whisky sector.
It also marks a vote in confidence by the global company in the future of the whisky market.
In America the company has positive plans for its premium bourbon Bulleit and recently reopened the George Dickel distillery in Tennessee.